Monday, September 9, 2013

The Birth of God

In the distant prehistoric past, outlined as a miniscule dot on the man-made timeline that runs through the universe, when the first few men and women presumably walked the earth, a mother’s crest-fallen look at the birth-waste that surrounded her, could have harbored in her countenance a semblance of grief at the still-born child that lay at her loins. The dead child was perhaps no more than an “occurrence” in an era when such occurrences were common, but enduring the nine-month sheltering of a child inside the womb without any desirable manifestation of the results may not have displayed grief but it could have displayed “disappointment”, or an equivalent feeling that in all probability did not have a psychological labeling at that time. To belabor the point, the feelings of disappointment for pre-historic human beings could also have been awakened for other scenarios as when the beast escaped the hunter’s trap, or the hunter being eaten by the hunted. In the minds of those who lived in the dark ages, these “other” scenarios could be seen as an explainable activity that provided direct cause-effect relationship in the sense that the beast escaped the trap because it was not set right or the hunter still lived, but now inside the beast’s stomach. In other words while an understanding of an action to a reaction had occurred, there was no association or a real understanding in the minds of the homo sapiens as to the transfer of a person who had grunted and moved to now being immobilized through no external action of the self, of another person, or of a beast. Simply put, the action of death had still not found its voice in the consciousness of these people. Death was obviously a very powerful hunter or a beast that immobilized a person, without manifesting its physical presence. A person who could exist in a life-like format at one time and then re-exist in an immobile one was a truism sustained through visual dictates (and to a lesser extent through some other senses such as the smell or sound) of the prehistoric people during that time. However, as the still-developing brain acquired understanding and knowledge (or as some would say, a better form of the human being was created), the homo sapiens inadvertently could have questioned the source of the horrible hex on the person that was now in a comatose state, paralyzed or dead, his body left to provide much sought after food for the scavengers or others who were hungry for the human flesh. Even after Darwin articulated that nature could be manipulated, the theory still did not provide a counter-method to avert such demise. None of the body-manipulation and spiritual activities, nowadays in the hands of medical doctors and the priests, could alter the state of nonexistence or conditions that created such nonexistence. Death, therefore, could have become a topic of discussion, perhaps with some apprehension with respect to “violent” death. However, as alluded earlier, proof obtained through the auspices of the senses for an occurrence to have happened, was perhaps the only accepted form of understanding in the human mind. The age of reasoning beyond the cause-effect theory had not yet arrived. In the human mind, every action had to have an ownership associated with it, which in the case of death was relegated to the person, animal or the poisonous food that did the killing. But death that was observed without any outward manifestation of the “attacker” was an inexplicable phenomenon. Such an “inexplicable” death that immobilized the body which had at one time, stored grunts and groans, directed hunts and fornicated to replenish the supply of members in their little group could have proven to be a mystical event. What happened to the “man” that now lived inside a beast’s body and had at one time the wherewithal to move its limbs? The need to understand the identity of the “thing” that lived somewhere far away behind the mountains, taking long-range unobservable “shots” in decapitating the human form, implied that this thing was very powerful, way beyond the comprehension of those who lived on earth. Because such an action from whoever was out there was never observed, imagination had a field day in the prehistoric days. Some of these people could have attributed the fundamentals of weather that provided conditions of farming in the control of the “Thing”, the so-called Deity. However, it is possible that even for some with an imaginative mind an omnipotent deity was much too hard to accept. The entity possibly could not possess the power to undertake such a wide range of unfathomable activities or provide such phenomenal objects as the sun for warmth and the clouds for the rains. Perhaps the very things that provided warmth and water were the elusive “gods”. The imagination thus could have created various gods to undertake such activities. The Egyptian God, Ra was the sun god, while the Norse God of thunder was Thor. Some, however, managed to overcome the limitations of their imaginations and created an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God to sustain their supposedly immortal activities. But such a God even if it remained in their minds could not be brought to fruition in their vision. This God could not be linked to the images of the mortals, for mankind had still not come to terms in connecting the skeletal man to an all-powerful God. The man in God’s image could not be a truism only because the mind had not developed enough to promote man as superior earthly being. There were other creatures, physically more powerful than men, or much more important to their lives, that were more likely to have been created in God’s image (e.g., Lahar the Sumerian cattle God, circa 3000 BC; or Bata the Egyptian bull God). But even these animal beings did not provide satisfaction in the understanding of the Deity. The animal part of these dual animal-god beings could be controlled, hunted and killed by mere mortals, which belied the idea of the perceived god as omnipotent and, therefore, indestructible. Since there were no super humans or animals that could likely take place of the imagined God, there was no recourse but to cast the Almighty as something quite different from mere mortals. Some, therefore, imagined God in the form of a bright light (provided through the auspices of Hollywood), while others saw God as a wisp of smoke, while still others created an aura of mystery that did not allow any sort of an image of God as a possibility, because nothing in their imagination came close to creating the “true” picture of God. But prior to, or at about the same time as the realization of “gods” or a single “god” to explain that which could not be explained, the governance of “life” in such ventures as controlling behavior in a harmonious fashion among the members of the group had already been observed. The spoils, for example, after a kill or a war had to be distributed on a hierarchical basis with the leader taking the lion’s share. Similarly, women who were “dragged by their hair” for the lustful desires of men’s libidos now added a new dimension to their being on earth. Soon, their role in the economic well-being of the group came to the forefront. At this point, the best woman for the best man to produce the best offspring was, perhaps, still not understood. What was understood was that dominance over women, an economic entity that could provide more members for the group, was a necessity. Cooking, and gathering fruits and edible plants, seeds and roots (mundane tasks well below the strength required from the macho men) had to be undertaken, and there was nothing like the inclusion of women to enhance a man’s economic fortunes. Thus through the performance of “menial” tasks, as a factory to produce useful future members for their group, and at the same time providing instinctively desired pleasure for men’s lustful desires, women can be seen as becoming a very desirable commodity for men to keep, protect and maintain. It should be recognized that the necessity of women in a group, however, was not all one sided. Women required security and protection from those who took advantage of their weaker physic (particularly during childbirth), or those who kidnapped or killed their kids. They, therefore, accepted work assigned to them not because they were forced into submission to do the back-breaking work, but they did for the security provided by their men and group. Thus, the groups of maundering men and women could now have seen the first light of the virtues of possession and belonging to a particular group. For the ancient groups of people, the realization for a community could have sprouted “rules” to sustain a relatively harmonious living condition. These rules (perhaps unspoken) could have been established on the bases of the members’ comparative productivity or necessity vis-à-vis others in the group so that acknowledgement and benefits were proportionately dished out to correspond to their relative importance and need to the group. Although, one can visualize various such activities in the distribution of “spoils” on a hierarchical basis in bygone-days, Hinduism, known to its followers as Sanatana Dharma (a Sanskrit phrase meaning "Universal Principles"), came to the forefront as a means of guidance for an exemplary life. The religion, itself, rests on a complex set of rules, taking its philosophical cue from the ancient Vedic scriptures, and encompasses a wide variety of thoughts that culminate in different sects that worship a particular nature of God (e.g., Shiva, Vishnu, Shakti) or a combination of various gods (as is practiced by the Smartas) that dissolves in the ultimate Brahman or the Supreme Being. However, discussion on God and religions is not a simple matter because it does not follow the basic course of hypothesis testing. And yet, in spite of it not falling into any one category or the other of evidential reckoning, it draws its own boundary in spiritual awakening that re-defines empirical evidence as unnecessary in the understanding of the spiritual man. There is a common tendency for mankind to formulate a plausible research question (in most cases, unknowingly), the hypothesis of which when once established, is proven or disproven through a preponderance of similar belief, empirical research, or a mathematical formulation, as is often the case, say, in the field of theoretical physics. In theoretical physics, an awareness of a phenomenon, such as parallel universes, lies outside the scope of empirical evidence, but it is derived either as a likelihood through a secondary related observance (e.g., an observance of a tornado to be associated with the vagaries of nature) or as a possibility based on a mathematical derivation. The idea of god, therefore, can stem from the basic need of human beings to explain an effect through a cause, where the creation of mankind can be seen as an effect for which an omnipotent God is a necessary cause. However, the hypothetical formulation of such a deity does not have any empirical standing because God is elusive and has never manifested Itself/Himself/Herself through a direct contact with people amass, or has only been described as hearsay through the eyes of the lucky or the chosen few who have had direct communication with God. But as stated earlier, such an empirical non-realization does not negate the existence of God. From one point of view, if the existence of God cannot be proven, nor can the alternative hypothesis of there being no God proven. However, for the agnostics and the atheists, there are many hypothetical axioms that have never been proven or disproven, and if one were to accept their occurrence/s, one must also embrace the idea of fairies living in gardens and trolls under the bridges to sustain an understanding of beauty, magic, monstrosity and things that go “thump” at night. But even among the agnostics and the atheists, to nullify the assertion of God’s existence at first requires an acknowledgement of the possibility of God’s existence, because all hypotheses have a certain expectation of an occurrence. One cannot, for example, propose a hypothesis that the earth is triangular unless substantial observances, logic, amass perception, or pre-existing beliefs propel such a hypothetical stance. A strict atheist, therefore, can never be involved in the disapproval of God’s existence because for an atheist there is no God to talk about. The philosophical arguments against God’s existence and the critics who counter-argue for his/her/its existence have played their part in history. But spiritual hypothesis, as stated earlier, need spiritual standing that depends not so much on empirical or mathematical evidence but on the necessity for the “inner self” to gyrate toward an understanding of life after death, and in the process come to a “self-fulfilling” identification of the source of one’s creation. The philosophical agenda to preserve the spiritual deity then lies on the bases of reasoning to assess the cause-effect doctrine that negates the randomization theory of the “big bang”, and in answering the question as to who created the big bang, relies on pointing fingers at something or somebody called “God”. But the cause-effect theory can ultimately lie on hollow grounds when humans by-pass the creation of mankind through God with yet another relevant question as to who created God. The core justification of the existence of God in all religions, therefore, does not or cannot go beyond a termination of the applied spherical argument as to who created the last God standing. On the contrary, the adherents assert the fact that God has always been there, based on a spiritual judgment, and if not that, an acceptance of the message of their religion-based prophet/s or their perceived understanding of divinity. Monotheistic religions’ claim to the existence of God as the ultimate Supreme Being, propagated via communication (scriptures, holy books, through dreams, etc) or sighting of the divine through a messiah or a prophet can be said to be based on the legal terminology of hearsay because to-date no prophet or messiah or god-incarnate has left us any empirical proof in the search of the elusive God, nor has God faced us with the proclamation of Her/His/Its existence. In this respect, the Christian religion allows us little room for argument because it professes the proof of God’s existence in the “divinity” of Jesus Christ. However, to the non-believers there is no validity to the divinity argument of Christ other than referencing it to the New Testament which again does not provide proof of God’s existence (through the body of Christ) as would be required through the vigor necessary in deciphering evidential facts. Miracles performed by Jesus, of course, play a part, but miracles were also performed by saints and prophets in other major religions. Besides, the resurrection of Christ has as many “nay-Sayers” (for example, the Jews and Romans during that time), and Christ’s ascension to heaven has duplicity for the Muslims who also proclaim the ascension of Prophet Mohammed to heaven. The spiritual evidence of God, therefore, can only be explained by a dependency of the self toward inner awareness or feeling (call it faith) that may have been conditioned by the persuasive arguments of believers (however, irrelevant it is to the non-believers), through environmental influences (e.g., attending Sunday school, a madressa, or being born in a God-believing family), or simply by an unexplainable feeling that God exists, in spite of what others in the community believe. While “conditioned” faith (for example, one’s belief formulated by family or community beliefs) provides an intuitive understanding of the origin of faith, the “unconditioned” faith that occurs in some beings (for example, the born again Christians) can only be attributed to an external force or a biological/neurological phenomenon or occurrence within certain bodies, not yet known. It is this select provision by God in providing religious knowledge or birthrights (e.g., the Jews selected as the “chosen people”; the general belief that a Hindu is born, not converted; or being a Muslim places you on a higher hierarchical level as a recipient of the final outcome of sequential “happenings” in the progression of monotheistic religions to a supposedly truer form of the religion) that harbors the same criticism of God being biased as those who proclaim their religion being the only way to heaven, particularly when the claim is directed at those who have had no chance to know “better”. This type of selectivity on the part of God further creates doubts for the agnostics who try to validate their case by cries of unfairness from the supposedly “most-just” God. So while the existence of God holds for the believers, the non-existence of God has a viable if not a “truthful” argument. For all the pros and cons associated with such arguments, the best counter-argument can be summed in the universal usage of the word “faith”, which unfortunately can, in many cases, also be conditioned by teachings, circumstances, and other environmental influences over the life span of human beings.

1 comment:

  1. > I liked your article very much, in fact, I agree with most of it. As I mentioned before, I am convinced (I don't only "believe") that man created God and not the other way around. Of course "convinced" sounds a bit arrogant, but for me "believing" is not "knowing". For a daughter of agnostics, which my parents were but did not call themselves such, and an ex-husband who was a theoretical physicist and a son who is also a scientist, I could not be different...There comes your argument about conditioning, environment, experiences, etc. but in the opposite direction. I would even prefer the designation "atheist", but since I cannot prove the non-existence of God (as the believers cannot prove his existence) I content myself with "agnostic".
    > At the beginning of your article, you could have mentioned the nature of this invisible "being" who ruled their world. Sun, rain, a blue sky and maybe even the sight of beautiful flowers, trees and meadows may have had a soothing and "happy" effect on their soul, but what about earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, fire, thunder and lightening? They must have been frightened by this powerful God and in fact, later on the God of the Old Testament was cruel, brutal and ferocious. It was only with the advent of Christ that through Jesus we get to know a loving God. I am talking only about Christianity since I am not familiar with the other religions.
    > It boils down to, and you said it, either you have faith or you don't. Not the most profound, but I adhere to that. One more thing, if there is a God, I refuse to have anything to do with him, since he lets all these horrible and monstrous things happen to mankind. Is that love???

    Posted on behalf of Christa G.