Friday, January 16, 2009

Watching The Apples Fall

Well, after finishing up that [excellent] Carl Sagan book I have embarked on one that I have wanted to read for a long while now.
The Battle For God: A History of Fundamentalism, by Karen Armstrong.
This one is going to take a while, it is meaty.
I myself am a former [recovering] Christian fundamentalist.
I’ve read stuff by Karen Armstrong before and before, and I just think she is totally fascinating, and extremely knowledgeable [about God]. Not only theoretically knowledgeable, but also experientially knowledgeable. As in, she gave it her all!
No one could have been more dedicated to “serving” [the Roman Catholic] God than Karen Armstrong once was. She found that the process nearly drove her insane.
So now, on the other side of that experience she can speak of “God” in rational terms, in a way that makes total sense.
She’s got my ear!
I love these kind of books that are able to speak about “God” in terms that make sense. Authors like John Shelby Spong, Karen Armstrong, Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, etc.
Even dear old Carl Sagan. I had a good chuckle at the way he answered one audience member who asked if it was likely that science would one day come upon a demonstration of the existence of God.
Sagan said that any “answer” depended on what a person means by using the term “God”.
If one’s definition of “God” is something like “the sum total of the laws of physics” [as my own definition of God would be] then [Sagan’s conclusion →] “surely God exists.”
We already know that much!
“All we have to do is watch the apples drop,” says Sagan.
I agree.

In this sense [if this is how we are defining “God”] then really, there are no such things as atheists!
So… a lot rests upon our interpretation of that word, “God”.
I am not an atheist, by any means.
It’s just that my definition of what “God” is has radically changed.
I no longer believe in the clearly TRIBAL God of the Christian Bible. The one who says in Exodus "Thou shalt not kill" and then a couple pages later instructs the Israelites to go and kill all those "OTHER" people!
As Sagan went on in his response to this audience member “But now take the opposite pole: the concept of God as an outsize male with a long white beard, sitting in a throne in the sky and tallying the fall of every sparrow. Now for that kind of god I maintain there is no evidence.”
I fully agree.
In fact, I once wrote an article, proving [in my opinion] unequivocally and/or beyond any shadow of a doubt, that any concept of a god that “cares” about the fall of even one sparrow [or pigeon] is utterly spurious.
You can read it HERE.
And for an excellent example of the clear-thinking ways
of the late great Carl Sagan CHECK THIS OUT.
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4 comments:

Beth said...

I know you’re vehement about the God not caring/sparrow, etc. issue, but I can’t seem to quite let go of that Sunday School hymn/verse.
The child in me? Or simply another approach to faith?

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

I have a copy of both The Battle for God and A History of God and fully intend to read them both this year.

Over the years I've met several "recovering" fundamentalists, but all were from the Church of Latter Day Saints. I clicked over and read your post and it's now official:

You have made my list of "most fascinating people." ;) I certainly look forward to reading more!

cipriano said...

Beth:
Remember when that girl sang the "Sparrow" hymn in the movie Sister Act? It was so beautiful. Yes, it is nice to believe. There is value in having faith.

Michele:
Thank you. What a lovely comment.
READ KAREN ARMSTRONG.
She's wonderful.

Anonymous said...

How sad one is that has no faith in God. One can be so "well read" that he cannot find the right words to read that would lead him to the real God, who loves him so much. God reveals himself in words, HIS words, the Bible. It's there, and if you read it with as much passion as you read other books, you will find him, I guarantee it. Wish you the best of reading.