In this week’s spotlight we shine a light on a really big question. I was recently asked to explain what I meant by God. Now that’s a good task for anyone including those of the highest clerical rank in any religion. I might have quipped with something like, well God to me is the Grand Organizing Designer, but that somehow is totally unsatisfactory. Indeed, it simply replaces one name with another. That said, definitions such as omnipotent and omniscient find their way into contradictions like, “Well if God is all powerful, then can he build a rock so large he can’t lift it?” Or, “If God is all knowing, then he already knows what I will do and that means there is no free will as such, for everything must be predetermined in some way.”
The various contradictions that are met when passing out flat definitions about any form of Divine Creator are one of the reasons admonishments such as “Refrain from the mysteries” exist. As such, the theologian is quick to point out that God cannot be adequately described because our limited minds are not capable of grasping the infinite.
Blaise Pascal offered up a wager, known as the Pascal Wager. Here is what he said, “If one bets that God does exist, and he does, you win everything, to lose - you lose nothing. Should one bet that God does not exist - and win, you win nothing, but to lose? You lose everything.” Now many philosophers have taken issue with this simple proposition, but nevertheless, there is merit.
This is what I decided my best answer was. God to me is hope. Without God, we’re just meat machines destined to join the universe as mass and energy in the never-ending continuum of decay. I would like to think that my consciousness somehow survives. Just for me, the thought that there is a Divine Creator gives rise to the possibility that I may continue on in some form following this life, and that gives me hope!
Hope is the sense that everything somehow matters. Hope is the steel that undergirds the notion of purpose, for what is purpose without life beyond death? Some may insist that purpose can be derived without some otherworldly perspective, and for some that may be true. There are after all, purely utilitarian objectives that should be considered, but if utilitarianism is what you want, then Pascal definitely provides one.
Hope is what gives meaning to life and it is the mechanism that makes the loss of our loved ones somehow bearable. Hope is the mechanism that assuages grief and adds meaning to our lives.
For me, I may never know in this lifetime the true nature of God, but I will enjoy the experience of hope everyday, confident that there is always a tomorrow somewhere.
As always, thanks for the read and I'd love your thoughts on this one.