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There Is No God, and He Is Always With You

Brad Warner's new book, and the problem of talking about God.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

September 1, 2013 - 1:00 pm
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I remember the first time it happened.

I’m not sure how old I was. Probably no older that 15; the movie in my head shows me the bedroom I shared with my father and a bright warm day outside. I was putting on a sock.

Very suddenly, the entire Universe changed. Very suddenly, I knew the Universe made sense. Oh, I didn’t understand it, I just knew it made sense. It was like when your grandfather shows you his special pocket watch, the one with a hinged back so that instead of seeing the face and the hands that apparently move by magic, you see the gears and springs and see that the hands are moving because of a complicated mechanism inside.

Here’s how Brad Warner, my favorite living Zen writer, described it in his blog not long ago:

In fact, this personal and private something was, I now saw, the personality of the entire universe from the beginningless beginning of time right on through eternity. I saw that this thing I thought was located so deeply inside of me that no one could ever even think of touching it was actually spread throughout all the universe. It wasn’t just inside me. It was inside Tau Ceti and Alpha Centuri and the Great Megallenic Cloud. It was there when the Big Bang happened. It was the Big Bang.

I saw that it was the very same intimate, personal, private something – the “me” aspect – of every person that ever lived, will live or could live – including you, dear reader. It was the personal private something of the sky and the sun and the moon and every ant or rock or piece of bird poop anywhere at any time throughout space. Nothing had ever happened or could ever happen without it knowing every intimate detail, bad or good, happy or sad, painful or pleasant.

If that’s not God, then I don’t know what is.

And perhaps I don’t.

Because it didn’t change me into a better person. It did not grant me moral perfection or freedom from the effects of my bad deeds. It didn’t give me magic powers. It didn’t give me extrasensory perception or vast insight into all things. It didn’t even let me know what color brontosauruses were. And that’s something I’d really like to know.

It didn’t leave me with anything to prove to others that it had visited me, like, y’know, when a guy in a sci-fi movie isn’t sure he really traveled back in time until he reaches into his pocket and discovers he still has the autograph he had Abraham Lincoln sign or whatever. Nope. I got nothing but a funny story I can tell. And not even a cool enough story to get me on one of those shows Oprah Winfrey produces!

(I know how he feels. Putting on a sock? At least Brad was walking across a bridge in Japan.)

I also told my friend it was a little like going through life with a paper grocery bag over your head. Then one day somebody lifts the grocery bag for a couple seconds and you see there’s whole world out there.

Well, Brad’s written a whole book about it now.

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Top Rated Comments   
Dawkins uses that argument. E.g., he points to the parasitic wasp and asks, "Would a loving god create something so cruel?" The idea behind the argument is pretty much what you say it is. Paraphrased, it means: "God, if he existed, would think the way I do."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Garbled. Meant to write: "Anyhow, I'm not sure why someone who thinks the statement "There is no God and He is always with you" is profound, would have a problem with a theology that isn't always logically consistent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
> Actually, the Bible clearly states we were made in the image of Gods, plural Gods.

I presume you're referring to Genesis 1:26...

> Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness...

I don't suppose it's possible that "our", in this case, could possibly be referring to the Holy Trinity? If so, that passage might just have a monotheistic interpretation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (77)
All Comments   (77)
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Charlie, you are way ahead of the game. Congrats. You're an honest thinker about the deep truths in life. It sounds like you have satori (yeah, I know).

I recommend to honest atheists who are left-brain (logical) thinkers to explore and understand Buddhism as a good starting point. Why? Because it is critical to get your head-space oriented first, which is what Buddhism basically does. This is why the famous Christian apologist C.S. Lewis admired it, and I do too.

Basically, you have to first recognize that yes, life can suck, and yes, you then die. Trying to prevent, deny, or hide from, sadness is the crux of many of the spiritual hangups in life. And yes, it does indeed prevent satori. Once you figure that out you are more than halfway there. That is step 1.

Next, you need to understand that physical universe operates on a few relatively simple physical laws. God is an elegant minimalist.

And it's definitely designed. Example: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is impossible without a super-finely tuned matter density gradient and alpha opacity function that is absolutely perfect. The UDF does not require the Anthropic Principle. (The UDF is basically God showing off.)

The above implies that we live inside a closed system that operates on well established rules, like a video game.

And that implies that a higher level of reality exists somewhere (running the video game). Call this Heaven, or whatever.

And that implies there is no way for you to reach Heaven on your own. It would be like a video game character trying to step out of the screen. (Secular Humanists and Gene Roddenberry think this way.)

And that implies you must be pulled up. No way to get there on your own. Instead, God shoved His own hand inside the screen, over 2000 years ago, to grab us and pull us up.

It looks like you are blocked on a few things: God being outside and inside the system, the separation of mind and body (dualism), and the concept of Hell.

You are definitely asking the right questions, the hard ones. That's very good. Those are all very valid questions. I try to deal with these difficult conundrums in a heavyweight philosophical SF fanfic written for readers with a graduate-level education. It is called 'The Final Act of Haruki Suzumiya'. It's based on the Haruhi Suzumiya anime TV series (Haruhi is a 15 year old girl who is basically a god but doesn't know it.) The story builds the logical edifice outlined above and works it's way up to full Christianity.

I gave a very short outline of the initial steps above. If you want to skip to the meat of the argument, read chapter 4 (Observation is the key. God is both outside and inside the system), chapter 5 (why prayer is real), 8 (why dualism is real), and the bottom Author Notes of Chapter 9 (what Hell really is). I'm currently working on Chapter 10 (the problem of Evil and Voltaire's objections in Candide), which is a toughie. I got a handle on it, but it is kinda radical and I'm not ready to reveal it yet. Obviously the fic is not finished.

Keep asking these hard questions! Keep exploring, just like you're doing. And I think eventually you will get there.

For you hard atheists out there, step 1 is to watch the most important video ever created by mankind: 'The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D' by Deep Astronomy on YouTube. Watch this video carefully. Remember the UDF requires super-fine tuning of the mass density gradient and the alpha opacity function (it should be a fog or all black). The UDF kicks hard atheism to the curb, which is step 1.

Or just look out your window. It's all simple, really.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dunno. I've been trying to unclutter things. If I had satori, I'm not sure where I'd put it.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, I was unable to link to Charlies comment that said "But then God is either incapable of keeping Satan from acting...". God sets up boundaries with the adversary, a good example is when God told Satan what he could and could not do to Job. Also, John 16:33 said there will be trouble in this world. The crap on earth is essentially here to draw believers close to our Saviour. Restoration happens on God's timing.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think a lot of confusion about God could be overcome if people simply replaced or defined God as ultimate reality. God is ultimate reality.


52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Far from being nonsensical the bible makes the assumption you need the bible if you have any hope of arriving at the truth. While some promote things impossible to understand and find credence in having observed them, God acknowledges our limitations and offers enough parts to provide confidence in His understanding of the whole. To me this is far superior to the thoughts of another man lost in the soup. He has set eternity in the hearts of every man, yet in such a way they can not know the end from the beginning. In Deut. 29:29 He says the secret things belong to God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children, and the things revealed are so perfect they are enough for me.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
"There Is No God and He is Always With You".
"The Imaginary Space Aliens Are Real and They've Come to Get Me"
Starting from a paranoid premise will lead to nowhere. And you'll find exactly what you're looking for.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
That's right. No where and no thing. Google "sunyata".
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
I read the article but not the comments, and it seems like the usual Buddhist circular reasoning to me. One thing Zen cannot face is the support of Emperor worship and Bushido, the cult of the Samurai, during the Pacific War. Even Suzuki ran from this history. Read a beautiful poem, then cut off the head of a surrendered enemy prisoner, cute.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Read more of the articles then.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a statement no sillier than one you could derive from either Buddhism or David Hume's foolish philosophy: "You have no self, and you must learn to accept this for... um... yourself."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Aside from his gratuitous anti-Americanism or at least anti-American conservatism, Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion is a good read. As a Buddhistic, Christian, agnostic kind of atheist who is not entirely convinced that the world is not designed in some way, I enjoyed it. Heh.
However, I agree with the author here as I had a similar experience way back when. There is no God and He's always with you? Aren't psychedelics a hoot?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oddly, I've never done any of that stuff. My most psychedelic experiences have been on straight zazen. Then my teacher said "that's nice, but when you notice it happening, go back to watching your breathing."
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Uh ... it was just ... the sunshine. Hardly anything at all. 250 mics of pure zazen. Here's a koan that I just made up. Does it matter where the light originates? The trick is staying in it and your method, as Ken Kesey and many others have discovered, is admittedly better. However in 1969, for a 18 year old in North America, the alternative was a head's up and an eye opener. :)
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
I know a lot of people who did. I just never liked them.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
The substances or the people?
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Pretty much.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
LOL. Touche, I suppose.
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Charlie, you need to get a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, and first published in 1875 (Amazon or B&N will have it). Keep an open mind; dismiss any preconceptions you may have about that book or what anyone has said about it; read it cover to cover at least twice, and see if you're still wondering what Truth is. My bet is you will find your aha moment...and you will love it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Favorite line from MBE: "Arise gently from matter into spirit."
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Backatcha from the Shakers: " Every force evolves a form."
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow: a great one! TX, xo
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, Mother Ann Lee. There's a cool distinction between what she said and what the Bauhaus said, which was 'form follows function.' Which do you think is more dead-end? Old Mother Ann's take is completely dynamic and not reversible. She said it decades before Louis Sullivan added his aphoristic imprimatur. Maybe I'll get off my hind end and see what some of the classical Greek big heads have to say about this! Best, T
51 weeks ago
51 weeks ago Link To Comment
Read it years ago, and it certainly interests me.
52 weeks ago
52 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well ... hmmm. When do we hear the sound of one hand clapping? When it smacks you in the head.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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