STORY #172 from Awakenings: Conversations with the Masters (by Anthony de Mello):
The preacher was determined to extract from the Master a clear declaration of belief in God.
“Do you believe there is a God?”
“Of course I do,” said the Master.
“And God made everything. Do you believe that?”
“Yes, yes,” said the Master. “I certainly do.”
“And who made God?”
“You,” said the Master.
The preacher was aghast. “Do you seriously mean to tell me that it is I who made God?”
“The one you are forever thinking about and talking about — yes,” said the Master placidly.
When people ask me if I believe in God, my usual answer would be, “Which one?” The word “God” means different things to different people, even among those who share the same basic belief — notice how Christianity or Islam is divided into different sects, each one convinced that it is they who hold the true interpretation and understanding of God. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who knows?
People create their own image of God, whether consciously or subconsciously. A simple survey of the Old Testament shows this God condemning tattoos (Leviticus 19:28) and banning shrimps from the dinner menu (Leviticus 11:9-12, also see godhatesshrimp.com).
This same God tells you that if you have an especially hard-headed child, you should bring him in front of the people to have him stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18-21). Look at the New Testament where it says that women should keep silent in church and not have authority over men (1 Corinthians 13:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:12) along with its subtle acceptance of human slavery (Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2). Do we still practice any of these today? No. What happened?
In a nutshell, we have reinterpreted God. But of course we do not like it when it is said in such a direct manner, so we have terms like theology and apologetics to make it sound more scholarly. In fact, you can do a quick search on any of the topics listed above and you will find countless online apologists explaining how we should understand the verses, and what is the correct interpretation, and so on.
What is funny is that these apologists also contradict one another at one point or another. But that only underscores my point. We create our own notions of God and we create our own meanings and interpretation of “divine revelation” and “holy scripture.”
While I do hold to the possibility that there is a divine creator being out there somewhere, I don’t believe one bit that the caricatures we have created do him/her/it any justice. And until it shows itself irrefutably to me, I will continue in my own merry, agnostic ways.
Originally published in Sunstar Davao