Is God Afraid of Us?

Congratulations to Dagoods, this particular post was named post of the week by Atheist Blogs Aggrogated

Since God(s) are made up by humans, we cannot help but continue to see traces of that humanity in them. We become angry, and since God is, to some extent, just a “bigger” human, He becomes angry. We have favorites—God has favorites; we regret actions—God regrets actions, and so on.

Further, God is seen at the Ultimate authority. Some type of “Super-Government” in which He has the power to create, destroy, render judgments, punish and reward on His terms. Yet even “Super-Governments” have their limits. One of which is usurpation. What if the people governed over rebel? What if they remove the authority of the government by virtue of removing the body over which the government exercises authority? It is not much of a King on a one-person island.

As human governors, we fear the rebellion of the people in providing either too much autonomy or too much knowledge. And in the Christian God created by the human authors of the Bible, we see tastes of a God that, just like a “super-human” has a tinge of fear of the very people over which He governs.

What is God afraid of?

Starting with the basics. According to the Christian paradigm we are created creatures. And, by virtue of being created, are less than the Creator itself. But can a Creator instill or create something of which He has no knowledge, no information, no ability Himself to perform?

Could God create “fear” without having the ability to understand what it is to be “afraid”? We are informed that perfect love removes fear. (1 John 4:18) Presumably, the very essence of the Christian God is love. (1 John. 4:8) If God has always existed, and has always been love itself, then He never had a situation in which he removed any fear, including his own, or anything else’s. Fear could not have entered the equation in the first place.

If love and fear are mutually exclusive, and God has always been and God has always been love, then He could never have experienced fear. So, in a twist of the Logical Problem of Evil, we are faced with the Logical Problem of Fear. Where does fear come from in the creature, if the creator has no knowledge, and no experience of it?

The better explanation is that God, at the least, has the ability to be afraid. The next question is whether he has ever exercised that ability. Again, no way for us to know (as He can mask such a fear in the use of power) but since humans wrote the book, we can see their own belief that such an entity would have fear.

Starting at the beginning with the Garden of Eden. We all know the story. Adam and Eve screw up the whole system, eat fruit from the wrong tree. After the cursing, the clothing and the casting, God becomes “concerned” (shall we say) about the Tree of Life. He does not want humans to eat from it and live forever.

So what does He do? He places an angel to watch the Garden itself, and places a flaming sword to guard the Tree of Life. (Gen. 3:24) Now God (being God) could have done a great many things with the Tree of Life. He created it, he can destroy it. (How many times have we seen THAT in the argument on sovereignty of God?) He could have placed it on the Planet Pluto. He could have removed it to Heaven. He could have taken it to the 25th dimension.

But for some unknown reason, he leaves it here. We have all seen the fantastic video of this flaming sword. What? You haven’t seen it? Oh, that’s right. We can’t FIND the Garden of Eden! Why would God have to place an angel and a flaming sword to protect something we cannot even find?

Apparently, in God’s ability to foresee the future, someday humans will have the means and wherewithal to actually arrive at the Garden Gate. (Imagine “Indiana Jones” music in the background.) Only to be denied access to the tree by this sword. There is something about humans eating of a tree God cannot eliminate that causes fear in God. The best solution he could come up with is preventative defense.

Oddly enough, the Christian worldview maintains that we will resurrect and live forever either in Heaven or Hell. So we WILL live forever. Just not on our terms, but on God’s. The Creator of the Universe has to use miraculous power just to keep humans at bay.

Moving to the Tower of Babel. All the humans in the entire world decide to build a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens. (Gen. 11:4) Remember that at the time Genesis was written, common belief was that there as a hard shell about the earth, and that “heaven,” if one built long enough and tall enough, would be attainable. We (and of course God would as well) realize that engineering prohibits buildings of too tall height (not enough strength) and such a project would be eventually, necessarily, abandoned.

God, in order to speed up the discontinuance of this project, scrambles all of the people’s languages. (Gen. 11:7) Now all types of explanations have been provided for why God would do that. Claims that humans were trying to be like God, or it was futile or they were too proud. The problem with every explanation is that God says why He confused their languages, and it is not any of these reasons.

It is because the humans are acting with one purpose, have one language, and God realizes (with His wonderful foresight) that anything they set their mind to doing, they will accomplish. (Gen. 11:6) God does not want this to happen. What is God afraid the humans will do? They are building. They are acting with one purpose. They have one goal.

NOW is the perfect time to introduce yourself, institute a one-world religion, and be done with it! Instead, there is something about this like-minded purpose that forces God to put back on his “creative” work clothes, and enter human minds to create language.

Again, we see God afraid of what the humans are doing, and using his awesome power to thwart it.

It becomes enlightening to read the stories of the Tanakh from the aspect of God using power because he is afraid of what the humans can do. It is what every human institution of power has done since the beginning of time. Why would a God have to do it?

Look at the story of Lot’s wife. We know it. God rains down fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. (Gen. 19:24) The angels had warned Lot and his family to not look back. (Gen. 19:17) Lot’s wife looks back and turns into a Pillar of Salt. (Gen. 19:26) Why? It was not a natural occurrence. We know that seeing burning brimstone does not cause one to turn into salt. It was a miracle of some sort. Arguably a punishment.

Why would God care if they looked back? Notice that at this point, they are no longer fleeing, but are safe in the city of Zoar. They have no need of hurry, nor fear of slowing the process by looking back. Besides, the angel had informed them God couldn’t start the fire until they were safe. (Gen. 19:22) A leisurely walk would have been sufficient!

God says he is going to blow up a city, but doesn’t want you to look. What is he afraid you will see? Oh, I have heard the arguments. “She was longing to go back to the city.” Let’s see….she was watching at least two cities totally consumed by raining fire, people dying, stench overwhelming, and she was longing to go back there? Riiiiggghht. Just like everybody wants to run back in a burning building!

Did she have pity on the people? More than God did, apparently. Did she wonder what happened to her sons-in-law? Or her other daughters? (Who were the sons-in-law married to? Virgins?) God is telling Lot and his wife he is killing their relatives, but don’t look. What was God afraid they would see?

Or look at Joshua’s genocide. God commands the Hebrews to wipe out various tribes, lest the tribe’s rituals and abominations persuade the Israelites to turn from God.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. Specifically to show how powerful he was, God had just wiped Egypt off the map. He had parted the Reed Sea for at least a month to allow them to pass. He has rained food down on them for forty years to feed them. He parted the Jordan for another month to let them pass. The Hebrews had witnessed the walls of an entire city fall for no other reason than trumpet sound.

Yet God thinks this is not enough? How much power must God expend to keep these people in line? On the one hand we have the inconceivable entity with phenomenal cosmic power, and on the other, a petulant boy-king that displays temper tantrums of terrible terror when He doesn’t get his way! Why is God so afraid that people will forget Him?

Oh, I remember. Because God is sovereign and he has the “right” to act belligerently toward humans. Is it belligerence or bluster? Is it offense or fear?

I generally hate parent/child analogies with God, as they are always incomplete. As a parent, I do not have the abilities a god would have. Saying that, I am sure to use one.

When my daughter was about two, I sent her to her room as punishment. I remember she crossed her arms, deliberately planted her feet, obtained the most defiant tone she could muster, and said, “No!” It struck me as quite humorous. I outweigh her easily by 140 pounds, I am more than twice her height; I can out-run her, out-reach her, and out-muscle her in any way feasible.

Sure she was testing the waters, clashing wills, and seeing what she could get away with. She was a two-year-old. I could easily pick her up and transport her wherever I desire, and there was nothing, physically, she could do about it. That is what made her statement amusing.

Even more so with the Christian God concept. He could wipe us all off the face of the earth and start over. (Came close, once.) He could destroy the Universe as an experiment-gone-bad. He could not only kill me, He could make every atom in my body disappear, and remove my very existence from the memory of every person that ever lived.

Or, if one prefers, he could torture me forever. With all this power, why would God even care what one measly human does? Or a whole group? Wouldn’t God, with all his restrained power, find human antic’s equally amusing? Oh, you can tell me how God hates sin. The same God that created me with the maturity to restrain myself cannot exercise the same compassion?

Only a bully uses harmful power to remind people of their existence.

Ah, but what about Jesus, right? We have the switch of knowledge, and the switch of what human’s focused on in the First Century, resulting in a switch of the type of God humans write about. Jesus was different—HE didn’t use this awesome power to instill fear. He used love.

No, Jesus/God was not afraid of defiance, like Yahweh/God. He was afraid of intelligence.

Jesus gives the parable of the seeds. Mark 4:1-20. After telling the parable to the crowd, a few of those following him asked about the parable. They did not understand it. (Mark 4:10,13) Jesus makes a curious statement:

“To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.'” (Mark 4:11-12) (emphasis added)

Jesus then goes on and does for his followers what he would NOT do for the crowd-at-large, and explain directly what he is talking about, so they could understand. Jesus very clearly is stating that he is talking in the muddled terms of parables, because if he talked directly, they would actually turn to God and their sins be forgiven.

The ramifications of this statement are astounding. As God, Jesus would know intimately the depth of human intelligence. He created it. Don’t just read that, but reflect on that. He would know, literally to the word what a person understood. The right word at the right moment would provide brilliant illumination; the wrong word would cause continual confusion. The author of Mark even points out how apt Jesus was at determining how others were thinking. (Mark 2:8)

Having watched the course of history of humans he Created, Jesus would be extremely astute as to the reaction of humans upon gaining this information. This is the same entity that was concerned about human’s purpose and single-mindedness at the Tower of Babel, and realized that only drastic creative measures could intervene in human willfulness.

So in this story, Jesus has gauged his crowd, knows how exactly to speak to them, and deliberately chooses to not provide understanding! In fact, he even emphasizes that if he had, they would turn to God and their sins would be forgiven! His motivation is clear that he has no intention of allowing this to happen!

We are often informed that due to limited human capability, we are unable to fathom a God. I get that, and it certainly makes sense. But here we have a story of a God that CAN communicate a concept, and recognizes that humans can understand this concept, and then deliberately and decisively chooses to not communicate that concept. This has nothing to do with human inability to understand, but rather God’s refusal to communicate.

Why would a God not want a human to understand? Especially as the God is well-aware that such understanding would make the person turn to a God and have their sins forgiven. Isn’t this what the Christian God wants? What is it about humans understanding and God forgiving them that Jesus could not let happen? What was Jesus afraid of? Would God have punished him for doing a bad thing?

Or the request for a sign. In Mark 8:11-12 we have a brief interlude where Pharisees ask for a sign, and Jesus says that this generation will not be given a sign. Again, we are faced with a situation in which Jesus recognizes that humans would understand, and a determined choice is made to not communicate it.

Matthew and Luke modify this to indicate the reason the sign was not given was that it was an evil generation. (Mt. 12:39; Luke 11:29) (They also indicate that there would be a sign, the only one being the sign of Jonah. Of course the humorous bit is that Jesus had just bemoaned cities for not repenting when they had seen all the mighty works He had performed. (Mt. 11:21; Luke 10:13) Was he performing signs or not? And then John has the audacity to have Jesus performing signs all over the place! (John 2:11, 4:48, 20:30))

So Jesus would not perform a sign (or performed a sign, depending on what chapters one reads) for an evil generation. Or that just generation. Jesus of the New Testament refused to use power, because the people would understand. But the Jesus of the Tanakh would use power because the people did not understand and were acting evil! Something changed as to what Jesus was afraid of!

How curious. People of the Tanakh were evil—in comes Jesus with signs, miracles and punishments in order to get them back in line. People of the First Century were evil--Jesus refuses to perform signs, because they might get back in line. What changed?

I, of course, would contend that what changed were the authors. The authors of the Tanakh were focusing on a God that dealt with communities, and used power to bring them back into line. The authors of the New Testament focused on a different God, which dealt with individuals, and used persuasion to bring them into line. The God of the Tanakh would be afraid of what he used—power, the God of the New Testament would be afraid of what he used—persuasion.

It looks to me that there is something this God of Christianity fears I will find out. Wonder what it is?