Do Unto Others as You Believe What God is Like

I am certainly not the only person who wonders why God does not fix this chaotic world. If I was Him, I would not be happy seeing people kill each other just to please me. Nor would I welcome in my heaven a man riding a bicycle determined to blow up a police station or a group of people hijacking planes just to be crashed into buildings with thousands of innocents inside.

Only recently did I realize that I was not God and that I must cope with all of these worldly experiences. I must submit to the reality that even though I believe violence under the name of God brings us back to ancient time when human thought God could be pleased by blood, some other people really believe violence is the only way to entertain God. I wonder why this difference exists. If we all worship one true God –given there is really one– why it seems He wants to be pleased in many contradictive ways? It is for my surprise that science, rather than religion, provides the answer.

It turns out that by what means we intend to please God depends on what kind of God we have in our mind. James Jones (2002) wrote in the journal of Psychoanalytic Review that religious violence stems in the feeling of humiliation and worthlessness. Those who commit violence see themselves as worthless and the belief is reinforced by an obedience-seeking image of God. God in their mind is an entity who can never be satisfied by human worship and does not tolerate impurity. Radicals know they can never be good enough and try to compensate this by, for example, vigorously destroying any entity perceived as offending God, trying to assure themselves that they are still meaningful and useful beings.

Another study by Mencken, Bader, & Embry (2009) in the journal of Sociological Perspective stated that whether we are more or less trustful with other people is related to whether God in our mind is a loving or irascible one. Having a benevolent image of God helps us to develop bond and trust with others, probably because we understand that they are also loved by God. A punitive and judgmental God, on the other hand, teaches us to be more judgmental and worried about others’ sincerity.

Trying to relate those studies with real life experience, it becomes understandable why Imam Samudera said in a police document that, “I was so afraid with Allah’s threat if I did not wage jihad against infidels and their allies.” He obviously kept a terrifying God in his mind, which results in ‘either me or them that suffer’. The same is also true for terrorists or vigilantes like FPI who continuously attack opposing parties to defend God’s honor as if someone could take it from Him and He really cares about reputation.

God, I believe, does not get offended if people do not believe in him. He also seems okay with the recent gay festival and other –so called– transgressions against religious values. However, somehow, some worshippers of God assume more Godly roles than God Himself by taking the rights to judge into their hand.

They seem to get it all wrong. If God was anti-Western, anti-Jews, or anti-homosexual, he certainly would be able to wipe them out effortlessly. But He did not. It looks like He wants to give us chances to see the world and to treat each other the way He does it: with love. A loving God is obviously the perfect image for Him. Yet, stubbornly, some of us preserve a wrathful image of Him and keep treating others based on that wrong picture. (Nathanael Gratias)