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Friday, February 08, 2008


While walking back to work yesterday, after lunching on a bowl of pho, I had an epiphany: The problems of our world are largely due to our collective belief in the omnipotence of God. It was like a divine message bolted through me... right on the corner of 15th and Pine. I interpreted the message I had received, and decided to start blogging about a new theology: The Church of the Fairly Powerful God. By demoting God's status from omnipotent to "fairly powerful" many of the problems presented by religion are resolved. New initiates should please read the FAQ below, and please bring your questions, for only through the illumination of dialogue can I persuade all rational and happiness-seeking peoples in the benefits of understanding this new paradigm of religion.

FAQs on the Church of the Fairly Powerful God

How can I believe in a God that’s just “fairly powerful”?

Indeed, how can you believe in anything else!? If you look at most of the criticisms of theology, the largest set of incongruencies are resolved once you realize that God is not omnipotent. We’re constantly amazed that God allows a man to eat 50 hotdogs in order to win a county fair contest, and yet this same God allows children to be enslaved and maimed in African diamond mines. Any God that would allow this is surely a monster! And while you might think spending the afterlife with your omnipotent God would be a blast, imagine how horrible it would be to sit at the side of some twisted pervert who allows little children to have their arms cut off just for kicks. Imagine what tortures he has in store for everyone in Heaven! The very Bible that attempts to extol the omnipotent God is chock full of horrible, horrible stories about God torturing and screwing with people. Personally, I can’t imagine being satisfied with that kind of God.

But now step back and imagine that God is merely fairly powerful, as opposed to omnipotent. Imagine that many of the atrocities cataloged in the Bible were, in fact, the acts of mean or deluded people… not acts of God. God is actually a pretty cool person. He wouldn’t do that sort of stuff. He’s more into kayaking and hosting fun dinner parties. God doesn’t have the power to directly stop someone from carrying out a bad idea. He couldn’t stop Hitler… He couldn’t even stop Andy Warhol. Instead, God works collaboratively. If you’re open to his divine presence, he will grow in your heart and feel like a warm sense of connection and spiritual peace. The more finely attuned you become to God’s presence, the more you’ll feel the ripples of his affection throughout the various parts of your life. That’s really the power of God, but it’s only available to those that are actively open to it.

But isn’t God responsible for creating the universe?

Oh no, no, no. God isn’t anywhere near that powerful. Do you have any idea just how big the universe is? It’s pretty impossible to fathom someone or something powerful enough to generate all of creation! God doesn’t really know how the universe was created, but has put his faith in the work of various scientists for now. He suggests reading about the “Big Bang”.

God isn’t completely incapable however. God, for example, could probably build you a pretty decent house.

What use is this “Fairly Powerful” God then? What do I get out of joining your religion?

I’m glad you asked… this is really the key question isn’t it? From a cost/benefit analysis perspective, we really need to ask ourselves these kinds of questions. After all, why wouldn’t I prefer to believe in an all-powerful supreme being that has guaranteed me eternal happiness as long as I profess my faith? The answer lies in resolving cognitive dissonance and achieving personal integrity. Cognitive dissonance plagues everyone who believes in an omnipotent God. How could you avoid being driven to insanity if you worship a spiteful and vengeful force while hoping to find favor and peace in his bosom? How could you seek peace from the guy who let Pol Pot butcher his countrymen? You have to be willing to split your brain in half in order for this to work… you have to compartmentalize what you know about God and what you have faith in. This makes people profoundly unhappy. We are all happier when “what we know” and “what we believe” achieve some sort of concordance. This leads to a sense of wholeness or integrity. Basing your actions on an integrated view of the world leads to more cooperation and success in life!

How does one worship a “Fairly Powerful God”?

This is an important difference between our FPG and other portraits of the deity. God doesn’t really like abject worship. He finds it kind of embarrassing. Plus it’s not really healthy to fixate on one thing so much. The whole nightly kneeling and praying thing is highly overrated. God would prefer the occasional shout-out or kindly word from his followers. And perhaps the most important thing is to allow God a place in your heart… stay in touch, the way you would with a valued friend. That’s the true way to honor him.

Does the Fairly Powerful God still have a plan for all of us?

Yeah… but frankly, it’s not that great a plan. I mean, it’s pretty good, but I’ve seen better. There's a lot of people out there, and God's plans are sort of "cookie-cutter" if you know what I mean. I think you’ll probably want to tweak it here and there… tighten it up a bit. No harm in that though, since God doesn’t really mind. In fact, he gets a kick out of people who approach their lives as a collaborative process rather than just “accepting their fate”.

When you refer to God, you use the pronoun “he”… Are you certain God is a man?

Absolutely not… God is most certainly a woman… and a very sexy woman too, if you ask me. I’m really not sure why he prefers to be thought of as a he. It’s kinda creepy if you think about it too much. I just figure I’ll go with whatever he wants. After all, it’s really his call… like when your 45 year old friend decides to change her name from Pat to Claire. It’s a bit awkward at first, but you just have to accept it. I mean, why fight it?

How can I support the Church of the Fairly Powerful God?

There are two basic ways of showing support: first by forwarding this article to those that you believe would like to hear the word. And secondly, by telling them to send me money. Sometimes you can get them to send me money if you tell them that whatever followers they find will in turn send you money, and those people’s recruits will send your followers money… and so on down the line. This way everyone benefits… except those that don’t do a good job finding other followers. In this way, you can see how God’s will is to reward thoughtful industry.

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At 2/08/2008 03:47:00 PM, Anonymous Steve said...

1. Does a fairly powerful God require a capital G, or could she be "god"?

2. Don't you think that women will take offense to a fairly powerful god being a woman? With all of the omnipotent gods being men, doesn't this just create the usual second-class status for women and women-gods?

At 2/08/2008 03:56:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Good questions Steve. Allow me to ignore your first question completely, and dismantle your concerns expressed in the far more interested second question.

I almost included a question in the FAQ that went like this: "What if an omnipotent Judeo-Christian God decided to beat up my Fairly Powerful God?"

The answer would have been: By deciding to believe in The Fairly Powerful God, you're rejecting the notion that omnipotent Gods exist at all. Your Fairly Powerful God cannot be beated up by an omnipotent God because there's no such thing. Similarly, you should not worry about omnipotent Gods being males... because (again) these Gods don't actually exist.

The only God is the Fairly Powerful God. The Fairly Powerful God happens to be a woman (who strangely prefers to use the masculine pronoun.) This only reflects negatively on women if you give credence to the silly religious beliefs of other organized monotheistic religions.

At 2/08/2008 03:59:00 PM, Blogger shams said...

He couldn’t stop Hitler… He couldn’t even stop Andy Warhol.


I see you're using your vacation time productively, John. Hell, you've invented a new Church.

At 2/08/2008 07:19:00 PM, Blogger Librocrat said...

Your theory intrigues me. I must consider this if I ever get bored with Judaism.

Though I find that unlikely considering we have no hell, we have rich, single, attractive women, and we have 45,000,000 holidays including one that you're ordered to get so drunk you can't tell the good guy from the bad guy in the story.

Still, yours is the next best thing.

Also "allow me to ignore your first question completely" will now be my new response to anything anyone ever asks me.

At 2/08/2008 10:34:00 PM, Blogger Diane said...

How clever of the English monarchy to mascarade as the Church of the Fairly Powerful God! All those queens didn't throw me off.

At 2/09/2008 09:30:00 AM, Blogger molly said...

I am trembling with zealous awe. Where do I send the check?

(As an aside from my zeal: I must have been communing with you telepathically yesterday because around 8 PM last night (lunchtime-ish for you) I began singing that Dire Straits song "Ticket to Heaven", and the lyrics,

"Now there's nothing left for luxuries, nothing left to pay my heating bill. But the good lord will provide I know he will. So send what you can to the man with the diamond ring. They're tuning in across the land to hear him sing"

At 2/09/2008 03:29:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

Makes sense to me. From the sneering atheist perspective, September 11th 2001 was either the will of God, or the result of a God that isn't all-powerful and can't protect anyone. Either way that's not a God I'm going to worship.

"It toyns out that ya god, heah, is only MOSTLY powahful."
--Miracle Max

At 2/10/2008 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 2/10/2008 12:37:00 PM, Blogger Yojimbo_5 said...

"Just give me the blood, Eli, and I'll get out of here..."

At 2/13/2008 02:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I be a priest in the Church of the FPG? Notice I am a woman but I want the male designation, as is proper. ~Pam

At 2/13/2008 05:16:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Some overdo responses:
Librocrat, your defense of Judaism (and the holiday of Purim) is noble... in a drunken and deluded kind of way. It reminds me of what my friend Lani wrote to me today:

"Your semi-powerful god is actually a demigod; not THE god. I think the ancient Hebrews had it right all along: god was angry, jealous, smiting, burning and pillaging by nature. Once you understand that then it all makes sense. Humans might buzz around creating more and more rituals to appease this guy and then maybe something nice will happen to you but don't expect it. Once you accept that, there's no cognitive dissonance. Basically, your task as a human is to find a way to live in the face of all this chaos because basically there is very little intercession on your behalf. The idea of being open to a channel of warm fuzzy feeling or the notion that god is love is essentially a Christian idea and that's where the dissonance came in because if you have both old and new testament, it doesn't work."

Lani, I like your premise that much of the dissonance comes from trying to accept both the New and Old Testaments. But it seems that God is pointless if you cannot benefit from having a relationship with him. And tragedy strikes even the most righteous of Jews. So I don't think accepting a purely Old or New Testament view of God results in a tenable religion. Either God is a chaotic and vengeful force... making the universe a horrible place to live... or God is a warm and loving being that (for some unknown reason) tortures and maims little African children just for kicks.

I maintain that only by accepting the limitations of God can we gain spiritual insight into his proper role in day to day life.

At 2/13/2008 05:21:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Soapy and Molly... I'm greatly pleased that you've embraced The Church of the Fairly Powerful God. Go forth and multiply.

Pam, you can certainly be a priest if you would like. However, I must warn you that a priest without a flock is a life ill-spent. And The CotFPG does not condone evangelizing (except for posts made on this blog) so you may have a difficult road attracting a congregation. Perhaps you can minister to the needs of Soapy and Molly?

At 2/13/2008 10:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, first Molly and Soapy have to send me their tithes.... ~Pam


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