According to Dr. (Miceal) Ledwith, the single greatest obstacle to our evolution is the way our culture often views God – as a God sitting up somewhere “registering the scores on his laptop as to whether we perform according to his designs or whether we’re offending him, as it’s put, an absolutely outrageous idea. How could we offend God? How could it matter so much to him? How could it, above all, matter that he would find it so serious a situation that he could conform us to an eternity of suffering? These are bizarre ideas.”And they are bizarre ideas: that in this vast universe, where there are more galaxies than grains of sand in all the oceans, that in that vastness, a group of people – well, men actually – on a small planet got the exclusive franchise for the pearly gate arches of heaven. And every other being in the universe will spend an eternity of suffering in hell. It’s hard to imagine a more bizarre idea. And if that’s the sort of God you believe in, you just have to wonder: How does that affect your view of the world?What the Bleep Do We Know!? by William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, and Mark Vicente
I want to tell you how those concepts of God affected my worldview and how I demerged from it. I long ago recognized that my childhood view of God was distorted. I saw Him as a an old man with a flowing white beard and a quiver of lightning bolts waiting for me to screw up. I later came to know God as the Creator, as Sovereign, and as a Father. Nonetheless, my fear of failure and judgement continued to dominate my view of God and a perhaps even more distorted view of God developed. I believed that God loved us infinitely yet also convicted us and punished us into obedience with hell as the destination of all outsiders. As I continued to mature I became a quasi-theologian with a degree and vocation to match. I was trained to study and interpret the Bible for myself, and what I discovered did not line up with the worldview I was raised with. Even still I saw huge discrepancies between different parts of the Bible and between the Bible and everyday life.
The particular denomination I came out of taught that the Bible was infallible, inspired, and inerrant and could not be questioned. That’s a problem because while the Bible speaks of the Divine it does so through the lips, hands, and lives of humans whose stories were recorded by humans and later debated over and arranged into a collection of books to communicate a particular theological worldview. Everything that did not match criteria consistent with that worldview was not included. Simply put, the Bible did not descend from a cloud on Mt. Sinai to Broadman & Holman Publishers.
When you don’t hold that every jot and tittle are inerrant and study the Bible for what it is, the way it is, using various angles of approach, you come away with a very different worldview from the one I was raised with. When you honestly contemplate the vastness of time and space and the beauty and order of the world and ourselves, you come away with a very different perspective of who God may be and who we are. I’m not sure what I believe about God anymore or if I believe at all. Some days I don’t believe, then other days I have an awareness that God is, even though I don’t understand Him. I am closer now to what Einstein called “a cosmic religious feeling,” a sense of connectedness and unity with all of life.
Writing now from that perspective, I don’t understand how it is possible to offend a God such as this. At some point in the last five years, I lost my belief in hell as a place or destination. Although some people have caused such immeasurable human suffering, it seems such a place should be established just for them. In the last two to three years I’ve also lost my sense of “conviction,” my concept of “sin,” judgement, and retribution. My evangelical friends would say that I’ve “fallen away” and have lost all spiritual sensitivity to “sin.” Maybe they’re right, but I sure feel better without the 800 lb. gorilla on my back telling me how bad I am all day long. I live in wonder and awe in appreciation, trying to stretch my imagination and learn new things all the time. That to me seems much more in keeping with being a child of the divine.
People have to make that choice for themselves. Most people are happy with their life the way it is. Most people are happy with watching television and having a 9 to 5 job. Not to say that they are happy with it, but they are hypnotized into thinking that’s normal. The person who has another urge inside of them that they’re clearly interested in something else, all they need is a little bit of knowledge, and if they accept that knowledge as a possibility and if they embrace that knowledge over and over again, sooner or later, they’ll begin to apply that knowledge.
Now for some people it may take five minutes, and for other people to take that first step may take an enormous amount of effort because they have to weigh that first step against everything they know, and everything they know is attached to the way their life is presently, all their agreements, all their relationships. And to take that first step means that they have to evaluate what it’s going to look like by taking this step against what they know, and there’s that battle between those two elements. But once we give ourselves permission to move outside the box, there’s a definite sense of relief and definite sense of joy.
Dr. Joe Dispenza, What the Bleep Do We Know!? by William Arntz, Betsy Chase, and Mark Vicente