Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Identity of God

There is a wonderful comment over at Just Thomism (via rimwell). Commenter Gagdad Bob (great name!) writes:

"The first principle of religion is that there is a God and we're not it."

That simple formulation makes me wonder if the identity of God is perhaps a more important question than the existence of God. Or maybe that the arguments over the centuries concerning the existence of God were really about the identity of God, even if the participants did not realize it. 

If we take God to be the apex of the chain of being, then some being is God, assuming any differentiation in being at all. And to first appearances, we human beings are at the apex of the chain of being. The question is whether we are the absolute apex of the chain of being, or only an apparent apex, there being superior beings (e.g. angels, God) that exist but are not immediately obvious to us. Denial of those superior beings is simultaneously the affirmation that man is not merely the apparent apex of the chain of being, but the absolute apex.

Is this what Nietzsche was after, making man understand that the death of the God of Christianity was not the dismissal of God absolutely, but merely a vacancy in a post that must be filled, with man himself now the only candidate for the job? "There is a God and you're it." 
"There is a God..." fills me with awe, followed either by hope: "and we're not it" or dread: "and you're it." 

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