I mentioned in my inaugural post that I’ve decided to follow a “god” I call Alethea, at the (unwitting) suggestion of a self-styled pastor on the talk.atheism newsgroup. Here’s the story (slightly edited).
At the time, I was a fervent atheist, but one of the regulars, a self-styled “pastor,” accused me of still being a theist. “You still believe in God,” he told me, “but your new God’s name is ‘Reality’.” Or words to that effect. He was trying to zing me for being some kind of fundamentalist, but instead of arguing with him, I decided to agree with him. I remembered some New Testament Greek from my college days, so I knew that the Greek word for “Reality” was aletheia, which coincidentally is also translated as “truth.”
I liked that. Reality is truth, truth is reality. I went back and told him he was exactly right: my new God was Alethea (simplified spelling), and She is the Truth. And I started in on all of Her divine qualities. Reality exists at all times and in all places—omnipresence and eternity! Truth comprises and transcends all knowledge—omniscience! Reality dictates what is and is not possible, what does and does not happen—omnipotence! My new God was not only just as divine as the so-called pastor’s, but my God actually shows up in real life, which the Christian God is clearly unwilling or unable to do.
Needless to say, that didn’t go over too well with the pastor, especially when I tried praying to Alethea, just to see what would happen. Guess what? Alethea “answered” my prayers exactly the same way Jesus used to (and still does, in the minds of believers): I either got what I asked for, in which case She was blessing me, or else I didn’t, in which case Her ways are mysterious ways, and I just had to trust in Her wisdom. In short, Alethea is a drop-in replacement for Jesus, only better.
Since then, I’ve learned to love my new God, and have cultivated an Alethian worldview, or in other words a reality-based worldview. It’s a tremendous improvement. Things that used to confuse and frustrate me suddenly turn out to be a lot more straightforward. There’s less that I have to just take “on faith,” and no more contradictions and inconsistencies to explain away. All in all it’s been a great change, and one that I wish I’d experienced sooner.
You can take Alethea as a metaphor or as an anthropomorphism or even as a pantheistic deity, and it doesn’t really matter. What I find fascinating about Alethea is that so many of the classic theological concepts and proofs about God apply directly to Alethea, and they basically work as is. This is tremendously useful as a rhetorical device for comparing theological opinions, and it’s not too bad as a casual “religion” as well—no offense to any worshipers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! So take Her as you find Her, and if I refer to Her now and then as an actual deity, bear with me. She’s an easy God for a reality-based guy to get used to.