SOFT THEISM – A MORE CREDIBLE CONCEPT OF GOD
Soft Theism – Means believing in the probability of a general God not tied to any particular religion. It means a belief that some ultimate intelligence probably created the universe, rather than the universe created itself out of nothing. The word “soft” reflects the fact that the existence of God is beyond objective verification; we cannot know for certain that God exists, or does not exist.
A Non-Intervening God – My life experience convinces me that God does not intervene in any tangible way; He/She/It doesn’t answer prayers or do miracles; He just lets the natural world run. He is largely deistic, in that He seems not to care; yet, ultimately, I think He does care. It doesn’t make sense to me that He would create all this drama and meaning on our planet, and not care.
Nature Itself a Miracle – I don’t believe in breach-of-nature miracles, but I believe that nature itself… IS a miracle. Life itself, intelligence itself, consciousness itself, are miraculous, and point to an intelligence beyond nature. A human being popping out of a rock would be a supernatural event, but isn’t that exactly what has happened over billions of years? We’re here and we emerged from rock.
To me, it makes sense to posit some ultimate source for intelligence. Intelligence coming from intelligence makes more sense than intelligence emerging by itself out of mere molecules and the consciousness-less laws of physics.
A Lifeforce – I think the fact that we grow from babies to adults, that our hearts beat for a lifetime, that our bodies have the capacity to heal, is evidence of an intangible but real… lifeforce that supports us.
To an atheist, there’s nothing supernatural about this lifeforce. To me, it is supernatural and magical, in that some unfathomable power makes it work. The laws of nature explain how everything works, but they don’t explain their own existence, or their own power. The atheist says healing is natural; I say, of course it’s natural, but it is, ultimately, supernatural.
Evidence of God’s Care – I think there is no hard evidence of God’s care, like answered prayers or miracles. But, I see soft evidence, in the form of some general tendencies: 1) Our species is a largely thriving species. 2) We are not at the mercy of everything. Life is not a total crapshoot, but is navigable through the use of reason. 3) Our bodies have the remarkable capacity to heal. 4) We all have some powerful, emotional experiences that point to beyond the ordinariness of life.
Of course, there is the negative side of each of these factors; many people suffer, and do not thrive. But, I conclude that the purpose and meaning of human life, is to strive to be moral and joyful, in a seriously challenging environment.
An Omni-Benevolent God – I think it is delusional to pretend God is all-loving, as many Christians do. God gives us beautiful sunsets, but also deadly diseases. He is clearly a very mixed entity. God, if He exists, is NOT all-loving. But, I think it’s reasonable to theorize He is… ULTIMATELY loving, since love is the most transcendent force we experience in the world we find ourselves in.
Problem of Evil – The problem of evil is a powerful argument against the existence of God. The excess of evil, its often gratuitous nature, can be said to disprove God. Atheists will say, “Just walk into any children’s hospital, and you know there is no God.”
But I think there is a theoretical answer to the problem of evil, and that is: An afterlife of ultimate justice. Mathematically, any number, no matter how big, approaches zero if put over infinity. Likewise, any suffering, no matter how great, compared to an infinity of happiness, approaches zero.
Of course, the problem is that an afterlife is speculative, theoretical. Just like for God, we can’t know that an afterlife exists.
The First Cause Argument – For me, the First Cause argument for God, outweighs the problem of evil argument against God. For every thing in the world, there is an antecedent cause, but if there is no God, no uncaused first cause, you end up with an infinite regress of purely physical causes. (Science never ends.) Accepting that scenario, makes less sense to me than positing a God to stop that infinite regress of physical causes. The Big Bang seems to indicate a sudden beginning out of nothing, not an infinite regress of physical causes.
God does not make good sense, but makes more sense to me… than no God, and a universe here without cause or reason.
Communication from God – Now, if there is a God, it makes sense that He would communicate with us in some way. And the world is full of religions that claim God communicates with us through them. I strongly disagree, except insofar as these organizations, scriptures, or persons say something reasonable and compassionate. Rather, I think God communicates with us, non-tangibly, but directly, through two great voices – reason and compassion. Whatever reason dictates, that is what God wants us to do. Whatever compassion dictates, that is what God wants us to do. And reason and compassion are magically and consistently available to everyone, regardless of culture.
Worshipping God – The theology of Soft Theism is very simple: Be a good person! Make people happier, make life better. That is the proper way to worship God.
Traditional forms of worship – ceremony, ritual, prayer, praise, expressions of submission, belief, and loyalty – that’s not worship. That’s just groveling. The real God has got to be better than a giant cosmic ego.
Besides, God does not merit our unreserved love, because of the problem of evil, and He knows it. God does not expect us to love Him, or like Him, but for us to behave well. That is how to love God.
COMPARING MY GOD to the CHRISTIAN GOD
The God I believe in the probability of, does not have a church in virtually every town in the country, but I think He is far more credible than the Christian God. Let’s compare what the Christian God teaches, to what my God teaches.
The Christian God regards humans as inherently evil (Gen 8:21). My God regards humans as inherently free, to be either good, or evil.
The Christian God teaches that guilt and redemption are established by third parties (Adam and Jesus, Rom 5:19). My God teaches that we all individually responsible for our own behavior.
His highest values are belief and obedience (Adam and Eve, Gen 3:17). My God’s highest values are reason and compassion. (Belief cannot be the prime virtue. Belief in what? Belief in which competing religion? Unreasoned belief in a religion is not a virtue; it’s a sin.)
Condemns atheists (Jn 3:18). My God loves atheists who are good people.
Tortures numerous people, without end, in Hell (Rev 14:11) yet claims to be a God of love!! Gives every person exactly what they deserve (though we have no way of knowing how that would play out).
Condones slavery, referring to humans as “property” (Lev 25:44-46). Condemns slavery as an intrinsically evil social institution.
Commands the slaughter of entire groups of people – men, women, children, babies, and animals (1 Sam 15:3). My God would never do that.
Promises whatever you pray for, will be granted (Mk 11:24). Does not respond to petitionary prayer. He lets the natural world run.
Contradicts Himself constantly (1 Kg 15:5 ≠ 2 Sam 24:10). Contradicts Himself by the problem of evil, but makes no specific contradictory statements.
Makes prophecies that are either demonstrably false (Jesus was not a military leader, Mic 5:2-6 ≠ Jn 7:42), or unimpressive. Makes no prophecies other than the general prediction that good behavior engenders more good behavior, and bad behavior, more bad behavior.
Contradicts science when describing various animals (Job 39:13-16). Cannot be demonstrated by science, but does not contradict science by any statements.
Condemns homosexuals (Lev 18:22, Rom 1:26-27). Judges people by their kindness, not their sexual orientation.
Deemed an ethnic group as His “chosen people” (Dt 7:6). Has no “chosen people,” other than good people.
Values men over women (Lev 27:3-4; 1 Cor 11:3). Regards men and women of equal value.
Discriminates against handicapped people (Lev 21:17-23). Regards them of equal value, with equal rights.
Thinks witches need to be killed (Ex 22:18). Denies that people with magical powers exist, much less need to be killed.
Commands people to brutally kill family members who decide to leave the religion (Dt 13:6-10). Would never command such a thing.
Regards David as a man after His own heart (Act 13:22). Regards David as a profoundly immoral person who murdered a man to get his wife.
Advises to forgive without limit (Mt 18:22). Advises not to forgive endlessly, because the person’s repentance is not sincere after the third or fourth time, obviously.
Demands blood for forgiveness (Heb 9:22), and is pleased with animal sacrifices (Ex 29:18) Regards this sacrificial system to be as primitive and stupid as you can get.
Believes in the evil-demon theory of disease (Mt 8:31-33). Believes in the germ theory of disease.
Assures us He will take care of us, just as He feeds the birds (Mt 6:26). Warns us to take care of ourselves; otherwise, we might not survive, just as 50% of birds do not survive (New Scientist, Jan, 1969, pp. 121-122).
Is egotistical (Job 40:2-6), jealous (Ex 20:5), and wrathful (Jn 3:36). Is
seemingly neutral, and non-intervening, yet has created a world with some general karma.
WHO WAS JESUS?
People are culturally indoctrinated to perceive Jesus as the ultimate role model, as God’s representative, as the wisest and most virtuous of men. But if one looks at him objectively, he was not that, but was really… a religious extremist, who constantly overstated for the sake of impact, at the expense of truth.
Claiming you can move a literal mountain (Mt 21:21), or walk on water (Mt 14:31), through just faith, is extremist. Threatening eternal condemnation for non-belief in him, is extremist (Jn 3:18). Labeling remarriage adultery, is extremist (Mk 10:11). Praising self-castration for the kingdom of God, is extremist (Mt 19:12). Advising forgiving a person 490 times, is extremist (Mt 18:22). Claiming the world is about to end in his lifetime, is extremist (Mt 24:34).
I accept his good teachings; I reject his bad teachings. And because he had some seriously bad teachings, I reject his theology and his claim to divinity.
I am convinced that the ultimate source of love, joy, and beauty, is not the false Christian God, but the more credible God… of Soft Theism. And, should God not exist, these treasures exist in and of themselves.