A popular question in this little town is "Do you believe in God?"  (Might be interesting to research how and why the question became so popular in this little Mississippi town....might be interesting to contrast the history of heinous violence and injustice that have figured so prominently in the state's history with the implications of the question "Do you believe in God?"...) 

Anyway, I mention it because the sermon yesterday at the Lutheran church where I have a standing gig as pianist was about belief. "Belief in the one true God" was the way the minister referred to it repeatedly and, without ever saying the words "Jew" or "Jewish", he sought to illustrate the hypocrisy of belief that is demonstrated by rituals and rules. The biblical vehicle he used was Jesus' conversation with the Pharisees (text). The minister prides himself on what he calls his "witticisms" so most sermons include some real-world example; this week was a story about him watching the film "Fiddler on the Roof" with a friend.

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Reflecting on the sermon today, 24 hours later, sitting with coffee and a cigarette in the privacy of my own home:  "Do you believe in God?" and "Do you believe in the one true God?" are different questions. Granted, the second version is tacitly embedded in the first version most of the time. At least here in Holly Springs MS; but a more expansive and uncluttered contemplation is possible with the first question. 

Were this minister and congregation willing to entertain the question of belief in God, without the qualifier "the one true," they would potentially be one step onto a road toward the light of reason and away from the bigotry their faith embraces. 

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Comment by Michael Penn on August 25, 2015 at 4:53pm

That question is asked around my area of Missouri a lot also, Alex. Sometimes I ignore the question and other times I say "no." Then that question about "the one true god" could get lots of people in trouble. Let's take it further. We now have "the most high god." I suppose that originally god could be carried around on a stick. By the time we get to Moses and the Ten Commandments god lives on a very high mountain. That certainly beats an emblem carried around on a stick. Now modern man wants your god to be from outer space.

We also have that classic Christian apologist god who has his own universe and place that is separate from our universe and place. It's like having 2 fish bowls. God can come into your fish bowl and do something without leaving any evidence whatsoever.

Is that because he is god, or because he doesn't exist?

Comment by Pat on August 24, 2015 at 3:18pm

There are more than 87. Although, I'm reminded of a line from the movie "The Man Who Would Be King."  The Sean Connery character, in speaking of the land he and his partner intend to conquer says, "They have two and thirty idols. We shall be numbers 33 and 34."

For a short list, I would recommend H.L. Mencken's Memorial Service.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 24, 2015 at 3:00pm
I suspect there are a lot more than 87, Gerald. The Hindu gods alone would count for many more than just those, and the deities of the Romans and the Greeks would add greatly to that number, and that would hardly constitute a complete account.

It seems as though humans are very good at inventing gods. What humans aren't so good at is actually finding them.
Comment by Gerald Payne on August 24, 2015 at 2:19pm

Last I heard there were 87 ''one and only true gods'', it may be diplomatic to let them all have the same status, although what sort of status they all warrant is another matter.

Comment by Loren Miller on August 24, 2015 at 1:15pm

Q: Do you believe in god?
A: Nope!
Q: Why not?
A: Because those who allege the existence of a deity and would have me join them in their belief have not met the burden of proof.  There is no evidence which points decisively and exclusively to their god or any other, and their assertions about nature being the product of that being pale against scientific explanations which are both more satisfying and, in multiple cases have practical applications.

Show me hard evidence of your god and I will KNOW that it exists, rather than merely having faith that it does.

GOT EVIDENCE?

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