I have been asking this question of people the last couple of days in an effort to come to a better understanding of myself. To help define what I mean, I present a short list of various ways of approaching the word God….
1. Like a combat between good and evil, as the Zoroastrians of the first millennium BC saw god, or 2. Like the Classic Greeks with their variety of weirdly motivated gods playing games with puppet people. 3. Like the Roman Emperor gods who ruled over the lives of ordinary people. 4. Like the bourgeoisie who value money and treat it as if were the ultimate end and ultimate value to be pursued. 5. Like modern democratically inclined people, who assert that “The voice of the people is the voice of god!” That makes the majority of people out to be god. 6. As the scientific process of discovery has revealed nature and the natural powers of nature to be sought and previously called god.
As the conversations have progressed I laid the measuring tool of the feeling of comfort provided by the different interpretations of the word god along the six definitions. The first four didn’t seem to offer any comfort to me, although having money does give a buffer against some calamities. Number 5, the voice of the people, did give some comfort, but it seemed a bit arbitrary because half of the time I, or you, might not be in the majority and would feel discriminated against by our fellow beings’ actions. Number 6, the objective clarity of vision of natural reality, did give me some feelings of comfort because that vision does give me some control over my future. I don’t have absolute control over many important things in my life, like gravity, or the sunrise, or the weather, but I do have considerable control over how I cope with those things.
All of the postulated gods do have some relationship to our continued living and to our death, but we do have more control over these things in the natural-order-of-things approach. We can treat our bodies with care, respect, and caution, which will help us reach our natural old age, but, of course, there are clear limits to that. However, with the natural scientific approach we can better understand our relationship to these things imposed by nature, and once we accept those limits we can feel comfort and joy at being alive.
I come away from this conversation with a better feeling about being immersed in the natural order of the world.