Someone I don’t know commented on a Facebook thread about a New Yorker article that asks if God is transgender. The comment expresses a very familiar, conventional, and convenient religious idea, but it’s one that makes no sense, and is the source of endless horrors. It’s an idea that should be disputed more often than it is.

Is there no end to the arrogance of humanity? We are constantly making God on our own terms instead of His, which is really nothing more than deciding that we know best and really ought to be God.

There’s so much wrong with that claim. I could go on about it for hours. The most obvious item is that if we can’t use our own terms when it comes to “God” then what are we even talking about? Human terms are all humans have, so why are we talking about a “god” that has entirely different terms?

I asked it there and got an unenlightening reply:

Me: What else can we do? What other terms do we have access to?

Commenter X: His terms. A God we could fully comprehend or explain is too small to be true or be worshiped.

Uh huh. The standard answer, but so useless. In that case, what do we have to do with such a god at all? Why do we worship it? How do we know it merits worship? How do we know anything about it? What kind of ridiculous, bullying game is this in which we’re told to worship something we’re also told we can’t possibly understand?

So I said some of that:

But how can we? How can we do anything with terms that aren’t ours? What is it we’re worshiping if it’s radically separate from our terms?

Also, the problem with saying we mustn’t “make God on our own terms instead of His” is that that means we can’t second-guess any part of God-based morality. But what if it’s the wrong morality? How can we decide which morality to follow if we’re not allowed to “make God on our own terms instead of His”?

Commenter X: All great questions to ask. I believe the Bible is the Word of God, and I believe it answers a lot of those questions, but in order to understand it correctly, we need to know its context. We need to know about the dead sea scrolls, the talmud, the old covenant and the new. And most importantly, we need to believe in Jesus as Lord and pursue a relationship with Him. If we seek Him wholeheartedly, He is faithful to make Himself known.

The familiar cop-out.

But at that rate we can’t have any kind of secular morality at all, we just have to obey words from an old book, while arguing about which words and which book and which interpretation and yadda yadda.

It’s all a cheat. We have to be able to think critically about morality, using the only terms available to us, which are of course human terms. That is not arrogance – the real arrogance is pretending to know which god is the real one and that we have to obey it.

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