I remember when Joan Osborne’s “One Of Us” first started getting radio airplay feeling like the world had had an epiphany. I still believed back then, and this modern approach to seeing god as a personal deity instead of some stranger up in space above the clouds apart from us. Of course. This made so much sense. Then my Dad passed away a couple years later, and the questions I would ask my god changed.
Then Nine Eleven happened a few years after that, and if I could just meet my god on a bus and sit down and ask him a few questions.. well, those questions changed again.
There’s been many mass shootings in the years since where people take it upon themselves to play god for ten minutes before some police come in and ..well sometimes they play god on the guy who just shot up a school or a movie theater. Sometimes the guy turns the gun on himself. Sometimes he goes to jail. The questions changed yet again. What would I ask my personal god if I could just sit with him on the bus? Would I even want a conversation with this guy?
Then it was reported that children were being sexually abused by catholic priests, and that it’s very plausible this has been going on for generations, centuries, and it’s taken all this time for just a fraction of the victims of this suffering to get a little satisfaction but it’s nowhere near enough it’ll never be enough. Now I found myself not having any questions for this personal god. In fact I’m not sure if I’d want to sit on the bus next to this guy.
Then I found myself in a hospital and a woman who seemed every nice introduced herself as a person of the cloth and would I like her to bless me before going into an operating room while complete strangers poked around inside my body? I chuckled at the thought. It was nice of her to ask but it wouldn’t be necessary, and somewhere between that conversation I had with her, and waking up from Oblivion mildly surprised I wasn’t dead, somewhere in that space of time I realized I had stopped believing in that dude on a bus who was allegedly my personal god.
This god who allegedly created an entire universe so vast that if we human beings could travel a just under the speed of light to the nearest star, it would still take many years to get there, but we were led to believe by thousands of years of religions that the human race was our god’s greatest creation, and that we were the center of this god’s universe, even though that’s not what science had discovered. We’re not even the center of this solar system. We’re certainly not a god’s chosen people. There’s no evidence for any of this, but religions insist we must still believe what they claim without any evidence. That we must have faith.
There are diseases that attack children. Viruses do not discriminate. One would think a benevolent omnipotent god would have had the power to at the very least protect children from unnecessary harm. Give every young human being a fair and fighting chance but no. Some lives are born dead. In a world where providence evangelists and “right to lifers” seek to rob a woman of her right to decide what happens inside her own body by criminalizing abortion, they completely ignore the fact that their own god (if he were in fact real) chooses to kill infants every single day. There may be a baby dying somewhere in the world even as you read these words. That’s how common the event is. Yet if a woman chooses to end her own unborn fetus’ life for whatever reason, that’s a sin. It’s okay when a benevolent omnipotent god chooses to eradicate babies every day, but one woman makes that horrific choice for herself once and they believe the same god casts her soul into a lake of fire. They do not hear how deluded this sounds when they say it; how utterly absurd. Perhaps this god had a reason to provide harm to these children. Perhaps he just likes to harm children. A god would have had to create those diseases too, so does your god love single celled organisms more than human beings? Mine didn’t, but then I stopped riding the same bus when I noticed that guy sitting there. I’d rather wait for the next bus. In fact maybe we should just call an Uber.
Why worship a guy who created suffering for the human race? Why celebrate a monster like that? Fortunately, turned out god was a work of fiction made by people who refused to answer a question with “we don’t know but maybe if we invent the Scientific Method someday we can find out!” Instead they made up a god and used it to control masses of people, and it’s worked for thousands of years. It will probably continue to work for thousands of more years after I’m dead. I doubt anyone will read these words and realize: “you know what? He’s right? My personal god is a bit of an asshole.”
What if your god was one of us? Well. Turned out he is. If you harbor a god inside your mind, that’s where he rests. He lives within you. There’s your god. Talk to Him. Or Her. Them. Please. I urge you to have a long soul searching discussion with your god until you realize you are only talking to yourself, and that’s okay.
YMMV, but for me there’s been a lot of water under this bridge since 1996. I am relieved to learn the god I believed in when Joan Osborne first recorded this song turned out to be a work of fiction cuz if I met that god on a bus today, and he was one of us, I doubt I’d just ask him a couple friendly questions. I don’t think it would be a pleasant conversation. If the Abrahamic god were one of us, he’d have a lot of explaining to do, and I don’t think we’d like the end result. I don’t think he’d be on our side. I don’t think that god believes in his Creation. So it’s a good thing he’s no more real than a Doctor Doom or a Darth Vader or a Voldemort.
May whatever god you believe in, believe in you as well.