Presenting the work of Quaker atheists, agnostics, humanists, and others who practice Quakerism without supernatural beliefs

What is “God” anyway…

I was reading a post here, a lovely and painful description of convincement and felt called to write a few lines.

It seems to be it all comes down to the Quaker practice of openness. God is only a word. We live in a universe that is following some sort of order, balance, cooperative motion, a world that hangs together and works. If thee is to call that equation of cooperation an accident or God, is all the same, it does not change that it is.

Now, I, frankly, feel a wee tad bit uncomfortable when I see the concept of “magic Quakerism”… “we all got together and channeled the light and healed that person’s illness… ” or some such … fact is … seems logical to me that if there is a consciousness we can understand as being aware in human terms, to this whole equation, (which most religions often say there is likely not… most say we can’t understand the ways of “God”, ) that power knows enough that our prodding towards any result is just ego on our part. But, in coming together something does happen, even if it is only our pausing to realize we are a small part of each other, extending out into a huge interconnected universe, where nothing happens but that it is a part of the whole.

Now, in all this, I should say, I am a dyed in the Woolman, raised to long for whalemeat and penguin eggs ( traditional Northeastern Quaker diet – I’m afraid ) Hicksite traditionalist. I do use the word God, but in so doing, say that I have no idea of the nature of that which is… other than to say I presume it is the totality of existence and coming into existence… and that my life’s path is hugely influenced by a rabbi named Yeshua, who died because his nation was occupied and oppressed, who I believe would slap silly anyone who placed his image between their heart and the indescribable God of his people’s tradition and his ministry.

I think we get hung up on our descriptions of theism and non-theism. Many Christocentric Friends regard me as a complete heretic, and many post Hicksite Friends regard me as a Jesus freak. And in the end, what vanity to say we know anything at all, other than the world seems to follow logical patterns, and that it is unlikely that whatever God is, those patterns would be broken for the vanity of God.

Lovingly in the light with ye,


5 responses to “What is “God” anyway…”

  1. Laurence Roberts Avatar
    Laurence Roberts

    This is very striking and makes sense for me. I want to re-read it a number of times. Words are tools but can be so limiting.

  2. Lor, this is awesome.

    I find more and more recently that I’m not a theist or a nontheist, I simply don’t care if it’s god or not god, I’d rather get on with exploring and loving the world. There is something that feels miraculous to me, in life, in connection wtih other beings. is that god? is it because of god? it’s just occuring to me that I don’t particularly care.


  3. ‘Exploring & loving the world’ — YES ! The words, concepts, theories are something else. It’s like dipping my brush in the paint…..& marking ‘my’ mark !…….

  4. ID – April 24, 2006
    Words are only just tools if we are also… Words are already one with all we are. “Philosophy in the Flesh”, by Lakoff & Johnson describes how all language, especialy the abstract, is biologically cognitive build upon already existent bodily dispositions.


    P.S. Pam Connection with other beings is just part of connection with the whole of reality, it’s not even a connection, we are as such already reality itself. You know what I mean. But this awareness of also being reality itself as humans is never thought through, because we are the victim of dichotomies created by the way language works…

  5. I’ve just been reading Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The first book, The Golden Compass (Northern Lights in the UK) is due to be released in December as a major movie starring Nicole Kidman and other weighty actors.

    What’s this got to do with the above discussion? Well, first the mainline churches are going to go nuts, as the trilogy features a war against god, who ultimately dies in the third book. And it’s not even a heroic death – he’s so weakened, he’s blown away by a gust of wind.

    Second, Pullman very interestingly pits the “Republic of Heaven” against the “Kingdom of Heaven” represented by the traditional god. If you look up “The Republic of Heaven” on Wikipedia, there’s a very interesting entry. Apparently the phrase originated with Gerard Winstanley, leader of the Diggers, a group, like the Quakers, which sprung up during the social upheaval of the English Civil War. Quoting from the entry, it’s “the idea that humans must build their happiness in the here and now, and that the official Church’s emphasis on the afterlife is no more than a diversion by the powerful to repress the common people.”

    For me, this concept (in its broadest sense) really sums up Quakerism. Perhaps we, too, should be outside the cinemas in December, extolling the “Republic of Heaven”!

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