The meaning and utility of God has radically changed in the modern age
Since prehistoric times, mankind has been fascinated, puzzled by the so-called God, the Supreme Being, the creator of all creatures including humans, and the prime source of faith and moral authority. The concept of God outlived His utility is highly personalized, each one of us has our own ideas about the ‘omnipotent force’. Many of us imagine God as having varied attributes and shapes similar to like that of humans, while others perceive the whole universe as God.
Some people don’t believe in His existence, while some are not sure. There is evidence that even thousands of years before Christ, the concept of God outlived his utility has arisen. For example, there exist paintings, symbols, and engravings in caves, as early as 25,000 years back in northeast Brazil. Ideas about God have successfully survived for thousands of years as man evolved from hunter-gatherers to the complex being that he is today.
Even scientists who seek answers to many questions such as — What was there before the Big Bang? What is the nature of dark energy and dark matter? What exactly is consciousness, and how did we become conscious? What is beyond the horizon of this universe?
These questions often see God as some sort of mysterious entity or pervading consciousness that constitutes and governs all. Since modern humans have evolved and then continue to live in fearful, insecure, and vulnerable conditions, ideas about the existence of God have continued among us. Besides, scientists have not been able to answer and resolve all the mysteries and complexities surrounding our lives.
As science grew, reason and rationality increased, and as a result, people started doubting the existence of personal God i.e. the entity watching and governing people’s lives
What’s the harm in believing God when people are getting emotional and psychological support from His presence? Further, the religions flourished, people’s faith in their respective God and inter-faith conflicts grew, as humanity expanded. Now the time has come, there is no going back. God will continue to stay with us at least for the time being.
God provides us the meaning:
Despite the universe is meaningless, we humans create meaning and purpose behind our existence. We, as a whole, wouldn’t have survived if we individually and collectively were not creating our own meaning. That’s why humanity is growing and evolving to the next level.
For many years now, God used to be the only source for people to lead a decent, truthful, and morally correct life so that after death they can go to heaven. If they don’t live that life, then they would go to hell. Not only in Christianity and Hinduism but also in other major religions, God was the sole source of truth, morality, and divinity. However, due to the ascendency of science, there starts a decline in the role of personal Gods in our lives. Man’s position in the cosmos got degraded. We humans then realized that we are no more in the center of the universe. We need to create our own destiny, script our future. God is not going to guide and protect us.
As science expanded, the role of personal Gods started declining but faith in God, in general, remains intact. The roots of religious rituals, practices, and dogmas had already gone too deep. Fear of God in our collective psyche got embedded. God continued to provide us the meaning and purpose of life. Even at the time of severe pain, intense suffering, and acute cruelty, God continues to provide much-needed support to humanity. Despite scientific and technological revolutions, God continued to be an integral part of our lives.
Need of God in modern age
There is no denying the fact that despite multiple revolutions that have transformed the world, we need God for providing us psychological and emotional support.
The majority of us still feel insecure, fearful, and vulnerable in the wake of uncertainty and widespread pain and suffering. Hagel’s philosophy maintains that humanity invented the idea of God as a consolation and distraction from the sorrow and grief of the world. God is a human creation over which humanity has authority and control.
Karl Marx too has left us his frank opinion:
“Religion is the opium of the masses.”
In his mind
“God is simply a projection of human concerns. Human beings look for superhuman beings in the fantasy reality of heaven, and find nothing there but their own reflection.”
This is the reason that faith and firm belief in God’s existence has not abated despite tremendous progress in science and technology. The majority of the population continues to believe in their religion and/or God’s role in their lives. In any case, people feel safe and secure in believing in God, irrespective of whether God exists or not. It’s better not to reject or deny God, especially when people are subject to the inherent vulnerability of life.
Moreover, any situation can be explained by the existence of God. For emotional and psychological support when in trouble, God helps. There are studies that support the relationship between belief in God or Higher Power and mental health treatment.
People who believe in God respond better to treatment for depression than those who do not. Even in loneliness, God can be of great psychological support. Some studies have also established the direct link between faith or belief in Higher Power and psychological wellbeing. Many of us would do well to turn to God for support and guidance.
Has God outlived His utility?
Times are changing; faith in God and religion are overall declining. People are increasingly realizing the importance of their potential to script their own journey.
Notwithstanding the uncertainty and unexplainable events that happen in everyone’s life, more and more people are dissociating their destiny from God’s role.
Millennials in particular, who are turning away from religion and inclining more toward spirituality, don’t see their destiny as being in the hands of a Supreme Being. For them, career and relationships – often illumined by the recognition and celebration of unity — is their newly discovered God.
The majority of millennials are of a generation that is very much about owning and controlling their destiny, and not in the way that previous generations saw it. They prefer spending quality time with their friends and family to Sunday worship and religious pilgrimages.
Therefore, over time, as the world changes, so too does understanding of the relationship between God and destiny. However, in certain religions, religious intolerance and fundamentalism are on the rise. Many people are taking a bloody path to protect their faith in God. It’s a dangerous trend, no one knows when it will end.
Future of God:
‘What would be the future of God’ is a very relevant question that needs to be answered in the current scenario. Before we come to it, we may first deliberate on other related questions about mankind’s future or destiny. There are 2 broad scenarios.
First, humanity will grow and flourish, thanks to technological and industrial revolutions that are underway. Artificial intelligence will eventually outsmart human intelligence in say next few decades. Humans will become immortal by keep on changing and transplanting their aging organs including the head.
It seems unbelievable at present. But it’s undoubtedly achievable. Many scientists have made revelations to that effect. After conquering and maybe destroying the earth, humans will start living on other planets. I am sure humans may erect temples, churches, masjids, etc there too.
This is one scenario. The second, equally strong possibility is that the civilization may face disastrous consequences of impending crisis.
The most important is climate change. We have started witnessing its alarming impact on our environment. Global warming the way it is impacting biodiversity and climate will change the direction of man’s journey. Although human extinction seems a remote possibility at present consequences can be very alarming.
Then the other extremely important crisis we have started witnessing is increasing human conflicts. Religious fundamentalism and terrorism are parts of conflicts.
In this scenario, an alarming situation may emerge. In prevailing conditions, it seems we will progress technologically but simultaneously human conflicts will continue to rise. Therefore, the idea of God is going with us at least in foreseeable future.
God is supposed to be all-loving, powerful and omnipotent, who oversees and governs all humans.
If that’s so, why He is continuing to encourage widespread pain and suffering, cruelty, and acts of inhumanity with fellow beings. Why God allowed his followers and believers to misuse and abuse his name? Why God allows his believer to behead another innocent person, of another religion, in broad daylight. By all probability and keeping human’s inherent nature in mind, this bloody conflict has just begun.
Obviously, ideas about God will continue to stay with us. Therefore, logically speaking, there is nothing like God. However, God as an idea is a deep-rooted illusion in the collective human psyche and will continue to be with us. Even the idea of God may flourish and grow, with more rigidity and intolerance, in a time to come. Humanity will therefore continue to live with God in the grand ‘illusionary’ scheme of things.
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