I met a friend last week who asked me if I still believed in God. I responded with my usual, “which God?” and he said, “Oh, I get it.”
I no longer believe the God that I used to believe (the Judeo-Christian God), but sometime in my journey from belief to unbelief, I came across a book called Conversations With God written by Neale Donald Walsch. I would eventually come to think of Walsch as another quack because of reasons I won’t go into here, but there was something in his writings that rang true. The book is written as a dialogue, Walsch would write a question on paper, and then somehow would be “moved” to write the answer, without thinking or editing. He would just write and he took that as God speaking through him.
In Walsch’s book, God explains that he has largely been misunderstood, that people were mistaken in taking the Bible literally as His one and only word, that it should instead be seen as man’s attempt to reach for the mysterious, and that there are many such scriptures and many such attempts to communicate and reveal the divine.
“So what do you want from us?” Walsch asks.
And God replies, “Nothing,” and if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. You only want something you don’t have. And a being who has or is everything surely wants nothing.
In contrast, the God I knew had a lot of strange desires and his methods of acquiring them were even more strange. For example, he wants people to love him and obey him of their own free choice, and the way he goes about it is to create this world, then the first man and woman, then tell them that they shouldn’t eat the fruit of a tree that he puts right smack in the middle of the garden where they are.
When that plan goes awry (predictably), he curses them and their offspring to eternal torment and suffering unless they believe in the Savior, his son, who is also himself, whom he sacrifices to himself, because really, someone has to die, but don’t worry, it’s not a real death because he gets to live again happily ever after, but it satisfies the bureaucratic, not to mention, primitive requirement of blood atonement.
After all that, it is quite refreshing to hear a God who says, “Really, I don’t want anything from you — not your obedience or your obeisance, not your praise or adoration, not even your love. Because what could you possibly offer to me that I don’t already have? What could you possibly add to the totality of what I already am? I don’t even care if you believe me or not. It doesn’t matter at all. It really doesn’t.”
But what about heaven and hell? What about doing good or bad?
Well, according to this God, there is no heaven nor hell, and not even good or bad. To understand this, he explains the purpose of creation — In the beginning, there was only God, and there was nothing that wasn’t God. But God only knew himself as God conceptually but not experientially. For example, a man born blind would have no concept of light or darkness, or colors, or even shades of grey, because there is no point of comparison. Only a person who has experienced light can know what darkness is, and vice versa. Similarly, only someone who has experienced Not-God could experience what God was. But God was all there is so he could not experience himself.
God, however, could not make “Not-God” for he was all there is. So he had to make a part of himself forget that it was God, and that part is called creation. And that creation is a means by which God can now experience himself. All of human experience, therefore, the good, bad and the ugly is just a way for God to experience himself. All the pain and suffering we go through, as well as all the joy and laughter, is all part of the experience of God. There is no heaven nor hell, because when anything dies, it simply goes back to being God.
Now for me that is an interesting concept, and although I don’t really believe in everything Walsch writes one hundred percent, this one makes a lot of sense. And if I do hold a belief about God, then this is a God I can believe in.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao.