Defined Words: monotheism, guided randomness
We are curious creatures by nature and our ancestors would often question “Why?” or “How?” in order to better understand their world. Unfortunately, when we began asking these questions, no humans had the ability to answer them correctly. The world was so complex that it seemed as though something or someone must have created it. Our ancestors made up stories with characters that created parts of the natural world while including moral lessons.
Ancient stories would often involve characters whose power was great enough to cause the natural phenomena of our world. Many cultures would look to the stars to find familiar shapes of those characters in the form of constellations. Some cultures shared stories of their ancestors but likened them to animals to represent a specific character trait: totem poles are an example of this trend.
Eventually, early groups of humans would meet and they would discuss their explanation stories to each other. Sometimes this led to warfare, other times it led to an adaptation of the story itself. Over time, the trend of many characters fell to the idea that one character was supreme among all of them. We call this ideology monotheism, the belief in only one god. The stories continued, referencing a single character with enough power to create the entire universe.
The stories claimed that this omnipotent character was powerful enough to hear your thoughts and communicate with you directly, through thought or divine signals. I want you to empathize with an early ancestor here. Imagine that you are born into a world you know nothing about but amazes you on a daily basis.
You are then told that a Great Being created everything you see, including you. You are told that the voices in your head, which are actually just neural paths firing outside the consciousness, are the voice of this god. You then create this character in your mind and call it “God.” You give the character all the abilities and wisdom that are mentioned from the many stories you have been told.
Believing in a Great Creator is understandable since we did not know the truth about our universe when we first started asking questions. The only way to make all the surrounding complexity make sense was to create a Creator. Instead, you can choose to redefine God to be the universe we live in rather than its creator.
Since there are still parts of the story we do not know, it is still totally acceptable to use God in as a temporary placeholder to fill the gap in our collective knowledge. For questions that cannot be answered by evidence, like what happened before the Big Bang, we can use God to satisfy our curiosity. However, it is absolutely necessary that the truth replaces the idea that “God did it” when we discover that truth.
For example, we used to think that lightning struck because a god willed it to be. We now know that lightning is caused by a shuffling of atoms in clouds that cause electrons to build up in some parts of the cloud; eventually that charge must diffuse in the form of a bolt of energy. We no longer have to believe lightning bolts are being thrown by an angry or vengeful god because we understand the truth. Refusing to accept verifiable evidence because of your traditional beliefs only slows progress.
Believing in a Great Creator also means that you believe in the role you play in the story of God. For some of the major religions of the world, that story goes like this: you are one of God’s children and you are born to live out a life on Earth as a test to see if you are worthy to spend eternity with God after you die. In this story, you are forced to remain a single character for the entire span of your life. God is the ultimate top-down perspective because nothing is more powerful than God.
If you believe that you are here on Earth for a very brief time before you spend an eternity with God, you will tend to treat the Earth as a temporary living space. This creates a problem if this Earth is the true realm of God. If this is the case, then many of us spend our lives trying to live up to some unnecessary expectation instead of reveling in the joys of existing in this reality. Additionally, believing that there is another realm beyond this reality can lead us to neglect our responsibility to care for our world and provide for the generations that will come after us.
To have this belief in God also means that you are destined to continue the same story in which you are the same character year after year. Alternatively, with a different view on God, you can play a role in many stories within the short period in which you are alive. Viewing your world without a Grand Creator means you can look at life from a bottom-up perspective. The question is not “What does God want me to do?” the question is “Where can I go from here?”
Of course, redefining God doesn’t mean you can no longer worship God or give thanks for all our reality has provided for us. Instead, you can choose to redefine God to be the name of reality itself. In simplest terms: God isn’t the clockmaker, God is the clock. People who follow the intended teachings of their religious texts aren’t necessarily wrong. In fact, most religions tell their followers to meditate on the teachings of prophets instead of blindly following the words used or the people who claim to speak on behalf of the religion. Many religions teach great and powerful lessons that can be used to help create a better world for all of us. Worshiping reality itself can have the same effect as worshiping a creator of reality.
To believe in a Great Creator is to believe that everything that has come to be is part of a grander plan. Everything is the way it is because of the laws of nature and our accomplishments to manipulate the world around us. There is no evidence for a Grand Plan; it makes sense to view our life in this reality as simply what we choose to do with the time we have. Seeing yourself as nothing more than a part of a larger story means you can never truly alter the course of events in reality.
God is often seen as the manifestation of the unknown and the parts of your brain you haven’t explored. God is seen as the almighty and has an intention in mind for the unfolding story that we live in. To redefine God is to lose a huge amount of comfort that God has provided from the vast unknown. Without the comfort of a predetermined story, uncertainty floods our consciousness. But we aren’t resigned to live in a state of constant uncertainty if we choose to abandon the idea of a Great Creator.
The story of a Great Creator says that an individual entity created all the complexity upon complexity of our universe. An alternative story is that everything formed from nothing based entirely on randomness. The latter sounds totally ludicrous due to the sheer amount of complexity of the universe. However, the universe isn’t exactly random, it has rules.
The four Fundamental Forces require the energy in the universe to behave in a specific way. The randomness still exists, but the amount of possible universes decreases because of the implementation of the basic rules. This guided randomness is what allowed our sun and our planet to form. Guided randomness is what allowed life to begin. The additional guidance from predation and intelligence shifted the randomness along an even more specific set of possible universes.
The competition of nature and human behavior has vastly changed the world in a relatively short period of time. When you zoom back to see how many possible universes could have happened from all the randomness of our past, you gain an appreciation for the one possibility that did come true: reality.
It was a random event that brought a comet nearby our planet, likely giving us water. It was a random event that sent a meteor hurdling into the planet to alter the course of life and allow mammals to take over. It was a random event that dried up the forests and sent us on a quest to change our world in order to survive. The randomness of our universe isn’t something to be taken for granted; it should astound you every day.
Understanding that this reality is just one of an infinite amount of ones that could have happened instead, and yet you get to be a part of this one. You get to know about your true past. The fact that it was all guided randomness makes our existence even more spectacular than if an all-knowing entity simply willed us into being.
You might be thinking, “Live and let live. If people want to believe in God, let them.” That is totally fair and you are free to believe whatever you choose to believe. I claim that closing God offers far more good than bad because of what God currently signifies. Many people claim that all the love and wisdom they offer to others comes from God and simply flows through them. The love and wisdom of God can come directly from you. You can be the source of God’s love. You can be the source of God’s wisdom. When you discover your own power, you can unlock your potential.