How would you respond to this?
Is it merely a beautiful depiction of the universal longing that we have for God?
I had a look at the youtube video. It would have been interesting to have a bit of background as to whom send it to you and why.
In response I would start by agreeing that there is something in the way we function as persons that makes the question of God something that all people grapple with. C.S. Lewis once remarked that for every longing we experience there exists something that corresponds to satisfy that longing: if we thirst, there is water; if we are tired, there is sleep, etc. In the same way, he says, we all have a longing for eternity and this we find it satisfied in God.
There is one thing to keep it mind, though. How we conceptualize God, brings about different results, in the way we live our lives and the expectations we have. The fact that people in all traditions and religions have made an effort to get an understanding of God, does not mean that their conceptions of God is the same or have equal value (this is a wholly apart from the question of who or what God actually is and how we can know it). This is not some sort of elitist or intolerant perspective, but a matter of logic. If two religions come to contradictory conclusions about who or what God is, then one of them is right, or both of them are wrong – but they can’t both be right!
The first half of the video ignores this matter completely, but then in the second half goes on to give a very specific view of God, the essence of which is that WE are God! Now of course, anybody making any claim should be able to defend that claim. So my question is simple: is this view of God true?! Are we as human beings actually God? I don’t think we are and I would encourage anybody to investigate the matter of who God is with rigor and not simply adhere to a view because it’s all-inclusive and all-embracing.
I’d like to hear what you think…
Quick background: a friend from Germany sent it to me. I don’t know where he got it from, but it reflects a view that he, and many i know, subscribe to. The question of what is true does not seem to be at stake here, rather, what is expedient (… because we all believe it …. and i suppose therefore, it must be true … something like that?)
My response to it?
I think it’s a beautifully constructed message … somewhat seductive as if to say “we all believe this … so how can you (Christians) be different!” (noted by omission in the clip of any faith claiming exclusivity …)
I think it highlights man’s search for meaning and for God, but with it the presumption in a way that he doesn’t need God. … What’s depicted (if i recall – haven’t looked at it for a while now) is both our intuitive sense that there is a God to be worshipped (reference Lewis’ point), but that we will find him our way … unless we believe we are God in which case, we are the way …
Am cutting and pasting my response to someone else as i can’t seem to recall everything now. Hope you don’t mind!!
“… so, in essence, we cannot be good without God … or, more to the point, without the cross …
i guess the point of engagement with unbelievers is the premise that although made in the image of God, we are not able to be like God/be good, no matter how hard we try …
it’s just that what is interesting is that man believes he is good enough … he is spiritual enough (and divine enough … reference the comment that “we are all God, God is us …”)
his premise is that “i am good” NOT “i need God because i cannot be good” … (which is intellectually dishonest – it is obvious that not all men are good … but what seems less obvious to people is that i am/we are no better than the person who is obviously not good … in other words, i am as “bad” as the person who murders, steals, is violent, etc. … )
by denying sin and the sinful nature, we do away with the need for Jesus and the cross …”
Quick question – when you say that not all conceptions of God have equal value (I hear your point that logically, if they reach different conclusions, they cannot both be right) … in essence, you’re saying that only the Christian conception of God has value because it is the only conception which is true. right?
Could one argue that they all have equal value, but are not all equally true? actually, just not all true (forget the equally). Their value – if any – is that they serve a purpose, like the law, to show man that he is incapable of reaching God without a saviour … okay. just a thought.
Sorry this is something of a rambling collection of thoughts. otherwise i won’t get to respond!
Keep well, and thank you for organising the Faith & Reason conference!
Thanks for your response. I appreciate it.
I agree with your assessment. Regarding your question about whether all conceptions of God have equal value. Maybe the word ‘value’ is misleading, but I was specifically referring to conceptual value. By this I meant that not all concepts of God are justified or rational (and yes, accordingly I do believe that only the Christian concept of God is true.) But of course, people’s beliefs about God do have psychological value, even if it is not justified true beliefs. This fact relates to what you said about many people not caring so much about what is true, but about whether it works for them. This is what most people find so strange: if all people find psychological value in their beliefs (otherwise they wouldn’t believe it), how can it be claimed that not all concepts of God have equal value. But clearly I can believe something that gives me tremendous psychological comfort, but which at the same time is conceptually flawed (for e.g., I might have the belief that the snake in my garden is harmless, when in fact it is not.)
Psychological value is not a test for truth. Unfortunately most people use the authenticity of an experience as the measure for truth without considering conceptual validity and grounding.
I think the reasons for people’s particular beliefs about God are varied. But part of the universal belief in something transcendent has to do with the nature of reality, together with people’s ability to grasp something of this transcendence (which Christians call ‘general revelation’). The fact that people get to different conclusions about ultimately reality, is influenced by many factors of which, I believe, our fallen nature is the most basic underlying factor.