Where was God?
January 10, 2010 by Bill
Tornadoes roar through Oklahoma like an atomic bomb. I lived through many of them when tornado alley was our home. People asked again, as they always do, “where was God?” In the wake of every tragedy, they ask the same question, “where was God?”
The answer is easy. Their “God” was where their “God” has always been, living in the fantasy, imaginations and superstitions of the human mind. This “God” they ask about is a “God” that has been created by us in our own image. An anthropomorphic God who lives “out there” somewhere and operates as a divine “hit man,” killing some, saving some. People said, “I prayed when I saw it coming and God heard me and saved me.” Obviously, if “God” saved some, that same “God” brutally slaughtered dozens of others. Can you imagine the arrogance of a person saying “God saved me, while killing Mary across the street”? And then what always follows is the pathetic, tragic, clergy cliché that “God heard Mary’s prayer and the answer was no.” What an outrageous insult to human intelligence.
Albert Einstein understood the problem: “Teachers of religion must have the stature to give up the archaic doctrine of a personal God, to give up the source of FEAR which has placed vast power in the hands of the clergy and priests. Such a doctrine is not only unworthy, but fatal, and has done incalculable harm to human spiritual progress.”
FEAR is the parent of religion, superstition, bigotry and cruelty. Our primitive ancestors stood in FEAR before the mysterious forces of nature. Thunder and earthquakes terrified them. They asked “Why?” and assumed that spirits animated the wind, the storms and animals. They sought to gain the favor of such supernatural power.
Today, in our orthodox Judeo-Christian tradition, we are still laden with the debris of those archaic, superstitious images. Any religion that stubbornly clings to a traditional theology hopelessly at odds with the scientific knowledge of an enlightened age is doomed to sink even deeper into stagnant superstition, as well as spiritual bankruptcy. “God is not external to anything” as is written in the Hebrew Kabbalah. Buckminster Fuller put it perfectly: “God is a verb, not a noun.” As a verb, the word “God” becomes only a symbol for that sacred Mystery, that Reality that flows through the universe, through you and through me. For this cohesive Mystery within that totality, we use the symbol “God,” not as something “out there” listening to the billions of chaotic and contradictory requests, but as a word representing the awe, the splendor and the grandeur of the universe. “To stand in awe before this Mystery,” wrote Einstein, “is to become spiritually mature.”