A fellow professor and I meet once a week to discuss the world. It usually ascends to the topic of man, god, and the universe at some point. We essentially agree in the basic premise that we are ice cubes floating down the river. For him, that is all, he eventually melts. I, on the other hand, join his perspective with my own: “We are all ice cubes descending down the river to the sea.
In the above analogy, God is water and the ocean. Like all water on planet Earth, we all join the sea. Some of us go through glaciers, other rain. This joins with the metaphor of fate being the river, and agency being your choice whether to swim upward or downward, or to stay steady. Nonetheless, this week our conversation branched out into the philosophies included in this simple perspective.
We talked about contemporary authors Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. The former writes “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.” (Hitchens, 2007) While the latter pens “The God Delusion.” (Dawkins, 2006). They each publish powerful critiques of religion and god respectively. Ironically, they are criticizing all art through examining finger painting.
What I mean by this, is that they take the definitions of god which come from the basic religions rather than detailing the deeper concept of the nature of reality. Put simply, God does not come from religion. These codifications and commodifications of God come from humanity as a way of organizing themselves. The Professor asked if I would eliminate all religion. I laughed and said of course not. These are two equally balanced and opposing forces, science and religion.
Ultimately science leads to utilitarianism, or the idea that justice is the most good for the most people. Religion leads to wars and slavery as well. Both are wrong at the extremes, just as heat is healthy but supernovae are unhealthy. True power comes from the balance, the sweet spot where the two poles balance and resist, where two magnets of the same pole resist each other.
Nonetheless, what is the core of what we are saying here? What we state is that God is the infinite and everlasting which is present in all places at all times. Some call this the energy of the universe, others the laws which govern it. Neither is entirely right. The Absolute infinite is where the concept of deity descended from. Intellectuals with the capabilities of Dawkins and Hitchens contrast the basic tenets of elementary spirituality with secondary school science.
A more powerful comparison comes from examining graduate science and graduate spirituality. When a thinker does make this level of investigation, he or she finds that the two fields intersect quite nicely. The gift of great minds is to find the bridge and the unity even if they must travel through division. It is easy to divide, difficult to unite. I was born and raised by avowed atheists and I deeply examine both perspectives. Once I found the bridge I found peace.
One thing Hitchens and Dawkins clearly show is that division is becoming too expensive on planet earth. It lies upon leaders to bring people together rather than to divide them. I hope to share my journey to peace. Although it is no milquetoast path, no worthwhile ones are.
Dawkins, Richard (2006). The God Delusion. New York: Houghton Miffin
Hitchens, Christoper (2007). God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Newy York: Hachette Book Group