how big is your God?

Let's start this post with the usual disclaimer about the difference between the signified and the signifier.

Part of this post is about the thing that is labelled by some (but not all) as “God”. So to avoid confusion, I will use the signifier "Everything That Is, or "ETI" for short.

People argue and fight about the name/s and nature/s of divinity or deity. Those arguments are about the attributes of deity (eg has a thousand arms, is found in the sea, is found in the air, throws thunderbolts, was crucified, is male, is female, is genderless, carries a large hammer, etc). However, if deity has no attributes (or has all attributes, which is equivalent to having no attributes) then people would have no basis for disagreement about the attributes of deity.

By definition Everything That Is (has been, will be, could be) (ETI) has all the attributes there are, have been, will be or could be. And ETI comprises not just material things, and material attributes, but all things and all attributes---material, immaterial, imaginary, illusory, known, unknown, existent, non-existent and otherwise. ETI is binding: ETI is that which binds it (everything) all together.

The (extreme or strong) pantheist position is that ETI is deity, or strictly speaking, that deity is ETI. And what a great position it is. Because from this position you can happily and truthfully agree with anyone about anything. If a pantheist were to encounter, for example, a person from a tribe of fisherpeople who worship the ocean, the fisherperson might say, "Deity is the ocean and my tribe calls zem 'Neptune' and we worship Neptune religiously". The pantheist would smile a warm and gentle smile and respond to the fisherperson by saying, "Yes, the ocean is part of ETI, and deity is in the ocean, and yes, your tribe does call zem Neptune, and yes you do worship zem religiously. That's great. Keep it up. Fine by me. Absolutely no worries mate."

Another great thing about ETI, is that Ze is context-independent and values-free. Let's take 'em one at a time, starting with context-independence. ETI cannot appear before you or anyone else in Zer "true form" because ETI has no true form. In ETI all forms are true. ETI can appear as a burning bush, or a pillar of smoke, or an angel with wings, or a bloody corpse upon a cross, or a bright light, or an old man with a long white beard, or a young woman glowing with power and glory, or an innocent little child, or a bolt of lightning or, or, or, (and yes, the Hebrew word for "light" is pronounced "or" but that's irrelevant to this discussion). The point is that ETI has no context, is all contexts, depends on nothing, depends on everything, cares for everything, cares for nothing, favours nothing, favours everything.

And the introduction of the word "cares" brings us to another attribute of ETI (which has no attributes because Ze has all attributes), and that is that ETI has no values (has all values), and values nothing (values everything). ETI includes love, joy, trust, life, forgiveness, healing, growth, knowledge, hope, beauty, goodness, right and many more values. ETI also includes hate, sorrow, evil, death, pain, sorrow, ignorance, despair, deception, ugliness, wrong and many more values. But ETI does not value any of these values or attributes over any other. Deity just doesn't care (cares more than I can know or understand).

And if this portrait offends you, answer me this: do you value diversity and 'multi-culturalism'? For the purposes of discussion let's invent two hypothetical worlds: one that is full of love, peace, goodness and joy only. And another one that is full of love, peace, goodness, and joy, plus hatred, death, sorrow, pain, and more besides. Of those two hypothetical worlds, which is the richer, more diverse world?

In contrast to ETI, we humans are a pretty relative bunch--our values are culturally determined. We talk about and think about and place and value everything in relation to its context or backdrop. In some cultures, at some times, child sacrifice is valued as a good. In some (but not all) cultures at some (but not all points in history) incest is believed to be 'wrong' or 'bad'. Our sun, Sol, is at the centre of our planetary system, the solar system, but is nowhere near the centre of the universe (there is no centre of the universe). Some cultures value individual achievement and flexibility of thought. Other cultures value group achievement and conformity with the norm. Who is right? Everyone. No-one.

One way to Enlightenment is through language-independent thinking. Another, perhaps faster, way is through context-independent, values-independent thinking.

But don't take my word for it. Ask God.

Copyright © S R Schwarz 2007. All rights reserved.

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