How God was created in the image of man

Show a teardrop to a Western man
He’ll tell you about salt, carbon and water
But show a teardrop to a Chinese man
He’ll tell you about sadness and sorrow
—Byong Yu

I had a daydream in which I envisioned the creation of the first god by the first human to do so. The human’s name was Oog, and he lived 200-thousand years ago—an early homo sapiens living in a band of about twenty nomads.

Oog was hunting mastodons with others of his band, when one of the big creatures nudged him off a cliff in a fall from which his leg was severely mangled. Since no proper medicine existed for such an injury, Oog learned to walk with the help of a walking stick, favoring his crookedly-mended leg in a slow, awkward limp.

But this meant Oog could no longer hunt nor protect the band, or even keep up with the others as they walked endlessly in search of food (agriculture wouldn’t come around for over a hundred thousand years).

Further, in that time, members of a band would occasionally eat those who contributed the least to the general welfare, particularly when food was scarce. It was a time of cannibalism, and Oog trembled when he thought of the possibility of his becoming dinner for the others.

So Oog had a big problem. He attempted to solve it by telling others of the band that an all-powerful god had come to him in his sleep and pledged that Oog would be god’s spokesperson on earth.

Of course the others couldn’t be sure if this was true at first, as they had only Oog’s word for it, and anyhow had no idea what a god might be or how one might function.

However, when a saber-toothed tiger approached the cave roaring loudly, the entire band shivered with fear. Oog, sitting near the entrance with a better view than the others, noticed that the tiger was distracted by a gazelle, and had bounded off in pursuit. Oog translated this to the band as god sent the tiger away to protect Oog and all who loved him. If you love and honor Oog, god will protect you, too, and take you into eternal heaven when you die, where delicious food is abundant. Oog was on a roll now.

In time, Oog became the first king, heading no less than 12 bands comprised of hundreds of worshippers. In time, he became the first human to relate that he was descended from the gods, who demanded tithes (eventually culminating in televangelists).

Anthropologists estimate that humans have created more than 18,000 gods since.   Televangelists individually haul in millions of dollars with which to live lavishly as they coax the last dime from their flocks, in the name of Jesus.

Mark Twain famously said that everyone in Hannibal, Missouri, goes to church every Sunday and squirms for an hour hating every moment, but suffering it out because it will get them to heaven. And what is heaven?  Ironically it is perpetual church!

Gore Vidal refers to the sky gods: “From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal—God is the Omnipotent Father—hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.”

My old friend Carl Sagan was once confronted by a religious zealot while speaking to a crowd of journalists. The fanatic asked Sagan why he embraced the theory of evolution, but not “creation theory.” Carl replied, patiently, “Because there are billions of tons of fossil evidence to support evolution, but as yet, nothing to support creationism.”

In my meditation classes, I’ve often been confronted with the uncomfortable position of speaking about ideas in conflict with particular religions.

Usually this has roots in teaching Zen, which I see as a philosophy rather than a religion.

But my students are Christian, atheist, Muslim, agnostic, Jewish, Hindu and Naturist, many believing that theirs is the true faith, so I tread on dangerous ground.

I like to say that people may practice Zen and also any of these other options. Zen does not replace one’s faith, but expands it.

Buddhism, it is said, is a hundred thousand religions in one, which is to say that every Buddhist has their own religion. Some Buddhists believe in the supernatural with gods and the like. Some do not believe in the supernatural (such as American Zen followers and most “Northern School,” or “Mahayana” Buddhists in general).

And so it is difficult, if one is speaking to those who believe in the supernatural, to explain “all-that-is” as a oneness including everything in the universe, and other universes should they exist.

Likewise, it is difficult to explain god to an atheist.

So I say that individuals in my classes may choose to see all-that-is as whichever they choose, god or universe.

And I say that we are star stuff, made of atoms created by exploding stars, and the universe does not exist without us because it would be missing matter and energy. Without us, the universe is incomplete.

And I ask the god believers of what they are made?  They must, I say, be made of god. Because the earliest teachings of the various monotheist faiths have it that once there was only god, who created the universe. And the only thing god had with which to make the universe was himself, so everything and everyone must be made of god.

I say to the agnostics that I cannot prove there is no Santa Clause, but I choose not to believe in him.

Thus, I walk a tight rope, hoping that my students may see that it is all the same stuff, that we are each a part of the whole, and could not exist without everything else. And everything else could not exist without us.

Once I get religious people and non-religious people to agree that there is an all-that-is, I can get them to agree, often, to things they may not have previously pondered.

Like reality exists only in the present moment, since, whenever we check it is never yesterday or tomorrow. The only time that truly exists is this instant.

Now the scientific community is working on artificial intelligence, AI. The creators may be attempting to make another god. AIs that might reach self awareness will see us as we see our pets and want a more intelligent human, so will work on that until homo sapiens are bred to become homo deus. Homo Deus will better be capable of communicating with the aware AI, so homo sapiens will be discarded into ghettos where it will be hoped by the new rulers that we will become extinct.

But then we seem to always go back to the dream, playing the role of humans on planet earth, with all its trappings. And in this dream we manufacture gods, often, and not surprisingly, in our likeness.

Jack Balkwill has been published from the little read Rectangle, magazine of the English Honor Society, to the (then) millions of readers USA Today and many progressive publications/web sites such as Z Magazine, In These Times, Counterpunch, This Can’t Be Happening, Intrepid Report, and Dissident Voice. He is author of “An Attack on the National Security State,” about peace activists in prison.

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