Issue #68 (July 1987)
The word "God" seems to me a perfectly useful word. I find that most of those who do not believe in God nevertheless have some central, ultimate focus in their outlook. But this focus, or meaning, or whatever it is to various individuals, has no name. There is no word for it. Now, if one does not believe in God, one has a word without a meaning. If we have a word with [quoteright]no meaning and a meaning with no word, we may as well be efficient and assign the word "God" to that meaning. If you, as I do, believe in God, using the word in this way does not change the meaning of the word for us. Having thus defined atheism away, there remains room for many opinions about the whole subject of God, the Universe, or whatever.
I work hard to form my opinions. Others should form their own and not copy mine. I do not mean we should not help each other, or that one should not use the thoughts of others to form a personal outlook, but that the personal outlook one forms should be one's own. Now, here is the Ecphorizer giving space to a forum on personal cosmologies and other intimate ultimacies. Such matters are speculative, even if useful in forming one's personal concept of self. As with the other contributors, what I offer cannot be pure TRUTH for all. I only offer it in case others find it helpful in forming their own systems.
I suppose some would call me a pantheist. But to me pantheism seems to see the Universe as the Flesh of God. There is not that difference between the Creator and the created, which would be desired by one who would pray, but not to a tree. I have actually been accused of Platonic idealism, but no, we are not looking at shadows. What we see, however unclearly, is both the ideal and the real, the idea. The Universe, ourselves, and even God are God's idea.
I now invite you to play God. That is not sarcasm or sacrilege. It is instructive, fun, and possibly even healthy. Imagine, as I imagine God to imagine, a Universe. Design it as you will, but people it with sentient beings who are born, hatched, or whatever, live a life, and die. Decide for yourself how time shall flow here, or whether it will, or even if time shall be. Put in whatever details you consider important.
Now turn your thoughts to something else for a while. While you thought of other things, what became of your Universe? Nothing. If you happened to have defined it as going on forever, it did go on forever while you thought of it. Your forgetting it changes nothing. Your dying would change nothing. The thought is thunk.
So if we are an idea rather than a creation, we escape having to explain creation out of nothing. But the question remains — if we are God's idea, who thought of God? I suppose it could be that we ourselves did, or do. People have been accused of creating God in our own image. More satisfying, perhaps, is that notion of something being self-existent. In my own explanation, God thinks of Himself; God is God's own idea. "In the beginning was the Word." Verbal tense and prepositions of time have no meaning here if time is a part of the idea. There is no "before" or "after." One night I slept and dreamed that I was, and thus I am.
Theologist JERRY BRYSON is the coordinator of the Mensa Esperanto SIG. He lives in Richmond, VA.