God-struggles, a Compendium
©2020 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com
A few days after posting this narrative about my struggles with the concept of a God. Something came to me all of a sudden. I think it encapsulates and renders-down all of the essay-links in the history, below. I include it now, in whole.
A Secular Prayer
I’ll call You “God,” not from Faith, but from mere belief. Maybe someday it will be from pure faith. But now I only believe that You are there, reigning over this universe and the multitude of possible universes. I say “reign,” because I have no other human word to describe the epitome of everything. My conception of Your reign is nothing like the rulership of those weak, fallible, morally-challenged rulers of Earth—whether they be tyrants or well-meaning benefactors. I picture Your reign, dear God, as an all-encompassing one, an all infusing one. I imagine Your being everywhere, and within everything and everyone in this Universe, even non-Earthly brethren whom we have yet to meet.
When I pray, I sense that there is no necessary direction. There’s no orientation I must ritually assume, because You are everywhere at once. I think that all of my earthly brethren sense that omnipresence, because of the occasional inspiration in their own lives. Inspire, inspired, inspiration—we so frequently resort to those words. Even those who profess to deny Your existence, know cerebrally that the very source and ancient meaning of “inspiration” depends upon the word “spirit.” But what other word than “spirit” can describe instances of that astounding insight, even encouragement, coming from the mere ether?
Dear God, thank You. Every prayer should include thanks. Thanks for existence. Thanks for our family of mortal beings, animal and human, who inhabit this planet with us. Thanks for allthings: the mundane and the mysterious. The mundane, musty smell of freshly-tilled soil. The mysterious ability You have given us to mathematically parse the tones within the magic that is music. The very exclusivity in our ability to appreciate music, apart from all the animals of the Earth, hints that we are special in Your eyes. No wonder most of our Earthly religions make it an integral part of worship. Thank You.
Now my petitions. Every prayer should have petitions. The two words are synonymous. When we petition for ourselves, and especially for others, we are showing belief, perhaps even Faith. Belief or faith that You can and that You may, in Your omniscient overview of our needs, intervene. How many times have non-religious people reported puzzling intervention into their lives by complete strangers who were given knowledge of a dangerous predicament? You seem to work, dear God, not so much by spectacular miracles from the heavens, but by the simple infusion of a human being’s mind with knowledge of someone needing help, then with the burning desire to render it. Inspiration: sprit-within.
Now, dear God, I pray for all my fellow human beings who are not yet blessed with peace and safety. I pray for those who are hungry and suffering from the elements, from human cruelty, from disease or from addiction. May You inspire many more of us to reach out, to encourage, to provide physical assistance where we are able. I will have more specific petitions for You next time. I’ll have petitions for specific friends and family, specific situations. For now, I wanted to keep this prayer general in nature: a template as it were. My final petition, dear God, is that You allow this prayer to be a blessing to all who read it, as I now share it with the world.
The original post:
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, below started an entire thread of thoughtful comments on Twitter.com
Later in the thread, I replied:
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?
Is it blasphemous, to “level” with God?https://vernonmileskerr.com/2020/11/13/theology-an-argument-with-god/
Is religion a mere palliative, soothing but empty?
Is accepting the “God Hypothesis” necessary for things to make sense?
Is belief the same as faith? Can faith be misinformed and mis-placed?
Is the perception and appreciation of beauty, a gift from God?
Can an Agnostic still “partially” believe in God?
Prayer to the Unknown God
Does the Mind of the Human Abhor a Vacuum?https://vernonmileskerr.com/2017/02/14/rhetoric-the-cosmos-as-creation/
Before Nature, we stand confounded.
Can humans abide uncertainty and chaos?
Whom am I trying to impress? And if I do, how long will it last?
Round 2 – Are “Holy Books” the Word of God?
Even without God’s word on paper, is there something written on our psyches?
Is the very idea of a divine users-manual illogical?
Round 3 – Is Morality the Sole Purview of Religion?
After morality was made “relative” by academia, it was hijacked as the sole purview of religion.
Is the Golden Rule of divine origin?
Can humans know the difference between good and evil?
Is “Goodness” just relative? Does everyone innately have God-given goodness?
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?
What would God say in a message to the modern world, written in stone ?
Man’s smugness at the feet of something greater,
Did God make man, or did God set the wheels in motion, then watch?
Round 5 – Does God Endorse Earthly Religions?
What, would the Jesus mentioned in history think of modern religions?
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?
Does our fear of death demand answers?
Does consciousness live beyond death?
Are fleeting experiences caught in a divine butterfly net?
Does our fear of death demand answers?
Does God live in everyone, dynamically, at any given moment?
Do humans really have unlimited potential in this life?