Tue | May 26, 2020

Garth Rattray | Understanding God

Published:Monday | April 22, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Holy Bible


My earliest memories are filled with trying to understand the purpose of my existence and the mystery of the hereafter. As I became older and saw cruelty, violence, suffering and death, I wondered how it was that a (supposedly) loving God could allow all of this to happen.

Why doesn’t He stop the suffering, stop cruelty, avenge victims, destroy evildoers, and extend the lives of loved ones? How can our loving, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, caring, nurturing heavenly Father stand idly by as evil is unleashed upon His children? Certainly, since God created everything and can do all things, why do good people get bad diseases? Why do horrible, monstrous men rape, especially little girls and boys, and worse yet, why do so many of them get away with it and live normal, happy lives?

Some of the people who started and/or propagated Jamaica’s gun culture and lack of respect for life are free and prospering, while the evil that they sowed continues to claim over a thousand lives each year. Yet, they remain unrepentant, unexposed and unpunished.

I was baffled by biblical incongruities. It seemed that our heavenly Father was bipolar – loving and happy one day then vengeful and violent the next. With God’s immeasurable power and ability to annihilate, how can we love someone who we fear?

Such questions have led many to lose faith, turn away from their religion, and deny the existence of anything supreme. We are told that the Bible was put together from the accumulated writings of men. We know that it was constructed from ancient scrolls and that religious scholars decided what it would and would not contain. Those facts, along with changing/evolving languages, make probing minds doubt and severely criticise the authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God.

Unable to see beyond this mortal realm, unable to fathom the actions and inactions of God and with doubts about their religious reference, the Holy Bible, many people become atheists and agnostics, and a few even worship Satan. Some believe that everything that exists is simply because of an inexplicable, ancient cosmic explosion. The ensuing, totally random interaction of matter determines the course of the universe and human development.

Some believe that humans were put on Earth and that our development is being directed by aliens (from outer space). In other words, they are willing to believe in anything except God without realising that any master race of aliens to which they credit our genesis and evolution must also be mortal and therefore created by a greater power.

I don’t know if God is a singularity or a multiplicity of synergistic and confluent deities that are indistinguishable from one another but act in one accord. I don’t know if there is a ‘division of labour’ when it comes to the different attributes of God. However, I know that there is ‘a’ God because, simply put, the ‘Big Bang’ (from which scientists believe all matter is derived) could not have created itself.


I believe that we are wrong to assign gender, a numeric quantity, human emotions, physical and temporal measurements/boundaries or, in fact, any limits or conceptualisations to God. I believe that God is all that was, is and will be. I also believe that we experience a tiny bit of God, through His creations, every day. I believe that our pain and suffering is shared by God because part of Him is within us.

And so, after all my years of seeking, I’m certain that the Creator of everything not only knows the ‘why’ of our existence but also experiences the good and bad of our lives. I have come to understand that I can never understand God – no mortal can.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.