Paul Murchison Who is This God? (Zeus Publications 2007)
A review by Scott McKenzie.
(Reviewed August 2008)
Paul Murchison who lives in Melbourne, has been exploring ways of reconciling religion, rationalism, atheism and humanism all his life. This small book of just less than 100 pages looks into what people and particularly Christians, say about God, to ascertain what is fanciful and what might better express in other words the ‘ineffability’ of God.
The book is not an academic study but rather the gathered thoughts of the lay person with an absorbing interest in the topic. Hence there are no references or quotes, and little analysis of theologians or religious historians. There’s plenty of that elsewhere. What we have here is a thoughtful book by one who has reflected upon God and religion for a long time and now places those thoughts on paper. This is not in any way to diminish the value of such an undertaking.
Murchison gives his view about such matters as: • the rise of gods in ancient history culminating in monotheism among the Jews • the idea of Heaven and the reincarnation alternative • ideas of ineffability and his preference for agnosticism • atheism through history and its influence • pain and suffering and their ‘problem’ for a perfect God • the soul and its implications, morality without the Divine • what New Age teaching might have to offer (not much!)
In the end the author falls back to an agnostic position making the very valid point that if God is anything like most believers write about Him, then their words are a caricature of the ineffable.
The book does not take account of modern scholarship such as the Jesus Seminar and Jack Spong’s writings to offer a more modern account that includes non-theistic approaches. This is a bit of a surprise as many SoF members continue with church affiliations taking a metaphorical view of Biblical and traditional church teachings.
What’s also missing in this book (for me) is a consideration of some developments that are often called ‘integral spirituality’ in which the religious and cultural practices of peoples from all across the globe and across centuries of time are analysed and incorporated into one comprehensive map to guide the spiritual development of modern individuals. The integral approach takes into account the stage of development of a people e.g. an African tribe compared with SoF members, offering spiritual practices that are appropriate to that stage of development. Such an approach starts with people and where they are at rather than with God and a particular religion that has evolved over centuries to worship that god. My point in mentioning this is that when many of us think of God and religion we write it off as irrelevant to today. But that doesn’t eliminate our spiritual needs. They’re still there albeit repressed quite often. But that sounds like a different book!
Who is This God? is well worth the read to get a comprehensive overview of why many of us have rejected traditional notions of religion and God.
Dear Paul Murchison,
The following references will provide positive information to what I have stated below; 'The Holographic Universe - it's an illusion' (You Tube), 'Biege the Colour of the Universe' abc.net.au/science/news/stories) and Scientific America (August, 2003).
Can the atheists or agnostics prove atheism? - can they adequately explain why there are 'uniform universal laws of physics' such as, the speed of light or the makeup of elements?
John Berbatis 3rd September, 2009
Logical proof of Monotheism & Pantheism.
Syllogisms that I submitted in 1998, which were recognized by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - Dr Mary Robinson and the Hon. Justice Michael D. Kirby AC CMG of the High Court of Australia.
Time must exist before matter can be created, and only an animate entity can conceive of space-time. Time must be a stabilized and uniform condition before matter can form, thus Monotheism is a Truth.
The Universe consists of space-time; which is functionally active and growing but remains stable. These combined characteristics are indicative of an animate entity only, thus Pantheism is a fact.
As a consequence, all mortals' behaviour and attitudes become conspicuous by our Creator.
Reality is the dream of a Universal sentient being. Sensations of all mortals are merely light flashes within elongated fractal crystals, flowing in a white mist which is time itself; ensconced within a beige coloured and velvet textured Pearl, that is, a holographic Universe.
If all electrical particles were in different time zones - matter would not form, thus time is a controlled electromagnetic radiation (energy) E = mc2.
To be perfect - one must know the past, present and future, there is only one, the one that created Time.
John Berbatis Perth, Australia
firstname.lastname@example.org 61 0422621382
Posted by John Berbatis
David Miller comments:
I have been making an attempt to think through the ways in which humanity has used the concepts of 'God' and 'the gods'. My terminology might be described as Non-Theistic. Personally, I prefer to label it 'non-supernaturalist' or, more simply, 'naturalistic'.
I have come to the conclusion that the gods are symbols, in the form of metaphorical personifications, for our highest values, our loftiest ideals, our peak experiences and for our areas of ultimate concern. The following is my attempt to begin a list:
1. Our highest values - e.g. Goodness, truth, beauty.
2. Our loftiest ideals – e.g. Love, compassion, mercy, justice, freedom, creativity, etc.
3. Our peak experiences – e.g. Wonder, awe, mystery, gratitude, uniqueness, oneness, interconnectedness, etc.
4. Our areas of ultimate concern – e.g. Self, family, community, nation, humanity, nature, planet, universe, etc.
The Gods of the ‘Abrahamic’ religions are merely metaphorical personifications of the list above. Each religion’s God symbolises a slightly different constellation of values, ideals, experiences and concerns. The same applies to the denominations within each of the religions.
However, we must take into account all our values, all our ideals, all our experiences and all our concerns. Even low values, mundane ideals, devastating experiences and base concerns, as well as vile impulses and crass desires, etc. Within the Abrahamic religions, most of the latter are labelled as ‘Demonic’. These religions use the Demonic as a metaphorical personification of humanity’s negative aspects. Eastern religions, on the other hand, often stress the interconnectedness, rather than the opposition, between humanity’s positive and negative aspects.
Posted by David Miller
For any readers of my book interested in major Christian division Arminianism v Calvinisn) you may find my Melbourne talk at the Carlton library in July of interest...
Posted by Paul Murchison