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Which "God" do you mean, Amar?

Reader comment on item: Bush Declares War on Radical Islam
in response to reader comment: Response to A.A , Amar and others

Submitted by iasius (India), Oct 31, 2005 at 04:22

Amar's comment (October 28, 14:13 hrs), "Honestly, Muhammad, do you really believe that these words come from GOD all merciful?" and John Bastile's response to Muhammad (October 28, 23:00 hrs) raises rather interesting issues about the nature of what scripture proffers as "god", the indispensable role of the "prophet", as well as evident moral impunity with which both behaved and coerced "believers" to act.

Because of an acute dearth of even the semblance of any profound, elevating or sublime philosophy to distinguish religious discourse, the prophet and his fanciful claims assume paramount importance, effectively making god himself nothing more than an ‘also ran'. Only the prophet (so he himself claims) knows god and may communicate with him. To bolster his claim, he usually performs miracles – things that SEEMINGLY bypass laws of nature and thus baffle human reason. (If professional magicians are actually able to earn entire livelihoods out of their dexterity with sleight of hand and leave discerning folk even in our day dumbfounded, it must have been a cinch beguiling credulous, unrefined near-barbarians in the Middle East!) He receives messages from god as the occasion demands. Rather conveniently, only he is privy to the actual event. Whatever he says thereafter to a crowd already softened by "miracles" goes unchallenged as the "word of god". He even claims the right of intercession: telling god on the day of judgment who should go to heaven or be cast into hell. This ensured that the prophet is constantly indulged just to keep him happy ‘here', with the expectation that he will spare a kind word for you ‘there'!

A subtle, almost imperceptible ‘humanization' of god follows for a natural as well as a necessary reason. God assumes the form, nature and character that the prophet finds most suitable for his immediate objectives, necessarily reflecting the prophet's own ‘human' intellect, morality, psyche, perception and what have you. He only says things that the prophet wants Him to say. Because He is conjured up by human imagination, He also acquires several human failings, weaknesses and limitations, like Moses' "jealous" Jehovah [Exodus 34:14, see also http://bible.cc/exodus/34-14.htm]. (No one knows of what, whom or why a supposedly omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent god is jealous! Obviously mirrored in Jehovah was Moses' own mentality and psychological insecurity.) This is the NATURAL reason for humanization of god. The NECESSARY reason is that the prophet, to command absolute obedience, needs also to ‘seem godlike' to his following. Ultimately, god becomes so like the prophet that no qualitative difference marks the two apart (e.g. "I and my Father are one").

A natural corollary to humanization of god is de-humanization of man. God's command is proffered as the unassailable basis for whatever the prophet demands of his followers, however revolting it may appear to their innate humanity and sense of propriety. Doing the prophet's bidding is obedience of divine command [004.080 Yusufali: "He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah"], while denial is punishable in the afterlife [004.014 Yusufali: "But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a Fire, to abide therein: And they shall have a humiliating punishment."]. In return for their unquestioning obedience to even his vilest commands, the prophet promises an eternally ecstatic afterlife to believers; he eggs on otherwise ‘normal' human beings to make hell for unbelievers (i.e. gentiles, pagans and kaffirs) in this life. The fulfillment or otherwise of that promise hardly matters because who's ever heard of anyone who has died and reported back with descriptions of how sensual heaven, or how horrible hell really are! Moreover, he has already repeated stories of yore about how god Himself had utterly liquidated many peoples only for the "sin" of disbelief, so killing or inflicting tortures on them is only promoting His cause.

If (like Amar) we are baffled when we find god issuing commands that severely belie the divinity, compassion and perfection we expect Him to evince, it is because we are actually mistaking the prophet's commands for god's – orders that the prophet succeeded in palming off as god's. The god of the prophets isn't really the same as "God" whose infinite beneficence is cherished by genuine theists among us. He is, rather, nothing more divine than a clever devise by which humanization of god and dehumanization of man was achieved in ancient times – a process that amazingly continues unabated to our day!

Our modern concept of "god", assuming such a being exists at all, as compared with our ancestors' view, has been moderated immensely by human development, while the circle of "His" influence has progressively needed to be drawn with ever-reducing radii. Many of the things attributed by our overawed ancient predecessors to His bounty or wrath, as the case may be, can now satisfactorily be explained on the basis of science and rational discourse. God, therefore, has been slowly - but surely and continuously - eased out of lay consciousness. But not so for those who depend directly on the Grand Myth for their livelihood; they will have none of it!

Thus we find god behaving in a manner that might make the vilest among humans hang his head in resignation and shame…..

Amar also raised a point about women captives. Something quite similar also happened at the time of the sack of Midian in Moses' time. All the male adults and children were mercilessly slaughtered along with female captives that were not virgins, while the captors spared for misappropriation female children and adults who were still virgin. See Numbers 31:17, 18.
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