What Is God?
Saturday April 24th 2010, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Slices of Life

Recently received the following request on a rabbis’ listserv:

If you’d like to be included in the book, I’d invite you to submit an essay of up to 500 words explaining your God concept.

I am especially interested in the following: (Don’t feel you have to answer them all)
- Do you believe God either intervenes or intercedes in our lives?
- Do you believe that we can interact with God through prayer, ritual, conversation or otherwise?
- If there is a well known theologian with whom you align or disagree, feel free to reference them.
- Are you comfortable sharing your God concept with congregants or do you tend to keep quiet about it?

So. Here’s mine:

G*d is the power that moves and animates the universe.

The Big Bang occurred 13.9 billion years ago; the Bet that begins the Torah. At that moment everything was an undifferentiated colloid of infinite density and temperature. As the explosion unfolded in the first tiny fraction of a second, the laws of physics and chemistry became manifest and our familiar subatomic particles became discernible and began to move in organized fashion.

Within a few minutes, the elements we know emerged and matter continued expanding endlessly, eventually coalescing into billions of galaxies containing trillions of stars, a few of which spun off planets, until somewhere in the midst of one galaxy, our sun split off this Earth and the other planets. At first, they were still fragments of a star, molten hot nuclear furnaces. Our Earth cooled for a few million years until its crust became a gargantuan landmass covered by a liquid ocean floating above the still-molten core.

Eventually, this Pangaea split off into tectonic plates that pushed continents up out of the sea and made the mountains rise until the perfect conditions of temperature and oxygen and carbon and hydrogen happened to occur so that minuscule proto-life forms emerged. Over millions of years they evolved and organized into cells and then into multi-cell organisms to more and more complex lifeforms until they become recognizable as protovertebrates with bilateral symmetry and highly specialized cellgroupings that evolved into organ systems.

These beings thrive and then die off and fossilize and morph in to beings of greater complexity — fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals until eventually hominoids emerge. And then here we all are, each doing our own thing, participating the universal explosion/implosion, trying to get to heaven before they close the door.

The power that makes this all happen, that’s G*d.

The power that makes the knowable physical universe possible, that overcomes the alternative of nothingness, is the same power that drives evolution on this one not very distinguished planet out of billions and creates these marvelous beings that we humans are.

Does this G*d have a human-like personality such that if we do certain things like pray or sacrifice goats or do compassionate actions this G*d will be pleased and stick her proverbial finger into the daily causes and effects we see every day? I do not think so. Doing these things may be good for us; doing these things may be good for our community; doing these things may make a good story; doing these things may participate in the G*d process. But G*d has no more first hand knowledge of our poor powers than we might have of an ant colony thriving in a distant corner of our backyard.

Loosely speaking, this is an update of Spinoza.

Seeing as how I have not functioned as a rabbi for many years (see http://www.defrockedrabbi.com) I am not forced to explain or defend these views to any congregants. If I were I would. If I did, my views might have unfolded otherwise. When someone asks, I tell them.



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