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By Jerry Savelle

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Sample text

In a sense, it is the negation of belief, an escape, a cop-out from all the difficulties of theology. Spinoza, I think, became a pantheist because he was not prepared-as he would have been today-to admit, even to himself, that he was an atheist. He chose pantheism in the seventeenth century, just as similar sceptics chose Unitarianism in the eighteenth century-it was, in effect, a form of disbelief and a convenient half-way to open admission of disbelief. Pantheism, it seems to me, is a mere tautology; it equates God with matter and really tells us nothing about either.

Many assume this applies equally, or even a fortiori, to God. My wife Marigold takes this view. ’ There is a common variant on this approach which sees God as absentminded, or at any rate as an authority who does not 42 / The Quest for God necessarily take note of everything his creatures are doing or not doing. This is particularly favoured by the timid and humble. A friend of mine quotes her aunt, a self-effacing lady with a difficult and sometimes neglectful husband, who said on one occasion, ‘Things are going so well.

But if we heard that he prayed for guidance on whom to invite to a White House dinner, our reactions would be mixed. We might think we had a religious fanatic in charge: worse, a man suffering from religious mania. There is an old legal saying ‘De minimis non curat lex’-the law does not concern itself with trivial matters. Many assume this applies equally, or even a fortiori, to God. My wife Marigold takes this view. ’ There is a common variant on this approach which sees God as absentminded, or at any rate as an authority who does not 42 / The Quest for God necessarily take note of everything his creatures are doing or not doing.

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