The Theistic God is Dead--A Casualty of Terrorism

The terrorist tragedy will help us step beyond yesterday's God, beyond pious delusions

Continued from page 1

In the childhood of our humanity, when believing was easy, we assumed our earth was the center of the universe. We believed God, understood theistically, directed the affairs of human history, controlling the weather, and keeping record books on us all. This God punished us and rewarded us according to our deserving. This was the primary view of God in the Bible who split the Red Sea to allow the chosen ones to escape and then closed that sea to allow their enemies to drown. But that is no longer our world. The idea that the earth is the center of the universe has disappeared.

We live today with the knowledge that the earth rotates around our sun--which is itself only one star in the galaxy called the Milky Way that contains over 100 billion other stars. Our single galaxy is so large that light, traveling at the approximate speed of 186,000 miles per second, would take more than 100,000 years to go from one end of it to the other. Beyond that, our galaxy is only one of at least 125 billion other galaxies in the visible universe. A supernatural God--who lives above the sky and is intimately involved in the affairs of human history, miraculously changing events to conform to some divine purpose--is simply no longer believable.

If God is real, then we must look to a new definition that opens up new religious possibilities. I find a doorway into this experience in what I call the minority voices found in our sacred writings. Among the people of the world there have always been those who are willing to probe new arenas and to develop different perspectives. They do not confuse their God experiences with the familiar God explanations of their times. So I probe those minority voices in search of a new God concept or metaphor, even a new pathway into the Holy.

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The Jewish people seemed to know intuitively that God and the popular definition of God could never be identical. That is why they spoke so vehemently against idolatry. They understood that no human creation could finally capture the Holy: not idols, not words, not scriptures, not creeds, not theological constructs.

Furthermore, while the popular voices of the Bible spoke of the external supernatural God who did miracles, the minority voices spoke of God in impersonal images. They saw God in the analogy of the wind, which, like God, was formless, mysterious and unbounded. One experienced the wind--one did not define it. Its purpose was to animate, vitalize, and give life. This image of God is seen in the creation story where God creates Adam out of the dust of the earth, but Adam is brought to life only when God gives him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, filling him with God's breath, thought to be the source of the wind. Life, says this biblical insight, is itself the medium through which the holy lives. In this passage God is not a being, but the dynamic, emerging source of life itself.

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