I reject the notion of a Deistic God who sits back in his overstuffed leather chair, puffing on his Cuban cigar and waiting for humanity to attain enlightenment through the scientific method, or meditation, or drugs, or self-actualization, or some other superstition. This is what I think of whenever I hear about people who believe in God but don’t read the Bible, don’t go to church, and don’t believe in personal salvation. They’ve taken Pascal’s Wager too literally and they just want God to cover for their ignorance and laziness.
They might actually think they are part of “the Church,” but if they don’t really like being around Christians of any sort, that is hard to justify. And if their generic “God” gets his name on a license plate, a quarter, and nonsectarian prayer, but is as greedy, intemperate, and demanding as Zeus, why bother to call themselves Christians? They should go on and join the other idol-worshippers.
There are all these worldly people who believe in some intangible entity called The Church, The State, The School System, The Economy, Science, The Arts, Business, Politics, The Media, Wall Street, The Global Community, The Left, The Right, The Blogosphere, or some other platonic idol.
It’s oppressing them; it’s always working against them; it’s capricious and cruel; and they just wish that Dumbledore would give them a magic incantation to make it do what they want. Or, on the other hand, they are mightily impressed by its power and glory, and every chance they get they fall facedown and breathlessly praise its majesty, thanking it for all the wonderful things it provides.
How is this different from a Greek pantheon? It really isn’t. But most people who believe in these idols won’t admit to being pagans. In fact, they often characterize themselves as atheists, freethinkers, “the reality-based community,” naturalists, materialists, humanists, or even nihilists. They don’t believe in anything except their own mythology, complete with ambiguous oracles and ghosts and a metaphorical origin story.