Harold Bloom on Belief in God

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“And beyond loving one another, do you believe in God?”

“My wife, Jeanne, is an admirable and honest atheist. I’m not an atheist. My attitude toward Yahweh is that I don’t like him and I don’t trust him and I wish he would go away. But I know he won’t, because he’s built into the language, as Nietzsche said. He’s part of the way we think. As soon as you use a verb involving being, you’re in trouble. When he identifies himself to Moses, he says, “ehyeh asher ehyeh,” punning on his own name of Yahweh. It means something close to “I will be what I will be.” Which in effect means “I will be present whenever and wherever I choose to be present,” which has the horrible corollary “And I will be absent wherever and whenever I choose to be absent.” And he–or whatever it is, she–has certainly been absent for a long time.”

Elaine Pagels on Religion

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“When a life-changing event happens to us, we instinctively ask ourselves, “What does this mean?” “Is it good luck?” “Is it God’s will?” “Is it random?” “Is it because I did everything right?” “Is it because I did everything wrong?” That is, we’re not just experiencing–we’re always interpreting. So how we interpret events matters enormously. And religious traditions offer cues for the ways to interpret things. Do you go into fear, anger, isolation? Or is it possible to deal with events in a creative and open kind of way that allows for becoming more alive and aware and creative? Those are the questions that are crucial in these traditions. I’m fascinated by these traditions because as I read them, they’re about what art and music and poetry and drama are about. In fact, most of them consist of art, music, poetry, and stories. People can deal with those questions through any of these modes of experience, or through science.”