Thursday, March 26, 2009

God: In Man's Image or His Own?

This was a paper written in my 12th grade Philosophy Through Literature class as a response to some of the philosophies unveiled in the book, Sophie's World.

Did God create man or did man create God? From the dawn of time, every great intellectual, scholar, and philosopher has wrestled with this ever-circular question. Millions have died in the name of God, Allah, Zeus, or any other name the “intelligent designer” dons. “God” influences how people act, think, talk, walk, and even vote. The question lies in this: are we taking inspiration from God or are we passively accepting the words of those manipulating His or Her will to their own way?

Xenophanes famously noted that God was created in man’s image. His idea brings about a revelation harder than the entire Book of Revelations. Each society’s God takes upon the image of the people and the environment around them. God is white in Europe, black in Africa, or drinks wine and wears sandals in ancient Greece. The great deity appears to shift shapes to suit his audience. The Almighty One becomes everyone’s perfect ideal, and why not with great party tricks like turning water into wine. He is jovial when we are happy; infuriated when we are angry and flexible when we are ambivalent. God’s views conveniently cater to power. He fights on the sides of both Abraham Lincoln and Adolf Hitler. Given our similar inconsistencies, maybe we were made in God’s image.

How can God seemingly have his cake and eat it too? This brings on the rationale that God is not who the Pope, the Ayatollah, or the Dalai Lama says he is. God has more public relations representatives than Hollywood’s stars combined. Everyone from Saints to soccer moms claims to know the “real God” through their bizarre sense of overt self-importance and delusions of grandeur. The fact is none of us has truly experienced God in a physical sense enough to prove his physical existence and even if we did, skepticism of others and our perception hinders our ability to understand this higher power.

Our inability to comprehend God properly does not necessarily rule out his existence. The universe certainly finds potent quantities of quality workmanship within its design. Atomic structure, the reproductive system, the water cycle, and the way everything that tastes good is bad for you-- all these give the impression of careful thought and a sense of humor that only a high-minded being like ourselves could devise. The concept that God created us in his image holds some weight given a little faith. We appear chosen in a way, given our own special “blessing” of rationality. While the universe may not revolve around us, so far it seems to have favored us. One could argue that the reason we cannot concretely prove the existence of God is the exact rationale behind why we cannot come to a consensus regarding His image. Our unreliable perception prevents us from fully realizing the ideal image of the Alpha and Omega. Because of this, we are unable to prove the existence or form of God entirely, but that does not rule out his existence.

Regardless of who created whom, God is filtered through humankind’s ideas or perception. The answer to fact or fiction has no bearing on the importance of the concept of God. Through either answer, we can find purpose, rationalization and virtue in life. God’s image could be indecipherable or a mirror image; the conclusion is equally powerful.