Growing up

I have advocated something called atheism in the name of God. That is to say, an experience, a contact, a relationship to God with the ground of your being, that does not have to be embodied or expressed in any specific image. Theologians on the whole do not like that idea.

I find in my discourse with them that they want to be a bit hardnosed about the nature of God. They want to say that God has indeed a very specific nature. This ethical monotheism holds that the governing power of this universe has some extremely definite opinions and rules to which our minds and acts must be conformed. If you do not watch out, you will go against the fundamental grain of the universe and be punished. In old-fashioned parlance, you will burn in the fires of hell forever. In modern terms, you will fail to be an authentic person. (It is just another way of talking about it.)

There is this feeling you see, that there is this authority behind the world and it is not you, it is something else. This approach, which is Judeo-Christian, and indeed Muslim, makes a lot of people feel estranged from the root and ground of being. There are, in fact, a lot of people who never grow up and who are always in awe of the image of grandfather.

Alan Watts in Images Of God