Everyone envisions God. Even those who come down on the side of no God, have in mind some form of being that they deny. Each of us must struggle with our religious heritage, or lack of it, our experiences, our education and our cultural mores in formulating our personal God.
No doubt some of that is dictated by the way in which we choose to view our faith tradition. Those in traditions whether formal or informal, which are rigid and set in stone, tend to have rigid notions of God that can never be changed. Change denotes wrongness and for some, all the reason needed to chuck the entire enterprise. Most atheists were former believers who have been forced to admit that what their tradition teaches cannot be in some respect true. For some, this means the end of all faith. For most of us, it simply means that we are growing up.
My own theology has been stated more than once here. I believe that God is indeed omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. I believe that God created out of Himself by calling creation into being. I believe he ordered the rules of the universe, those physics principles we have uncovered to date, and perhaps some we have yet to uncover.
Out of the primeval “stuff,” natural laws took over, and in the end, systems, stars, planets naturally arose. On some of these planets, life naturally arose, and eventually through a natural process of evolution, something we understand through the lens of 150 years of peer-reviewed study, sentient beings came forth.
Some of those sentient beings evolve to true self-hood, and then what I think is a natural next step: the wondering of how and why they came to be. At that first moment, I imagine God smiling broadly, though I don’t image God as a corporeal being.
I image God as the hand that reaches out in wonder and awe, and lifts up its creature, much as you or I might gingerly pick up a newborn puppy or kitten. So fragile, yet alive. So filled with promise, yet still not able to relate to it’s surroundings. We hold it tenderly, carefully, upholding it safely, and marveling at it. We do not expect anything from it for many months yet, but we are hushed in our joy at this being.
So I see God, holding us, calling to us, waiting with the patience only God can exhibit, waiting, waiting until we look up and wonder why, how, when. God stands ready to begin our spiritual conversation. We have the choice to hear and respond.
That conversation can remain as child to parent, and would seem to in the case of those who demand a God of sharp edges and finite rims. A God that is unchanging, and can be elicited merely by reading a series of writings. Such a God is most limited, most human actually, and not at all mine as it were.
But there are many choices, and each of us makes ours.
There is the avenger God. I know lots of people who love this God. They are frustrated with “how so many people get away with it,” being bad. They don’t see the punishment meted out in this life, but trust that their God will take care of business in the next. The Hitler’s and Madoffs, and criminals will get theirs, they tell themselves. It is not a perfect answer, for they dearly wish to see the ruin of these people, but it probably keeps them from being homicidal.
There is the legalistic God. Lots of people adhere to this model. God, through his “word” set down a whole lot of rules and regulations for living. Follow these, and you get a reward. Don’t and, well you waste your time pretty much. Non-Christians fare badly in this model, as do any who are from churches not deemed “original.” God often becomes the church itself, so following another tradition is walking away from the truth. Ritualistic incantations must be done “accurately” or they are ineffectual. God requires the exact words, and in the right order.
There is the Judge God. Here God puts each person on trial at death, and the scales of justice determine where you go. Those that have on balance done more good than ill, go up, the rest go down. Lots of otherwise “not so spiritual” people see God this way, and I suspect do charitable work in order to up their “good” score.
There is the relationship God. Here God conceives of his creation as precious opportunities to experience life through. God graciously calls us to our Spirit selves, and if granted permission, God works through us for the betterment of all humankind. We are, as creature, in a learning mode, trying our best to fathom this Creator and discern how best to love Him. We recognize that our relationship of I-Thou is meant as a model for how we act in the world.
There is the watchmaker God. God put the watch together, in the universal sense, and sits back or moves on to greener pastures. He has no further part to play, but life simply moves along as best it can. This is a rather pessimistic view, and frankly functions about as well as atheism. In other words, you might as well believe in no God as this one.
There is a God of much bigger things. God is Oneness itself. Planetary concerns are trivial and small in comparison to the grand work that God is engaged in. We will share in this work when we move on after death. Or there is no work, but full communion of minds. In which case, it most resembles I would guess Buddhism.
I imagine you can guess how I envision God. I have no doubt that there are a hundred variations on these themes and plenty of others as well. We are unique creatures, each of us, and no doubt, we are right to see God in our own unique way. But I maintain, that how we envision our Creator probably says more about us as creature than it does about God. What are you learning about you by the way you see God? It’s a good thing to explore something.