i like to think about god when i wake up in the middle of the night. i had just finished deepak chopra’s new book on mohammed (review coming up soon). the many stories about the tribes, the complicated family relationships, the exchange with jews and christians, the interdependency with slaves – maybe that’s what made me come up with this idea: god is about community and cooperation. or maybe: god IS community and cooperation.
- love your neighbour as you love yourself, says jesus.
- give alms to the poor, says mohammed.
- respect your parents, says the god of the old testament.
- we are all one, says the buddha.
- do not kill one living being, say they jain.
- ren, a key concept in confucianism, is represented in chinese characters by the image of “human being” and “two”.
religions are, to a large degree, rules for living together. (i know, that’s not a new thought).
“if there were no god, it would be necessary to invent him,” voltaire said. who knows what a god is, whether god exists, and what it means for a god to exist. in my mind, these questions are often not that interesting – clearly, there are important levels at which god/gods exist.
however, i can see how it is through community and cooperation that gods could have been invented. evolutionarily, humans were desperately dependent on community and cooperation. we didn’t have the size of woolly mammoths, the adaptability of the cockroach or the fierceness of the sabre toothed tiger. huddling together, dividing labour, learning from each other as we developed tools were our only chances to survive. (banding together for raids and warfare apparently seemed like a good idea, too). building powerful rituals and stories around these communal means to survive made us stronger.
no wonder there is a god.