Friday, May 4, 2012

Is God a Metaphor?

Metaphors are used to represent something else, but the thing being represented by the metaphor often is "real". Thus, I don't see God as a metaphor; I see how we describe God as our best guess as to what God is like. Our descriptions, therefore, are emblematic and symbolic. They are metaphors.

If someone describes God as an authoritarian dictator who demands obedience and punishes every mistake, that description might represent a desperate need for security and order. It is symbolic of what that person needs or wants most at that moment - or simply what that person was taught as a child and what was needed by the person who originally formulated that particular metaphor. Calvinism's extremity God of hardcore predestination is that metaphor on steroids - as it posits God as the great puppeteer and barbecue master. Yes, it's a metaphor (and, yes, I loathe that particular metaphor) - but it's grounded in Calvin's perception of reality.

If there really is a God, or if there really is godhood, or if there really is some type of higher consciousness and never-ending existence, the metaphors we use to talk of God are based in reality to some degree. The only way that our metaphors are not "real" in some extra-worldly way is if our existence ends when we die as mortals. That simply doesn't resonate with me at all, so I choose to believe that our metaphors of God (the ways we construct our descriptions of the divine) are based on reality - even if they are constructed while looking through a glass, darkly.

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