I'm reading Michael Shermer's book "The Believing Brain" right now. It's all about why we believe the things we do about everything from ghosts to God to politics even. He's a total cynic (he does put out Skeptic magazine, afterall). It's made me question my own experiences. I wonder if I've hallucinated. I've seen some really weird stuff. Stuff other people don't see. I mean it. I could tell you, but it might confirm I'm crazy. Maybe I'll tell you someday.
However, there are many stories out there of actual encounters with God. In the Bible, Moses saw God face to face. I was raised in a faith that purportedly started with not just a vision, but an actual visitation. God spoke to the founding prophet Joseph Smith at 14. But something I've realized is that not just prophets see God. People, ordinary people, have seen the Almighty, have had encounters with Jesus and the prophets and angels and all sorts of things they swear really happened. And some of these reports conflict.
Billions of people see God in many, many, many divergent ways. Why???
No really, think about it? Why are there so many different versions of God? And why has this God somehow formed from gods to God, from violent and exacting to loving and forgiving? To okaying the destruction of neighboring tribes and peoples (genocide) to becoming the God of the whole Universe and of love? Is it all the same God?
Shermer believes that through evolution we are hard-wired to believe in something higher than ourselves. It formed bonds and helped us make sense of our surroundings, find meaning in patterns and gave us a set of rules to help us survive and now we are programmed to believe in something more.
So I went round and round on that. It seemed so meaningless. But I do believe there is a God. I just don't know that what I thought I knew was really who God is. And so here I am, hoping to observe how God operates.
Who is God is not a question easily answered. Religions try but really that's just one fraction, one idea from whoever put it together and based it on previous notions about God.
One of Smith's wives, Eliza R. Snow, was a poetess who attempted to address the Mormon version of God:
In the heavens are parents single? No, the thought makes reason stare!
Truth is reason, truth eternal Tells me I've a mother there.
Sikhs believe the whole Universe and everything in it is God. You are God, I am God, all the stars, all the air we breath, all the heavens and even the tiniest molecules and the stuff that makes up stardust, all God. This is God. We are a part of a whole. We are gods as a part of God. A collective consciousness.
It's a beautiful idea.
I don't know. And now I'm willing to take away all the preconceptions I've had and listen.