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Beginning Of Our Recorded Awareness
At the beginning of our recorded awareness, we sought direction in and understanding of the world around us. We were like children seeking guidance and craving protection from an all-knowing parent. From this we created our early concept of God.
As we were intimidated and intrigued by the natural phenomena surrounding us, we created Gods to explain the things we could not comprehend or control. When first we endowed those Gods with characteristics, we endowed them with the characteristics of our environment. Gods of weather, animal Gods, Gods of seasons, stars, suns and moons.
Initially, as with most children, we were far more interested in what was around us than with what lay within us. However, as we developed security and awareness within communities, we became more able to look inside, and we started to create Gods that were made more in our own images.
These Gods became the Gods that represented the multifaceted aspects of us both as a species and as individuals, aspects both good and bad. A major shift occurred in the development of a hierarchy and we gave the "Gods in human image" dominion over the ...
... "animal" or "environmental" Gods. Eventually these lesser Gods were absorbed. As we conquered the world around us, one set of Gods conquered another.
As our struggles became less to survive in the physical world and more to survive in the human world, less to survive predation from animals and more to survive predation from each other, we endowed our Gods with the capacity to criticize and to judge behavior in humans. Gods who were originally answers to our questions and who gave us some feelings of safety or predictability became Gods who were critical, angry and judgmental - as we were critical, angry, and judgmental.
As the world was increasingly perceived as harsh and unforgiving, the need for absolutes mushroomed: absolute safety, absolute right and wrong, rigid rules for living. From a world that flourished on competitiveness came a competitive God whose goal was to assimilate or destroy any other Gods and the people who believed in them. Eventually there was one God per group, a God who was an absolute God, an unforgiving God as the world was unforgiving, a God who would dominate through a "might means right" mentality. This God was the absolute authority figure. The rules were rigid, the structure implacable and either the punishment or reward eternal.
While the concept of God the absolute authority figure may still prevail in struggling cultures, the image of God evolved as we as a species evolved. Increased oral and written communication enabled us to develop our understanding and awareness of other groups -- and of our own. "Might means right" made less and less moral sense, sacrifice called us to our better and ennobling characteristics and we came to perceive a gentler God, a more forgiving God. We gave God, what we would call now, a good spin. We tried to create a more attractive, more compassionate God, a God people would choose out of love rather than fear. We created a hero, a cause.
We evolved intellectually, emotionally and socially. However, being human, we often fell back on "might means right" when it felt expedient or we felt threatened. As man developed more complex personalities and relationships, God needed to stretch to represent more and more of us. We liked the idea of the one God, but as man had conflicts within himself, so was he having conflicts with his God. Breakdowns happened. We ended up with several different "one Gods". We trotted out what we needed from wherever to justify our thoughts, our decisions, our judgments, our dominion over those who have a lesser God -- might means right all over again.
People now have many choices when it comes to God. We may find a God who is intellectual or mercenary and we definitely still see competition between Gods. People may seek the authority figure God to govern all their decisions or to justify bullying behavior. We can find the "one God" that is angry and vengeful or even one that is angry and vengeful to our enemies and loving and forgiving to our friends and ourselves.
But for an increasing number of people, the image of God is that of a nurturing, compassionate, forgiving Being who evolves with us and within us -- definitely not an authority figure.
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