These thoughts are shared from an ongoing introspection, which until now I’ve been unable to formulate into words. I’ve taken the below concepts from my journal, so as you read bear in mind that this is not a final statement on the matter. Rather, it is a critical and maturing intellectual conversation in objectivism and metaphysics, among other things…
I don’t doubt or deny that God exists, or claim that we can’t know such a thing. I think both nature and reason lead us to the conclusion that there is a Creator, what we call God. However, what I do question is the level of involvement of this Being in our individual lives (micro level). Is God personal? Well, I think in the meta-macro sense, yes. God created and ordered the universe and all that’s in it, established the parameters for free will, and made reparation for man’s flawed nature. The first act, creation, is undeniable and reached solely through reason and nature, revelation is not needed. The second act, reparation, is reached also through reason, but in harmony with trust. That is, trust based in the best of evidence that God did come as the man Jesus. In the spirit of epistemic inquiry, I find it reasonable to hold this view. Additionally, Jesus unlike other religious leaders or creeds does not tell man how to earn his own salvation or make amends with God, but in contrast makes compensation for man’s character flaws (i.e., man’s flawed nature arising from free will unobstructed by outside intervention). No other religion, creed, or philosophy makes this claim; Jesus does.
Note- some may argue for a metaphysic wherein God could have made man without the potentiality for sin/character flaws. Nevertheless, God obviously did not do this, choosing instead the current metaphysical reality we experience wherein the individual is responsible for his or her own free will decisions and actions, and must consequently bear the fruit of those autonomous opportunities. Therefore, we see this God as the ultimate Agent of Liberty and Author of the Individual, unlike the superstitious and collectivist ideologies, religions, and philosophies the world over.
Now, outside of these two acts (macro level) – creation and reparation- I cannot say God is personal (on the micro level, i.e., the individual level). The only caveat here is that God would orchestrate various micro level events in so much as they impact the macro; I would call this Providence. In fact, I now ask, “Why would God personally intervene for me beyond what he has already.” Is this not the height of autonomy and free will? As I said, God is the Agent of Liberty and Author of the Individual. Life, the earth, is for free, sentient beings to either live in a way honoring of nature’s God, or dishonoring. But the full weight of the decision will not be made for us, no magic wand will be waived on our behalf. We have all we need for life and liberty.
Adding to this is my own experience, in which I can now say with more clarity that God is not personal (at least not beyond what I have already described herein). I have my own struggles, and sure, there is nothing of a superbly terrible or tragic nature about them, but there are plenty of people- good people even more devout than I could ever pretend to be- who do experience major struggles and tragedies in their lives. Where is God in their lives (micro level)? Why didn’t God answer their prayers? Where is God in our life? Some may argue my point here, claiming this or that experience was God acting in their lives (micro level), and to this I would simply point to what I have previously said about God’s orchestrating micro level events for the overarching, meta-macro. I also ask isn’t it probable, or at least possible, that many of these instances of prayers being answered, or miracles (I use the word miracle loosely here) happening, etc., merely be coincidence (i.e., time + chance = probability)? Not God?
No, it appears that life on earth is for man, and he shall receive no personal (micro level) help/assistance/intervention from the Divine, except for the macro sense that God gave us life and existence, and liberty from our flawed nature. Beyond these there appears to be no personal, micro-level interaction, none. To illustrate this point let me borrow from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King. The following is spoken once Sauron is finally defeated:
“The Third Age of the world is ended, and the new age is begun; and it is your task to order its beginning and to preserve what may be preserved. For though much has been saved, much must now pass away; and the power of the Three Rings is ended. And all the lands that you see, and those that lie round about them, shall be dwellings of Men. For the time comes of the Dominion of Men, and the Elder Kindred shall fade or depart…. The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred.”
This book, as well as movie, illustrated how much interaction has occurred in the past, but presently we are in the age of man. Perhaps at one point in the past God was very personally involved, saving much, but now the time has come for man’s autonomy. We are all each individuals and until we realize this, it is very likely that we’ll be unable to deal with life and make sense of existence, our existence, as it actually is. Such metaphysical libertarianism seems most sensible to me. Yet, I maintain an epistemic humility that I could be wrong. Therefore, I want to avoid dogmatism of any kind; this is simply how I think and feel at this juncture of my life. I’m not advocating deism, it has too many internal inconsistencies; nor am I advocating agnosticism as it’s a step away from atheism, which itself is insulting to both reason and nature.
Thomas Paine once wrote:
“The Calvinist, who damns children of a span long to hell to burn forever for the glory of God (and this is called Christianity), and the Universalist who preaches that all shall be saved and none shall be damned (and this also is called Christianity), boasts alike of their holy [reveled] religion and their Christian faith.
“Something more therefore is necessary than mere cry and wholesale assertion, and that something is TRUTH; and as inquiry is the road to truth, he that is opposed to inquiry is not a friend to truth. “The God of truth is not the God of fable; when, therefore, any book is introduced into the world as the Word of God, and made a groundwork for religion, it ought to be scrutinized more than other books to see if it bear evidence of being what it is called. Our reverence to God demands that we do this, lest we ascribe to God what is not His, and our duty to ourselves demands it lest we take fable for fact, and rest our hope of salvation on a false foundation.
“It is not our calling a book holy that makes it so, any more than our calling a religion holy that entitles it to the name. Inquiry therefore is necessary in order to arrive at truth. But inquiry must have some principle to proceed on, some standard to judge by, superior to human authority.
“When we survey the works of creation, the revolutions of the planetary system, and the whole economy of what is called nature, which is no other than the laws the Creator has prescribed to matter, we see unerring order and universal harmony reigning throughout the whole. No one part contradicts another. The sun does not run against the moon, nor the moon against the sun, nor the planets against each other. Everything keeps its appointed time and place.
“This harmony in the works of God is so obvious, that the farmer of the field, though he cannot calculate eclipses, is as sensible of it as the philosophical astronomer. He sees the God of order in every part of the visible universe.”
“Here, then, is the standard to which everything must be brought that pretends to be the work or Word of God, and by this standard it must be judged, independently of anything and everything that man can say or do. His opinion is like a feather in the scale compared with the standard that God Himself has set up.”
Adding to this train of thought Deism.com posts:
It is very understandable how people could be turned off by man-made religions and superstitions with their bombings and financial beg-a-thons, and confuse artificial or revealed religion with God. However, the atheist attitude of accepting things simply as not knowable is dangerous to the progress of humanity. Many things were not knowable in the past that are knowable today. At one time Europeans believed it was impossible to know what was on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean: but they were wrong. As we learn more about the sciences, we are learning more about the Power that put those principles in place. An eternal Being, as Thomas Paine said, “whose power is equal to His will.”
In conclusion, Mr. Paine also noted, and I agree with him:
“I consider myself in the hands of my Creator, and that he will dispose of me after this life consistently with His justice and goodness. I leave all these matters to Him, as my Creator and friend, and I hold it to be presumption in man to make an article of faith as to what the Creator will do with us hereafter.”
Libertas lux et veritas