Where we last left off, I posed the question of the significance of having a god in red pyramid world. And it is all about having an advantage, like a genie in a lamp. If there is a god and I know how to relate to him/her/it, then I have an extraordinary advantage in getting what makes me happy. God may even just give me what I want.
Here is part of the reason why people can be so defensive or insecure about their religious commitments. Disagreements over whose religion is right suggests that my approach to god may be less effective than someone else’s . . . or worse, what if my religion is wrong? Others may be securing more happiness from god while I fall behind or actually suffer loss as punishment from god. Thus, whether the advantage is god or a genie, there are also disadvantages.
If there is a god, how do I know what to do in order to have what I want from that god? Can I know god well enough to manipulate him and so be in control and thus get what I want—and thus, practically speaking, be god myself? On the other hand, if I fail somehow, not only might god punish me, but I also must carry around fear of failure or guilt when I have failed. Both emotions are contrary to happiness. If there is a god, I must also find a way to deal with other people’s opinions of god and their judgments against me, which could be how god feels.
God as a genie in a lamp sounds better and is thus a more popular notion of god—a sort of god that is a wall flower, lonely, insecure, wanting to be wanted and important to us. There are at least five problems with genies: First, you only get three wishes. What if you want things from god but he gets tired of giving? The second, third, and fourth problem with god as a genie is that he can’t kill anyone, make anyone fall in love, or raise the dead—the very three things our happiness might depend on. Fifth and most significantly, what if someone gets the lamp away from us? Now we are back to people’s nervous, irritable insecurity about their religion. Any evidence that you are right and they are wrong feels like you have the lamp and they don’t.
2 thoughts on “A Genie in a Lamp”
Mike these are issues I think about a lot. WHY are there so many denominations, even different levels (Higher Things, Wisconsin Synod, LCMS, ELCA) etc. Which one actually has it right or some have certain elements right and some wrong. ALL of the (I think) have the commonality of Grace by Faith. But then there are other things……WHY did God even allow for different Faiths – Christian, Mormon, Hindi, Buddha, etc. WHY would even allow these other religions to even exist? I would think He would have destroyed all the ones that were wrong and leave the one(s) that were right? What about babies (no choice of their own) being born into a religion that is the wrong one and possibly go to Hell when they had (probably) no other choice? How unfair is that? We as people are so messed up in almost everything we do. We can hardly do one thing right for the right reasons. I have become increaasingly blown away with the realization of just how blessed (we) are even in out suffering which then keeps bringing us back to our dependence on God. In other words, if we are TOO blessed and feel TOO good and do not suffer AT ALL, this can lead us (me) away from God because we gradually over time think we do not need him for anything. TOO comfortable.
Many denominations, religions, and “gods” are a result of the human ego trying to find advantages for itself in religion. The selfishness and materialism of so many in so many religions is part of what has turned people off about religion. But what if God has already saved everyone? What is left for us to do except realize the blessings of His universal redemption and share those realities with others.