Nature’s God

Colored photo of outer space.

I’m often asked what I believe now, and I often answer that I’m blissfully uncommitted. Having spent my whole youth being warned about the Rapture and the need to “make a decision for Christ” right now (indeed, I was always pretty sure that I was already too late), it’s great not to feel rushed. I feel certain that no God of quality would hold my soul to account for cautious indecision. As a teacher, I know I’ve failed if my students tell me what they think I want to hear. Being a good person, like being an educated person, goes far beyond spitting out the right theological answers.

I think there’s an enormous truth to this statement in Doctor Who, A Good Man Goes to War: Good men don’t need rules.

YouTube Preview Image

Nonetheless, as an agnostic, here’s what I think the real God would look like if he or she turned out to be real:

1. Not human. I was raised not to be a political dominionist, but to see Creation as God’s gift to humans. We were supposed to take control of it, take advantage of it. Not doing so was negligence. To be concerned about climate change was to doubt God’s providence and to be poor, fearful stewards of our inheritance. As a child, I always had a very hard time reconciling a God of Love with one who wanted us to dominate and destroy the earth. Huge parts of my childhood consisted of raising kittens and nurturing them when they had their own kittens. (My parents spayed our cats, but sometimes too late.)

I grew up watching the deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels, turtles, and fish outside my house. I felt in harmony with this world of creatures, intricately and beautifully manifesting the intelligence of the universe. And then I went to church and heard a human story – a story that felt so limited sometimes, because it acknowledged nothing of the God who created animals, plants, rivers and stars. If they were ever acknowledged, it was as a token of God’s love for us humans. But this attitude seemed arrogant to me. Why should God love us and only us? Why weren’t dogs going to heaven unless we loved them? Why did God insist on flooding and burning up the enormous, diverse, fascinating world he made because of us? What did the fish do to deserve the apocalypse?

Now, I think, if there is a God, that God is spirit. Not a human spirit. Not even a spirit that resembles humans or centers the universe around them. I think the world is much bigger than us and that a God who designed it must be bigger than us, too.

2. Gender neutral. This rather goes without saying. Sex differentiation is for diversifying the gene pool. The gene pool is for reproduction. I no longer believe that reproduction is all that life’s about. Reproduction serves life, not the other way around. Not only should gender be unimportant to God, but God should be truly genderless. Without male pronouns. Without male-only incarnation.

3. Comfortable with incompleteness and evolution. Because the world changes. Animals change. Bugs and viruses and bacteria change. Geology changes. Human cultures change. A real God must have a more nuanced mind than to demand that human beings defy the natural growth of the world and themselves to cling to a set of words on paper outlining finite rules.

4. Thoroughly uninterested in managing anybody’s daily life. A God I could believe in has bigger fish to fry than what you wear, listen to or watch.

5. Sex-neutral. I say neutral deliberately. The God of Christian fundamentalism is both sex-negative (non-marital, gay, non-procreative) and sex-positive (be fruitful and multiply; the secret to saving your Christian marriage is to do it more; it’s a marital duty that must be regularly exercised for a healthy marriage). I don’t believe sex should belong anywhere near the center of God’s priorities. I believe that if there is a God, that being is more concerned with how the people on earth treat each other, animals and their environment than how they get there.

6. Preoccupied with more than just Earth. What about the worlds beyond our solar system? What about the solar system itself? Why focus only on one little planet when so many fascinating things are happening outside it, too?

7. Uncommitted to particular human causes and interests. I don’t believe God is political – at least in terms of partisanship, pet causes, nationhood or identity. I believe that moral concerns supersede politics but also know how to work within them. I believe that if there is a God active in the world, that person is both above politics and intelligent enough to see through them.

8. Communicating by spirit rather than words. I don’t believe in scriptures anymore, at least insofar as they are used as rulebooks. I believe that real spirituality is practice. It’s not a stance or a dogma or a membership or a belief. It is the discipline by which you become connected with the divine things in the universe.

If I can be fascinated with the world, with the stars and the intricacies of animal life and the amazing power of evolution and life itself – why isn’t God? Why would God reduce himself to such petty concerns as our skirt length or our courtship rituals? If God made our bodies, then he knows what they do and what they’re for. Why would he obsess over the manner of our reproduction? Our lives are so much more than that. Why would God claim a political party? Why would he claim any particular church? Why would God even be a he?

I don’t believe in a God whose plan is comprehensible. I don’t believe in a God who destroys his own creation to punish a tiny piece of it. I don’t believe in a God for whom the right words and rituals mean more than the orientation of our hearts. I don’t believe in a God who demands that I know it all or that I be right or that I do what he says. I believe that the presence in my life that I’ve called God has been present whenever I’ve had to grow. I’ve never felt that presence tell me to keep still, submit or be silent.

I do believe in love as a force that binds the world – not exclusively humans. We’re honestly not all that good at it. But dogs have packs, birds have flocks and the principle of loving and helping exists far beyond us and the rules we write down to remind ourselves to be better. Love is bigger than humanity. Love saves all kinds of lives.

So I relish not knowing the answers, because only a foolish kind of God would judge my worth as his creation based on what my little brain knows. What I know isn’t important. What’s important is what is. Maybe after reading this post you still only have a few pieces of what I believe, but to be honest, that’s all I have too. And for now, I’m totally okay with that.

  • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

    I’m an atheist, but my grandmother was Catholic–in fact, she was a novice but never took vows–and she said that when she was a child she decided that if Earth was the extent of God’s creation, he wasn’t very powerful. I’ve always thought that the traditional religious view of creator deities is very limited.

  • wanderer

    I agree with a LOT of your list. Very refreshing. I meet so few people I see eye-to-eye with about this topic.

  • http://followingontoknow.blogspot.com Mrs. Searching

    Most of this sounds pretty much like what I believe about God now. I realized very strongly with my daughter’s birth last year, that there is a spiritual force in love, in birth, in death, and probably in many other things too. It makes me wonder how God can really be defined in any comprehensible way.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    I agree with a lot of this (I am a Christian, by the way). God isn’t to be used to justify our political opinions, he’s not interested in enforcing little, arbitrary rules meant to shame people, he has no gender, his creative genius goes way farther than just the earth- he’s so much bigger than that.

    It sounds like you have no interest in the ways people follow a God who conveniently agrees with them, and hates all the same people they hate.

    Thanks for posting this- your list is really insightful. ^_^

  • smrnda

    I’m not a Christian, but I’ve never understood the streak of anti-environmentalism that goes with Christianity sometime. They’re saying that God will *always* provide and that we can’t screw up the planet we’re living on, but if two people can screw up God’s cosmic plans all by eating a piece of fruit, why can’t they screw up the whole planet by dumping toxic waste around and releasing harmful gases into the air?

    If you’re going to be real serious that God will always provide, then Christians should totally abandon agriculture and trust that God will cause edible plants to grow in sufficient numbers for them always to be fed.

    • Liberated Liberal

      Thank you. A million times over, Thank You. I agree with you so much about this issue.

  • Ted Seeber

    What if what is, is entirely the opposite of what you seem to value?

    • Sierra

      Such as? I can think of many opposite scenarios.

      If the Christian fundamentalists are right, I’ll accept my divine punishment willingly because I believe their vision of God is wholly immoral and I would not want to live in a heaven with a God like that.

      • pagansister

        Yes, if the Christian fundamentalists are right—so be it. I too will take my chances—-

  • http://www.angus-land.blogspot.com/ Angus

    Lovely article, Sierra. I think you have deftly articulated what a LOT of people just naturally feel. And I know you aren’t interested in labels, but as a Wiccan, I must say that your Philosophical system meshes pretty closely with that of the Witches.

  • Trent

    Sounds like you could be a Mormon

  • pagansister

    I love the picture you have behind this blog—it is beautiful. Your article has so much I agree with. Thank you for putting into words much of what I feel.

  • Pingback: Weekly Round-up: Evangelical Pastors, an Agnostic’s God, and the Dead Sea Scrolls « The Writers' Block

  • Jaimie

    After a lifetime of Christianity with belief in God at its core I finally wearied of dealing with the massive reality contradictions and finally made a break with that belief system. I thought it would cause a massive paradigm shift in the way I viewed the world and in a way it did. Things make a lot more sense now.

  • April

    Thanks for the article, it provokes thought in a lovely way. There is something profoundly universal in what is captured here.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X