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  • A man lies in the road, his body is broken  after being hit head-on by a Jack and Jill  

  • ice-cream truck. As the light fades from his  life, the last thing he sees is an image of  

  • his favorite Cookies 'n Cream Cone. And then  there's darkness, except somewhere in that  

  • darkness there's a door slightly ajar with  a bright light shining through the crack

  • He walks through the door and to his surprise  he's surrounded by white fluffy clouds bathed  

  • in glorious sunshine. His ears are filled with  the most blissful music, a sound so pleasant  

  • he could listen to it for eternity. Then  suddenly he's faced with giant pearl gates,  

  • and in front of them is a man holding a set  of keys. “I am Saint Peter,” the man intones,  

  • “I hold the keys to the kingdom.” Saint Peter then says, “Hold on a minute  

  • will you”, and he starts turning the pages  of what looks like some kind of unbelievably  

  • large directory. “Ok, you're good to  go,” says Peter, and he opens the doors.  

  • What the guy doesn't know is that if he'd had  a black mark against his name in that book it  

  • would have a ride in the elevator down to hell. When the man is finally ensconced in his personal  

  • bit of heaven, the owner of the place  does a meet and greet. This man is God.  

  • He's larger than life and wears a wonderfully  lustrous white beard, reminding the guy of Gandalf  

  • from the Lord of the Rings movies. The End

  • Ok, so that's not strictly a true story, but you  could say it's based on stories that some of you  

  • might have heard at one point in your life. The  idea of Saint Peter holding the keys to heaven and  

  • God having a really well-maintained white beard is  of course not believed by all Christians. In fact,  

  • it's likely believed by only a few of them. Still, someone didn't just come up with that  

  • idea because it sounds nice and works well  in Hollywood movies. The idea of Saint Peter  

  • guarding the gates to heaven is usually credited  only with being part of Christian folklore

  • As you'll see today, for many different  people God comes in all shapes and guises.  

  • So, first, let's ask where this idea  came from of God living in the clouds

  • Heaven for some is the place where God resides  for eternity, and for many Christians, that's the  

  • place you go if you've lived a moral life. As for  the clouds, well, when you look at the history of  

  • hell you can connect it with an underworld, akaHades or Hell. You still live there for eternity,  

  • but it's a rotten place to live. It's dark  and depressing. This is from the bible,  

  • The rich man also died and was buriedIn Hades, where he was being tormented.” 

  • So, hell is often thought of to be dark, to  be full of flames, and generally polluted.  

  • Heaven on the other hand is the opposite, so  it makes sense that it's up in the sky where  

  • it's bright and full of white, fluffy cloudsWe're not saying all Christians believe this,  

  • but the imagery just makes sense. You can  find plenty of artists' interpretations  

  • of heaven and it's generally up in the sky. There's also the fact that heaven is supposed  

  • to come to Earth, not the other way aroundJesus spoke of establishing a new Jerusalm,  

  • though most Christians believe that this will  come about as the entire earth is rejuvenated-  

  • possibly re-created from scratch. Or it could  simply be an allegory that 1st century Jews  

  • could easily imagine. Some scholars say  those early writers of Christianity didn't  

  • talk about being zoomed up to heaven at allbut heaven on Earth was certainly a real hope.  

  • When that happens, God will also dwell with the  humans, according to another part of the bible

  • It's complicated, very complicated. Some  Christians think that when they die they'll  

  • be judged, but others will tell you that  at some point there will be a judgment  

  • day in the future for all souls, whether  part of the living or part of the dead

  • Jesus famously said this: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who  

  • believes in me will live, even though he dies.” So, that's one concept of God, an entity who  

  • sits in the cloudy heavens and someone you  may meet if you've lived a wholesome life.  

  • That's the God you might have learned about  in Sunday school, but in view of today's show,  

  • it's a pretty simplistic version of God. There is the common narrative that God  

  • is the supremely powerful being. A being of  unimaginable intelligence that is everywhere  

  • and sees everything. If you believe  this, you can call yourself a theist

  • There are folks that believe there's a Supreme  Being who created everything but he's a hands-off  

  • type of God, meaning he doesn't mess with human  affairs. These people can call themselves deists.  

  • Then there are pantheists, who will tell  you God and the universe are the same thing.  

  • Animists on the other hand believe God, or  spirits, are in all the things around us

  • There's the Hindu religion. In that, you find  three main Gods. Brahma, the creator of the  

  • universe. Vishnu, the preserver of the universeand Shiva, the destroyer. Some people say there  

  • are 330 million Hindu Gods, although we found  Hindu scholars who say that this is a myth.  

  • In short, it's all about how a certain word is  translated. It can be translated asmillionor  

  • supreme”. If it's supreme, that would  mean 33 supreme Gods, not 33 million.  

  • Still, to talk about those Gods we'd needlot of time, so we'll leave them alone today

  • Back to the Abrahamic God, that of ChristianityIslam, and Judaism. Here you could say there  

  • are three main beliefs. One is that God sees all  humans as equal and he wants to give of all them  

  • his unconditional love. Another belief is that  God will give you his love, but you'll have to  

  • work for it. Another is that some folks have  done certain things on Earth and so are pretty  

  • much irredeemable. They won't get to heaven. Jehovah's Witnesses fall into this category.  

  • These believers in God will tell you thatreckoning is coming, called Armageddon. Some  

  • of them have likely knocked on your house door  from time to time and told you about this. Their  

  • belief is that there's still a chance you can be  accepted into God's Kingdom when the time comes

  • Often they carry around with them magazinessometimes featuring pictures of smiling humans  

  • walking through green pastures with equally  contented wild animals. In the background,  

  • the world burns. You can make the choice, let  Jehovah into your life and hang out with lions  

  • in the fields, or don't and live within  the fire and rubble of a broken world.  

  • Their God isn't such a tolerant one. God can be very judgmental but he can also embrace  

  • your faults. What your faults are might depend  on who you talk to about God. God might always  

  • be the all-powerful supreme being for believersbut his modus operandi not everyone can agree on.  

  • In fact, you could say the disagreements have  caused a few arguments along the centuries

  • But what about that guy with the  long, white beard and white hair?  

  • Why does God look like the recent Noam Chomsky? Well, some people might hold the belief that such  

  • a God exists, but it's more likely people will  tell you that God is more like an energy field,  

  • or perhaps something that we just cannot imagineBecause we can't imagine what God would look like,  

  • we had to make something up. In Christian artmany centuries ago, God appeared only as a hand,  

  • but as time went on, he was more exposed. Think about it. If you're going to try and  

  • personify the supreme being, something that  put together this thing we call the universe,  

  • you are going to make him look serious. A goofy  God, or a God whose white robes were askew,  

  • would just not do him justice. A God  with acne scars would also not do  

  • the job. We're not being facetious hereGod was painted symbolistically perfect.  

  • It couldn't have been any other way. As you'll  find out, trying to depict God at all, even in  

  • all his grandness, is an insult to some people. Ok, so there's the Christian doctrine of the holy  

  • trinity, which is the Fatherthe Son, and the Holy Spirit

  • This doctrine says that the three are  separate entities but they are actually  

  • the same in substance and essence. It's  calledTrinitarianism”. Then there are  

  • people that believe in God as one entity and  that falls under the belief ofUnitarianism”.  

  • For them, Jesus was mortal. There's  “Binitarianism”, too, meaning a dualistic  

  • God. We're not just splitting hairs here, eitherthese beliefs have divided people for centuries

  • You also haveTranscendentalism”, which in short  means not everything can be explained with the  

  • senses. Using our intuition and imaginationwe can transcend the world of facts. The person  

  • most associated with the movement was a guy named  Ralph Waldo Emerson. He once said this, “The true  

  • doctrine of omnipresence is, that God reappears  with all his parts in every moss and cobweb.”  

  • He thought God was in everything, including in  every human, something we'll come back to later

  • Emerson was a preacher in a church at one point in  his life, but as one person put it, later the only  

  • member of his church was himself. Meaning, his  beliefs were his own, although he didn't doubt the  

  • existence of God. To put it lightly, he wouldn't  have been keen on certain evangelistic campaigns.  

  • God for Emerson was something to be  found in nature and self-discovery.  

  • God wasn't something that could speak through  someone on the TV for vast amounts of money

  • So, when humans created a human image of God  they went with an old, but not too old, man.  

  • God could never be frail, of course. Humans  could have chosen a woman, so why not? Well,  

  • God isn't supposed to have a gender, but the  masculine has mostly been used throughout history  

  • when God is mentioned. “The Fatheris one  example. There are some very female-centric  

  • portrayals of God in the Bible, but due to  his dualistic nature this is probably not to  

  • be unexpected. Sadly, the truth is that the world  of the Old Testament was a very patriarchal one,  

  • so of course God was male in people's minds. There's also this from the bible

  • Let us make man in our image, after our  likeness, to rule over the fish of the sea  

  • and the birds of the air, over the  livestock, and over all the earth itself  

  • and every creature that crawls upon it.” If God made humans in his own image,  

  • then does that mean God should look like  us? And which one of us, because it's not  

  • as if we all look the same down here. Could God  look like a cross between a Sumo wrestler and  

  • Kim Kardashian? Most religious scholars will  point out that Adam, a man, was created first,  

  • and Eve, a woman, was created out of Adam's  rib, so technically God should look like Adam

  • Again, it is complicated, but it's generally  thought that God making man in his own image  

  • isn't to be taken literally. Some people say what  it means is humans have some higher faculties  

  • than other animals and so are closer to God. We  have consciousness and the ability to understand  

  • the concept of God. We also have free willwhich in all of the Abrahamic religions is the  

  • quality that only man and God share. Rabbits  and raccoons didn't get bestowed with this.  

  • That's perhaps what theown imagething means. Still, this part of the bible is one of the other  

  • reasons why the world is full of artifacts in  which God is depicted as a wise old man with  

  • a nice beard who can fire lightning from  his fingers. In actual fact, many or even  

  • most believers in God will tell you they don't  know what God looks like and would never even  

  • attempt to guess. To them, God is more likepower, something we little guys won't properly  

  • understand while living our lives out down hereGiven that the early Christian church, which  

  • would later go on to produce most of the images  of God that we see, was very Greek-oriented,  

  • it's likey that the image of Zeus was simply  supplanted to become that of God in artwork

  • Why we humanized God is another complicated  subject. Some theorists say that when man  

  • and woman started dominating nature they got  some grand ideas. We started making God in  

  • our own image. As one person wrote, humans  are just wired to want to see the divine.  

  • Maybe an invisible God didn't work for the  church, and we guess that a visible one motivated  

  • the church's followers to keep believing. Nonetheless, throughout history, there are  

  • those that have said we should never even try and  depict an image of God. This is what the Christian  

  • monk John of Damascus said many centuries ago: “If we attempt to make an image of the invisible  

  • God, this would be sinful indeed. It is impossible  to portray one who is without body: invisible,  

  • uncircumscribed and without form.” This monk wrote a lot about the nature of God  

  • and what he said was of importance for hundreds  of years to come. He said God was unchangeable,  

  • immutable, passionless; he said God is the  creator and he will last forever. He has  

  • no beginning and no end. Hetranscends  all thought and comprehensionand God  

  • is neither male nor female. God can't have  gender since God has no body to speak of

  • Obviously, things changed because after the  14th century we started seeing paintings of God.  

  • Maybe the one you have all seen is  Michelangelo's “Creation of Adam”.

  • It's a wonderful work of art, but you  won't find many serious theologians  

  • that will tell you that's what God looks like. Ok, you don't have to believe in the existence  

  • of the Ark of the Covenant or any of the biblical  stories for that matter to believe in God.  

  • To some people, the stories of the bible  are lessons to be learned, allegories of  

  • humanity. Maybe these people believe in Godbut they also believe that God is ineffable,  

  • meaning something that can't be expressed  in words or shouldn't be expressed in words

  • You'll find plenty of scientists that  will tell you science can't rule out God.  

  • Science hasn't gotten to the bottom of the  mystery of the universe and it hasn't explained  

  • what consciousness is, so there's room for Godaccording to some people. A German philosopher  

  • once famously said, “God is dead”. What he  meant by that was the enlightenment with  

  • all its new ideas and scientific discoveries  had put an end to people believing in God

  • There are some people today that say we  should quit our belief in a holy higher power,  

  • but there are many others that believe we need  God in our lives, even if that God is just a  

  • belief in something above and beyond humanity  – something to help us achieve a higher state  

  • of being. Without this, they say, we are at  risk of becoming nihilists, or worse, bored

  • Even if a man with a white beard didn't  create this sometimes unfathomable universe,  

  • perhaps just to believe that there's  some great meaning to the universe that  

  • we humans cannot comprehend is enough. Was the universe just a happy accident  

  • or was there some orchestration going onScientists have attempted to explain the  

  • improbability of things turning out the  way they are regarding life on Earth,  

  • and the numbers are a bit confusingOne person said the probability is way,  

  • way smaller than winning a huge lottery  jackpot every day for more days than the  

  • universe has actually been in existenceYep, that's hard to get your head around

  • This unknowable truth to some people is proof of  God, or it at least means you can't count out God.  

  • When one scientist was asked if scientists  could believe in God and science at the same  

  • time he answered, “Why not?” Which didn't  mean yes, but he was asking someone to prove  

  • emphatically that God immutably doesn't  exist. That's impossible to do right now

  • Perhaps you'll find out all the  answers when you dieGod knows

  • Now you need to watch, “The Origin Of  Evil: The Devil.” Or, have a look at...

A man lies in the road, his body is broken  after being hit head-on by a Jack and Jill  

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What Actually is God?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/03
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