Most of what I write about here is very basic. I often feel it’s just Life 101.
And yet, I keep seeing people speaking and acting as if it’s not, so I am drawn to writing a bit.
When people reject God as depicted in religion, as I did in elementary school, we are often just rejecting certain images of God. They don’t make sense to us, so we – often understandably – reject them.
For instance, if we have an image of God as a man with a gray beard sitting on a cloud, it will be seen as quite childish and ripe for rejection. In modern society, even images of God as a separate entity that helps and/or judges us is often seen as relatively immature and something best rejected.
I have to admit, most of the images of God presented by theistic mainstream religions seem a bit childish. So no wonder many reject these images, and in the process reject religion, God in general, and perhaps even spirituality. (Although in Norway, it seems that most reject religion but are open to spirituality and some ideas of God.)
It seems that the better our lives are in a society, the more likely we are to reject old-fashioned theistic images of God. And in places where there is more inequality and larger portions of us live in poverty and under difficult situations, we are more likely to adopt these images. (And that’s fine. It helps us, and it’s very understandable.)
I have two favorite images of God, both of which seem to work a bit better in modern society, and both of which are non-theistic.
God = reality. God = what is, whatever that may be. This includes our physical universe as described by science and perhaps more. We know only parts of reality so we cannot assume we know God as a whole.
God = Big Mind. The consciousness that everything (universe+) happens within and as, and which makes up this consciousness here that my local experience happens within and as.
A benefit of these two is that we can equally well say it, she, or he about God. I tend to it or she since he has been used so much in our culture. Or I may choose one depending on which aspect of reality we talk about.
Another benefit is that we are free to find the validity, helpfulness, and potential shortcomings of any religion or spiritual tradition. They all have some validity to them. They all may be helpful for some people, in some situations, in some ways. And they all have shortcoming and pitfalls.
So if someone asks me if I believe in God, I may say “yes” or “no” depending on who I talk to. I may explain which images roughly apply in my case. I may mention that it’s not really a “belief” but more a pointer and something to explore. Or I may ask which image of God do you mean?
Note: The painting is by Harmonia Rosales. If God can be depicted – mainly by white men – as an older white guy with a beard, so why not also as a black woman? We tend to create God in our own image.