Divine Persistence: Notes for a Post-Atheistic Conception of God

God does not exist. Nor has God ever existed, and nor will God ever fully come into existence. God is neither the efficient nor the final cause independent of the actual world. God can never be found and never will be found.

God does not exist, but it can be said that God persists in action to the degree with which that activity is lived in approximation to the ultimate attributes of God, which are:

omnipresence (all pervasive),

omniscience (all knowing),

omnipotence (all powerful),

omnibenevolence (all loving).

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The topic of the paradoxical nature of these ultimate attributes of God is a central contention in traditional theology, where God is concieved of as a kind of divine ruler who stands above and outside the world as its creator and master. Pointing to the contradictory nature of these attributions of God is a preferred tactic by atheists to discount the existence of God: if God is so all-powerful, can he create a stone he cannot lift? If God is so all-loving, why does suffering exist in the world?

The traditional conception of God is indeed contradictory, and belief in this God is a matter of blind faith usually grounded by identification with a religious community. Much of the defense of the traditional conception of God from accusations of self-contradiction either come in the form of playing sophistic language games to divert attention away from the central problem or to completely ignore it by citing its apparent irrelevance to the moral importance of upholding such a conception of God. Needless to say, the deconstructive potency of the Atheistic argument wins out here, for the apologetic sophists are more concerned with conceptual dogma rather than the principle of truth, which requires honest engagement with the issues at hand, and the faithful are more concerned with practical morality rather than the principles of virtue, which requires a sufficiently rational basis to ground our ethical behavior.

However, the atheistic deconstruction of the traditional conception of God is not necessarily the final word. After the ruthless deconstruction, it may be possible to reconstruct God, fashioning a new image of God that retains the same ultimate attributes while resolving its contradictions, and which provides a more sufficient basis or ground to guide ethical behavior. In order to do this, God must be radically relativized, relinquishing its traditional absolute character that the theist affirms and that the atheist negates.

In this post-atheistic conception, God is not a Being that can exist or not exist. God would be a lure for Becoming, by which the darkness of nescience is illuminated by the light of conscience. God would not transcendentally condition the world from the outside as a perfect intelligent designer—God would immanently move within the imperfection of material life to offer up new possibilities for creation. God would be an eternal ideal, an ideal which can only ever be progressively and asymptotically approached.

God can never Be, God could only Come-To-Be in every moment where we let go of our Self to make space for that deep inner force within us that yearns for the well-being of Others, in order to liberate them from their suffering. Every time we act, to the best of our ability, to use ALL of our power, reason, compassion and presence to act on behalf of the liberation of others from suffering, we are enacting the attributes of God and thus really bringing God into the world in that moment. God persists only through the love and care that actual beings have for each other.

In this scheme, God is no longer like Capital, which stands above a process for its own self-valorization and glory. Instead, God is like Labor, which works intensely for the Good of others where the glory is found in the laboring itself.

The Labor of God is a Labor of Care, the fruits of which are immeasurable because activity lived through the attributes of God is not concerned with reflective measuring—only pure doing. Nothing and no-one can be said to “be” God, for the persistence of God is not grounded on the accumulation of discrete acts counted after the fact, it is grounded in the living expanse of the continuous motivation behind the act as it happens in the present moment. In this scheme, the Goodness of God cannot be counted, it can only be enacted, for when the act passes so does God with it. God dies with every passing moment after the act, and can only come again when that divine motivation in the act arises yet again to do its deed.

Divinity cannot exist as a matter of facticity but persists with the spirit of activity.

We do not need God; God needs us.

God did not create us; we create God.

 

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