Mapping God

If you’ve been paying attention you can’t help but notice that there is currently a huge press by fundamentalist atheist to discredit the orthodox Christian view of God. I think one of the reasons that Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens (and others) are so successful lately is partly a reaction against President Bush. The writers mentioned above are reaping the success of a fairly simplistic emotional syllogism in the public at large: Bush is a idiot; Bush is a Christian; Christians are idiots.

Alister E. McGrath, Professor of Historical Theology at Oxford, has both written a book, The Dawkins Delusion? Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine, and given a lecture, available in both mp3 or mov format at Veritas, titled “The God Delusion: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and the Meaning of Life” that convincingly challenges and refutes these arguments.

The national conversation in the Blogosphere has sparked some interesting approaches to theology. Andy at Sinning Boldly has written a post title “Richard Dawkins and a Personal God” in which he took a rather clever route of trying to map out the various approaches to defining God’s relationship to His creation. Rather than plotting transcendence and immanence in a linear way, he has proposed that there are actually two axes.

Author: Andy at Sinning Bodly, Used By Permission Used by Permission

It’s an interesting approach, but for me it’s never been an either/or. God is both transcendent and immanent; that is, to use Andy’s phrasing, He is both “wholly external” (a spin-off of Tillich’s “Wholly Other” I imagine) and “organically present.”

Since Jesus is both wholly other and organically present and ontologically distinct one would have to have some non-Euclidean spherical and multi-dimensional axis in order to map Him, but that’s way beyond me. I don’t know much about the mathematical field known as topology, but it seems to me that mapping God would require some kind of Möbius strip in which God loops and bends back in on Himself, and even then we’d only see shadows of His real nature.

One thought on “Mapping God

  1. I would agree that God is both transcendent and immanent, but I wouldn’t say “wholly external”. In fact, my use of that term was to distinguish between Tillich’s “wholly other” (which I meant to represent by my “ontologically distinict”) and a view which tends toward deism (what Dawkins calls “supernatural theism”).

    If you consider Tillich’s view of God as “the ground of all being” it becomes clear, I think, that this God cannot be external to anything in any way.

Comments are closed.

Comments are disabled