A loving God?
While many people find it easy to acknowledge some kind of deity; there is an idea prevalent that to assume God loves us, each as individuals, is a belief that smacks too much of wishful thinking; or else is just a plain denial of the nature of the world.
But if a loving God is understood to be a metaphysical assumption, then matters become much clearer.
A metaphysical assumption is not based on ‘evidence’ – so the personal or global balance of good and evil, pleasure and pain, nice and nasty is irrelevant to the question of whether God loves us: completely irrelevant. Until this is understood, there will be hopeless confusion on this question.
The way I think about it is that a child’s experience of the world – the extent to which the child is wicked, or in pain or experiences nasty conditions; cannot be used to infer how much that child’s parents love him.
Of course, some people conflate that question of God’s love with an assumption about God being omnipotent – and then they recognise the problem that if God is both loving and omnipotent, then the world God made seems to be significantly sub-optimal.
But in reality, there is no reason to assume that God’s power and God’s love are both necessarily true. Or that what these concepts mean is clear. In sum, lovingness and omnipotence are two separate questions, and they must be considered separately.
The idea that God loves each of us is indeed unusual in world religions – probably most religions have had an unloving God or gods; so why do I believe it is true? What grounds for such belief could there be?
The most convincing grounds are a personal conviction that it is true.
However, this leads on to the question of how we might know such a thing, even if it was true; and I understand the answer to be that God is within me, as well as outside of me. Because God is within me, I can have direct personal experience of God and of his nature. I can know God, and know what he is like.
A Child of God
It is metaphysically important that we are children of God, because this is the reason why we have been made such that we can understand reality.
Because I am a son of God, I am partly divine; and this is why I can understand the truth about things.
If I had been a creature that was purely and only the product of natural selection, there would be no reason at all why I should be able to discern the truth about things – since I would be optimised only with respect to reproductive success, not truth.
However, since I am partly divine, and since God created this reality; I am potentially able to know the truth about reality.
Destiny and purpose
Furthermore; my being a child of God is the reason for my destiny; in the sense that my understanding is that God ‘had children’ in order that they may be able (potentially) to grow-up to be fully divine, like God.
So, another metaphysical assumption is that we begin as partly divine, and by choice and experience may become more and more fully divine – and indeed reality is set-up with the primary purpose that this be possible and encouraged.
The world is as-it-is not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end; the world is intended to be an educational process, not a final result.
How is this known by me? I think it is a further insight built upon those previously mentioned. Given a conviction of the reality and lovingness of God, and the fact of being able to understand God from within – knowledge of my personal destiny – my purpose in this world - is also available, directly.
Is this reasoning merely circular? Not merely – because it is based on assumptions that such-and-such Just Is. These assumptions necessarily include that such and such Just Is sufficient ‘evidence’ to confirm the earlier assumptions.
So metaphysics is an incremental matter of discovering, making explicit, what we actually are assuming – which may then lead to us changing these original basic assumptions to make new basic assumption that we can endorse fully.
Having established these basic assumptions about the nature of things (to our own satisfaction) they may be built upon, and extrapolated – such inferences themselves being retested (at various stages and phases) by the same basic mechanisms that established the basic assumptions.
There is a testing and feedback mechanism, as well as a process of extrapolative reasoning. If, for whatever reason, we begin to feel uncertain, to doubt; then we can go back and start again, as often as seems necessary.