In ancient times people saw gods in the rocks and trees, idols they made and volcanoes and lightning and thunder. These were gods that were larger than they, but they were accessible. Their gods lived in their environment. Their gods were arbitrary, but they tried to appease them anyway.
Roman and Greek gods were larger than the material world, and they manipulated the material world for their own ends. They controlled volcanoes and earthquakes and lightning and thunder, but they were human-like, even in their imperfections. People could approach them. People could reason with and try to appease them.
Buddhist, Hindu and Eastern gods are not defined by the rocks, trees, lightning and thunder. They do not simply manipulate the material world. They are intimately and intricately part of the material world, and the material world is an extension of them, and the entirety of the material world is all ultimately one and the same in its essence.
Many scientists, like Einstein, who stood in awe of the universe, saw “god” in this way. People can fathom these gods/this god and understand them/it and seek to become one with them/it because these gods are made of the same stuff as people and all of the universe ultimately. These gods cannot be appeased. We can only hope to understand them.
But these gods are too small.
The god of the Quran is much greater than all of these. Allah is utterly apart and different from the universe he created. Allah is unapproachable, but people attempt to appease Allah by following the rules laid down in the Quran, Muhammad and the Hadith given by the inheritors of Muhammad’s authority. The hope is to live a life that weighs more favorably on the side of favor with Allah than not. Even so, a person cannot be assured of eternal life short of dying in Jihad or, perhaps, a devotional tip to Mecca.
If you think about the idea of God, whatever God might be, God is something we don’t control. We don’t dictate to such a being as God; all we can hope to do is reason with, understand, become like or appease such a being. All of man’s religious leanings go in that direction, though we often believe, at the same time, as if we might be able to get the best of God.
We think we might be able to offer the right kind of sacrifice to appease God. We might be able to reason with and influence God to give us what we want. We might be able to reach a level of understanding that we could become like God. We might be able to do enough things to assure ourselves a place with God in eternity. This is how we tend to think.
According to the Bible, however, all these gods are too small. The god of the Bible stands out above them all, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the God of gods. There is no God above the one true God. The God of the Quran is similar in this respect, but even Allah can be attained by compiling enough favorable actions during life to merit a place with him in eternity.
The God of the Bible is much greater than that. Not that we don’t try to imagine God in our own image. The God that is revealed to us in the Bible is absolutely and completely Other, standing apart from His creation, exiting before the point of the singularity of space-time, before the beginning of all of the material reality that is the extent of the world as we know it. This God created the universe out of absolutely nothing, by simply speaking it into its existence. This God is larger and greater and beyond anything that can be imagined.
As time goes on, science continues to reveal how enormous the universe is, as it expands without end from the point of beginning. As we learn about this universe, and the vastness of it, our idea of the greatness of God expands with it.
God spoke all of it into existence in the beginning. He was before the universe began. He is and He always will be.
For centuries and millennia our idea of God has been too small.
Though we try to reason with and appease God, as if He were human, we cannot sway God from His plan or purposes. Unless God has a plan and purpose for us, we are utterly without influence over such a God who is as “big” as such a God must be to have created the universe we see.
Though we try to understand God, our science can take us no further than the ever expending edge of the universe we can see. We can’t see far enough or small enough to get to the end of the material universe – and God is greater than that. He transcends it all. Unless such a God reveals Himself to us, we cannot know such a God. We are too limited.