Monthly Archives: October 2013

God and organism

In Christianity, one metaphor that is often used to better understand God and our interaction with him is organic – that of God as having a ‘body’. Just as a human body is composed of cells, God’s ‘body’ is composed of humans (at least in part).

This points to a larger notion in Christianity – that God is coordinating action such as to bring about a certain result, just as cells are coordinated to do things.

What evidence is there to support such a notion? There are two main sources. The first is a sense of communication (and so relationship) with God. The second is non-chance co-incidings that occur and seem aimed at a result (‘miracles‘ in Christianity).

The first involves a cycle of ‘speaking’, ‘listening‘, discernment, and then action. The idea is that God can guide us – gives us signs or intuitions. It is in this context that the idea of Christian ‘faith‘ takes on probably its most important sense – trusting that what God wants us to do (after we have applied discernment – a skill or know-how that is developed over time, like any skill) is what we should do.

(So, faith here is not blind trust that God exists, but rather trust in what God wants us to do – trusting it is what’s the correct course of action for us and more generally speaking. Why does it make sense to trust? The typical Christian reason is that one builds a relationship of trust, trusting and then seeing what the result is. In this sense, the warrant for ‘faith in God’ is empirical, based on one’s own experiences and the experiences of others.)

In Christianity, what God is doing is attempting to ‘bring about the Kingdom’. A Kingdom itself is, in a sense, an organic metaphor. It is an organization of humans, functioning to achieve certain ends. The basic idea in Christianity is that, beginning with the Logos incarnating in human form (Jesus of Nazareth), this ‘Kingdom’ has begun to take shape. Our purpose is to help to bring about this state of affairs – the full development of this organic state.

(God is not really understood in traditional Christianity as being separated from the universe – this is more a deist re-reading of parts of Christianity in wake of certain intellectual developments in the last few hundred years, where ‘miracles’ are understood as God ‘interfering’ with natural laws, instead of probably a more traditional and perhaps plausible understanding of God’s causal role as more closely involved with the universe.)