How is God not a Monster?

  In 2007 I went to Burning Man. I liked to hang out at the tent where people are interested in entheogens because people tend to be interested in deep spiritual conversations, like I do. The guy next to me explained that he had been raised Catholic, but that he couldn't believe in a God who "sent babies to hell for failing to be baptized before they died." A fear of Catholics, that seems to drive the tradition of having their babies baptized, is the belief that one of the requirements for going to Heaven is that one be baptized. Since even a baby could die at any time, it seems logical then to baptize the baby as soon as possile to prevent the damnation that would reselt in the unlikely event of their untimely death. What doesn't get discussed from the pulpit is the ungodly idea of a God who would arbitrarily reject and/or punish an infant for failing to be baptized in time by their parents. To think of a human parent doing such a thing seems outrageous and monsterous, but because there is no outlet to address this outrage in the Catholic church system, it remains unaddressed and leads to traumatized former Catholics like my friend. I immediately assured him that I, too, could not believe in such a God, and that he was right in not believing in one.

  But let me be quick to add that I see the same problem in Protestant churches, and in Moslem mosques, and would expect to see the same thing in Jewish synagogues. The model of running these things from a leader who presents themselves as a teacher and not a student, and which expects the congregation to participate in a listen-only mode and not a collaborative one, paralyzes spiritual growth and leaves the profound and reasonable concerns of the congregation unaddressed. It is deplorable and extremely unfortunate that just about everyone is left to forge ahead alone. If people want to get real answers about what God is like, answers that address our greatest fears about what God is like, my experience is that there is little public support. This website is an attempt to offer the beginnings of the support that we should all have, but it is godawful that there isn't a better system in place. One thing holding this situation in place is the enormous pride we have in our materialistic sophistication, behind which we hide our spiritual immaturity. We do everything in our power to avoid addressing the immaturity, until calamity strikes, which it inevitably does.

  The question, what is your greatest fear, might itself seem frightening to ask. But the answer I've found might, I hope, lead you to a place of less fear. Our greatest fear is our fear of God. This is logical, since God represents the greatest unknown, and people are afraid of the unknown because it opens a space in which we can imagine painful and uncontrollable possibilities. God, if defined as omniscient and omnipotent, would be frightening if we imagined that He is evil. Even if God is promised to be loving and good, we are still afraid due to our incomplete comprehension of what these things mean, and also because of the clash that these attributes have with the world we experience. The "problem of evil" is the question of how to reconcile the existence of evil and suffering with an omnipotent, omnibenevolent, and omniscient God, and I consider it the most difficult problem that we are faced with as human being, but not impossible to solve. The challenge in addressing this problem is in questioning all that we have been taught is true by our family and society, and reconsidering what we believe is true about the world, other people, ourself, and reality. It takes a long time to reevaluate all these things, but time is only limited according to materialism. If God is real and materialism is not, then there is no time limit. In fact, all the causes of hurry and worry can be held in question if the God in charge of our ultimate reality is all-powerful and loving.