I’m defining Symtheism as the scientifically and scripturally informed understanding of God and religion. The prefix “Sym-“ meaning together (as in rational and religious) but also as short for symbolic (as in symbolic representations) and the root theism for belief in God. However, it’s not really a belief like theism nor a lack of belief like atheism. Beliefs or lack thereof are irrelevant, objective truth albeit tentative at best is the goal of the Symtheism.
We need to understand that there can be objective truth in fiction. A good example of this is “Animal Farm” by George Orwell. Everybody knows pigs can’t talk and that no actual farm anywhere was ever taken over by the animals, but there’s truths about communism in general and the USSR in particular embedded in the story. The personification of the animals in “Animal Farm” is a literary device employed by Orwell to convey truths through a narrative. The book of Genesis in the Bible is also fiction that employs literary devices in order to convey truths through a narrative about human nature and our relationship with God. The personification of God in the Bible is a literary device whether intentional or unconscious. To the authors of these stories God is some magic supernatural black box of which they have a low resolution understanding or conceptualization. If one reads the Bible with literary devices in mind it becomes abundantly clear that God is 1) that which created and governs the physical universe, 2) that which watches and judges, and 3) that which determines a particular future from all potential futures. We have a much higher resolution understanding or conceptualization of these components. That which created and governs the physical universe is the laws of physics which corresponds to Elohim, God the Father, and The Body of God. That which watches and judges is society which corresponds to The Son of God and The Mind of God. That which determines a particular future from all potential futures is the interaction between the Father, the Son, and the physical universe including individuals which corresponds to The Holy Ghost and The Spirit of God. Together this Trinity is God and YHWH.
Probably the best illustration of this in the Bible is the book of Job. The main message of Job is that one should thank God for everything, blame God for nothing, and realize bad things happen through no fault or sin of your own in other words bad things happening to you is not God punishing you for your sins. This would make absolutely no sense if God were making conscious decisions about every event in the universe. For example, if a plane crashes we don’t blame gravity or figure the people on the plane had it coming; no, we look for design flaws, operational errors, security failures, or other root causes and it is absolutely understood that we wouldn’t be technically wrong to thank gravity for everything because without gravity none of this exists. Gravity is undoubtedly “good” and yet people suffer because it exists. This is exactly the attitude the Bible says we should have with regard to God.
I’m using the term laws of physics somewhat colloquially rather than in its technical definition; the laws of physics don’t actually exist technically speaking. They are descriptions of the behavior of matter and energy under particular conditions which are determined by universal constants that may or may not be universal and may or may not be constant. I’m using the term in the broader sense like Hawking’s did when he said [paraphrasing]: “God didn’t create the universe, the laws of physics did.” Which if one simply applies the transitive property (if A=B and B=C then A=C) then if the laws of physics is what created the universe and what created the universe is God then the laws of physics are God. Additionally, considering the laws of physics are in a sense supernatural as in controlling nature rather than in magical sense, Hawking’s statement translates to ‘The ancient conceptualization of the supernatural didn’t create the universe, the modern conceptualization of the supernatural did’. True, but considering how much we still don’t know it’s hardly much of a difference in the grand scheme of things on a universal scale. There’s still plenty of wondrous mystery with respect to God.
This might come across as arrogant like we have it all figured out, that God is not as incomprehensible as he should be, and we’re relying too much on our own intelligence. I couldn’t disagree more. This is not like the Satan story line of becoming arrogant and believing that we no longer need God or have become God. Quite the opposite; this is about worshiping God, that is to say having a reverential admiration for and immense gratitude to God for this miraculous existence we’re immersed in. Also, this is about taking the Bible seriously because although they had a low resolution technical understanding of God, due to generations of accumulated knowledge they had a high resolution understanding of human nature and the relationship between us and God. To them God was far beyond technical understanding, i.e. supernatural in a magical sense. We now know what they didn’t in a technical sense and there’s no reason to keep pushing God out of the somewhat understood and into the realm of the supernatural in the magical sense. The God of Abraham “exists” and is as deserving of worship as anything imaginable.
I recommend Dr. Jordan Peterson’s Biblical series for more truth embedded symbolically in Biblical stories: https://jordanbpeterson.com/bible-series/
Although, the JBP has a more transcendental conceptualization of God than I; he’s extracted many objective truths in Biblical stories in an engaging manner. I’ll be going through some additional objective truths in these stories in future posts that he doesn’t since his focus is primarily from a psychological perspective. For example a main lesson in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is the concept of it being better to allow X guilty to go unpunished than to punish Y innocents, where X is much greater than Y; an ethos that is still embedded in our justice system today.