I’m having one of those deep, introspective days….
The Holocaust, the accounts, the stories, the evil, the suffering, it screams at me “G-d, a theistic G-d, to be specific, cannot possibly exist” and, if He does, he ain’t for me, not against this backdrop (see *’Epicurean Paradox’ below) but stories such as these, stories of mind boggling courage, selflessness, empathy, compassion, kindness, goodness, they push me in the other direction. This level of goodness seems beyond human, seems angelic, it’s as if Irena Sendler was ‘touched’, ‘sent’, by G-d to help. Of course, I can come back at myself with “If G-d can send an angel to help people who are suffering, why can’t/doesn’t He stop the suffering in the first place?” (there’s the ‘Epicurean Paradox’ again).
The problem with religion, faith, a belief in a theistic G-d, is that it requires irrational thinking and if we were to employ similar irrational thinking processes in all other areas of our lives, life would be untenable, there’d be chaos. Why is it ok, ‘normal’, for someone to pray, to speak, to an ‘invisible G-d’ whilst I’d be diagnosed as mentally ill if I were to walk in the street talking to an imaginary, invisible ‘friend’?
All I can say, I guess, is that whilst I subscribe to, and agree with, Epicurus’ thinking (his Epicurean Paradox), whilst I value the essential importance of rational thinking, whilst I believe in science, whilst I agree with Richard Dawkins that the ‘G-d Gap’**, is a misguided way to think, I can’t 100% believe that we, humans, are just science, that how we behave, that love (and evil), are just the product of cause and consequence/result, that our behaviour is no more than ‘cold’ scientific/biological impulses at play – I believe (I think) that there’s something beyond ‘cold science’, that there is something inexplicable, a spark of a ‘god’, that makes us what we are, that makes us human.
I struggle with the idea of a theistic G-d although I still see and feel inherent beauty in my Judaism culturally and, shomer Shabbos, I deeply value the gift of Shabbos/Shabbat as a time for family togetherness, as a time for meaningful rest. However, I find it easier to believe in a deistic god, a ‘being’ who, a ‘power’ which, created the world, the universe, and then ‘stood back’ to let us get on with it – that makes more sense to me than a theistic G-d. I think the type of god that resonates with me most is a pantheistic god, one that is indivisible from love, nature, the trees, the sea, the waves, flora and fauna, the stars, music – perhaps, when I listen to music and am moved to tears, perhaps, just perhaps, that’s me connecting with the pantheistic god in the music. I don’t know.
‘Believers’ say to ‘non-believers’, “you think the idea of a god/G-d is too ‘fantastic’, too far-fetched, to be true, well, don’t you think that the idea that all of ‘this’, the universe, life, the idea that it ‘just happened’, ‘happened’ from nowhere, from ‘nothing’, that that is also too ‘fantastic’, too far-fetched, to be true?” It’s a good question.
If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.
If He is able, but not willing
Then He is malevolent.
If He is both able and willing
Then whence cometh evil.
If He is neither able nor willing
Then why call Him God?
**Richard Dawkins’ ‘The god gap’: science can’t explain everything (yet), there are gaps in our knowledge, but, Dawkins says, that is not evidence of god/G-d, we should not fill the knowledge gap with god/G-d.