Since ancient Greece, philosophers have noticed that the gods people believe in tend to look suspiciously like the believers. Peoples gods somehow manage to share the same attributes, virtues, and vices as the believers. Its not really a coincidence, though, is it? Believers might say that they are merely emulating what their gods want, but since not all of these gods can exist at least some (and probably all) of these cases more likely involve people creating gods in their own image.
- If I take a lamp and shine it toward the wall, a bright spot will appear on the wall. The lamp is our search for truth ... for understanding. Too often, we assume that the light on the wall is God, but the light is not the goal of the search, it is the result of the search. The more intense the search, the brighter the light on the wall. The brighter the light on the wall, the greater the sense of revelation upon seeing it. Similarly, someone who does not search who does not bring a lantern sees nothing.
- What we perceive as God is the by-product of our search for God. It may simply be an appreciation of the light ... pure and unblemished ... not understanding that it comes from us. Sometimes we stand in front of the light and assume that we are the center of the universe God looks astonishingly like we do or we turn to look at our shadow and assume that all is darkness. If we allow ourselves to get in the way, we defeat the purpose, which is to use the light of our search to illuminate the wall in all its beauty and in all its flaws; and in so doing, better understand the world around us.
-- Citizen GKar, Babylon 5
Strictly speaking, J. Michael Straczynski didnt say this these words come from a character he created in the television series Babylon 5. It is a mistake to attribute to an author the words spoken by a character in their book or plays; however I dont think that it is unreasonable to assume that the above are ideas which Straczynski at least finds interesting and worth considering lets not forget that he did write the above and that he is an atheist.
What are we to make of the above ideas? Personally, I find them to be a very intriguing way to look at religion. It certainly seems to explain a lot that I myself encounter. The character who spoke these words was, at the time, being treated as a religious figure. In fact, he said the above in order to explain to those who insisted on being his followers that he wasnt anything very special, except perhaps that he was someone who understood that it was the light of his own search that he was perceiving.
Sadly, but not surprisingly, it didnt seem as though any of his followers understood what he was trying to say. Perhaps they, like so many people in society, dont really want to hear that what they are seeing is just their own shadow cast upon the wall by the light of their search for truth. Perhaps it is more comforting to assume that what we are perceiving is another being who cares for us and is concerned for our welfare that would make us feel special and important, wouldnt it?
I agree that we shouldnt let ourselves our egos, our prejudices, our presuppositions get too much in the way of our quest to understand the universe around us. Naturally we cant eliminate our assumptions and biases entirely, but we should make efforts to account for them. If we dont, then we do defeat the purpose because we wont really see the universe for what it is, with all its beauty and in all its flaws.
Instead, well only see an image of ourselves cast upon the universe and well conclude, incorrectly, that the universe is amazing like us and designed to be here just for us. In reality, the universe is simply there and exists for itself its our egos that causes us to think that its there for us and that we have some special purpose to fulfill (at least, any purpose outside of our own creation).