“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”
— Nietzsche, The Gay Science
Spoken like a true atheist. This quodlibet from Nietzsche’s work has been studied and discussed for years. Some have interpreted the work as a denunciation for Christian morals to align with the state’s laws. Others have interpreted the work as a call for atheism. Some have just simply felt that it’s a badass quote to be used in a hardcore death metal song.
Bully for them. I feel differently.
In middle school, I was an atheist. Being “Jewish by blood” or “culturally Jewish”, I surrounded myself with cynics and others who firmly believed there was no such thing. Their explanations were simple and went something like this:
“Why would God exist? God is a made up thing that cavemen made to feel a moral guidance. First it was Gods, plural, in order to show appreciation for life and the nature around them. But once science began to explain everything, Gods turned into God because… well everything else was established through science. The only thing that wasn’t established was their current morals. So religions, especially the monotheistic ones, raced to have the most defiant morals and thus Christianity spread the most… Today Islam. But now we have legitimate governments, so why even care about God?”
Nietzsche would be so proud. Atheism regarded the unexplained facets in Jewish faith, thus I believed it. But as time would go, and rather brutal fights defending Judaism ensued, I’d be driven to pursuing what it meant to be Jewish. Aside from previously mentioned lessons in Judaism (via previous blogs), I saw how Jews loved to argue… Look, regular people argue but Jews LOVE to argue and debate about EVERYTHING. It’s no wonder the messiah won’t come. We can’t agree on anything!
So what makes Judaism bearable? Luckily, there’s this great side book to the Torah called The Talmud. This handy book alleviates all stresses providing interpretations and writings that analyze the old text. The lesson that I’d pick up in college is that much of Judaism changes over time thanks to eventual agreements that Jews make. For example, we don’t sacrifice goats to extinguish the sins of a community anymore. We don’t stone non-believers for not practicing the sabbath. We’re different from the ancient Hebrews because we realized that it was time to adapt.
After learning that and the ultimate evolution of Judaism to what it is now, I now practiced personal exploration – what do I believe? I wanted to believe in G-d, but how? I ask how, in the sense that science already explained everything I knew.
“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”
Despite my immense appreciation for the boldness in Nietzsche’s work, I have a love affair for Albert Einstein. Looking up to him and his teachings, religion certainly was a particularly influential view that connected with me. He not only was able to pursue science, but did so without abnegating his faith as many other scientists have. Being a Jew (one who almost became prime minister of Israel), he circumvented the atrocities of the holocaust and made all of his successes a reality in the United States. In the peek of his fame and glory, his belief in G-d remained ambiguous. In some interviews he claimed to being a believer wherein others, he shot down the need of him/it. Today it remains a mystery.
Summing all this up, I have come to my conclusion on what I believe. Being that Judaism is now an incredibly interpretive religion (inconclusive in nature sometimes) and being that it is absolutely possible for religion and science to coalesce in a truly meaningful and enlightening manner… we must remove the personification of G-d. Let me explain:
Why is G-d only a king and not an emperor if he is the “king of kings”? Why is G-d a he and not a she? Why isn’t it a Queen? If this is a he, assuming it’s an ever powerful man, how is he everywhere? Is G-d a nice or a cruel leader? Who anointed him this power to rule over us? Why do we even need a G-d and does he actually provide free will? Why does he allow evil to exist? What really happened to Jesus? And what about the other Gods from other religions? If G-d is concrete, why are there so many questions about it/him?
I don’t expect anyone to answer these questions with one hundred percent certainty. I certainly don’t expect anyone to answer these questions in a manner that will convince me. My point is that personifying such a powerful… thing, for lack of better term, is problematic. And also, interpreting the Torah, Bible, and/or Quran for its literal words is a rampant problem as well. The books are meant to be interpretive which allows them to be as enlightening as they are dangerous. It’s the very hands that hold them that make them either tools or weapons.
This still doesn’t answer the question as to what G-d is.
“In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written
‘The kingdom of God is within man’
Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men
In you, you the peopleYou the people have the power
The power to create machines
The power to create happiness
You the people have the power to make life free and beautiful.”
-Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator
Without personification, G-d becomes what we interact with everyday. This magnificently large and vast world is too great to be controlled by one personified myth so let’s make sure that “God is dead” and become the ubermensch that senses, in its own post humanistic way, that we are connected to infinity. Everything we touch, everything we breathe, everything we are becomes G-d. But it goes beyond just interaction in life. It goes to the point where G-d becomes synonymous with being in motion. Being that the only direction in life is forward, G-d is our ability to even move. We’re all cogs in a giant machine that extends beyond Earth. In a domino effect, the gears turn from person to person, interconnecting us with everything. The fact that I woke up this morning, somehow allowed that asteroid in space to keep nearing Earth. The fact that the pope ate lunch today, has given you the ability to read this blog.
These are rather far fetched conclusions, I concur, but it is rather ignorant to deny the universes interconnectivity to its multi-layered traits. So yes, you reading this in disbelief does allow for a window to break all the way in Bagdad.
Without a doubt in my mind, I know I sound crazy. I don’t care. But why I choose this conclusion above all else is for the reason that it could be applied to everything. Literally, if you believe in Jesus, Mohammed, Adonai, or any of the Gods that exist in this world, all you have to remove is the pride factor and realize that all of these gods are synonymous with one another. If all religions are nearly the same, with equivalent teachings in different words, then why can’t their gods be? Once you do this, saying that you believe in Zeus is the equivalent of saying that you believe in the same thing but in a different language. It all means the same thing! The only difference would be cultural background. I believe in this practice for the sole reason that it doesn’t undermine any other faiths by just existing. Believing in this sense of the word “God” doesn’t even deny that science is legitimate. Let’s not be lame or blind as Einstein warns. Let’s open our eyes and see everything! If anything, it shows further appreciation and respect towards each others’ beliefs. If we all learn to adapt to each others’ “languages” and the synonymous implications that come with it, all of the worlds gears can turn in peace.