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Getting to Know God – Three Exercises

Oh yes – everyone says that they’d like to know God better. But then they tend to turn to someone else and use their conception and “connection” instead of creating their own. That simply doesn’t work. If you want to have a better connection to God, you have to want it enough to be willing to work at it.

To help get you started, I’m offering three basic exercises intended to guide you in the right direction while steering you away from common mistakes. The exercises are titled:

1.       Envision a more perfect non-being

2.       Think multi-faceted

3.       Believe in the result

I wish I could say that completing these exercises will produce the result that you seek. Perhaps they will, but my experience is that most people begin the process with rather silly ideas about what they think they will accomplish by getting to know God better. Let me assure you that if your goal is to get a winning lottery number or have God intervene in your life, these exercises aren’t likely to work. On the other hand, if you find that other methods have left you wanting and yet you’re not ready to give up on God, then here you go…

I.                    Envision a More Perfect Non-being:

Stop it! Just STOP it! Refuse to think of God as a human or being in any way humanlike. Refuse to infuse God with our faults, failings, and foibles. God is much greater and much better than anything we can imagine. Expecting us to grasp God is somewhat like expecting a dog to understand humans  (but at least dogs and humans are mammals). God is an entity that shares no physical attributes that one might call “human”. God created the universe! How far away from humanlike is that ability? That’s how different God is from us.

Once you succeed in totally eliminating any physical concept of God, you can begin a new and more useful concept: God without form, without physical limits, and without human qualities. Our arrogance and ignorance in suggesting that we were “created in God’s image” is wholly counterproductive in our pursuit of the divine. The concept only has merit in a limited non-physical aspect: we share with God certain intellectual and “spiritual” attributes at a level akin to the way a newborn shares certain non-physical attributes with adults. We are so far away from conceptualizing God that we don’t even have language that allows useful discussion of it.

Nevertheless, we can move a long way in the right direction if we simply presume that God is perfect in every way that we can conceive (even though we know that God is not perfect). Thus, if we hope to have a better understanding of God we should start by confidently rejecting any attribute that lacks perfection in any way. Since our own ability to recognize perfection is so limited, we know our ability to determine what is imperfect may be flawed. However, this process quickly and pointedly rejects the conceptions of God offered in the Judeo-Christian traditions. (The God portrayed in the Old Testament wouldn’t even qualify as a “good” human).

A new and better concept of God must recognize both reality and restriction. The universe was created by God and it is our only proof of God’s nature. Everything else is “speculation” or “supposition”. Because of this, we should test our conception of God against reality using what may be our greatest god-like abilities: reasoning and logic. In doing so, we must also understand our own limitations; including biases, preconceptions, and inherent inabilities (our reasoning may simply not be up to the task).

Finally, we should be willing to subject our conception to the reasoning and logic of others while understanding that our own conception may be just as valid as anyone else’s. The one thing that we should not do is to merely accept someone else’s conception of God. First, it is an essential part of the process that we explore and develop our own conceptions because the process is highly beneficial in itself. Secondly, the conception of God has been one of the most abused/misused ideas in the history of mankind. Relying heavily upon someone else’s ideas is both dangerous and lazy.

II.                  Think Multi-faceted:

Do you know any “one-dimensional” humans? I don’t. Even the most base and simple people are complex and multi-faceted. The smarter and more evolved people I know are incredibly complex and most of them offer depth and scope that no one else could hope to fully grasp. So how is it that we attempt to conceptualize God as being even simpler and more easily understood than other people. Also, when we really want to understand another person, we find a good starting point is their values and beliefs. But, when we talk about God, we focus upon trivial and illusionary ideas and rarely (if ever) talk about what God values and believes.

What we can be assured of is that God is incredibly complex and multi-faceted. If we could combine Einstein, Spinoza, Jung, Descartes, Buddha, and Confucius into a single person, that person wouldn’t even approach the complexity of God. God is the ultimate spiritual scientific generalist. Close analysis of the nature of the Universe demonstrates God’s scope and depth and we have no idea what challenges are involved in creating a universe. Even more significant is that we tend to ignore what its purpose is. When we have a better idea of what the purpose of the Universe is, we’ll have a much better view of the values and beliefs of its Creator.

While it may be that we share a common ability with God in what we deem logic and reasoning, it is safe to presume that the manner and focus of God’s thinking is entirely foreign to us. Our best hope is extrapolation of the most advanced and successful forms of human thought into a functional form that would allow complete cognition of an entire universe. God is an entity that combines perception, integration, computation, realization, and actualization in ways that allow direct manipulation of time-space concurrent and consistent with underlying “virtual” concepts (e.g. mathematics) and purposes.

We don’t have to achieve understanding of God’s complexity in order to better understand God. We do have to put aside simplistic and humanly biased ideas in order to get out of the theological rut we’ve created. God has “many faces” and all of them are important. Resist the easy path and you’ll be rewarded with a much better view.

III.                Believe in the Result:

Beliefs are truths that we accept even if we lack “proof” to fully substantiate them. Beliefs have been and can be very dangerous things. Because religions generally rely upon beliefs about God that go so far beyond unsupported that they are silly, “belief in God” or “beliefs about God” have become synonymous with lack of intellectual discipline and ignorance. In some cases, we have gone so far as to associate incredibly destructive beliefs about ourselves with our beliefs about God. One result of this practice has been the intellectual rejection of the belief process.

Our change in this regard should center upon a simple truth: there are many important truths that we have no “proof” for (perhaps including this one). We all have important beliefs that we may rarely or never think about. Our most important beliefs have to do with “right and wrong” and “what is most valuable”. Most of these were learned instead of developed. But ultimately, beliefs (accepted truths) are at least as important as “proven truths” in governing our choices.

When it comes to our choices about God, this is even more true; largely because there are few “proven truths” about God. What makes this our third exercise is the often ignored importance of developing our beliefs. The operative word here is “developing”.

Instead of learning our beliefs about God from others, we must start developing our beliefs. There are two key results of doing this: our self-developed beliefs will be better and we will be forced to validate the beliefs for ourselves. Self-developed beliefs are better because each of us has the ability to combine reasoning and intuition in the pursuit of truth. Those beliefs are improved though rigorous testing with other reasoning people, but remain ours. If we work to validate our beliefs through thought and testing, we attain something unexpected.

Believing in the result has what may be best described as “transformational” qualities. Although this aspect of the process deserves fuller discussion, for now it must suffice that you know it is an inherent result. Conversely, failure in this third exercise will deprive you of the most meaningful result. Besides, there is nothing to lose – developing more truthful beliefs and working to validate them is rewarding in itself.



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