Patron GoddessJuly 13, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
As mentioned in my inaugural post, my patron deity is Reality. Speaking personally, I find “Reality” to be a rather unappealing name. The Greek word for reality, “alethea,” sounds so much more pleasant. With the kind indulgence of my readers, therefore, I will refer to our patroness as Alethea.
Does it sound odd to have Reality as our patron deity? As I wrote in our inaugural post,
Some of my readers will be unfamiliar with the idea of Reality as a god, but if you think about it, Reality has many of the traditional attributes of deity, and indeed most of our traditional ideas about God are merely garbled perceptions of the incomprehensible complexity and enormity of Reality.
For example, Reality is omnipresent (exists in all places) and omnipotent (all-powerful). Wherever you go in the entire universe, Reality is already there, and no matter what you do, you cannot violate any of Reality’s rules for how things work. Reality is, in fact, the only god powerful enough to truly claim that no disobedience is possible. Do what you will, you cannot help but obey the laws of Reality (and if you think otherwise, the consequences will be uncomfortable at best, if not downright disastrous!).
Reality is also eternal, since if there was ever any time when Reality did not exist, then nothing else would exist either. Reality is also the Creator, having produced everything which exists today. Reality is the “thing than which no greater can be imagined,” as Anselm once put it. Any lesser God we might imagine would be either a non-existent God, or a God which was part of Reality. God therefore either is Reality, or is merely a part of Reality. Reality, therefore, must be greater than or equal to any existing God.
Now, one of our failures as limited, finite beings is that there are limits to what we are capable of holding in our minds. Deity is too vast and too complex for us to comprehend fully and precisely; we necessarily reduce God to a representation that is small enough to fit inside our minds. But how can we represent something as complex, something as knowable yet unpredictable, as Reality itself, in all its fullness and detail?
Answer: by analogy. The most complicated, subtle, familiar, and yet unpredictable things we know of are other human beings, and therefore we imagine God as a being Who is, in many ways, similar to a human-type being. Though this approach is not precisely accurate, it’s not entirely wrong. It’s merely a concession to our own limitations. God (that is, Reality) is and always has been beyond our powers of comprehension. Thus, the fact that Reality is not a “person,” in the traditional sense, is not an argument against the deity of Reality. Traditionally, men have viewed their gods as human-like persons, but even they will admit, if pressed, that the truth about God is more complicated than that.
I trust my readers will understand that if I refer to Reality as a deity, it is not because I think that Reality is a person that can be flattered, cajoled, or otherwise influenced to give us things we haven’t worked to earn. It is rather an expression of the fact that all religion, at its heart, is an attempt to use the analogy of a person in order to help us reach a more intuitive (and less scientific) understanding of the world around us. This is neither a necessary thing, nor a bad thing, provided that we remember that it is only an analogy, and that our intuitive understanding of things is sometimes very wrong about the facts.