All right, let’s cut God some rope and say God needs to be reasonably (the standard of English law) good, and reasonably have our interests at heart, and God has a reasonable explanation of why we’ve been dumped on a lonesome and dreary planet three-quarters the way across the universe.
'God has blessed us so much I can’t afford to feed you any more.' Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life 1983, Catholic father to children
But burdening God with the need to be reasonably good may be building the gallows a bit high.
'When it comes to believing in God, I really tried. I really really tried. I tried to believe that there is a God who created each of us in His own image and likeness, loves us very much, and keeps a close eye on things. I really tried to believe that. But I got to tell you, the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realise something is fucked up. Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption ... Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed. Results like these do not belong in the résumé of a supreme being. This is the kind of shit you’d expect from an office temp with a bad attitude. Just between you and me, between you and me, in any decently run universe this guy would have been out on His all-powerful arse a long time ago ... I firmly believe if there is a God it has to be a man. No woman could or would ever fuck things up like this. So, if there is a God, if there is, I think most reasonable people might agree that He is at least incompetent. And maybe, just maybe, He doesn’t give a shit, doesn’t give a shit, which I admire in a person, and would explain a lot of these bad results.' George Carlin, Religion is Bullshit
The best prize we can hang around God’s neck is maybe God was good at some point around the time of the Big Bang, maybe God had our interests at heart once, and maybe once God thought about doing some good God stuff. Our God isn’t much up to snuff. Which positions snugly with my doctorate theory that God on the Elysian Fields of Mount Olympus (White Hart Lane) must have played left-back for the Spurs.
We anthropomorphise God supine on a plump cloud and sporting an enormous snow-white beard which She strokes every time we covet our neighbour’s ass: ‘All your Western theologies, the whole mythology of them, are based on the concept of God as a senile delinquent.’ Tennessee Williams
'The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying ... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.' Professor Carl Sagan
God must owe us a duty of care (English law standard). God must be discernible. God must be subject to the rules of science and be a promoter of the probity of evidence. Do we really hold to God being a third-rate magician, fond of planting dinosaur bones in the ground? Then the joke has gone too far. Has God really so little regard for the scientific method?
'But should we believe in such things if it’s at the expense of everything that corresponds with scientific method, with reason?' Matthew Alper, The God Part of the Brain
Lost in the line-up of usual suspects is a God so featureless, so without form and void as to defy description, a vague presence in the universe reductive of a hope that while we can never draw near to God we sense with a warm fuzzy feeling that Life is fated to fiddle a happy ending. Hidden in a holy [— What the flying frig is holy?] ha-ha-land we find ourselves holding the woolly bollocks of a God bound in a nutshell of Nature, a concept, a consciousness, a captureless recrudescence:
'Some people have views of God that are so broad and flexible that it is inevitable that they find God wherever they look for him. One hears it said that ‘God is the ultimate’ or ‘God is our better nature’ or ‘God is the universe’. Of course, like any other word, the word ‘God’ can be given any meaning we like. If you want to say that ‘God is energy’, then you can find God in a lump of coal.' Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory
Perhaps the reader fancies a party of Gods? God by committee. If the reader fancies a God who sleeps around in the bowels of Nature, or in an orgy of Gods, the reader may slap her or his back as a pantheist. Which sounds a bit saucy. But you and I are not normally invited to those sort of parties. The temptation of the Hebrew Bible with its gods plural must be tempered with the straight monogamy of, ‘O Lord, there is none like thee, neither is there any God beside thee, according to all that we have heard with our ears.’ I Chronicles 17:20
You don’t find many Baalists these days, or followers of Zeus and Apollo. Never mind, we’ve been blessed with the Jehovah Witnesses to take the piss from so we shouldn’t complain.
'It would be no different if Bush were to summon up Jupiter and the Palace Athena. Whatever happened to those gods anyway? Where are the people to believe in them now? How quaint they seem and yet how seriously they were held to be, to exist.' Ian McEwan, interview Professor Richard Dawkins
Perhaps the prudent reader fancies a God who, having kick-started the universe party, kicks back in Her favourite armchair and rolls the Big One rather than answer prayers, count sins or ruin the party with a few cheap miraculous tricks. Yours is a chilled God who would rather hang about the bookmaker’s than run the universe. And with good reason. Your God is probably ashamed of Her creation after the advent of the Spice Girls, and if you press Her, your God will deny creating the universe on the grounds of diminished responsibility. If you hold with a half-hearted God who wouldn’t be seen dead around Planet Earth you are a deist. Which sounds boring and a bit like a Catholic S & M party with whips and chains, but such parties should be avoided for a lack of heavenly herbs, and with lashings of nuns and hermits and Earthly habits.
If the reader fancies a God who does the business, a busy-body, subordinates sins, and pruriently espies us through the mean end of a telescope, and frowns furiously over human affairs, prefers a good hymn and a tambourine, tampers with the temporal time-lines, terrible temperament tapered and trailing hell-fire, you can talk to yourself as a theist.
But a personal God presents prestigious problems that overshadow, say, the paradoxes put forward by the possibility of travelling back in Time.
So take your slim-pickings from a Reservior-Dogs line-up of a God with no redeeming features (think of the Spice Girls), a God who is ashamed of Her creation (Spice Girls) or an interfering God with a sad taste in music (again it’s the Spice Girls).
For example, what on Earth are blessings? This quirk of Mormonism never failed to tickle my cognitive-dissonance bone.