've elected to include this analysis, due to the inroads that religion has made into nearly all cultures. Because of
its influence, the progression in idea regarding what constitutes the nature of
Deity is important to conflict resolution.
Throughout history Deity has been defined in a number of
different ways. Initially, It was thought to be indistinguishable from
nature itself. Later, It was characterized as the personification (in
perfected form) of those qualities that man came to revere within himself.
This latter visualization introduced multiplicity into our concept of
Deity's nature -- a problem that has never been adequately resolved.
Difference then led to belief oriented conflict. This
hastened the need for a more idealized representation of Deity. However,
once It's attributes were seen to be separate and distinct (and often
conflictual within space/time parameters) man lost the ability to
logically conceptualize their reunification. Eventually however, the
idea of transcendence provided an easement. It did so by abolishing the
need to conceptualize Deity's form within space and time -- thereby
doing away with the need to unify what were supposedly its separated
attributes. Beyond space and time, Deity now became indescribable. It
also became indubitable for the very same reason.
Limited to being singular by
way of relevance, acceptance of Its transcendental nature doomed the
existence of polytheism. In spite of the advantages of this new
characterization, there were also serious disadvantages to its
being adopted. Transcendence reduced all issues to Deity's will. This caused disagreement over
to become irresolvable. Eventually this led to the questioning of
Ultimacy's intent and then
It's very existence.
Because transcendence thwarted description, Deity's existence couldn't be proved. You
can't prove what you can't define. Similarly though, it couldn't be disproved either. As a result, transcendence
rendered reason inoperative when it came to Deity. This was unsettling to
many, since the use of reason
still remained integral to understanding how It might judge us. Nonetheless, it wasn't
until much later, when common sense returned to form, that the idea of Ultimacy's transcendence
was again questioned.
Thus thinking had returned full circle with paradox once more holding sway. Form
implied limitation due to its dependence upon description and limitation precluded itself
from association with Deity. If the idea of transcendence was to remain viable, it needed
something more. This time that something took the form of "total knowledge." By
attributing 'total knowledge' to Deity, it became conceivable that Ultimacy could be of form and
yet not be limited by way of it.
However, this linkage proved to be inherently problematic to the defining of man. Unlimited knowledge in the hands of Deity imposed a predestination that destroyed the
possibility for ''freewill.'' You can't be free to choose when your
choice is restricted by what Deity already knows; and hence, what will
inevitably become your eventuality. The dynamics of "time" prevent it.
As a result this linkage endorsed determinism, an idea that
would otherwise be without foundation. No one has ever found a logical way around this
quandary using any of the conventional understandings of 'time' we've
embraced to date. The
reason is quite simple, none exists.
Nevertheless, many religions still continue to promote this linkage between 'total
knowledge and Deity,' in lieu of something better. The results from this union are so bad
that only "mystery" can hide the contradictions. In an
attempt to conceal the obvious, religion has relegated Ultimacy to the task of
straightening this contradiction out. How anyone can know that It might
be so inclined, or will in fact do so, is yet
another mystery that defies explanation.
Hence, we are left adrift in logical inconsistency with
only mystery upon mystery by which to sort out our responsibility to
Deity and self. Yet we are not allowed, by any of the religions that
rely upon it, to resort to 'mystery' to justify our own perceived
inadequacies. This inequity obviously runs counter to common sense. It
also suggests that Ultimacy sanctions injustice at our level of knowing,
thus leaving the door wide open to the possibility that It might do so
As a result, the use of 'mystery'
promotes chaos within thought as opposed to order. It does this by preventing us from
logically determining where our responsibility begins and ends. This is why 'mystery' is
fatal to our 'freewill.' And, without the existence of 'freewill,' everything religious
immediately becomes meaningless.