He was a wise man who invented God.
Any writer will tell you that their work is affected by their life. I write about what I see, think, taste, and hear about the things around me. If I write about an outside event or idea, it is still going to be tinted by the things going on in my own life.
I have two major roads of thought on this quote. The first road stems from the last word. The word 'god' is capitalised, indicating God, the all supreme being that is studied and worshipped in Christianity. However, Plato was before Christ and therefore Christianity. He would have, no doubt, been familiar with at least the idea of a single, all powerful God, THE God of Judaism. In this line of thought, Plato's words seem a bit sneering. It would appear that he is proclaiming that God was invented, and therefore not real. This is an awfully big and dismissive way of dealing with such a big subject.
But is he, in fact, talking about God?
Plato, being so wise and insightful (for reals, if you haven't read his stuff and are up for a mind bender, go for it!) thinks that whoever invented God was wise. He doesn't say why. He doesn't say which God, or which wise man. So, without digging through his myriad works to unlock that mystery, we have to just plow on, armed with our own ideas.
This is where we hit the second major road, and the explosion of personal life comments on the way.
Austin and I have been reading the Percy Jackson series. Yes, we are loud and proud about our love of Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Myth, and the best ones are often found right smack dab in the childrens' section. Next, I'm going to work my way through those Peter Pan Starcatcher books.
I've read the first four books in the last few days, so you can imagine that my thoughts turn to the gods of Greek mythology when I read this quote. I've been battling minotaurs and dragon ladies in my sleep, so naturally I assume that Plato must have been reading the Percy Jackson series when he said the aforementioned quote.
As it so happens, Austin and I were talking about gods when we drove to church last night. He was looking over his sermon material and I was trying to help because I'm JUST that kind of lady. You know, slightly intrusive and sometimes bossy. He was comparing some scripture verses that told of vengeance and blame and ownership. He commented that we mortals will do whatever it takes in order to not blame ourselves. We don't want anything to be our own fault, usually just personally, but sometimes even collectively.
It isn't our fault that we have no food! The gods must hate us!
Wait honey, I didn't mean to cheat on you! I was hit by Cupid's arrow!
And yet, I don't think that the gods were created for the sole purpose of deflecting blame. When an ancient man needed to explain how the sun rose in the sky, he knew that it couldn't come from a mere mortal like himself. No, something that majestic and awe-inspiring had to be the result of magic so amazing and terrible...it was almost hard to imagine!
Why did the ancient peoples invent their gods?
Austin pointed out to me several years ago that the Bible says (um...I forget where) "...the idols stopped talking". Which means....creepy....that they USED to talk! Before Christ came, we know that these kinds of things happened. If a bust of Zeus started talking to me today, I'd run to the nearest mental hospital. But it does beg the question of whether or not the gods were really mythical. I mean, if I served a goddess of grain, offered her stuff, prayed to her, sacrificed to her, and she was able to speak to me? HELLO?! I would believe in her, and I'm quite sure that you would as well.
What then, does this indicate about gods or God? Reality does not indicate authenticity.
We were told to have no other gods before God. We weren't told that there is no other god.
Now don't get your panties in a twist, I'm not saying that you need to go serve a grain goddess because she might be real. But it would be dangerous to believe and teach that God is real, and therefore that settles all matters of belief. We cannot prove God, as He only can prove himself.
God is real. Demons are just as real. Angels are real. Knowing if something is real doesn't give you any more answers. You don't serve what is real. You should serve what or whom is right.
I've veered off both of my two thought highways and am now on a back road going towards a ghost town. I need to get back on track.
I think that the gods of myth are a mix of real myth, a deep hunger for truth, evil presence, and ignorance mixed with amazing creativity. Some of these things are good, some are bad, some are neither and both!
But it makes me wonder; what have I invented about God? I know some things about God. I know what wiser men and women have learned. But we all hold personal ideas about who God is and why he works the way he does.
Zeus was made by someone who was trying to order his own universe. Ancient man wanted to explain things. Each man and woman added their own thoughts, and, over time...we have a mix of thoughts and stories about who Zeus was and why he worked the way he did.
Do we, in our wise and modern state, continue to do this to our God?
I think that we do, and I don't know that it is wise.
I might be no better than the ancient woman who claimed that her home was messy because Hestia, goddess of hearth and home, had cursed her.
That is a good idea though.
Who is the god of homeschooling and baked goods?