by James Strauss
The human species is enriched and enslaved by the human species. The very same applications of power, force and intellect human beings so adroitly use to adjust the terms of survival on this planet, are utilized by some to do the absolute most for group survival, while others take advantage of each and ever facet for personal gain instead. Mankind is not in search of God. It has found God. That the concept of a single god is relatively new, when considered against the backdrop of over three million years of being a species, matters not as humanity pushes ever forward with fits, stops, reversals and then advances into the realm of ever more complex and controlling civilization. Aristotle is sometimes referred to as the first civilized being to successfully express concepts about there being only one god, although his concept of what that god might be and how it might act were so complex as to confound even the most intelligent of students and admirers. The first application of systemic belief in a single god-being occurred under the reign of an Egyptian queen by the name of Nefertiti. During her reign in the middle thirteen hundreds (before current era ‘BCE) all Egyptians under her rule were required to believe in a monotheistic god. When she died, this extremely unpopular practice ceased, and all temples and governmental palaces dedicated to monotheism were torn asunder by succeeding rulers. The monotheistic god concept would not return until the Hellenic period following the publishing of Aristotle’s teachings in the middle three hundreds (BCE).
In the modern world there are hundreds upon hundreds of organized belief systems called religions. Almost to a fault, the vast majority of them ascribes all power to a single god. Still, somehow, the definition of God seems to elude the understanding of humanity. Who or what is God? If history is any indicator, the concept of a god, no matter how comprehensively defined, will always elude understanding. That is because whatever monotheistic god concept is worshipped, it is extremely unlikely that any given conceptual entity will be making an appearance to establish observable fact. Since it is generally impossible for any human being not diagnosed with some mental illness to totally believe in something that is neither visible to the senses, or even probable by predictable actions, that leaves almost all of humanity stuck with having an ephemeral higher power, and still no answers to the “Big” questions. How could all of this come about by accident? If there was a Big Bang that started the universe, then what came before that? If the universe, or multi-verse has been here for all time, then how do we define time? That mankind does not know what time really is, other than causality constantly working to support entropy, remains foundational to the species inability to truly comprehend who, what, where, when and how it, or anything else in this universe, really is.
Men and women fight and die for their groups, and also contribute to them in almost every conceivable way. Families, friends, towns, cities, states and countries are fought for and contributed to. While that goes on inexorably, the individual humans who make up these groups, compete viciously for advantage over all others making similar contributions and fighting for their groups. Throughout this seemingly oxymoronic pursuit through all of life, there is almost a universally held belief by all the groups and individuals in the existence of a higher power. The motivations of this higher power, however, are never revealed by the higher power itself.
They are revealed by humans claiming to have access, or to be in special divine communication with this higher power no other humans can reach, or be exposed to. Since duplicity is the greatest tool available for individual competitive gain and survival, it is likely that no higher power (no matter how defined) has ever made any entry anywhere, or descended down to this mortal plain to inform mankind of its existence. Nor has a higher power revealed why mankind and the universe exist, or what the real meaning of all life might be. A common Christian tenet attempting to deal with this issue is the phrase: “to know, love and serve Him.” That phrase, of course, says nothing about why there are planets, stars, space between them or even what the intellect capable of writing this article is, or why it is capable of grappling with these concepts.
What humans do seem to have successfully figured out, given that a belief in a monotheistic god or higher power is so new to mankind’s existence, is that it works. Human beings perform much better, and experience more bliss than they ever did under a polytheist belief system. The evidence for that is around each and every one of us as we manage and shape what we inhabit of the universe to our own wants and needs, and sometimes even into our own image.
Individual human life is one of those mysteries of the universe with no satisfactory answer as to what it is, or what happens either before it begins or after it ends. Concepts of heaven and hell do little to provide any clarity of the little discussed, but ever felt fear of “not being”. About 340,000 newborn’s come into the world every day, and about 156,000 humans go out of this world every day. There is relatively little fanfare over the births, just as there is little made of humans dying of ‘natural’ causes. For some reason, for generations the media of the world have treated the early departure of humans from the planet by means of accident, wars, terrorism, or other violent actions, as special and stunningly unjust. This in spite of the rather obvious fact that all living animals use wholesale violence to feed themselves at the expense of other living animals, and also to rise up physically and socially against other living competitors.
It is a foundational belief in a monotheistic higher power that focuses this attention and fear. A person dying in younger years, or by violence of any kind, is said to be ‘taken’ from this earth. The victims of 911 overwhelmed the nation with grief and loss. That those victims numbered less than three thousand, while almost seven thousand other citizens died on that same day away from ground zero at the towers, was overlooked. Billions of dollars were sent to New York for the victims, and eventually distributed to 911 survivors and families. No money was raised, collected or distributed for the other seven thousand. A police or school shooting grabs the media’s attention and an entire nation focuses on these unjust and unfair losses. Without a higher power to believe in there would be no difference. Without a higher power to pray (wish) to, where would hope rest?
It is vitally important that humans acknowledge and respond to emotional drives to follow the ‘distant drummer’ of a higher power, because to follow nothing is to go nowhere, and it is flagrantly obvious that humankind has the need and the potential to go “somewhere”. Whether a higher power is necessary for humankind to understand where it is going is another matter entirely, although possibly the wonderful tools and gifts distributed to the human species may eventually allow for some comprehension about that. We can only hope, pray, believe and endeavor to persevere.
~ James Strauss