At seven I decided that I would stop attending church at the age of 12, and so I did. My mother, who was the main person in the family interested in church and who had served as the treasurer and choir director, was not terribly dismayed by my not going to church, although I'm sure she would have enjoyed it if any one of our family had continued to share her interest. My mother was not terribly religious, in the typical sense of the term, and I never heard her discuss God, Jesus or the Bible. She went to church every week, and sang beautifully in the choir, but I do believe her attendance was a social instinct, rather than a need for "religion" per se. She was highly respected in our small but gorgeous town, and to this day there are those who remember her fondly. Unfortunately, my beloved mother passed away in 2004 of ovarian cancer.
The word "God" comes from the German "gott" and the proto-Indo-European "*ghut," meaning "that which is invoked." The related Sanskrit term is "huta," which means "invoked" and which was an epithet for the ancient god Indra. "God" may also be derived from the proto-Indo-European "*ghu-to," which means "poured," as in a libation. The Germanic word "God" did not become masculinized, i.e., a male, until the advent of Christianity. "God" is deus in Latin and dios, dia, zeus and theos in Greek.
The term "God" is defined as:
"A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic religions." (Dictionary.com)Over the millenia, it has been widely believed by billions of people that there is a dominating force in the cosmos that controls everything we experience in life. This dominating force - which even in polytheistic cultures such as Egypt was conceived as overarching - has been deemed omniscient or all-knowing, omnipresent or everywhere present, and omnipotent or all-powerful.
In some cultures, it has been believed that this power - called "God" in modern English - was the architect or orchestrator of both good and evil, while in other cultures and religions "He" has been separated out as wholly good, with an evil being (of "His" creation) responsible for all the evil. There is no escaping the fact that life on planet Earth is beset by evil, yet this dualistic and simplistic explanation of a wholly good God and a totally evil Satan, found particularly within Christianity, is unsatisfactory, for the very reason that the definition of God includes the qualities of omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. If God is omniscient, then he surely knows what Satan is up to and is going to do. If God is omnipresent, then he must be Satan. And if God is omnipotent, then he can readily stop Satan. Yet, none of these things appears to be true, as Satan often seems to reign supreme, unopposed and unrestrained.
We humans have spent many centuries attempting to explain why, if there's a good god in charge of everything, so much suffering and evil occurs on planet Earth. We have come up with an immensely complicated yet childish perspective of reality that includes assorted afterlife scenarios such as heaven, hell, limbo, purgatory, etc. When something bad happens to us, like the passing of a loved one, we want answers that make the heartache less painful, the memory more vivid and the death less final. Hence, we have created these elaborate systems and explanations, including excuses for the supposedly omnipotent God who must have allowed these tragedies to occur in the first place.
Nevertheless, these explanations have been found wanting by countless thinkers over the millennia, and it has been eloquently pointed out by numerous people that the existence of such a god is not a done deal in the first place. To be truthful, therefore, we cannot assume a priori that such a god exists, and then work from there. We must clarify that there is great doubt about the existence of an all-powerful, benevolent god who would allow such trauma and tragedy to go on day after day, relentlessly, around the globe. No other position is truly honest, and that fact constitutes the bottom line. Those who righteously question this assumed position will not be satisfied by the pat explanations designed to make the pain go away. They will continue to be haunted, possibly until a more honest and profound exploration is proffered.
The old adages tell us that "God works in mysterious ways" and that "we cannot know the way of God." But are these musty mottos really true? These antiquated assertions assume, and are often accompanied by the declaration, that we humans cannot know God because our minds are small and finite. Yet, there can be no concept greater than infinity, and the human mind can conceive infinity, even though the concept may spin us off into a parallel universe. We nonetheless can understand it. We can also fathom omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence. Hence, we can understand the concept of God, and we are capable of judging whether or not the concept is intelligent, logical and rational.
In the final analysis, our quest for the truth is neverending - and has not been set forth once and for all in any manmade book or set of beliefs thus far created. Despite the profound investigations and the fervent desires of so many for so long, we simply cannot say for sure that God is with us.