God’s Absence and Faith

I’m a theist, a panentheist (not a pantheist). I feel that my particular god-definition explains God’s absence and non-intervention in the material world in a way that creator-religion does not and cannot: it posits that God is not now, never was, and never will be, a creator or an intervener.

God’s interventionary and functional absence from the material world is no mystery, because, since God is not a creator or intervener, there is no logical reason to expect God to be responsible for the world’s creation and its maintenance. It simply does not come under God’s purview, and it’s not God’s “job description”. This is not a matter of an almighty creator messing up his creation, and then refusing to intervene to correct at least some of the mess. It’s a matter of a transcendent kind of being whose “business” is infinite love and compassion, to which there are paths of contemplative/meditative means of immediate, intituitive, “gnostic” experiencing.

Put simply: God is real; God is not a creator or an intervener.  God is therefore not absent for some atheistic claim that God doesn’t exist; rather, it’s more an issue of God being absent because God is real but nonmaterial, and therefore is not part of wordly existence and processes. Obviously, this kind of theology does not require a theodicy – a rationale which tries to explain why evil exists – and much worse – why it persists in a purportedly “good” creation of a “good” creator.

But a creator-religion does call for an explanation as to why a compassionate God who created and maintains “His” universe is so apparently absent. No evidence for such a creating and intervening God exists – quite the opposite, in fact, at least judging by the world’s randomness and the precarious and doomed position of sentient life within this “scheme”.

The absence of the Creator from his creation is one of the several insurmountable objections to creator-religion, and very few of “His” apologists admit to this brute fact. In this, the “Creator-Faithful” resemble an abused partner caught in a violent co-dependendent relationship. Like an abused wife, creator-religionists feel coerced to defend their abusive “spouse”, with all the excuses found in co-dependent relationships: “I’m not good enough”, “I misbehaved and deserve my punishment”; “I will try harder next time”; and “it’s not all bad, because sometimes He brings me gifts”. A pathetic view, which only carries meaningless suffering down through generations of the creator-faithful.

Some will criticise my God-definition by saying, “Well, what good is a God who is infinite compassion and infinite wisdom, but who does nothing?” This utilitarian question depends on what one regards as “good”. If we remove the Divine Good from the material world, we are left at least in theory with Divine Good as applies to the inner, spiritual sphere. And this is where the non-creator God performs the Good; this is where God does something rather than nothing.  That is, the purview of the God whose definition I have presented lies within the psyche of sentient beings.

As Meister Eckhart is claimed to have said, “God is known in the soul”. Eckhart is also said to have taught that “the eye by which we see God is the eye by which God sees us”. The shared “eye” is the soul. It is “the eye of contemplation” or “the eye of Spirit”. Unlike the physical eye, the eye of contemplation must be opened through various contemplative and meditative practices and processes. The theory is that once the spiritual eye is opened, the soul can perceive and unite with God, its object.

Perhaps strangely, this kind of faith – belief in a non-creating, non-intervening transendent God who can be known directly by, and in, the soul – is a much easier faith than a faith that clings to the notion of a creator-intervener God, to whom one must be utterly loyal  – in spite of all the wordly, daily-living evidence against the soundness of such a faith.

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