"I'm talking about the "Whatever" that existed BEFORE the big bang, as understood by modern science."
Well, technically speaking one cannot refer to a time "before" the creation of the universe since time itself was created within the universe. It's like referring to a point more north than the northpole.
I think it is faulty human categorization to apply common concepts like time and even causation for such a fundamentally foriegn event. How can we even attempt to assign responsibility for an eventthat we cannot even properly conceptualize?
Not that I don't wonder along the same lines as you do, mind you.
"I'd be eager to hear from anyone else out there who's got serious doubts whether the God of our tradition is in any way an accurate representation of God as God really IS."
Ok, that's me. God may exist, today he stands as the big Mystery forall the unanswered (or unanswerable) questions. There is some answer for all those questions - maybe we can call that God. But that this incredible, subtle and sublime "Force" which rules a universe (at least) and is also incredibly interested in my sex life and eating habits and only lets me know of this through the defective transmission of information that is human communication over generations - that I find entirely fantastic.