The Rational God is a science based approach to understanding nature or reality. Attempts at understanding our universe have been presented since man first made an appearance and in some ways the history of man’s attempts at understanding the world are as interesting as the vision of an ultimate reality.
We see two apparently different strands making efforts to explain the universe. There is the scientific and the religious. Mainstream opinion tends to hold the view that science is the serious approach whilst religion just offers us an outdated idea dreamed up by superstitious and ignorant ancients.
Whilst agreeing the best route to an understanding of the world is a scientific one I am not so ready to dismiss ideas of the ancients as superstition or ignorance. As long as we are discussing human beings then we can be sure that those who left us ancient writings had every capability that we have in terms of rational thought. Also, with less distraction than modern life and I suspect a lot more time on their hands it could be argued that the ancients had plenty of opportunity to engage in philosophical speculation.
We can see great intellectual achievement in ancient history, the pyramids in Egypt or the plays, architecture and academic works of the Greeks. All of this was from a pre-Christian world the world of the Pagans. Socrates, Aristotle and Plato were Pagans and great thinkers too, yet for two thousand years the term ‘pagan’ has been used as an insult.
The time when Paganism was eradicated coincides with the time Christianity rose. The early years of Christianity were a time of terror. In the 3rd century AD. Roman Emperor Constantin decreed that Europe was to be unified under one religion and that religion was to be Christianity. Those who failed to practice the new religion were persecuted and most likely killed.
There was also great division within the new church between those who considered the ancient texts to be literally true and those who considered them to be metaphorically true. More killing ensued as the literalists wiped out all opposition to their views.
Since then those same texts have been subject to re-writing, translation and reinterpreting. It should be no surprise that such influential documents have also been subject to being rewritten and re-interpreted with political objectives in mind.
The first original God was a pantheist one. God and the universe were considered to be the same thing. Human beings on that scheme are a part of God. It is not difficult to speak of this God in a metaphoric way and claim that he is all powerful. All things, all power is God. If God and the universe are the same thing then God is clearly everywhere and in all things. If human beings are a part of God then God is all knowing… at least in the sense that all things that are known are by default God’s knowledge.
This pantheist description of reality was never intended to be an excuse for inventing some super powerful being. Rather it was a metaphoric aid for truly understanding the nature of our universe. Using a pantheist model is a perfectly rational explanation of the world.
The political class in the days of early Christianity used the ancient beliefs for their own ends and objectives. They took the metaphorical aids and used them in a literal way creating a theist God who could be used as a political tool. If God was all powerful He could do as He wished. If God was everywhere, He could watch what you were doing at all times. If He was all knowing He could even know what you were thinking. The Theist God was used to watch over the population, to monitor their thoughts and to dish out cruel punishments for all eternity to those who failed to follow the government line.
Charlatans and fraudsters still use veiled threats and promises of eternal joy in the afterlife to persuade others to engage in actions and to give up money. The Theist God still has its uses for those seeking social and political control or who are trying to get rich on the donations of others.
But people tend to need some spiritual comfort. Science presents a world to us which is cold, random, here by chance and which in some interpretations is cruel. We are told that we are little more than a bag of chemicals which give off blips of thought and after three score and ten years we go back to nothingness from where we, by chance, appeared. This is a poor representation of the facts. The materialist doctrine has long been discarded and its replacement physicalism, is vacuous as a philosophy and says nothing at all about the world. See Materialism and Physicalism for more details
The Rational God then is a scientific and philosophical book. It is wholly rational and it is about the idea of God. Further, it is a book which describes reality and all of science in one easy to understand basic scheme, placing our scientific knowledge into context.