Gods have guts. It is said that the parts aren’t the same as the whole, but if you lay a god open and take him apart, you can learn much of how he ticks. God anatomists, called “theologians”, have discovered these inner workings. Their dissections have revealed many organs which they usually name with a word ending in “-ology” (Greek for “saying” which, as a suffix means “a branch of knowledge”). To the right is a sacrilegious illustration of just some of the -ologies to be found within the Christian god. For the anatomist, each of these “-ologies” is a way for them to tell us their views of that issue. Here are definitions for those not familiar:
- Soteriology (view of salvation)
- Eschatology (view of the end times)
- Christology (view of the messiah)
- Harmatiology (view of sin)
- Bibliology (view of scripture)
Inviting a Christian to dissect their god, may seem offensive at first (just like this picture), but when you show them that even their hallowed Church fathers have done the same (though under the guise of “theology”) then they may forgive your audacious choice of terms and imagery. Discussing the anatomy of a god can be fruitful.
Many Christians are unaware of the plethora of different opinions that exist within each of the -ologies. My post called “My Favorite Christians“, lists most the major -ologies and several of the different views. Here are examples:
- 4 Soterologies : inclusive, exclusive, pluralist and universalist
- 4 Eschatologies: pre, post and amillenialists, and preterism
- 3 Christology: high, medium and low
- 3 Harmatiologies: original sin, ancestral sin, tabula rasa
- 2 Bibliologies : figurativists, literalists
With a little combinatorial math we can see that using just these five traits, we can generate lots of different Christian gods:
4 x 4 x 3 x 3 x 2 = 288 different gods!
Wow. And to think, there are at least 20 or more traits (organs) their god has: thus there are thousands of different gods possible which all bear the name of “Yahweh-Jesus”. Some of these combinations are unviable, of course, but you get my point.
So, though each god-believer may visualize a similar white-bearded sky-dweller on the outside, with a little dissecting we see that their real inner gods vary hugely. So don’t let a believer or a non-believer tell you there is only one type of Christianity, there are hundreds and hundreds of varieties — all easily revealed with a little theological dissection. This sort of exercise is a curse to Religious Prescriptionists.
So don’t get sucked into arguing against a god that the believer does not imagine. Instead, figure out the anatomy of their god but remember, gods have much more than just organs. For instance, each god also has a circulatory system (the vibrant connection of their beliefs) and an immune system (polemic style) to enliven their deity. So you must be careful in the dissection — don’t assume the approach you use on one believer is fair for another — even if their “-ologies” are similar.
Understanding the anatomy of a theist’s god will help you to avoid strawman arguments and it can also help the believer to actually grab responsibility for the creation of their own god. Don’t be tricked by the word “god”, doing the dissection will reveal a multitude of different creatures.