A Reflection 2019
Funny being asked to write this because by myself I would not have thought to write something about my religious ideas. I was raised and was a very involved Presbyterian in Sydney. I was very much a Reformed Christian sincerely believing all that that involved and preaching regularly in my church. I read Elaine Pagels Gnostic Gospels and suddenly a whole world opened up, I discovered that the early church was not as I had been taught. I read a lot and realised that I had been deceived, much of what I had been lead to believe was simply not true. I guess the worst part was in discussion with various church officials I discovered they to knew this and simply decided never to mention it.
That really is a very simple version of a process of reading and study that took me over 20 years. I kept a blog for many years and rereading it now I see the anguish, anger and often hostility emerge and dissipate over time. I moved in my thinking from a Reformed position to Panentheism to atheism. The Sea of Faith helped me with that, I was part of the Sydney group and helped to organise the first Sydney conference. It was wonderful to hear Don Cupitt speak and to spend time speaking with Lloyd Geering, a truly remarkable man. Sadly whilst I understood Lloyds commitment to the Christian church I could not share it. So I walked away from the church completely.
I have been content with my position on God and have seen little reason to change it until recently. I am convinced of two central ideas:
1) There is no “God”
2) There is no possibility that a being I could call “God” could conceivably exist.
The first I think is hardly a new position although the second I think deserves a minimal explanation. I feel that it is highly unlikely for a theistic style God to exist and conceal that existence. I do not consider being more powerful is enough to merit the title of “God” so hence I feel it is close to a zero possibility that such a being exists.
So you might ask, what has changed? Again my reading and of course now listening to the wonderful variety of podcasts a newish conception has been slowing growing. In particular
Yuval Noah Harari’s books and speeches and also Jordan Peterson (Maps of Meaning in particular). The idea that the concept of “God” is in fact shorthand for the power of the evolving human mind in particular the power of language to describe and then create the world. So the concept of God, and the associated beliefs are actually a reflection of the combined human “mind” reflected directly in the development of human language. Like the idea of Tillich that God is the “ground of being” except “God” is shorthand for the collective wisdom of humanity embodied in our language. Very much like Jung’s “collective unconscious” but again totally embodied and expressed in our language. So our highest aspirations and our deepest knowledge is revealed through our language, in our stories, in our theology, in our philosophy and also in our daily discourse.
As part of this I have been drawn again to the Christian tradition. Feeling that it expresses the highest of these aspirations for me, I realise that is more than partly due to my own upbringing and experience. However when I look at the progressive Christian movement I find strong interests in Indigenous issues, the environment and gender issues; whilst I am engaged with each politically I have little interest in these as faith issues, so the movement does not draw me. In the same way I find traditional forms of worship very much like a pantomime and cannot honestly participate with genuine engagement. Talking with many friends of different views I find in this a commonality. A feeling that the Christian faith has value but little to no interest in any form of worship.
As always life goes on, thinking, reading and meditation go on and with them the march of the human heart.