My friend put his hand on the wooden box containing tissue papers, and asked me: “What if I’m not telling you that God exists in the same sense that this tissue box exists, but that God exists in another sense, in the same way that an instinct for doing good exists, that God is the desire to do good?”
I couldn’t relate to that, at all.
I was never a deist. I never thought that God was energy, or merely a first cause, or merely a positive feeling, or the thread connecting the rosary beads of our humanity. I never flirted with the idea of a God that was more a concept rather than an extant being.
I believe many differences between anti-theists like me and non-anti-theists who keep holding on to the idea of God somehow is how flexible our definition of God can be — Ultimately, to me, God has to be an extant supernatural being that has created the universe. That is the minimum definition of God that is possible. But also, most probably, it has also created our moral guidelines and values and interferes in our affairs.
Many people seem to carve up this definition to make place for a god that is more appealing or logical. Some try to carve out the “supernatural” part, saying that god is all nature, forces of nature, the order of nature, or some natural entity. Some even go further and remove the idea of a creator, and reduce god to something entirely familiar, morality, energy, love, kindness, or other positive abstract ideas.
To me, this represents the next natural step in an evolution of an idea. Gods used to be omnipresent, explaining all natural occurrences with their supernatural interference. But as humanity began to discover the laws of science, gods began to retreat behind the clouds, to be become more absent and more abstract. And now these new gods are the very last battlefield in the land of gods as it is being occupied by the forces of skepticism: gods are not even the source of ideas anymore, but the ideas themselves. I that sense, god is not an external extant being but a mental function of human mind, like math, or love. A social/ideal construct, if you will.
In that sense, you can’t really deny that god exists, in that peculiar sense of existence one associates with abstractions: not independently from human mind, merely as a mental tool of understanding the physical world.
From this point onward, the aspiring theists proceed to take two different approaches: Either a bait and switch, in which it turns out that god is actually not so meek an extant: Allah is love, but it turns out that Allah is also Allah: the creator of universe who dislikes masturbation and alcohol. This is, obviously, a fallacious argument, an act of manipulation, false advertisement in proselytizing. It’s as transparent and ugly as it is popular. But for some, their god remains the abstraction, a kind of irreligious spirituality.
Which makes me ask: why? Unlike numbers or abstractions like “love” and “good”, this abstract idea of god does nothing to contribute to how we behave or how well we understand the world. If god actually exists, independent of human mind, then it must be proven to exist with scientific method, like all extant and non-extant creatures, like the koala bear or the unicorn. And if god doesn’t exist independently of human mind, then why have such a concept at all? It’s a useless invention.
The shadow of a god has never appealed to me. It seemed to me to be product of a weak emotion and not a sincere outcome of thoughts, an inability of letting go, a divorce in all but name. If we are to strip god of all that makes it meaningful, isn’t it better to go all the way, deliver the coup de grace, and put this pugnacious idea to sleep once and for all?