Monday, July 1, 2013
God: Impersonal Force or Being of Personality
A friend recently asked me if I thought God was an impersonal force or personal being. Here is my response:
I do understand and appreciate the idea of a neutral impersonal Force as found in Star Wars, but these days it is losing its appeal more and more. I have come to experience the Ground of Being as more than impersonal, and more than a neutral force to be manipulated by humans. This Force concept is a handy one, and I think a necessary one for the evolution of consciousness, but it seems weak, illogical and anemic lately. I ran across this statement by C.S. Lewis a few weeks ago and it rings more true than not these days:
“One reason why many people find Creative Evolution so attractive is that it gives one much of the emotional comfort of believing in God and none of the less pleasant consequences. When you are feeling fit and the sun is shining and you do not want to believe that the whole universe is a mere mechanical dance of atoms, it is nice to be able to think of this great mysterious Force rolling on through the centuries and carrying you on its crest. If, on the other hand, you want to do something rather shabby, the Life-Force, being only a blind force, with no morals and no mind, will never interfere with you like that troublesome God we learned about when we were children. The Life-Force is a sort of tame God. You can switch it on when you want, but it will not bother you. All the thrills of religion and none of the cost. Is the Life-Force the greatest achievement of wishful thinking the world has yet seen?”
~ Lewis, Mere Christianity, What Lies Behind the Law?
I call the Force illogical because I can't see how a neutral force could manufacture such a rational, albeit unfinished, universe. I have never seen anything irrational produce something rational. To say that the evolution of humanity, moving from rubbing two sticks together to building an accelerator that smashes two atoms together, has resulted from an impersonal irrational force is, well, inadequate to me. Lightening is an impersonal force, but I have yet to hear of a lightning strike in the forest resulting in a log cabin, let alone something like the Metropol Parasol. I think those who accuse humans of attributing human qualities to God (antropomorphizing) have it backwards; it is more likely that the Source (Force) behind human existence has attributed Its qualities to the humans who have emerged from it. I think the Hebrew myth is more accurate than others when it states that "mankind is made in the image of God." The log cabin or Metropol Parasol tells us more about the humans who made it than the other way around; the Mona Lisa tells us more about Leonardo than the other way around. When I see a log cabin or work of art, I wonder what human made it. When I see a human being I do not wonder how many log cabins he made, or Renaissance masterpieces she painted. Human personality arose from the Builder rather than the Builder arising from the human personality.
I grant that the concept of an impersonal force is handy, as Lewis says, and it suited me handily when I was living as I pleased, but that philosophy didn't work out so well. It nearly killed me and affected many others around me. I do believe that we humans get to experiment with all sorts of creative and different ideas and experiences. The fact that we can wander about this fascinating labyrinth we call life on planet earth, and imagine philosophies like that of an impersonal force, suggests to me that such an idea has some truth and value in it--one from which we may learn many things. However, more and more I believe that though the labyrinth has innumerable rooms to explore, there is a single and truthful exit. Getting there is the thing...and a person just knows when he/she is running into walled up corridors, or exiting into a entirely new Reality. I think that Reality will say something to me when I get there.