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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

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Vision of Hope
Archive >> November 2007
file under: religioncommon sense 11 Nov 2007 1:27 PM
Who is God? Posted by Nissim Dahan

As some of you may already know, I believe that the world is ripe for a new ideological framework; what I call An Ideology of Common Sense. Instead of believing what we want to believe, it may well be time to begin believing in what makes sense.


If the world is already coming together technologically and economically, it makes sense to come together ideologically as well, in order to pave the way for the unprecedented level of cooperation that a world economy will require. And so, I would like to devote a few posts to the idea of An Ideology of Common Sense, and with your kind indulgence, I begin with God.


It may not be politically correct to talk so openly about God. Who am I, after all, to even begin to explain the mystery that is God? And yet, we may have no choice but to begin talking about such things, because in the absence of common sense talk, people tend to grab hold of notions which make no sense, and which can easily threaten our very existence on this good earth. Some may say, "Let's blow ourselves up in God's name." I say, "Let God speak for Himself, and when He does, I suspect He'll use the language of Common Sense, as has been His custom since the beginning of time."


So we begin with first principles. Does God exist? I think He does. How do I know this? Well, scientists theorize that some 13.7 billion years ago there was a great explosion, appropriately named The Big Bang, which brought the universe into existence. Before The Big Bang there was nothing. And after, there was everything.


So to my mind; whoever or whatever caused that explosion to happen is certainly "godlike," in every sense of the word, and is therefore God. Call it The Big Bang, or a force of nature, or a random confluence of it what you will, but whoever or whatever caused the universe to come into being is God.


This mode of analysis is reminiscent of Thomas Aquinas' five proofs for the existence of God. I thought up of this proof myself, I want you to know, only to find out that Aquinas beat me to the punch some 700 years ago. Must have been quite an ambitious little fellow, God bless his soul.


What else do we know about God? Um...pretty much nothing. That's right folks, you heard it here first. We really don't know anything about God other than the fact that He created the universe. Listening to us talk, you'd think that we knew everything there was to know about God. But if we are true to ourselves, we really don't. And in that vacuum of knowledge, since we know nothing about God, we proceed to create Him in our own image.


Here's how this craziness works:

  • God created the universe.
  • As part of His creation, God created us in His image.
  • Therefore, we are creators as well.
  • As part of our creation, we choose to create God, in our image.
  • Since we are imperfect, we taint God with our imperfections, and fashion Him to suit our needs.

So what's wrong with this picture? By tainting God with human frailties, we can easily delude and manipulate ourselves into believing that God would have us do all sorts of crazy things, in the same way that we convince ourselves to act loony with respect to one another. And once we come to believe that we are acting in God's name, no less, how difficult it becomes to curb our enthusiasm for the nasty things we choose to do.


And so, I got to thinking: What concept of God would make more sense? In answering the question: Who is God; I would say, with all due respect for other opinions and beliefs, that I think of God as the sum total of all the creative energy in the universe.


In other words, since all we really know about God is that He created the universe, then it would make sense to associate Him with that creation, and with the various forms of energy that it took to bring that creation about, including: radiation, heat, electricity, kinetic energy, and of course, the energy of intelligence.


Does it help us to make sense of things to say that God is the sum total of all the creative energy in the universe? I think it does.


For example, if someone asks, "Do you have a personal relationship with God?" you could say, "I certainly do. His creative energy flows through me, and mine flows through Him."


If someone asks, "Why is there evil in the world?" You could say, "God is the Creator of all things. If He wanted to create good, He had no choice but to create the possibility of evil, because we could not know what is good without also knowing evil, good defining itself by its juxtaposition to evil."


If somebody says, "Let's kill one another in God's name," you could say, "Since God created each and every one of us in His image, when we choose to kill one another, aren't we, in effect, spitting at God's face?"


It is time to make sense of things. Don't you think? And the one thing we were given to bring about a semblance of order to this world is the notion and the language of Common Sense. 

file under: moneyeconomic developmentcharitable investment 1 Nov 2007 11:53 AM
Big Money Posted by Nissim Dahan
I just shook hands with the third wealthiest man in the U.S., who is also the sixth wealthiest man in the world. I'm not kidding. I was tempted never to wash my hands again; but my wife nixed that idea, and quick. He seemed like a nice enough guy; someone you'd invite over for coffee and cake. But he's a nice guy who just happens to be sitting on over 30 billion dollars.


There is a lot of money out there. My dad says that in the United States alone, we have some 3 ½ trillion dollars sitting in charitable foundations. That's "trillion" as in "one thousand billion."


So the question is: Why can't we use some of that money to solve some of our big ticket problems like: the Middle East, Global Warming, our Inner Cities, World Hunger and Disease, etc.? Well, the truth is that some charitable money is going to those worthwhile causes; but not in any sort of a concerted way. Right now, each charity, and each foundation, has to decide how to invest its money. It is difficult at times to coordinate all these various charitable entitles to move in one direction. Each organization does its own thing; as it has a right to do. So what is the problem?


It doesn't take a genius to see that the world is coming together; or becoming "flat" as Tom Friedman suggests. For good or for bad, the world, by the process we call "globalization," is coming together technologically and economically. What does this mean? It means, among other things, that as the world comes together globally, global problems will emerge, problems which will require global solutions, solutions which will entail global funding. And so, the solitary efforts of charitable foundations and institutions, noble as they may be in and of themselves, may not suffice to handle the global challenges which lie at our doorstep.


Think about the links of a chain. Each link, by itself, is of limited utility. But connect the links together, and now you have a chain that can be used to pull a heavy object in any given direction. It's like that with charitable giving. If every charity and every foundation invests privately, as it sees fit, then the good that is done is spread around randomly, but not necessarily in a common direction. And so, big global problems, which cry out for massive funding, like Global Warming or the Middle East, remain unattended. The money that is available is being spread too thin to make a difference where it really counts. This doesn't mean that no good is being done. It just means that some major global problems are being left by the wayside.


How do we get wealthy people to invest globally? It's not easy, but there is hope. The problem is that making money is not easy. It often takes one hell of an ego to amass one hell of a fortune. Some people who are very wealthy have such big egos, that it is often difficult to fit more than one of them into a single room. So how would you get them to coordinate their charitable efforts so as to tackle some of the big ticket problems like the Middle East, Global Warming, Hunger, and Disease?


You guessed it: If you could somehow sell the wealthy of the world on a Vision of Hope, easier said than done, then you may be able to convince them to prioritize differently, to concentrate their efforts, and to subsume some of their personal pet projects into the realm of the greater good.


There are a few shining examples which stand out in this regard. Bill Gates, a computer genius and business titan, gets married, and decides, all of a sudden, to change the face of healthcare in Africa, and the face of education, in America. And he and Melinda have enough money, enough compassion, and enough vision, to actually make a difference. Then Warren Buffett comes along, an investment icon, and looks for a legacy that is worthy of his good name. He is taken in by Bill and Melinda, and guess what; he turns over his money to them, to further their lofty goals for the betterment of mankind.


There is hope in the world, with people like Bill, Melinda, and Warren. It is up to us to give substance to that hope, by spreading the word, and spreading the wealth within the broader context of a Vision of Hope. That way we can connect our various links together, and begin pulling in the same direction.