The image also gave everyone a sense of importance and meaning. For this God is directly aware of every tiniest fragment of dust and vibration of energy, since it is just his awareness of it that enables it to be. This awareness is also love and, for angels and men at least, he has planned an everlasting life of the purest bliss which is to begin at the end of mortal time. But of course there are strings attached to this reward, and those who purposely and relentlessly deny or disobey the divine will must spend eternity in agonies as intense as the bliss of good and faithful subjects. The problem of this image of God was that it became too much of a good thing. Children working at their desks in school are almost always put off when even a kindly and respected teacher watches over their shoulders. How much more disconcerting to realize that each single deed, thought, and feeling is watched by the Teacher of teachers, that nowhere on earth or in heaven is there any hiding-place from the Eye which sees all and judges all. To many people it was therefore an immense relief when Western thinkers began to question this image and to assert that the hypothesis of God was of no help in describing or predicting the course of nature. If everything, they said, was the creation and the operation of God, the statement had no more logic than “Everything is up.” But, as so often happens, when one tyrant is dethroned, a worse takes his place. The Crackpot Myth was retained without the Potter. The world was still understood as an artifact, but on the model of an automatic machine. The laws of nature were still there, but no lawmaker. According to the deists, the Lord had made this machine and set it going, but then went to sleep or off on a vacation. But according to the atheists, naturalists, and agnostics, the world was fully automatic. It had constructed itself, though not on purpose.

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A quote saved on Dec. 30, 2015.


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