To finishing this particular blog arc on “God”, I thought we’d take a look at the God(dess) of Deacon Duncan from Evangelical Realism. His patron deity is “Reality”, which he names with what he says is the Greek word for reality: “Alethea”. A baby names website defines Alethea as follows:
The girl’s name Alethea \a-le-thea\ is pronounced ah-lee-THEE-ah. It is of Greek origin, and its meaning is “verity, truth”. A learned coinage, not found before the 16th century. Mythology: goddess of truth.
Deacon is not referring to that mythological goddess of truth, he defines his God in his post Patron Goddess. Go read that post before continuing with this one.
From my amateur perspective, I see similarities between Deacon’s Alethea, and Spinoza‘s God — or maybe even Tillich’s “Ground of Being”? (The point I actually wish to make here is that there exists a continuum of God concepts. Deacon’s Alethea might seem to be worlds removed from a conservative fundie Christian concept of God, but the continuity of God concepts allows taking a journey of small steps, small mutations of the God concept, all the way to liberal Christian notions of God and beyond.
So what about Alethea’s potential to be a source of meaning in life, or of morality?
Consider first another person, possibly in some role of authority. Merely believing that a person exists does in no way give you meaning or morality. However, such things emerge in a relationship with a person, in interacting, by whatever shape such relating might take. It need not be verbal communication. Crack a whip? Or how about your dog, which might deduce something of what you expect of it, despite lacking verbal communication — maybe training dogs by providing food: rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad?
OK, back to Alethea. Alethea’s mere existence or definition might have nothing to do with meaning. But meaning is found in the process of relating to Aletha, in the process of interacting with Reality. For one, we find “moral and ethical behaviour” gets rewarded in species with gregarious natures. By this manner of reward and punishment, we evolved the basics of our morality and our ethics, which may pivot around our sense of empathy. We evolved an understanding of “right” and “wrong”. (Oh, and this was also explained nicely in a talk I attended at a Dutch Reformed church — and I still hope to write a little about that some time.) Right, so that takes care of Alethea as a potential source of morality.
How about meaning? Well, what is meaning in life, where is it found? It could be found in our interacting with reality, in finding something worthwhile to do. We could say that some interact with Reality by taking part in sport races… duking it out against other people interacting with Reality in the same manner, or just pushing their own limits. I prefer a nicer example: scientists finding meaning in the search for a better understanding of Alethea, exploring the cosmos with whatever probes and technology we develop. These Alethea “worshippers” make it their life’s mission to better understand Alethea, they “seek Alethea’s face” (referring in part to a quote by some scientist (who?) about observing the cosmic background radiation being like seeing “the face of God” 😉 ).
Thus, in conjunction with Deacon’s explanations on his blog, “Alethea” can also be a source of morality and meaning/purpose. I hope this served as another illustration of the implications of a “meaning assigner” definition of a “god”.