=1 "A new image of man = A new image of God"

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A new image of man = A new image of God


By definition God is that which created man, and in an evolutionary world that which continually creates man. He is at the same time the model which nature has in mind when she starts a new species, and then it is man, the image, who projects the image of God into the universe, into the earth, into life, into matter.

The image and man and God are inseparable, three aspects of the same reality.

Some people are anxiously asking if God is dead. Others, who likewise have never seen Him, are stoutly affirming that He is still alive.

Our forefathers lived in a world they considered very old. Perhaps 6,000 years old. So naturally their God was an old man. But with us, with our human universe so young, God has become very young also, a real child. The gods of the dinosaurs lasted 200,000,000 years. But man is only a million years old, so the God of our fathers can hardly be any older. He is really a baby among the gods. And there is no danger that he will die, he is much too vigorous for that. Look at all the new things in our world, and the new forms God takes, the incarnations and the avatars. The masks he wears are innumerable, and some recent ones have been very naughty. Remember Sekhmet? Remember the Aztecs?

But he is growing up, or if you prefer, and think man comes first, man is growing up. But man and God belong together; you cannot separate them. Thus man is the image of God, and God of man. Each one takes part in the world of the other as an image. You may say that the image is not God, but is not the father responsible for the image he projects into his child? It may also be that the image man makes of his God is a distorted image, but it is always the best possible image for man at a given time. Is it man’s responsibility if he is born as a paleolithic hunter or a neolithic farmer or a suburban travelling salesman? Naturally his image will depend on the rung he has reached on the ladder of evolution.

If a mongoose thinks, “Oh Father in Heaven”, he may think it with the same fervor as we, but inevitably, as a mongoose, he has another image in mind, and there is no reason to suppose that your image or mine is the last rung on the ladder. In our next birth or a million years hence we will make ourselves a better one. And we will not stop making better and better images of God, because the capacity for making them has been built into us, into our most secret and most personal programming. And whatever else we do, we will always be making images of God, just as a bee will always build the honeycomb and a bird its nest in spring.

For the same reason, man is always an image of God, and in each birth a better one. The religions we preach are not old in spite of their hoary claims. They are always a selection, concocted and diluted by each generation for its children. How about the atheist? The atheist is the fellow who has been offered an image by a teacher on a lower rung, and declines the gift. When he says there is no God, what he really means is that the image doesn’t suit him. Then he starts building his own. Sometimes his image looks to the uneducated eye like a generator or a space robot, but even in the Soviet Union they build nothing but images of God. As long as we have not built our own God, we are all atheists, poor fellows without a lap to sit on.

New man on the next rung will of necessity have a new God, and with a new God something like a new faith, a new religion, a new spirituality. Very likely also this new God will be a scandal to us, as our gods seemed scandalous to our forefathers. It is so in every generation. We can read letters found in Egyptian sands from old men complaining that the new generation doesn’t revere the ancient gods. And today also, when a new age dawns, when man’s culture suffers a mutation, a sudden change, then a new conception of God which it brings will be a real shocker. The new descent, the new avatar, the new mask, the new way of being God will seem utterly strange to an older generation which refused to meet him in their hearts. New man will have not only new ways of worship, with new symbols, new saints and martyrs and new rites, but entirely new ways of meeting the divine foundation in himself and in the universe. He will have new gods, more foreign to the old than Jehova and Zeus, or Siva and Huitzlipochtli were to each other, yet they all belonged to the same past.

Our science, which is already of the space age, is atheist to the gods of preceding ages. The same can be said of our existentialist philosophy, our psychology, our political science, our art and literature. They are all waiting for a new image of God, a new ideal of beauty and goodness, a new Truth.

The God of Abraham was not the God of Isaac, and the God of Isaac was not the God of Jacob. Each had to conquer in his own way his own God. Yet Abraham might, with sufficient goodwill, might have been able to see that what Isaac was worshipping was also God, though it might have seemed to him a distorted way to worship. But to many of us the image which future man makes of his God will not seem to be a God at all. It may seem like a new theory of matter, a new mathematical formula, or like words without meaning.

But that is why man is on earth in a physical universe - to build here in matter the image, his very own image, and not to worship idols, the images his forefathers have built. If we are living in an evolutionary universe, then necessarily our gods must be evolving too, because we are the manifestation of our gods.

The gods of tomorrow are now among us. The God of our children is already born in us, modestly, without trumpets, very abstract perhaps, but already here, a scandal to uneducated eyes and an abomination to our conservative love of comfort. We all prefer an easy chair to a throne which we have to conquer with all our force and all our longing. But new gods have a way of kicking easy chairs out from under our lazy behind, and we will need some mighty kicks to get rid of all those easy chairs we call religions.

We can be grateful that in the coming age not only will no God resemble the old ones but the image background itself, the force which projects it into the manifestation will be a new force, a new truth, a new spirituality.