God-struggles, a Compendium
©2020 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com
Just now — no sooner than I had thought-up this title, an image of Jacob in the Bible, wrestling with God came to mind. He wrestled all night-long, never giving up, not winning but not losing either. For his persistence, God gave him a new name “Israel” meaning one who prevails with God.
“Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:28)https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-why-is-israel-called-israel-1.5353207
Similar to Jacob’s wrestling with God, I’ve wrestled with the concept of a God since childhood. Both my parents were unchurched because of unrelated and individual traumatic -interactions with the churches of their teenage-years. So, my two brothers and I got no training in religion at all.
I became an athiest as a child, but around 30 years-old, was drawn into a cult which professed “Christianity.” Fortunately — along with some heretical beliefs — they demanded a familiarity with the 1611 King James version of the Bible. After 20 years of sermons, bible-studies and correspondence courses I did gain enough familiarity with this foundation of Judaeo-Christian thought to ignite some skepticism. As a scientific atheist, I came to the Bible loaded for bear, and found a few — in the form of statements made that modern scientific discoveries had since belied. (I also gained enough familiarity with the English rhetoric of Shakespeare’s time to feel quite comfortable reading his works without much need to refer to commentaries. But, that was a side benefit which has nothing to do with this discussion.)
I was propelled into writing this article by a young lady on Twitter, “kelly” whose tweet started an entire thread of thoughtful comments on Twitter.com
“religion doesn’t guarantee a true connection to god; if anything, it often places a barrier between a direct connection to god and the seeker. religion is a social structure within [which] one may or may not find connection to a higher source.”
Later in the thread, I replied:
“In the meantime the world wold be better of without ‘religiosity’ i.e. large traditional ‘religious’ organizations which interpose themsleves between believers and whatever higher power they tout. They are a toll-gate through which money or acts of obeisance are the ticket for passage.
She answered, “…in the spirit of transparency, i’ll admit i am agnostic.”
I tweeted, “me too.”
But, along with the appelation “agnostic,” comes the implication that one is not stuck in that state of ignorance — that one has an open mind. So, on the perhaps remote chance that my wrestling-match will be of some use to others I will try to provide a compendium of my thought-process, revealed in essays.
Round 1 – Does God Even Exist?
1. Is it blasphemous, to “level” with God?
2. Is religion a mere palliative, soothing but empty?
3. Is accepting the “God Hypothesis” necessary for things to make sense?
4. Is belief the same as faith? Can faith be misinformed and mis-placed?
5. Is the perception and appreciation of beauty, a gift from God?
6. Can an Agnostic still “partially” believe in God?
7. Prayer to the Unknown God
8. Does the Mind of the Human Abhor a Vacuum?
9. Before Nature, we stand confounded.
10. Can humans abide uncertainty and chaos?
11. Whom am I trying to impress? And if I do, how long will it last?
Round 2 – Are “Holy Books” the Word of God?
12. Even without God’s word on paper, is there something written on our psyches?
13. Is the very idea of a divine users-manual illogical?
Round 3 – Is Morality the Sole Purview of Religion?
14. After morality was made “relative” by academia, it was hijacked as the sole purview of religion.
15. Is the Golden Rule of divine origin?
16. Can humans know the difference between good and evil?
17. Is “Goodness” just relative? Does everyone innately have God-given goodness?
18. Is “sin” simply unhealthy behavior? Were the 10 Commandments meant to be 10 suggestions?
Round 4 – Even if God Exists, Is God Interested in Earth?
19. What would God say in a message to the modern world, written in stone ?
20. Man’s smugness at the feet of something greater.
21. Did God make man, or did God set the wheels in motion, then watch?
Round 5 – Does God Endorse Earthly Religions?
22. What, would the Jesus mentioned in history think of modern religions?
23. Humor: Does God tolerate man’s idea of religion? From the Paul Harvey Radio Show.
Round 6 – God or No-God, Is There an Afterlife?
24. Does our fear of death demand answers?
25. Does consciousness live beyond death?
26. Are fleeting experiences caught in a divine butterfly net?
27. Does our fear of death demand answers?
28. Does God live in everyone, dynamically, at any given moment?
29. Do humans really have unlimited potential in this life?
30. Did “A Secular Prayer” age well?