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The misconception of God

Published:Monday | February 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Garth Rattray, Gleaner Writer


he fragility of our physical existence has been brought into sharp focus with the recent Haiti catastrophe, and several occurrences within my life and the lives of several close friends. I now think about our Heavenly Father even more than I usually do. For many years, I have seen suffering and even death, but I feel best comforted when I know that the deceased truly believed in God.

I know several people who do not believe that God exists; some tell me that they do not possess the 'God gene' (a popular biological hypothesis that, in general, human beings inherit genes that lead them to believe in a higher power). Such people say that they are simply incapable of believing in God, no matter what. I never attempt to convince or to convert these people because, from my point of view, although they don't believe in God, they exist only because God believes in them.

Obviously, everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. This is especially true when it comes to matters of their religion and/or spiritual beliefs (the two are not necessarily synonymous). However, as a believer, I felt that a recent newspaper article titled 'In the beginning, man created God' used the Haiti disaster as a launching pad for a serious, deliberate and sarcastic attempt at ridiculing believers.

Man created god?

In essence, the piece claims that man created God to explain the inexplicable. The article sought an answer to the whereabouts of a benevolent God when hundreds of thousands of His children were suffering and dying in unimaginably horrendous ways. I must say that the very title of the thing was contradictory, since it claimed that 'man' was there 'in the beginning'. That aside, the author proffers that we credit God with the good things but blame Satan for the bad. It seemed to me that the nonbeliever was also a seeker, as he repeatedly asked why God allowed and even orchestrated such horrible things to happen to people (good and bad alike).

It was then that it occurred to me that, perhaps, many people do not believe in God because they have the wrong concept of Him. Some see God as He was depicted in numerous European paintings - as an elderly, powerfully-built, Caucasian man with a thick grey head of hair and beard. Some see Him as some sort of supernatural magician, using the power of His mind to create the Universe as we know it. Others see God as an ever-present spiritual being watching over our thoughts and actions, and controlling everything to do with our existence.

Limited understanding

Our physical bodies are four-dimensional entities confined by time and space. Even within this sphere of existence, there are many mysteries and wonders - far too many for our mortal minds to begin to comprehend. Because of this, we will never be able to understand God and, therefore, many misconceptions will arise.

My concept of God is that He is everything and everything is a part of Him. I believe that God manifests Himself through the physical laws that govern the known and unknown universe. I also believe that the life-force within us, the immeasurable and unquantifiable soul, is a part of God - conduits through which He experiences and shares the good and bad of the world. Good and bad things happen as part of a greater plan that we will never understand. Jesus taught us to praise Him, accept His wisdom, pray for mercy, (some) understanding, guidance and strength to endure until, at last, we go to our true home.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Feedback may be sent to or