Questions About God
Do Temple members believe in God?
Yes. The Temple Teachings say it is as necessary for us to believe in a Supreme Power greater than ourselves, in order to survive, as it is necessary for us to breathe air.
Is this Supreme Power a very large and tall man who sits on a great throne?
For some people this is true. For others, God is nature like the sun, trees and stars. For many people God is always different, but always supreme — great and high in a very proper sense of these words.
Is God a man?
The Temple teaches, as does the Bible, that we — men and women — are made in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, God includes all humanity, male and female.
Is God in me?
Yes, just as you are in God. God is in all humanity as He is in the suns and stars, trees and animals, flowers and minerals; as in every blade of grass and every atom, everywhere.
Can God read my mind and tell what I am thinking or going to do?
This is no problem for God. Since God created you He has complete knowledge about you, your past, your present, and your future.
Then should I be ashamed or proud of these things that I have thought that no one but myself knew about?
That, of course, is between you and God.
Will God punish or reward me exactly as I deserve?
God does not do such things. The Temple teaches that you do these things to yourself. These punishments and rewards are the result of breaking or keeping God’s laws.
Does God live in heaven and the devil in hell, and will I go to one place or the other when I die?
No. The Temple teaches that we are now living in whatever hell or heaven we create for ourselves, and that both areas have integration problems. Humanity is integrated in both areas at present. Since God made all manifestation, He also made all power, some of which is misused by the devil. The devil can only exist because we ourselves supply the devil with wrongdoing. When we learn to do only right, the devil will cease to exist. The devil is a temporary convenience. God is an eternal Supremacy.
If God is in each person, and all people are different, doesn’t that mean that there are different Gods? How can one of them be Supreme?
All of humanity lives by the sun. The Temple teaches that there is a spiritual Sun also. Each person’s reactions to the Sun may be different, but all lives depend upon that one Sun. Everyone’s reaction may be different, but they are not contradictory.
What causes any differences?
Differences exist because of the limitations of our understanding. It is the problem of approaching infinity with a finite mind or concept. The Temple teaches that a Christ has a far more realistic understanding of the Absolute Godhead than we are yet capable of knowing.
Why is that?
It is like entering a room that is completely dark. We can see or know nothing about the room. With the introduction of a small, lighted candle we can see a few details closest to us. With increasing light we see everything in the room, and with enough light nothing about the room is unknown. As the light increases, our realizations about the room become more complete. But the contents of the room were there all the time, while it was dark as well as after it was lighted.
How does that analogy work with knowing God?
We see physical things with our physical eyes and the visible spectrum of the sun. We see inner things, emotions, ideas, love and hatred with other kinds of light and with inner visions that correspond. We call it understanding, or mind, or identification.
Is God alive today?
Yes. The Temple teaches that no power worthy of the act of creating the universe could ever desert it or die and leave it an orphan.
Does God talk to people today?
As surely as He did in so-called olden days. But the Temple says that any person who hears the voice of God will reveal that hearing not by claim, but by the deeds of daily life.
Does God appear in every man, woman, and child of the human race?
Necessarily. It is God’s first lesson for humanity to learn to be recognized first by all people in their brothers and sisters. It is the substance of the first Temple Commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy heart and mind, and thy neighbor as thyself. This is the highest Law.” All other laws are based on this one.
If God made me and knows so much about me, why does He allow me to commit evil?
God did not make evil. He made a law called the Golden Rule, which He does not allow to be broken. God made all laws of nature, and each created thing must abide by those laws or principles in order to live and grow. When we choose to abide by God’s Laws, we do what is called “right” or “good.” When we break these Laws, we create a temporary state called “evil.” God simply compels us to learn that we cannot create evil and live.
Then does God kill all evil people?
God does not condemn anyone. The Temple teaches that there is no such thing as failure, hence no annihilation or eternal punishment. On the contrary, it says that our every effort, whether good or evil, contains the possibility for us to learn to do what we must one day admit is right. The only failure is refusal to try again.
What do you mean by the “Mind of God”?
The Temple teaches that there is really only one Mind in all the universe. It is the Mind of God, and is made up of all the laws and principles on which all possible manifestation rests. We know these as the laws of natural science, the arts, economics, government, and mathematics.
But doesn’t each person have a mind of his or her own?
Only in the sense that we have learned to partake of the Mind of God. We don’t originate or create anything — we simply uncover some of God’s truths through the physical, mental or spiritual labor of experience. These truths exist eternally; they existed before we discovered them, and will continue to exist after we think we have discarded or destroyed them. What we do not presently know does not exist for us, but is a perfect reality for a more perceptive understanding.
But doesn’t this seem to demean or deny our own individual right, our free will?
On the contrary, such ideas when accepted support each person’s true and acceptable status in the scheme of creation. As with the Mind of God, so is there only one Will of God, which we all share to whatever degree. What appears to be our free will is often simply our opposition to Divine Will. There is not another power source within us, outside of us, in any other atom or star. One Will guides all, and we have the power to accept or reject this Will. Rejecting it does not create another power.
Is mankind alone susceptible to this Will?
No. According to the Temple Teachings, all of nature can and does respond to this Will of God. This is what is meant in one way by the witness of God and the salutation, “Walk with God.” The blade of grass, the grain of sand, the galaxies in space, as well as we ourselves, are created by God and evolve to an awareness of the Creator in a vast network of meticulous interdependence and mathematical harmony.
Doesn’t each person have to live his or her own life?
Not even God can live our lives for us. All lives are derived from one Source called God. The container or vehicle of that life varies with evolutionary progress, but the life-power is the same, from one Source. All electricity is the same no matter how it is adapted to animate different kinds of equipment: lights, heaters, motors, as well as hearts, eyes, muscle, brain, organs, suns, and stars. All are animated by One Life — Source — GOD. The forms are different. Their responses differ in degree and consciousness. The feather and the iron ball are both governed by gravity. This one Life Source manifests throughout all creation according to needs, and is recognized as cohesion, expulsion, concentration, gravity, magnetism, heat, and other natural principles.
Is God really listening to us and watching us now?
Yes. Since He is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, His attention includes us.
Why are we important enough to justify His interest?
Perhaps God’s conscience does not bother Him as ours bothers us. God has connected us with His Will Power. To learn to use it, God has defined us with a power to choose that Will or not; a molecule of iron has no such choice. With that power of choosing, God has issued an edict that says, “Choose ye must this day whom ye will serve. Choose ye must.”
Each person’s lifetime is made up of a series of choices, all of which have appropriate consequences. Their total of positive and negative compels us to eventually recognize the inviolability of God’s first Law, the Golden Rule. It forces each of us to the realization that we cannot get something for nothing, since even the least part of God’s creation is essential to its being complete. God watches all with an eye to total progress toward Him. Since God’s Mind is sacred and we share God’s Mind, the minds of each of us are sacred, too. There is no invasion of privacy.
Does God watch over everyone all the time?
Yes. We don’t know it, but He does. We are not as yet far along in this awareness, and we often think we can hide from God. Our moments of prayer are often reduced to convenience, such as the conventional once a week at church. The moments that are more meaningful, however, are those we experience under duress and suffering, when control is surely slipping out of our too-often complacent hands. These are moments when, in the agony of hurt, God’s hand does truly touch us when we are suffering and provides the miracle of endurance and healing to us.
But we cannot spend all of our time in church at prayer.
The Temple Teachings suggest that most prayer is little more than selfish petition. These Teachings show how we may learn to recognize the hand of God in all of our daily life, to respond to its guiding touch, and above all to discern and be grateful for the unfailing Light and Power it brings constantly. An alert and constant sense of gratitude in no way interferes with whatever we may have nearest our own hands to do. To the contrary, we will do it all the better.
Does God perform miracles today as He did in Biblical days?
Yes. We define “miracles” as a suspension of whatever we know of Natural Law, and the intervention of powers that we cannot ourselves wield. This is partly correct. Actually, we still know very little about the laws and powers which surround us always, but it is these same principles operating on planes beyond our perception that produce what we call a miracle. But to the greater consciousness of God, there are no miracles.
Why is there so much bloodshed and persecution and warfare among peoples who say they believe in God?
Because of our limited understanding, we all worship God in different forms and ways. Many people regard their God as the superior being which must necessarily be thrust upon all other believers, simply as proof of superiority. Two men looking at the same apple are antagonized by the observations, “It is green” and, “No, it is red.” Learning to examine an apple from the other’s point of view is a painful procedure. Sects and creeds are based on different fragments of God’s truths out of context, which are immediately distorted.
Does God live in a church? Does God live in this Temple? Does God live here more than anywhere else?
God lives wherever people live. Although we seldom think of God except when moved to attend church or to swear, this shortcoming does not impose limitations on God’s presence anywhere. Any place of worship is a good place for God to live and work. This then would include churches and this Temple. It is not that the presence of God is greater in one place than another; it is only the degree of realization of the fact that God is eternally everywhere that varies. He is there. He just isn’t always seen clearly or recognized.
Am I a witness of God?
Yes. The Temple teaches that we are all so endowed. We are too often inclined to overlook this obligation because we so admire our own self-sufficiency, but we have earned this obligation through measured work, sacrifice and prayer. The witness of God is the consummation of lifetimes of effort; however, it is not realized by withdrawal, neither by monastic isolation in a cell, nor by assuming the right to charge up anything we desire against a kind of universal credit card. The capacity to witness God is served only as it is passed on to those who need help — that is to say, everyone.
How can I possibly relieve any world suffering?
Everyone is subject to the Golden Rule. God has placed each of us where we can help the most now, and has given us everything we need to do the job. According to the Temple, these “gifts of God” are not material things alone, such as money, food, or medication; they also include more tenuous and lasting things, such as friendliness, tolerance, assurance, comfort, and kindness, especially as represented by self-control and self-discipline. They include hope; ideas and imagination; the miracle-performing “right” word; the touch of the hand, the mind, and especially the heart. These are gifts of God which are available to each of us.
What is the authority for God?
We must accept as authority that which we cannot apparently change. Birth, death, and the limitations and demands between those unchangeable events thus become authority. This authority may well represent God. Today more than ever, we are questioning that which is presented to us as authority. We are learning that there is indeed authority which we may not challenge, but which we have only demeaned by our own limited understanding. Can we challenge the authority of the sun? This is reflected in what should be called our total ecology — that is, our relation to our environment, our fellow man, and our God. Humanity is learning that in the destruction or conservation of these three, we are only destroying or exalting ourselves. And this is as it has ever been, on the not-to-be-challenged authority of God.
What is the purpose of the Temple?
The Temple teaches that the realization of at-one-ment or unity with God is demonstrated in all mankind, all religions, and all of nature, and demands a sense of self-responsibility and obedience that only the individual may instill within. The Temple says that such authority is not demeaning but is, on the contrary, designed to help the least of God’s creations to become more and more aware of Him. This great authority is called, in the Temple Teachings, God’s Universal Love. God is a fact in nature — nature is a fact in you. The Temple endeavors to help all people realize the presence of both as a living power in their lives.