An Infinity of Gods


People create gods more or less exactly as they want them to be.

It is a common theme in atheist writing that man created god in his own image, but even so, we act like this was something man did a long time ago, when the holy books were written.  This is not even remotely true.

People create the the gods that they very much want to exist.  True enough these gods are often at least based on the templates provided by scripture, but the templates are loose enough that you can pretty much get whatever kind of god you are interested in out of them.

So you end up with gods who love everyone because you yourself want to love everyone, and you justify your god through 1 John 4:8: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

You end up with the supposedly the same god hating everyone because you find other verses like Leviticus 20:23: “You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you.Because they did all these things, I abhorred them.”

If you don’t like homosexuals because of your own perhaps deeply buried homosexual tendencies, you create a god that hates homosexuals.  If you are interested in justice against those who have wronged you, you create a god that will punish these people for all eternity.

If you are concerned about the environment, then so is your god.  If you love animals, you focus on a translation of the Bible giving humans “stewardship” over them.  If you don’t give a shit about animal rights, you focus on a translation of the Bible giving “dominion” over them.

As someone growing up without their own godly template, this potpourri of possible gods is bewildering to say the least.  It’s readily apparent from even overhearing casual conversation about god that there is absolutely no consensus.

The Qur’an is a book of peace? The Qur’an is a book of war?  Nope to both.  The Qur’an is a book that says pretty much whatever you want it to say.  Don’t like what the book says?  Just find a fatwa that agrees with you and your golden.  Don’t like what the Bible says?  I’m certain that you can find an opinion from an apologist or scholar that will go along with your point of view.

Yes, there’s certainly cherry picking involved.  But what you end up with is far, far worse than that.  You end up with people just flat out making shit up.  People will find verses that vaguely sound like what they want them to say and wave them around as proof of their viewpoint.  The amount of convolution that goes on to support the position that god is against abortion would be amusing if peoples lives and freedoms weren’t as stake.

On my Tumblr blog I often get comments from people saying words to the effect that “No, God isn’t like that.  He’s actually like this.”  And I generally reply that while you or your church accept god as one way, I can show your dozens of people and churches who believe god is the exact opposite.  Wikipedia states that there are some 41,000 different Christian denominations.  You can argue correctly that many or most of these denominations aren’t significant, but I would argue that there are about as many individual beliefs about what god or gods are as there are people in churches, synagogues, temples, and in the mind of people who pray as there are, well, people who pray.

When one explores this, one can see that, in addition to the infinities frequently piled on to our definitions of god, there is also a potential infinity of definitions, which likewise indicates that an infinite number of these potential definitions are mutually exclusive.

The fact that there is no ready agreement about what god is doesn’t disprove god, of course, but it renders ludicrous such arguments as Pascal’s Wager.  How the heck am I supposed to worship a god when you can’t even get people to agree on what I’m supposed to be worshiping?  You can make you case for your individual god, but if such cases actually worked we wouldn’t need the Wager to begin with.

Which brings us back to the main point; that NONE of these gods have any more evidence for them than any other, and the sum total of evidence for these gods adds up to exactly zero.  One might point out vaguely that the universe seems to have an order that science hasn’t really done a good job of explaining yet, and use the something from nothing argument pointing to quantum manifests or whatnot.  I’m perfectly happy leaving these questions for scientists to explore and reply with an “I don’t know” shrug.  That a sentient being of some sort created this order or conceived the laws of quantum physics to me clearly violates Occam’s Razor, and perhaps more importantly does nothing whatsoever to solve the something from nothing question.

So if you ask me to believe in a god, I could respond with asking which of the infinite variations of god do you wish me to believe in?  I probably won’t ask this, though, because no matter which god you come up with, my answer is still going to be a polite smile and a sad shake of the head.

~ Steve


3 thoughts on “An Infinity of Gods

  1. Wow, 41,000 organised religious variations from that one big book. And, like you say, within each of those, every person has their own variation on interpretation. And then there’s 2000 years of historical interpretations. It’s weird that any Christian can think they know the ‘correct truth’, or that it’s worth arguing over with their fellow believers. Standard egotistical humanity. Lucky for me, I’ve worked it all out.

    • Just a minor note…that 41,000 figure is only CHRISTIAN variations. The “one big book” has multiple Jewish variations as well, not to mention that both Islam and Mormonism could also be called fan fiction and perhaps variations on the book.

  2. Pingback: God, the Meaningless Topic | The BitterSweet End

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