SO WHAT IS GOD?
I hear people talk about the way God saved them from the tsunami or fiery plane crash, or healed them from cancer, or helped them win the Super Bowl, but they never mention the fact that there are many more people God seems to have neglected. What about all of those people who don't get miraculously delivered, or the losers of the Super Bowl? Statistically, more people do not survive catastrophic misfortune than those who do. For every first place winner, there are dozens who finished behind them. It seems incredibly selfish and thoughtless to praise God when you are the sole survivor in a plane filled with one hundred others who died in a fiery crash. Do these happy survivors and winners not know that they are tacitly saying either:
1. God didn't care about all of the others like he cared for me.
2. God loved them so much that he burned them to death so they could go to heaven.
And if heaven is better than earth, then the survivor should be upset that he got left behind. Ironically, they are always happier when they stay alive on earth, though they will all tell you that heaven is a better place, presumably with no road rage or IRS bills.
I think most people don't even think about this stuff. They just sort of understand 'God' to be a synonym for things that worked out for them and their loved ones. But what kind of God would that really be? It's not for me.
IS THERE A GOD GENE, OR PART OF THE BRAIN?
There is clearly something to the God-concept or there wouldn't be so many people adhering to it. God is not going away. Even scientists like Andrew Newberg with his book, Why God Won't Go Away, are saying that we are mentally equipped with some sort of transcendent region in our nervous systems. Even the atheist Matthew Alper, The God-part of the Brain, admits that there is evidence for holy hardwiring. Alper concludes his book by stating that we have now outgrown that primitive divine neural function, and it is time to get over it. Dr. Dean Hamer, the director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute, has written a book titled, The God Gene: How Faith is Hardwired into our Genes. According to this hypothesis, the God gene (VMAT2), does not cause the belief in God, but functions as a physiological arrangement that produces the sensations which some people associate with a feeling of the presence of God or other mystic experiences, or more specifically a spiritual state of mind.
Dr. Carl Jung was one of the first to posit and popularize the idea that the human psyche autonomously produces what Jung called 'God-images' in all cultures and epochs, resulting in myths, rituals and religious activities. Jung refused to dabble in metaphysical speculation about the objective existence of, or essential nature of an actual entity called God. As a scientist, he simply reported what he observed, namely that people in all times and on all continents have concocted some notion of divine beings in one form or another.
I sometimes hear people say things like, "Well, millions believed in a flat earth too, and they were all wrong." Of course they were wrong about the 'flat' part, but they got the 'earth' part right. So too, people may be wrong about their theological speculations about the nature of God, but that something like God exists is an empirical fact.
Clearly then, the God-experience is a standard part of the human psyche, based on the fact that all cultures have had the notion of God(s). That does not mean that any one person or group has exclusive rights on The One True God; that is more than any human or religious group can claim, though most try. That being said, it is also just as possible, even probable, that some people and certain religious groups have a much clearer perception of the God-experience than others.
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