god, one or zero?

I am quite interested in how people think and feel about God, religion, spirituality and such, and I subscribe to a wide spectrum of  blogs and Facebook pages related to these subjects. I guess you could say I am involved in an ongoing personal research project on the subject of “God”.

One such page I subscribe to on Facebook is called Faithless Daughter. It is by no means one of my favorite pages, but occasionally something is posted there that captures my interest.

The “About” section for this page states: “This page is aimed for the freedom of women from the patriarchal shackles religion has placed on humanity. ‘Remember The Suffragettes’.”

It then rambles on in the “Description” section: “We care because your Religion is like a bad disease and a mental disorder in the sense that it is delusional ignorance and the lack of knowledge. You want to improve knowledge – you start weeding out Religion” (sic)

And this later: “Please note that this page whilst addressing others religions is slanted towards exposing the inherently violent religion of islam – the admins are majority ex muslim.” (sic)

If you want to read more of this ponderous, wordy explanation of the mission of this page, go here.

Recently, I noticed this update on my newsfeed from Faithless Daughter:

“GOD is ONE”
sorry, you are wrong.
“GOD is ZERO”

I laughed a little at this because it seemed so absurd.  If “God” exists outside of our imaginations, isn’t it likely that God could be both one AND zero?  And if there is no “God”, couldn’t God still be imagined by human beings to be both one and/or zero?  Wait, WHAT?

Since all I have is my lived experience and my imagination to judge what is true and real, and all the words I have to describe “God” (including the word “God”) are limiting, why should I care if anyone says God is one or zero? Why does the author of this Facebook update care if someone says “GOD is ONE”? I suppose that she is trying to say that there IS no God by saying that God is “zero”, but I rather like the word “zero” as a way to describe God.

One of the definitions of “zero” given by the TheFreeDictionary.com is the following:

 Linguistics: Of or relating to a morpheme that is expected by an established, regular paradigm but has no spoken or written form. Moose has a zero plural; that is, its plural is moose.

and another definition of “zero”:

 Mathematics:

a. The identity element for addition.
b. A cardinal number indicating the absence of any or all units under consideration.
c. An ordinal number indicating an initial point or origin.
d. An argument at which the value of a function vanishes.

and one more:

Informal: Nothing; nil:

All of these definitions of “zero” have a certain appeal to me as possible descriptions of “God”. I suppose all we can do in our limited, human ways is attempt, or NOT attempt, to know, or NOT know, or to believe, or NOT believe in God.

God is pointed to, understood, described and worshipped in so many different ways depending upon one’s faith tradition or lack thereof, and one’s personality and imagination (or lack thereof). But what is ultimately important in my view is that we all have the freedom and the right to explore the subject of “God” in our own way, in our own time, or, if we choose, to NOT explore it. Ever.

Whether that means we completely reject any concept of God, or we buy into one of the Theistic religions of the world, we are free to espouse whatever ideas are right for us.  I am glad that someone out there thinks about “God” enough to say that God is one, and I am also glad that someone thinks about “God” passionately enough to reject that God is one and to assert that God is zero.

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31 thoughts on “god, one or zero?

  1. Interesting. This is such a broad (liberal) view of theism that it doesn’t really say much. If humans are so ignorant and simple, can we even say that God is good? Why? Might it just appear (in our limited perspective) that God is good, when actually God is evil? And if God is evil, should we worship God?

    To my mind this kind of theism actually means avoiding the hard theological questions.

  2. Interesting post. I’m somewhere between Christopher Hitchens and Einstein as an atheist. I don’t believe because it seems to me to be an attempt for reassurance that this is not it. That we are all we are is all we know…I don’t know who wrote that but someone before me did. Even though I do not believe, I try not to offend those who find comfort in their faith; I believe in comfort.

    • Didn’t Kurt Cobain say “all we are is all we know”? Or wait, maybe he said “all in all is all we are”. Well anyway, I believe in comfort too, be it through something religious, or through a Snuggie and a bowl of popcorn. All things in moderation I guess.

      • hahaha! I have paraphrased Kurt Cobain, go figure! I am happy to see this post has invited interesting, mindful responses. I am especially pleased by the Reiki beginnings and endings.

      • That’s the first thing that popped into my head. I think the song was All Apologies.

        This was a really interesting comment thread. Good conversational piece.

  3. I am a Biologist who is about to get another degree in Religious Studies. Biology and Religion rule the world and everything in it if you ask me. I am not religious. What I mean is I do not believe in organized religion for a myriad of reasons but I am very spiritual and I most definitely believe that there is a God that is the spark within me. I am a Reiki Practitioner and before every session I mentally begin my mantra that simply states :”The God in me loves the God in you”. But I also believe we are all here to learn something….everyone has their own journey they must follow. I am appalled at how many people have died over Religion throughout time but that has nothing to do with God in my opinion but desperate men, greedy or power hungry men ( and when I say men I mean humans…though men are the ones that seem to love war the most). I do not believe the Bible was written by God…..it was a bunch of guys the Emperor of Constantine got together to weed out what didn’t fit his agenda and what did. But you know what?….if that book offers anyone comfort then I believe there is God in that. I am so sick of hearing “my religion is better than yours” and this goes on between different faiths but even more so between all the many different kinds of Christians. Can’t we all just live and let live? I do not care who or what you believe in as long as your heart is good and you do not intend harm. That simple.
    Lisa

    • I too am a new Reiki practitioner. I also teach yoga. I thought about how I wanted to end my classes, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do about it because all of my teachers have their own style, and I wanted to express something unique but universal. I wanted to acknowledge “the path of yoga”, but I wanted my own (english) words. I decided to let it evolve. I have landed on this for the time being “bring your hands together at your heart and bow your head to your own inner teacher…your higher self…your higher power, thank you so much for coming to practice today”. Like you, I am a fan of simplicity, and I too believe in “live and let live”. Thank you for your thoughts.

  4. I am like you. I am very interested in how people think and feel about religion. I however tend agree in believing as “God as zero”, at least for myself. Why? Because I don’t ever want to look beyond myself (or what’s available to me on this planet) to help me get through life. I don’t like the term “God” because it generally refers to something outside of ourselves. If God were only related to me and the rest of humanity and life as a whole, then I might not have such a problem with it, but it generally doesn’t. I want to take responsibility for my own actions in this world (for myself and for how I act toward other people) because I believe that’s all there is. I do agree that many people need God to find comfort, and that’s OK too. But when we start looking for something other than ourselves to do things and to solve our problems, then we run into trouble. It can become a crutch. I’d rather use the term “We” than “God”. I also think people need to cherish this life (and this life only). Believing there is something after – something better – makes one less responsible for how they treat what they currently have. And that is a big problem. Very thought provoking post. I like it!

    • I am in agreement with much of what you said. I do feel though that we must look beyond ourselves if we want to solve problems. But of course that means I must define “selves”, and in this case, I suppose I mean the ego. And by the ego, I mean that part of us that looks to the outside to find something important to identify with, oh wow, now I’m stuck in a loop. Dang, I’m tired. The term “God” has all sorts of baggage, but I am reclaiming it for myself, because it’s a perfectly fine word, and other people have taken it and ruined it for me! Thank you for your thoughts!

      • Yes, we need to look beyond ourselves – to humanity as a whole. Except for one thing. People are good at putting on others work that they should be doing themselves. We need to be individually responsible. The combined effort of this could be awesome. I agree that the word “God” has been ruined. I’m not sure it can be something else. I think we need a new word.

      • Try substituting the word Krishna for God and you’ll get a personal experience for the supreme being. Personality make all the difference in our comprehension of the Absolute Truth. As long as the impersonal conception of the Supreme is our standard we have trouble understanding God because we are persons and we relate to persons.

        Why then, you ask, is there suffering? We generate karma when we ignore God, Karma strikes with precision even many births after we commit an act of transgression, bad karma, or a pious act, good karma. Karma teach us, ultimately it teaches us to surrender to Krishna and return to Him in a mood of loving exchange.

  5. Thanks! I am thinking in some kind of circular thought pattern. I got confused writing it but decided I had to finish it anyway. My father is a philosopher, and no matter how hard I try, I get confused reading philosophical tomes. I don’t know if it’s my ADD or what. If I stick with feeling my way through things, I generally do okay though. Now I’m just babbling because it’s my birthday and I only slept 3 hours. I’m going back to bed. Maybe “God” is actually INFINITY. whoa.

  6. Well thought out, regardless of whether it’s zero or one. I like the way you summarized all the things I think about but don’t reflect on enough to make those thoughts cohesive.
    And HAPPY BIRTHDAY !

  7. I’ve never understood why people need to bring someone else down on FB, in blogs, etc… It’s your page, so if you want to say “God is One,” why would someone come on just to belittle the point? It shows a lack of integrity and respect that bothers me. I know that it is a big subject, and I do not have the answers! Enjoyed your thoughts.

  8. Dear Miss,

    this is called word jugglary. and is generally meaningless bable…

    “GOD is ONE”
    sorry, you are wrong.
    “GOD is ZERO”

    I laughed a little at this because it seemed so absurd. If “God” exists outside of our imaginations, isn’t it likely that God could be both one AND zero? And if there is no “God”, couldn’t God still be imagined by human beings to be both one and/or zero? Wait, WHAT?

    Wait, WHAT? that was a good way to end the paragraph. God can be known by any sincere seeker, Zero’s problem is political, not theistic. God is not a faceist (I can never spell that F word correctly) so don’t make him one. and as he is in everything supporting everyone with his energy don’t consider Him to be zero. If you had some information about Krishna the personality of Godhead and his exchanges of love with Radharani His eternal consort you might see the value of leaving this world, which we will not make better by solving one of a billion problems, women’s rights for instance, you might get some perspective on your karmic predicament, birth after birth, now a woman, now a man, and back again. Until you decide to leave this plane of mundane illusion your problems will on increase here. Calling God zero will not make your problems zero.

    • Hello again my friend!

      I realize that this is word juggling, and some of it is useless, but I, apparently like the woman who wrote that silly update, enjoy juggling words around in an attempt to understand things. I am not sure you are addressing me in your response as much as you are addressing “Faithless Daughter”…

      From what little I know of you from our previous interactions and such, I can respect your wisdom and perspective and deep understanding. But it is your specific experience and personality that brings you to those traditions and beliefs that you seem to passionately wish to impart. How is this different than any other deeply faithful or religious person who wishes to tell another person to follow the path to the truth that he or she has chosen and feels is the only true way?

      • In Bhagavad-gita Krishna, God, explains Himself, karma, reincarnation, the living entity i.e. the eternal soul, us, and time, and how to resume our eternal relationship with Him

        How is this different from a person of faith? It is more than faith, it is a science of our existence on this plane. I can’t give you class now but if you read the Gita as it is, you can discover a wealth of knowledge as to why bad things happen to so called good, innocent people, just one example. Karma is the answer but a short sighted religionist, a person of mere faith will blindly accept tragedy as God’s will. God’s will is for us to wake up and leave this level of self absorbed denial of Him.

        At the end of Bhagavad-gita Krishna tells his bewildered friend Arjuna “Now i have described this knowledge to you and now you can do as you like.” My concern is simply to educate by the process of hearing from God Himself about the situation we are in here in the material world and any one desiring that knowledge will find it for free on Prabhupada’s Books.com in the Bhagavad-gita. Or visit a Hare Krishna temple.

        Endless speculation will never fulfill our need for the loving exchange God offers us. Our perfect eternal relationship is with Him, relationships here are temporary.

        Thank you. again, Miss, for tolerating my outpourings of frustration with conjecture, but a little education is needed before one dares to present a conclusion so boldly ignorant of God’s attributes. I speak as a reformed ultra-skeptic, not a pious person, and most certainly not one inclined toward blind faith in anything.

  9. At the end of the day does it really matter what number God is?

    anything times (X) zero is zero. So if God is zero…

    Zero is circular so if God is Zero then he is endless…

    Either you choose to beleive in him or you don’t…

    • You are really kind Misslisted to post my fanatical, based on scripture messages, but they are not biased notes. I realize they are antithetical to the speculative rage now in vogue. The story of my conversion from speculation to authority (the ‘A’ word in politically correct cliques) is a long one, but check out Bhagavad-gita if you are a seeker, it’s non sectarian, in fact Krishna, simply says, “give up all varieties of Religion and simply surrender to Me.” He’s speaking as God there, of course. But God is not a sectarian concept any more than the sun is American or Chinese, or French. Love your blog for being able to deal with characters like me.

      • Hello again,

        Thank you for your thoughtful responses. I have read the Bhagavad Gita, and read and reread it on a regular basis. It is the most amazingly inspired story, drenched with truth. In fact I can hardly believe that such a thing could be written and that people are not just walking around in stunned amazement about it all the time. I am glad you come to comment on my blog, thank you for taking the time.

  10. Dear Miss,
    This is for you you may not wish to post and that is okay. Seriously I am not trying to hijack your blog. I was invited to a seminar here in Mayapur on the Brihat Bhagatvatamrta, So I went to Wiki to get a look at what that was…I am not a scholar by any means. I found a reference to Gopiprandana das a BBT translator who recently passed away. The story of a soul returning to Krishna touched me and I thought of you and some of the comments i’d made…This may help make the point, We really do have an alternative to this life on this material plane. Again all the best, Jnanagamya das.

    Dear Vaisnavas,
    Please accept my humble obeisance’s. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.
    I first met Gopiparanadhana Prabhu in 1979 in LA. We spent time together here in Bangalore from 1981-83 while he was working on the translation of the rest of the Bhagavatam. Over the years we had a nice friendship. He didn’t have a mean bone in his whole body and was incapable of offending any one; he had such humility and kindness in him.
    Ironically today my wife and I had lunch at a devotee friend’s house. We had recommended that they read the Brhad Bhagavatamrta translated by Gopiparanadhana. Srila Prabhupada had said that if you want to understand what real Bhakti yoga is you must read BB. Just by reciting from memory whatever we could remember of the BB our hosts were so moved that tears were coming down their cheeks because of the wonderful descriptions of Lord Krsna’s dealings with His devotees contained in that book. Especially moving was how Krsna said to Gopa Kumar after he returned back to godhead in Goloka: “I have been looking at that path every day and wondering when will you show your mercy onto Me and come back to Me, and now you have returned to Me.” Lord Krsna is so humble that He is waiting for us to show our “mercy” on Him. There was no dry eye in the room. So in this way for at least 1-2 hours we were glorifying the BB and Gopiparanadhana Prabhu for translating it. Just then I got the SMS message that Gopiparanadhana Prabhu had left his body and could not believe that the person who I had been glorifying had just died. All I can think is that now Lord Krsna’s wait for His dear friend Gopiparanadhana Prabhu to come back to Him is now over.
    Your humble servant
    Shyamasundara Dasa

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