What triggers my post today is a concern, by many, about why does God not prevent disasters like what we've recently seen in Connecticut.
I could argue that the Standard Definition of God, that is of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, and all-good God is a logically impossible concept in the presence of evil. Free agency of one person does not justify the senseless suffering of others.
So the god of creeds, to me, simply does not exist -- it's the wrong definition. I will submit to you that this does not mean 'there is no god', but what it really means is undefined. And, as to the god that is 'out there', I'm going to leave that alone for a bit. What I talk about here does not deny or address the existence of any god outside of ourselves -- And to be clear, what I talk about here is about our perception of god, and how that forms within us.
What I think of God
For the sake of this discussion, let's consider that the only god with which we have to do resides within six inches between our own ears, yet is distinct from our own consciousness. Regardless of whether this is an interface to some power beyond, I think it is accurate to say that all perception of god happens within our own minds. So let's explore how that affects our definition of god.
In my impression, historically, the understanding and doctrines of an external god emerged from our conscious attempts to explain that which we do not understand. In particular, all of us have thoughts and ideas that seem to appear from no-where. Some people even have minds structured to hear voices or see things outside of our consciousness. Because some thoughts, most dreams, and even voices and images arise outside of and independently from our own conscious control, many become convinced there are beings out there that are "not us".
There is truth to that, but it need not be in any magical or supernatural way. The truth is that the majority (if not all of) these "other beings" are not "out there", but rather "in here".
Sigmund Freud recognized distinct tendencies of the mind: id, ego, superego; but thought them to be part of a single thing, our psyche. Even to today, the concept of separate, independent sentient identities within the mind has not been part of the literature. however, new technologies, such as fMRI, as well as large-scale parallel processing architectures are radically changing our understanding of the wonder -- the absolute miracle -- of our minds.
To make a very long story short, the fact is that we DO have an entity within us, an eternal companion, that shares all of our memories, thoughts, and controls our feelings. think of it as another program running in your brain-computer in parallel but completely independent from your consciousness program. it doesn't talk to you in the same way that you talk to other people, but because it shares your thoughts, it is aware -- more emotionally aware of what is going on than your consciousness is.
The Mind Within is the Only God With Which We Have to Do
My view? This mind within is god. Or, at least "a god".
Now, to not have all believers stop reading and get the impression that wayfarer is a dirty apostate heretic, we have three scriptural concepts that support this: (1) our divine nature coming from Heavenly Father, (2) the light of Christ, given to us at birth equating to our conscience, and (3) the Holy Ghost, which dwells within as our constant companion. Whatever we may believe about the gods out there, I think we can and should agree that there is a god 'in here', and least, and set aside rejecting what I write here for a bit.
Back to my view; This god, the one 'in here', has always has been, and ever shall be -- it is eternal. This is the god that has spoken to prophets and holy men and women in the past, and speaks today. This god, properly understood, consists of millions of years of genetic evolutionary programming, and allows us to intuit things naturally. The god within communicates to other nonconscious minds around us through subtle nonverbal and sensory exchanges. Importantly, this god within manages the interface between fear (right amygdala) and reward (left amygdala) so as to determine what we are to do to protect ourselves.
How again does that work?
This is not some new-age mumbo-jumbo. because of modern technologies, and due to research in the field of large-scale parallel processing architectures and machine intelligence, we are fundamentally changing our understanding of the mind. The brain is a highly modular, asymetric parallel neural network processing architecture with both embedded firmware as well as adaptive self-learning nodes. Our primitive von neumann computers of today barely scratch the surface of the massive parallelism of the brain, and it is only when we put massive numbers of processors together, particularly like a hadoop file/processing architecture, do we get a little of the idea.
Think of our "consciousness" as one program within this processing architecture. And think of our nonconscious god within as the network operating system -- and while this metaphor is primitive, you system geeks will understand the idea.
What understanding the God Within does for us:
I believe it is time for us to set aside the focus on the speculatively-defined god of our primitive religions and come to a full understanding of our true eternal companion: our god within. When we do, we realize that our god within (1) listens to our prayers, because by articulating our needs, we implant them into our minds where our god can process them, and (2) answers our prayers through our feelings and new insight implanted by extensions to our neural network. When we understand how this neurology works, we understand that our god within takes time to answer our prayers, because neural connections take time to emerge. Particularly, we often need to sleep on things...allowing our conscious minds to let go of the problems -- unlocking memory structures -- so that our god can work on the problem.
When we come to embrace the truth of our god within, we lose a lot of misconceptions about god. our god within cannot restore a limb, but s/he can encourage our bodily systems to step up and fight disease, and in some cases heal us in a seeming miraculous way. our god within cannot change another person, but can perceive feelings and concerns of another person so that we can better serve them. our god within cannot change a natural disaster, but can motivate us to be prepared. our god within is not just a "man", but is also both man and woman, father and mother, husband and wife, parent and child, and our true friend...that we mostly ignore.
Importantly, when some horrible event occurs, when a person does great evil and harms innocent children, our god within weeps with us as we come to grips with the magnitude of the horror. And just like a good friend, rather than blaming our god within, we should draw near to him/her to help us both deal with the pain and sorrow of the tragedy.
"Be still and know that I am god"
In order to achieve the peace of mind so needed at these times of sorrow, and maybe always, I believe we need to be one with our god within, to be whole and better people. We need to pray to our god within, and not assume that s/he is just part of our ego. Far from it: our god has a distinct identity from us, and when we ignore him/her, we are non-integrated people. Oneness with god, achieved through prayer and meditation, leads to an integrated state where our conscious mind and the separate god mind are in harmony.
But you know? Whenever I have tried to pray to myself, it doesn't seem to work. It is my premise that our ancestors have been praying to this god, and s/he has been answering for thousands of years. Hence, they created symbols and ritual to help us connect with god, and we are 'programmed' by that experience to draw to god through these symbols. As I see it therefore, the symbols of our religions are a reflection of this unique relationship.
I get a lot of value participating in the worship service, praying to a god 'out there', and performing the rituals of religion. Paradoxically, these help me connect me to my god within. This is why I am an active LDS...the spirit speaks to me, when I worship, pray, and participate. When I serve in love, visiting families and giving, somehow I find peace and support from my god within.