“We are all Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be reborn.” ~Meister Eckhart
The concept of God is a thorny subject at best and a slippery slope at worst. This is in no small part due to cultural conditioning, cognitive dissonance, and religious indoctrination. But it is important enough of a subject that it needs to be addressed, again and again, lest we become myopic and stuck as a species.
Our main hangup is belief itself. So many of us “believe” in God without even understanding what either belief or God even means. We think our beliefs are true without question. When, in reality, all beliefs are questionable because Truth is always elusive. Truth cannot be pigeonholed.
When it comes to the concept of God, most people want their cake and eat it too. They want their God to be both infinite and a being. This denotes a supreme naivete toward the concept of infinity itself.
Infinity is the interconnectedness of all things and nothing, forever and never. It’s infinite somethingness and infinite nothingness, never beginning and never ending. It’s all things and no things all at once. It’s immeasurable, endless, inestimable.
So, when someone says, “God is infinite.” What do they mean? They usually mean God is all things. But they also usually mean that God is a being who is separate from all things and created all things, which is contradictory. For a “being” denotes a finitude. Hence the wanting of the cake and the eating of the cake at the same time. They want to force an all-creating finite being called God into the category of “infinity.”
But if, as Joseph Campbell said, “God is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere,” then it stands to reason that God cannot only be a single being. God cannot be finite or have any finite attributes unless it is seen as merely an aspect of God.
Hence the need to redefine God as all things. A table is God. A fork is God. A tree is God. You are God. I am God. The earth is God. The universe is God. All things are God. This works, because although all these things are finite, we are also saying that all these things are aspects of the infinite, which is God.
God then takes on a whole new wholistic light: God is infinity itself, the interconnectedness of all things without a need to pigeonhole it into any single separate entity. God is thus finally “allowed” to be infinite without any finite (dogmatic) caveats.
The fascinating thing is that when you redefine God and allow God to be truly infinite it demolishes all religious gods that came before it.
The Religious God:
“One of the main functions of organized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.” ~Carl Jung
The problem with the religious conception of God is that religions want their “God” to be both infinite and finite. They want the judgmental being and the infinite interconnectedness. They want their God to both condone their dogma and condemn anything outside it and somehow have also created what it condemns. They want their God to be everywhere and also only in a perfect afterworld.
The religious God is dogmatic and rigid, authoritative and fearmongering, and driven by certainty at the expense of truth. It’s two-faced and mealymouthed. It wants you to believe in it and only it, usually taking the form of a male figurehead, while also espousing that it is still all things. It wants you to be dependent upon humankind’s fallible interpretation of it. It wants you to never look away. And it uses no end of fear tactics to keep you from thinking outside of its “holy” box.
As Eric Fromm warned, “When people can’t handle God anymore, they turn to religion.”
Indeed. When people can’t handle raw Infinity, they turn to the all-too-human fallible interpretation of Infinity instead. When people can’t handle existential angst, death anxiety, and eternal overwhelm, they turn to the easiness, placation, and pseudo-salve of religion.
The religious god doesn’t want you to look away because you might discover that God is all things and not only what your fallible religion has claimed it is. It wants you to remain fearful of the unknown. It wants you cowering behind a bible or a Koran or a Bhagavad Gita. It wants you walking on eggshells afraid of committing blasphemy.
The religious god doesn’t want you to know that God is truly infinite. It doesn’t want you to know that God is the interconnectedness of all things. It doesn’t want you to know that you are God, as all things are God. Because then it cannot control you.
It doesn’t want you to know that God is Infinity itself because then you won’t need its finite path. The religious god is a middleman, a false god, a mockery of Infinity. It doesn’t want you to be awake and empowered; it wants you to be asleep and dependent.
The Spiritual God:
“Spirituality, when pure, connects us to the godhead with infinitely more efficacy and grace than does religiosity.” ~Tom Robbins
The spiritual God cuts out the middleman of religion. There’s no need for dogma. There’s no need for pigeonholed “truth.” There’s no need for having your cake and eat it too. Infinity is all the sustenance you will ever need. The interconnectedness of all things—as scary as it is when you really let it sink in—is the only God that really matters in any reasonable sense.
The spiritual God is liberating (courage-based) rather than authoritative (fear-based). It is painful growth rather than comfortable stagnation. It’s open-minded questioning rather than close-minded acceptance. It’s interdependent rather than codependent. It speaks a language older than words rather than a language limited by words. It is driven by curiosity rather than driven by certainty.
The spiritual God lifts the veil. It unfetters the soul. It casts the heart out on a fishing line hoping to catch a big fish called “Truth” only to toss it back with the understanding that the journey must remain the thing; that the Truth Quest must stay ahead of any given “truth” lest we flounder and grow stale in comfort, certainty, or ignorance.
The spiritual God does not want you turn away from the Great Mystery. It wants you to look deeply into it. It wants you to take it all in. All of it. The good and the bad. The fear and the love. The death and the life. It wants you to embrace death anxiety in all its painful glory. For therein lies the truth: that the truth will always be elusive. And that’s okay.
The spiritual God is not a finite answer but an infinite question. It’s not a closed-in period but an open-ended question mark. Its food is curiosity. It teaches you to never settle on an answer, for there lies stagnation, rotten fruit, and flies in the ointment. There lie conmen, snake oil salesmen, and charlatans.
It teaches how the certainty of the religious god is like standing water. It becomes murky, poisonous, and undrinkable when not treated. It teaches you how to persistently treat “clear” the water with curiosity, and how to keep it clean with constant and persistent inquiry. It prevents close-mindedness and dogmatism from ever trapping you by teaching you, as Aristotle advised, “how to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
About the Author:
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide-awake view of the modern world.
This article (Redefining God) was originally created and published by Self-inflicted Philosophy and is printed here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Gary Z McGee and self-inflictedphilosophy.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this statement of copyright.