The God Who May Be

I listened to a Podcast series of CBC Radio's Ideas in December. It was an interview with philosopher Richard Kearney about his recent book "The God Who May Be." I was intrigued by several of the concepts that Kearney brought up. He proposes that much of the beliefs that people hold about who God is is in reaction to how others present God to be. The movement in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries towards atheism was largely in reaction to how churches presented God - ie. if God is who they say He is, God shouldn't exist and therefore doesn't exist.

I find this quite challenging as many of the ways God is presented in Christianity is quite distasteful to me and so how have I decided to perceive God as a result. Also inasmuch as I present my perception of God to others.

When I look at the current trends in science and sociology I think there is a new reaction towards the hardline atheism that is promoted. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think more and more people are recognizing that claiming God can not exist is more reactive than rational. Kearney doesn't necessarily stick to reason as he bases much of his philosophy on the imagination.

Another idea is that God is the possibility of the impossible. Divinity is faceless, nameless, and unknowable - therefore it requires imagination. Kearney proposes that God exists only to those who allow Him to exist in their imagination. This does not mean that God only exists because someone is imagining Him, but that He exists for that person through their imagination. So if I don't believe God exists, it is difficult for me to actualize Him - it is difficult for God to reveal Himself to me. If I do believe He exists, then He becomes real, powerful, and creative through me and towards me.

I look forward to ordering the book and reading this a little closer. The podcasts I listened to are no longer available in iTunes, but still downloadable here:
Part I
Part II
Part III

... or you can listen to the streaming fast version here:
Part I
Part II
Part III


jefferyjustin said...

I recently had the same God conversation with a new acquaintance 2 weeks ago - a guy very much like Kris - very much raised SDA, now an agnostic. The conversation also held a relatively new convert to SDA, previously a mormon, for most part on the conservative side. Sad to say that we had her in tears near the end of the discussion.

Sirdar said...

Well...being agnostic, something David called me once, I can see where the guy stands on this. I have a hard time believing that God as he is presented...exists. I am sure you could point to many instances in the bible to show me that he does...and I could show you many instances in the bible to show that he may not. There is to me too much illogical happenings in the bible...too many contradictions...too many unanswered questions that nobody has the answers to or want to look at logically.

I respect that people believe in him but I just don't see it. I'm sure we could have some real interesting conversations on this. There may be a higher power...but what that power looks like....

Peter said...

Hey Zaak! I recently led a discussion of creation/evolution at a group in Manhattan called CityLights. Interesting discussion, esp. the part about the existence of God, which in my opinion is what it all boils down to. I'll have to check out this podcast. Got an ipod for Xmas. Since our little whirlwind (Brenna, that is) came along, my opportunities to read have become greatly limited. But I've also wanted to read a book by Richard Dawkins called "The God Delusion". hmmm. too bad I can't find it in podcast form...

Zaak said...

Justin - Personal beliefs about God are very personal. Without a security in those beliefs any expression contrary to those beliefs can be pretty traumatizing. This is the God you change your life to please (for some people) and then people are telling you that God isn't that way. Yikes!

Sirdar - I'm curious to know the contradictions you are referring to. I don't believe the Bible is always meant to be taken as fact, but rather as truth - principles about who God is.

Pete - Thanks for the tip about the book. I'll try to get my hands on it. Let me know what you think of the podcast.