Is there a god? Do you believe that God exists?
It seems that the answer to these questions has an awful lot to do with what one means by the word “god.”
In -what we now anachronistically call- paganism in the ancient world, the gods and goddesses were, essentially, like us. They were individual entities with their own desires, needs, characteristics, and fits of passion. They were like us, but just a bit stronger.
Perhaps when we ask a question like “does God exist?” we’re thinking about one of these guys. An individual entity with seemingly arbitrary ideas of what everyone else should or shouldn’t do. I doubt very much that such a being exists.
Abram, the Father of Faith, was brought up in a culture that had no question of the existence of such beings. Theological questions in ancient Sumer were much more like, “which god is the strongest and how do I avoid making that god mad?”
Abrams culture was worlds away from Moses’ revelation at the burning bush. Moses, being an Egyptian city boy, was used to those kinds of gods too. But Moses asked the right question: “Whom should I say is sending me?”
The response was, “YHWH.” “I Am.”
Moses was not being sent by a being, but by being itself. He was not conversing with someone who exists. He was conversing with existence.
Soon thereafter, Moses teaches his people a simple prayer: “Hear, O Israel. YWHW our God, YHWH is One.” He doesn’t teach them that there is only one god — as if they’d had the right idea about gods but were just incorrect about how many of those guys there were. Rather he says, “YHWH is one.” He doesn’t call them to worship a different god. He raises their minds to a different kind of God.
One might even say that the word “god” is almost wholly inadequate for describing
So… Is there a god? Do you believe that a god exists?
That is, I don’t believe that there is some old man up in the sky pulling strings for the people who please him and punishing those who don’t. I don’t believe in some guy who will punish us for being born unless we discover and fulfill the right formula for satiating him.
That’s paganism. I’m not pagan. I’m Christian.
Perhaps our questions should sound more like, “Does existence exist?” Or rather, “Given the existence of existence; given that the One who is is: What is existence? What is the nature of reality?”
Whatever the true reality is (as it is, not as we conceive it), we call that by the word “God.”
When we ask what that reality is like, the Christian answer must always be, “like Jesus.”