Chapter 4 - Does God Exist? Well Yes and No.
Updated: Apr 27, 2022
DOES GOD EXIST?
WELL YES AND NO.
This question, does God exist? has puzzled mankind since people first started thinking about anything except getting enough to eat. The answer is actually quite simple once we really understand exactly what the question means.
People have always been aware that, while they have a high degree of freedom of choice in their lives, there are other forces and happenings at work over which they have little or no control, but which influence their lives in a variety of ways. They take for granted consistent events that can have huge impacts, like the sun coming up every morning, plants and animals being around to eat, and lakes and rivers being there to provide fresh water. It is only when these things change or cease that they question why. Since primitive people had little or no knowledge of science or the existence of the universe, they came to believe that supernatural beings controlled these events, that these beings granted access to or withheld the events depending on the behaviour of the people. The people gave them names and endowed them with supernatural powers and sought to appease them or bribe them with offerings of food, trinkets, wealth and sacrifices.
As people became more knowledgeable and sophisticated, they realized how everything was linked. How plants grew because of sunlight and water, how animals persisted because of procreation, as did people, and how good times could easily become bad times if the cycles were interrupted, or new dangers appeared seemingly from nowhere. People came to believe that all these interlinked events that impacted their lives were not the result of random chance, but were caused by some beings deliberately. These beings were obviously very powerful, and because the events often didn't make apparent sense, were capricious as well. And so mankind invented Gods. These beliefs have persisted for thousands of years, becoming more and more refined as knowledge and science filled in the unknowns. Aided and abetted by priests, witch doctors, evangelists and others who claimed to have the inside track on what pleased or angered their Gods, the beliefs became embedded in the cultures, varying mostly by the number of Gods and their personal characteristics. Whether one God or many, this, or these, beings were in control and we had better honour and please them or we would suffer. And the self-appointed priests were the intermediaries, so we had to keep them happy too so they would put in a good word for us.
We know, as a fact, that the universe exists and we are part of it, a very, very small part. This universe is in a state of constant change as it expands, or contracts and interacts in some places maybe, but it definitely changes. It is not in a state of chaos even if it seems like it. Chaos is a state of complete disorder with no rules and no patterns. Our universe does have rules and laws, like the law of gravity, the law that states that two material objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time. the law of conservation of energy and so on. The universe behaves in accordance with natural physical laws and so is not in a totally chaotic state. It just seems that way because of the infinite number of events occurring at the same moment as when galaxies collide and stars supernova, and asteroids collide with planets. And when it snows in New York in July! The significant feature of the universe is that every part of it interacts with every other part, both in major and observable ways, and also in small, remote and unnoticeable ways. We are all living in our corner of the universe, affected by everything that is happening out there, and adding our own bit of input - remember free will. That force, the total of everything that exists in the universe, the sum of all matter and energy, indefinable and immeasurable except in a very local sense, is what human beings call God. And it very definitely exists, and we are very definitely affected by it. The "Force" is amongst us!
The problem that causes all the fuss is, is that Force sentient? That is the real question we are asking and arguing about. By sentient, I mean self-aware, conscious of its own existence, and capable of making decisions, and initiating acts or happenings. The universe is made up of both inanimate and sentient beings but as a whole entity it is not sentient. Put another way, a crowd of people is composed of sentient beings, capable of human emotions, rational thought, and possessed of free will. On the other hand, the crowd as an entity does not. The crowd isn't aware that it is a crowd, only the people in it are. The crowd doesn't make decisions, only the members of the crowd do. The crowd does not act of its own will, only the combined actions of the individuals within it dictate what it will do. The people are sentient, the crowd is not. The crowd possesses features which may vary as time and the actions of the individuals that make up the crowd change. Some areas of the crowd may be peaceful and happy, other parts angry and violent, the essence of the crowd changing depending on the size and influence generated by the different "cells" within the crowd. The crowd as a whole moves in a direction dictated by the movement of the sentient beings within it and the impact of non-sentient forces like the weather, and the terrain. Life in the universe is sentient, the universe itself is not. The universe, or the Force, which is what we call God, is not sentient. The universe will not answer prayers, it will not initiate actions for good or evil, it will not act deliberately, or spontaneously, it will not arbitrarily start wars, kill millions, murder children, or love them. Only we, as sentient beings in the universe can do that. God is a universal crowd! We live in a fantastic universe full of wonderful and scary things, but it doesn’t give a damn about us.
All of this does not necessarily negate the need for religion. Spiritual life exists in us as human beings, and giving ourselves some structure, ritual, and spiritual guidance is a good thing - when it doesn't involve imprisoning or killing those who have a different viewpoint, and when it is based on reality not fantasy. The violent disagreements between religious groups typically stem from different interpretations of what people think their sentient version of God wants of them. So lets develop rational religions based on our need for companionship, community, focus and meaning by understanding as much as we can, the real nature of God as the universal Force, and how we can survive within its structure while maintaining human spiritual values of love, compassion, comradeship, kindness, civility and generosity. The job of religion is to discover and understand the composition and direction of the crowd force, and then use that knowledge to structure a harmonious, sustainable environment for all life on earth.
We have made amazing discoveries in science and nature and have increased our knowledge and awareness of ourselves and our universe exponentially. It is time to start living our lives, and making decisions based on science and reason, not blind faith and ignorance. Where faith ends, reason begins.
The more we understand and synchronize our needs and wants with the rhythm of the universe, and coordinate with the Force, the more likely we will be to achieve our goals. An old but true sixties' saying was "Go with the Flow", and that is the way to go.
So there's the answer, God exists - as the whole universe, as the Force, as the Crowd, but God as a sentient being does not exist.
The universe impacts our individual lives, and we in turn affect the universe.
Faith does not change the facts, but facts can and should change beliefs.