I have already written in this column about two Gods a God who makes things and determines or influences events, and a God (my favourite God) who is an absolutely indifferent “residue” of a dynamic universe.
Before the universe took its present form, my favourite God also had not taken his present form. If the universe loses its form in the rise of parallel universes, my favourite God will also lose His form in exact tandem. He is only valid – indeed he only exists – for as long as the universe exists.
Anybody who has studied in depth and compared different faith systems should be able to understand that the God who makes things or influences events is a human concoction.
Similarly, anybody literate enough to read this column can see that my favourite (passive) God is also a concoction. So, we are looking at a choice between two mythical beings.
If you belong to one of the three great Abrahamic traditions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), you would be familiar with a God who supposedly directly interacted with prophets and priestly figures in ancient times, engaging them in conversation and literally giving them instructions on what He wanted “His” people to do.
Apart from Born-Again conmen masquerading everywhere as pastors, apostles and prophets who get specific messages from God on a regular basis, most Christians will admit that they have never really heard – clearly, unequivocally – a voice that they are one hundred per cent sure came from God.
However, many of these Christians believe that God actually talked directly and regularly to the chosen ancients the stuff from which the Bible was made. It is as if they think that after God got his message in book form, He can now relax a bit and mischievously watch you as you disregard that book when you are doing your thing on earth. He punishes, he rewards, but perhaps he no longer talks that much – if at all.
Anyhow, whether He is talking directly to the modern “anointed” ones every night or only talked to Moses and the Elijahs and Jeremiahs of way back, He is a talking God.
The Muslim identifies this God as Allah, whose ultimate message was dictated to Mohammed.
Now, between them, the great biblical prophets killed thousands of people simply because they worshipped other gods. And the Koran aocates mercy but also provides room for the elimination of non-believers the passages jihadists refer to.
God is like a dictator who can be compassionate but turns into a raw savage when his power is challenged.
It is very different to worship a God who talks from worshipping gods who do not talk.
With silent gods, believers understand that they can only figure out what the gods want, either by themselves or with the help of a priest.
In contrast, a God who talks spells out his desire, which can be written down, copied and spread as something sacred.
In some parts of the world, even treating these copies with disrespect can earn you a death sentence.
A couple of weeks ago, a team of neuroscientists identified an area in the brain that was demonstrated to be responsible for conjuring up ghosts.
In other words, when you see a ghost striding about, there is really no ghost out there instead, there are goings-on in your head forming for you the apparition you call a ghost. Those who have “seen” God might have had a related experience, even if from another area of the brain.
The schizophrenic hears voices of people who are not there. Did God really ever talk to anyone? You can be both a true spiritual genius and a madman in one a Vincent van Gogh of divine things.
Some of the prophets were (and are) almost certainly off the rails. How do we know that the “voice” of their God is not on the side of the extreme brutality currently perpetrated in His name? If we grant that their God really talked (or talks), it may be at our peril.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor