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Is God a Jerk?

Updated on March 4, 2010

A vengeful God?

My relationship with God has been a journey. I was once fearful of him. Raised in the Reform Jewish tradition, my impression of God was the following: A very big man, with bushy eyebrows, who does mean things to people because he believes that they don’t love him enough.

This was the God who would ask a man to sacrifice his son in the name of the lord. Granted, in the story, God does not let that man sacrifice his son; it was a test of the man’s love for God. However, I believe this was a sick request. How can God ask for a man to choose between his religion and his son?

In the story of Adam and Eve, the title characters are punished for their curiosity. They eat the forbidden apples, and that’s it, no second chances. They are banished from the Garden of Eden, and must endure nakedness and hardship from that moment forward.

All this is not to say that Judaism is bad. Judaism has a lot of good stuff in it, and it helps a lot of people. Some of the stories are even uplifting. . . kind of. To be fair, I have not done enough study of Judaism to make an accurate assessment. I attended 7 years of religious education, but I attended only in body, never in spirit or mind.

I would later study eastern religions, reading any book I could get my hands on. These can be very confusing, but to me, generally more satisfying. Taoism and Buddhism in particular struck a chord with me.

 

Ultimately, I would make my own determination of what God is. God is great, but he is not a man. Not one man, anyway. I believe God is every man, and everything. For those of you who saw the epic movie “Avatar,” you may have noticed a similar idea expressed in the beliefs of the native people in the film. I have heard this movie described as overly-simplistic, but I think that’s the beauty in it. God is not complex. God is not something to be understood only by the elite, educated classes.

 

God is beauty and nature and love. God is pain and anger and resentment. God is everything.

I REALLY like this guys books.

What is God?

Although religions vary, the common thread in all of them is the belief in something bigger than oneself. To that end, most religions teach kindness. After all, if I am not the center of the universe, then I must be a working part of the universe. And willing or not, I am an active participant in the interconnectedness of all beings.

Don’t believe me? How many times have you inhaled today? How many times have you exhaled? Are you not breathing in oxygen that came from plants, and producing carbon dioxide needed by those same plants? They need you and you need them. You are interconnected.

I don’t want to convince you of my idea of God. My idea is my idea: a flawed human interpretation. I think we should each have the right to our own flawed human interpretation. This may come off as cynical, but to me it’s freeing. I know I can never completely comprehend God on any mental level. I am free to know God through my experience of the world, but my words will never do it justice.

My God is all around, when I choose to see it. My God is my love and my pain. My God speaks to me in subtle whispers and loud mammoth winds. My God never asks me to apologize, or take responsibility. My God is apologizing and responsibility.

Life in Hell Cartoon by Matt Groening
Life in Hell Cartoon by Matt Groening

What do you think?

I would not presume to tell others that they should believe as I do. However, I do encourage you to reexamine your beliefs from time to time. Do the ideals you were raised with line up with your current experiences? If they don’t, why not? Who or what is God to you?

These are questions that some will embrace and others will run away from. Some people question whether God exists at all, based on their own personal suffering, or because of all the suffering in the world. From my point of view, this does not seem like a comfortable way to live. However, everyone must find the belief structure that suits them best, even when their belief structure is founded on lack of belief.

If you believe in God, and know someone who does not, it is best to let them be. They may find a God of their understanding at some point, or they may not. Perhaps, for them, atheism and science are both comforting and life-affirming. Everyone has a right to their own beliefs.

Conclusion

God is a mystery. To me God is love and everything else. To you, God may be a toaster oven, a unicorn or a ghost in your closet. The most important thing is that you closely examine your own experience and find an answer that feels right for you.

A Cartoon. . .

I created the following cartoon in 2004 while studying animation at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. It does not reflect my beliefs in any way whatsoever.

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    • MFB III profile image

      MFB III 

      8 years ago from United States

      Interesting concepts here....I prefer God as more of a mystery, that one day will become enlightenment upon meeting him but I like your thoughts. I beleive we all know God in different ways and it is not important so much, as to who we know him through, but rather that we simply know him and acknowledge him in our lives. Too many people make religion their god, instead of making God their religion. Great hub~~~MFB III

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, trwme, I appreciate the feedback very much :)

    • profile image

      trwme 

      8 years ago

      Hi Adam! Liked your hub, good stuff, and it points in the proper direction.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      David, you are exactly right! God is flesh-eating bacteria!...under my definition. I said God is everything, and I meant it. God is everything. As to whether or not the universe is aware of our existence, I would say that to the extent it interacts with us, it is. I don't really think the universe itself is a conscious being, though. I don't see God as a consciousness that goes around making decisions about stuff. God is the stuff.

      I will not hesitate to change my definiton of God to counter any argument thrown forth. God will not be hurt by this, nor will I :)

      Thanks, Trudee :)

      Antecessor, I don't know why these isssues seem so important at 4:12 AM when I have to go to work in not so many hours, but your writing has gotten me fired up. I think the fact that I am still awake typing this serves as a compliment to you. I have grown from this exchange, and you have led me to do what I asked others to do in my hub: look more closely at my beliefs. Thank you!

    • Antecessor profile image

      Antecessor 

      8 years ago from Australia

      You were correct in saying that your idea of god is fingernail apologetics as described in my hub. But I agree that it really doesnt matter what anyone believes. As long as your "god" (I hesitated to call it that) doesnt claim to have special created everything 6000 years ago and also asks me to hate a bunch of people, I dont care. Your writing style is excellent.

    • profile image

      Trudee 

      8 years ago

      I think your hubs is very interesting.

    • David Bowman profile image

      David Bowman 

      8 years ago from USA

      AdamGee - Very well written hub. Your views about God are certainly attractive. I could see myself believing as you do if not for some of the things that I think present it with a bit of a problem. If God is everything, then in addition to some of the more pleasant aspects of nature, God is also flesh eating bacteria, cancer, Down Syndrome, HIV, Ebola, sickle cell anemia, tape worms, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis - I think you get the point.

      I hate for it to seem like I'm trying to advocate a depressing view of existence. There are certainly beautiful things in nature and in life that make it wonderful to be alive. However, when considering what we should think about our place in the natural scheme of things, we have to look at the entire picture. As far as I can tell, it seems that the universe is unaware of our existence, so to speak. If there is some type of supernatural omnipresent force of some kind that permeates all of existence, in my opinion it is most likely impersonal and unconcerned for us. Not a pleasant view, but reality often isn't.

      Perhaps I don't fully understand your concept of God, and if that is so, then I apologize.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      I really appreciate your comment, James. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it! :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      This is an excellent, heartfelt, thought provoking Hub. Thank you very much. I enjoyed the journey.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Snow_White, I'm glad I was able to make you think! I am honored that you would consider sharing this hub with your bible study group.

      Thank you for compliments, I really appreciate them :)

    • profile image

      snow_white88 

      8 years ago

      1 or 2things I am not "d'accord" with but generally a very mind provoking hub... made me ask myself a few questions. it creates a very good basis for discussion that am thinking of going to share your hub with my bible study group this week...

      Your style of writing also makes one, want to read on...I am not a big fun of reading long hubs but this one- that wasn't the case... thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very intriguing.

      snow.x

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks, Cosette :) I'm glad I could help you laugh!

    • profile image

      cosette 

      8 years ago

      omg haha!!! :D hee hee i can't comment...laughing too hard... :)

      wow.

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Alex. I also believe in the importance of balance, though maybe in not the exact same way that you do. Which is okay, I think it's awesome that everybody has their own unique beliefs. Actually, you've inspired me to try to write about balance, so maybe I'll have something up in a couple of days. Thanks!

      -Adam

    • profile image

      Georgiana85 

      8 years ago

      Hy, you left a comment at my hub and I was curious to see who you are. I still don't know that but I do know this, you are in my small circle of people I talked to (even if we never talked) that have almost the same belief system as I do. I also perceive big G in everything an most in the balance of things and in me, to explain...My system of belief goes something like: Luck...Balance..The God in me. I was born lucky, never won the lottery or anything like that :) but I always had luck, and I saw that this leads to balance, when a lucky thing happens to me a less lucky thing happens to someone else and so on. And the God in me is my higher self (I also like Buddhism and oriental beliefs), if everyone at once had a good thought, that would materialize, we have the power...but the worst part is that we don't know...

      Keep up the good work!

      Great Hub and hope to hear from you soon :).

      Regards

      Alex

    • AdamGee profile imageAUTHOR

      AdamGee 

      8 years ago

      Bk, thank you so much for all your praise! I'm glad you enjoyed the article. I'm not very good at accepting compliments, so I guess this is good practice for me :)

      Tony, thanks! I'm glad you were able to get something out of my hub, and also relate it to your own experience. I like your quote, "God is closer to to us than our breathing," very much. I will have to remember that. As far as your journey, it sounds like a very thoughtful one, which I commend you on. All the best! And thank you for your kind words.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      This is a simply stunning Hub! I love it totally! Thanks so much. I particularly liked you example showing the inter-connectedness of everything. Like you I have to some extent struggled with the idea of god most of my life, going from total rejection of any idea of god to total acceptance. Right now I'm in a transition phase from acceptance to rejection (or is it the other way round?). Whatever I feel sort of in between. I can relate to your idea of god as being everything and everywhere. Anyways people have debated this since humans began to talk and I guess they will go on into the future still debating it.

      I have always felt very uncomfortable with those who claim special knowledge of and a special relationship with what they call "god". I just can't imagine that a god would have that close a relationship with a person, except as you have expressed it, and I like the quote from the bible that god is closer to us than our breathing. That expresses the connectedness of all things and that I participate in that in a very personal way. And that also helps me to understand that sin is that which tries to separate us, to claim that we are not connected.

      Anyway, thanks for a great Hub.

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 

      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      What a great hub! And what a great title! And I have to say I love that cartoon there "Life in Hell" by Groening.

      I can certainly appreciate such a fair and open-minded hub - that is also quite witty!

      Many, many thanks!

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