What if God was love, and only love?
God could love us. He couldn’t stop a war, but he could love everyone fighting it.
God could love us, but he simply wasn’t capable of feeding the hungry.
God could love us, but he simply hasn’t the power to cure cancer, or to regrow limbs.
God could love us, but he still would not be able to stop hatred.
God could love us, but beyond these unfocused feelings of love he could not influence humanity, or reality, in any other way.
What if all God could do was send us feelings of all-embracing love?
It certainly would not be a nothing. It certainly would not make God a useless entity.
Imagine the old lady, breathing her last breaths, alone, with only her belief to give her comfort. All God could do was send the feelings…the message, you are loved…I love you. Perhaps this would be enough for her to die with a contented smile on her face.
The lonely, the destitute, whatever else their pain, could receive this feeling of overall love, and it just might give them the strength to carry on.
This would be a far, far cry from the all-powerful, all-wise God proposed in the books. We would not be able to blame God for the horrors of the world simply because God would have no control over them…no influence whatsoever. He just existed, and existed as nothing but love.
Despite the famous Epicurus paradox, I still might be willing to call such a being God.
But, alas, I still can’t believe it.
Because why would a god of love only love those who seek the love. Why not send his love to the destitute person, perhaps even the believing person, contemplating suicide? Why is this feeling withheld from the homeless–freezing cold and lonely on the street.
Why isn’t this feeling of love sent to people in a state of rage to at least try to keep them from striking out, from abusing, from killing?
One could come up with possible reasons, but this kind of speculation is the direction in which madness, or apologetics, lie. Far more likely to think that this feeling is entirely self generated: a feeling formed from memory and imagination with a healthy contribution of various endorphins or other brain chemicals or whatnot.
It is a feeling probably familiar to many who believe or who have believed…the feeling of overwhelming love in a religious setting. I can recall this feeling distinctly myself…this powerful, soul-soothing embrace of love by the deity we seek. We imagine the being, we imagine and feel the sensation. It is a beautiful feeling, and probably a feeling, self-generated though it is, that is strong enough to keep people believing and returning to church week after week.
One might argue that it could be an argument against atheism that the loss of our imaginary being to generate this feeling is something that they sacrifice in the name of reason. There could be a point in this. Atheists, however, are still not denied the love of family and of friends, the joy of accomplishment and of sharing and of giving, or the feelings of awe when beholding nature or of contemplating the universe.
Of course, the theist has access to these feelings as well. But atheists, likewise, no longer have the universal fear of judgment, the fear or rejection by the creator of the universe, the fear of eternal torment after death.
Yes, one could say that atheists lose something in their lack of belief, but perhaps it all evens out in the long run.