I believe that God, being boundless, pervades the entirety of creation and animates all action, including human action, the movement of our bodies’ cells, the movement of planets, and all other activity both in the microcosm and the macrocosm.
Some obvious questions arise when one considers morality in terms of this worldview. If God is doing everything, is there any sense in which we have free will? Do human beings have responsibility? By what standards should we measure good and evil?
Because God is everywhere, it makes no sense to talk of freedom from God, or of free will. Clearly, if all is God, then all action is God’s action. In the creaturely dimension, we may at times have the sense that we are acting freely, but this does not mean that in reality we are separate from God. When I raise my arm or nod my head, it is I who am doing so in the creaturely dimension, but it is God who is doing it in the ultimate dimension.
Whatever you do is what God is doing through you.
What evidence do I have that suggests all action is God’s action? I would point to the fact that all activity is coordinated. Within the human body, for instance, there are millions of complex interactions working in harmony. This means that something must be able to coordinate what is going on in my heart, brain, stomach, and foot, all at the same time. That something is God.
More evidence that God is in control is that we grow from nothing into human beings. We never make a decision to grow from a baby to a child to an adult; something is clearly causing this process to happen. For me, scientific ideas like ‘genetics’ and ‘evolution’ do not really explain this process of growth – there is clearly a power that grows us from babies to adults. That power is God.
Even though all action is God’s action, as I have indicated above we do still at times have the illusion of free will, and therefore have choices and decisions to make. How do we decide what is good and evil; what is right and wrong?
Christians will argue that the Bible is the supreme revelation of God’s moral direction for mankind. But the problem with this idea, from my perspective, is that God has created all the Scriptures from all different faith groups, so what makes the ideas expressed in one sacred book more true than those expressed in the others?
It is possible to argue that many different Scriptures that contradict one another are divinely revealed, so it is impossible to know which teachings we should regard as the absolute truth. Also, all Scripture is subject to interpretation so there is the further problem of never knowing which interpretation of a particular text is correct.
With the world religions presenting conflicting guidance concerning what constitutes moral truth, where else are we to look? From my perspective, this is problematic. It would seem that without moral guidance we are living in a world where ‘anything goes’. It is important to note, however, that it is not actually the case that anything goes. Only God’s will goes. Everything that happens is an expression of God’s will – this has always been the case and always will be.
It is true that along with the illusion of free will we have the illusion of decision-making and responsibility. We seem to live in societies, and we seem to be affected by the actions of others. There is nothing wrong, then, in creating laws that protect people’s wellbeing. In the absence of objective morality, this is a difficult, subjective process. It might involve prayer (that God guides us towards right action), and laws that aim to achieve the greatest happiness for everyone.
In summary, then, the realisation that God exists, and is everywhere, creates a problem for moral discussion. The problem is that if we are not really in control then how do we make decisions about right action? The answer in the dimension of ultimate reality is that God will take care of this. The answer in human terms is that we must struggle to do what we believe is right, all the while acknowledging that God is the guiding force in our decisions.
The above article is a modified extract from my book entitled Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion. For more information or to buy the book, click here. Thank you for reading!