Cartman vs. Buzz vs. Barney: 3 Perspectives on God

Cartman vs. Buzz vs. Barney: 3 Perspectives on God

What would happen if Cartman, Barney, and Buzz Lightyear each set off on a quest to better understand the Divine?  What might they believe in the end?  It’s a question we all ask ourselves, and it’s the topic of this week’s post.

What makes God God?  What is God’s most fundamental attribute?

Cartman: God is first and foremost free.  Like me, God is best summed up in the expression “Whateva, whateva, I do what I want.”

Barney: Hi, friends!  The God I know is all about love.  God loves everybody, but like me, God would never force anyone to love Him back.  God is summed up by the first and last lines of my favorite song: “I love you” and “Won’t you say ‘I love you too’?”

Buzz Lightyear: Most importantly, God is the uncontainable, beyond all human language and understanding; God is the the infinite.  To learn about God, we must venture “To Infinity and Beyond,” as I like to say.

How should humans talk about God?

Cartman: Respect God’s authority!  The only way for us to learn about God is if God shows up and teaches us about Himself.  If we humans want to talk about God, the best we can do is witness to whatever God freely chooses to tell us through direct revelation.

Barney: I think that God is so good that God meets each of us where we’re at.  Regardless of our lingo or religion, God nudges us along towards greater and greater love.  As long as we’re talking about Love and Goodness, we can use any familiar words to talk about God.

Buzz: No, no, that’s all wrong.  When we define something with words, we put it into a mental box.  But it’s impossible to contain God in any box!  The only way to talk about the infinite God is to use non-literal, symbolic language that points towards (but doesn’t try to contain) God.

How does God act in the world?

Cartman: God does whateva God wants!  Since God is not limited in any way, we should expect God’s acts to break natural laws and overrule human decisions, shattering our expectations.

Barney: Since God is good, God is limited: a good God can’t be a meanie, so God can’t override human decisions or throw nature into chaos with miracles.  Like our conscience, God calls everything towards the best possibility in each moment, but often things don’t go God’s way.  Being nice means that things don’t always go your way, even if you’re God.

Buzz: Stop thinking so small!  It sounds like you two are describing a literal person, but God is way bigger than that.  God isn’t a being like us; God is Being Itself, the great Ground of Being!  “The action of God” is just analogy for the fact that Existence will always exist.  You guys need to get more meta if you want to talk about an infinite God.

What about the recent popularity of Atheism?

Cartman: Finally!  Many believers try to understand God by reasoning about creation and goodness.  But God is free to do whateva God wants, so our logic doesn’t apply!  Maybe if more people give up on the limited “God” of their imaginations, they’ll be open to the real God who shows up when He feels like it!

Barney: Most people imagine God to be an all-powerful King.  But if God had the power to stop the Holocaust and chose not to, God would be a meanie!  I hope that more people give up on that divine Bully.  Maybe now they can meet the truly good (but not all-powerful) God who I love!

Buzz: Oh, please.  When people ask if God “exists,” I say No!  Of course not!  I hate it when people argue over whether or not “God” fits into their larger, rational vision of reality.  A God who fits into something bigger is a finite piece, and therefore no God at all.  God doesn’t exist; God is the Ground of Existence.  God is way bigger than most atheists and believers imagine.


(For those interested, “Buzz” was loosely based on Paul Tillich, “Barney” was loosely based on process theology, and “Cartman” was loosely based on Karl Barth.)

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