Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Minuscule God of the Evangelicals Part IV . . . The Magician

If you are old enough you might remember the series (three I think) movies where George Burns played God.  In the first one, to prove that he was God, he appeared in a court room and did a card trick . . . okay then he disappeared.  But to the evangelicals, God's miracles is in the lines of him being a magician . . . or maybe an illusionist.

The problem begins (keeping with the theme of this blog) with the notion that this physical world is unimportant. Therefore for anything to have meaning, it has to be connected to the far more important spiritual realm (so goes their thinking). Therefore, nothing has value unless it is a "miracle."  So then everything becomes a miracle, meaning a super-natural (above the laws of nature) miracle.

Rather than seeing the Red Sea part (a real super-natural miracle) it is, "I ran into Joan at the market . . . obviously a miracle and a God-thing."  This discounts the odds of seeing Joan in a town of 3,000 people at a market where 180 of them are there at any one time.

But it saturates the evangelical thinking.  All illnesses are either caused by the direct hand of God ("God disciplining me") or the devil (see the previous post).  Any resolution of an illness isn't through the natural (God-given in my opinion) forces of our biochemistry of healing but had to be the direct hand of God.

God directs me to a verse in the Bible, rather than the Newtonian laws of forces applied when opening a book.

So these miracles are woven with tissue paper.  But they have no other choice. If they believe that this physical world is crap, rather than an incredibly beautiful place with God-designed complexities and forces, then you have to believe that all things are miracles.  At that juncture you loose all contact with reality.

But, I do believe that God does work outside of nature, but it is rare. My God does things like create universes and the complexities of all that is. I'm very okay with God working within the nature He has created because I love it the way He made it. As Einstein said, either everything is a miracle or nothing is.  I'm in the camp that everything is.  The big bang and on. No, the universe makes no sense, something that big created by a personal being. But the absence of such makes less sense.

So, it is at this point the Evangelicals tell me my God is small the most. It is when they suggest that God did something, like just missing getting hit when you accidentally ran the red light. Then I say, I think it was just being lucky where the timing was just right.  Most the time when you run a red light you survive. But the 10% odds of getting hit are terrible. So, the odds were in your favor.  Then they smirk and say ". . . your God is so small."

8 comments:

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

But, I do believe that God does work outside of nature, but it is rare.

Miracles are Rare and Unusual by definition. If things went "outside of nature" all the time (like Star Trek Voyager's Unknown Space Anomaly of the Week), they are not Miracles. They are what's Normal, and reality is Chaos Unbroken.

So, it is at this point the Evangelicals tell me my God is small the most.

JMJ, I'd like to see you touch why such an Evangelical God has so much appeal. It's like Predestination -- whatever will be, will be. You don't have to do anything, God Will Work It Out.

This is a similar view of God as Mohammed, and you described the results as "a God who is Omnipotent but NOT Benevolent".

Plus, the idea that God is doing All These Nifty Things For ME (and ME alone) is quite a trip. I Am Sooooo Important...

Dana said...

JMJ,

I hope you get time to read Fr Stephen Freeman's blog, http://glory2godforallthings.com

(he recently "upgraded" so the name has changed)

The main thought behind all his writing, which he approaches in a number of ways, is that we actually do live in a one-storey universe. Not saying you have to interact at the blog, just that I think it would help your "detox process" a lot if you were to consider what he writes, since it comes from a very different place than Evangelicalism. He does not usually post every day, and the comments are nearly always worth reading, too, as the conversation develops. I think you would resonate :-)

Dana


Tom Lutke said...

Micheal, I have read Butterflies and Serpents through 3 times (slow at comprehension)and I like what you say. It really helps to answer the question of "if there is a god, why do bad things happen."
The question I have is- what is the purpose of prayer? In the evangelical model, it seems useful to manipulate God.
If God rarely works miraculously, what is the purpose of prayer?
Blessings, Tom

jmj said...

Thanks Tom, for taking the time to read that. I wasn't anyone, but myself, had read it.

If I understanding the New Testament, the purpose of prayer is to persuade God to change His mind, to intervene in the flow of natural history, and to cause a different outcome. But this is us humans seeing on edge as if we live in a two dimensional universe . . .meaning that there may be for more important reasons for it that I don't understand.

Now, I agree with you that the prayer is considered by many Evangelicals is manipulative and certainly the "answers" to those prayers are grossly exaggerated. I mean, I've watched good people (humble missionaries to China) plead with God without ceasing while they watched their 5 year old die from brain cancer. If God choose to not intervene in natural history in that case, why is He getting me good seats at the football game, or controlling the wind so I have a good-hair day? So I think God works outside the natural laws rarely and to assume that he is a genie in bottle at our every beckon for the most trivial things seems to be an egocentric model where God is tiny and fits into our pocket for our good pleasure and control.

Virginia said...

Thank you for your blog and your story, as I was in Maranatha Ministries in the 80s and had similar experiences to yours. As to dualism, the experience I have had is dualistic Christianity presents a God who is "out there". Having Jesus on one's heart is not a mystical union, but a symbolic statement of God's saving grace, which still presents a large chasm between God and us.
Non-dualism, or Oneness, or even Monism, says that Union with man and God is not only possible, but it is the way we were created to be. Therefore when one is in union with God there are no more rules and regulations or dogma, because the relationship is what is preeminent.
Non-dualism would also state that Christ took our suffering upon him so that we could do the same thing: have the grace to stand for the suffering of others as Jesus did. This is the same as the bodhisattva ideal in Buddhist thought.
Christ then, did something far greater than to "save us from our sins". He came to save us from the affects of the FALL, the dualistic nature of the world after the fall, and to be able to return to the garden: the place of non-dualism in our hearts.
If you wish to talk more my e-mail is: witast@aol.com.
In any case thank you for your thoughts on these matters.
Virginia

Virginia said...

Thank you for your blog and your story, as I was in Maranatha Ministries in the 80s and had similar experiences to yours. As to dualism, the experience I have had is dualistic Christianity presents a God who is "out there". Having Jesus on one's heart is not a mystical union, but a symbolic statement of God's saving grace, which still presents a large chasm between God and us.
Non-dualism, or Oneness, or even Monism, says that Union with man and God is not only possible, but it is the way we were created to be. Therefore when one is in union with God there are no more rules and regulations or dogma, because the relationship is what is preeminent.
Non-dualism would also state that Christ took our suffering upon him so that we could do the same thing: have the grace to stand for the suffering of others as Jesus did. This is the same as the bodhisattva ideal in Buddhist thought.
Christ then, did something far greater than to "save us from our sins". He came to save us from the affects of the FALL, the dualistic nature of the world after the fall, and to be able to return to the garden: the place of non-dualism in our hearts.
If you wish to talk more my e-mail is: witast@aol.com.
In any case thank you for your thoughts on these matters.
Virginia

Virginia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom Lutke said...

As I thought more about this, I realized that perhaps even my question comes from a dualistic understanding.

I have a relative who has been diagnosed as having a spinal fluid leak and physicians have now determined that she has a blood clot in her brain. She is being flown to Denver for surgery.

If I can understand, as Einstein believed, that everything is a miracle, then the very fact that physicians have the ability to diagnose and treat such an illness, that we have the ability to fly someone to a more advanced facility and that there are those who have the skills to perform brain surgery is truly a miracle!

My question seemed to assume that most of life is in the physical world and prayer is asking God (from the spiritual realm) to intervene in some miraculous way.
God has been and still is at work