Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Do Not Believe, I Hope

While walking alone last Friday night I thought deeply about a world with no God. I thought about the rational way to live in a world void of a god. Would there ever be cause worth dying for? Is there really a reason to try and make the world a better place? And probably most awakening question: In a world where death is the inevitable end, is there any reason to fall in love? Indeed one could extrapolate that: Is there any reason to continue to live?

As I walked alone, I contemplated the utter loneliness of a godless world. The dark street enveloped my mind. It became apparent to me why man would believe blindly in God, and has for many centuries. To face this world as what it is, a material and rather brief existence, is to become aware that the calling of your conscience is a product of chemicals reacting in your brain, and not whispers from a world beyond. It is to grasp that the grave for which we are all bound is approaching rapidly and is truly the end. There is no god looking down and guiding the world to some sublime paradise. There will be no resurrection of passed loved ones, no destroying of the evil, and, worst of all, no purpose for anything that ever was or ever will be.

Thankfully, science has yet to prove unequivocally that God doesn't actually exist, and for the sake of mankind, I hope never will.

I do not believe in God. That is to say, I do not know without doubt that above us is a supernatural Being who is attentive to the world and cares about it's continual existence.

However, in order to continue to strive towards greatness, to have a rationale for my moral actions, I feel the need to hope there is a God. To hope that there is a purpose to my existence, a reason for me to continue to be. Otherwise, I see no reason to love, to laugh, to battle evil, to sacrifice... to be. That hope is what makes all of life meaningful.

 I don't know how long this hope will last. It is hard for me to make an argument for God. All his actions seem non-sensible. Why create a world, then wait billions of years to connect to man, hide yourself from them, and let evil destroy your world? Is it all to test the devotion of the lucky ones born to families of believers? How are we to know which god you are? Are you the popular one of the last few centuries, or perhaps a forgotten god(s)?

The more I learn about evolution (which is very little at this point) the less God is needed to explain the mysteries of the world.

Yet, I hope.

All that being said, I see no reason to believe or trust any of the religions that claim to know God's will. There is no reason, and it is in fact ludicrous, to accept that one preacher knows the will of God more than the next! Why should I live by a set of statues whose divine origin cannot be proved? Religions have always capitalized on man's need for there to be something more than this world and have created elaborate structures to nurture that need. Perhaps a lot of people need that?  Perhaps, to keep that "God hope" alive one needs a structure that claims to be divine? Perhaps, even I will need one eventually?

So to sum up, no, I do not believe that God exists, I hope God exists.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Is God or Isn't He?

Do I believe in God?

I challenge myself with this question everyday. I waver from agnostic yet inclined to believe, to agnostic inclined to be skeptical. I know what I want. I want there to be a God. I want him to some how make sense of this chaotic world I was born into. I want that his real plan is universal equality and brotherhood.

My fantasy now is that there is a God, and that he is attentive to the world, yet all the religions are wrong and in no way his actual design for creation. Of course, there is no reason why this should be true, which is precisely the reason I wrote "fantasy" as opposed to belief.

What if there is no god?

If that doesn't send chills down your spine, I would say that you either believe absolutely (and therefore the question is meaningless) or do not understand the importance of a god being.

Why is God so important? For without God, this world with it's horrors, with it's unbridled evil is all there is. Yes, there are beautiful things in this world even without the existence of a god but do they really outweigh the darkness? The possibility that one only has this brief lifetime whose end is cold dirt and decomposing flesh. What a horrifying thought! Without a god, everything we do or achieve, everything we build or perfect, regardless how lofty, is utterly meaningless. Indeed one must regard the words of Ecclesiastes: "Futility of futilities -- says Ecclesiastes -- futility of futilities. All is futile!" (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Some may rightfully disagree with me. Some thinkers find a certain irony or comfort in the knowledge that this is it, and there is no beyond. This way of thinking confounds me greatly.

Someone may read this and assume that I then say that God must exist. That is not what I mean to say in the slightest. What I mean is that God is certainly the ultimate comfort. A warm blanket to wrap yourself in when confronted by tragedy or humbled by the strength of nature. Is it really a wonder why man would have felt the need to create him?

Yet I cannot proclaim, and may never be able to, that God absolutely does not exist or even that I am almost certain that he does not.

Is it simply a childhood indoctrination or perhaps a connection to the wondrous and mystical? I do not know. Ah, how frequent is that statement these days: "I do not know."

So do I believe in God? No. Do I accept him as a possibility? Yes. Do I live my life as if he is or isn't? Depends on the day. What a strange place to be. Unlike the believer or the atheist, I do not have some "philosophy of life" that I can say I live my life by. I am a small ship being tossed about in the mass ocean of doubt.

I therefore must leave off echoing the words of the great Greek philosopher Socrates who admitted: "The only thing that I know, is that I do not know anything.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dear God - A Letter from Your Son

Dear God,

Where are you that I might find you?

I believed in you. Then I searched for you and found nothing? I saw pain. I saw love. I saw darkness. I saw light. I saw misery. I saw comfort. Are you all of these or none of these? Are you... at all?

Preachers say they know you. They claim to know your will. They say we must follow them and they will lead us to you. But there are so many preachers and they all have different claims; who then am I to follow in order to find you?

Psalmists say they have seen you. That they have experienced your glory. Their eyes fell upon a sunset and their lips declared your name. But I am not psalmist. I only see a setting sun. How then am I to see you?

Prophets say they have heard you. That you communicate your will to them. But I am not a prophet why do you not want to talk to me?

Scientists say you are non-existent. They say you are just part of the human imagination. They say the world proves it.

Why have you left me?

They say you're my father. That you love and care for me, but then why have you turned your back on me?

They say you're my king. That you are the ruler of all, but how am I to serve that which I don't know exists?

That is the truth; I do not know that you exist. I want you to exist. Most of my life has been engulfed in that hope. Yet now, I see no reason to believe in you. They say you authored a book, that its contents are eternal, that its ways are pleasant, but why then is my moral conscience repelled by it?

Do you know that most people have stopped caring whether or not you exist, they just care if they feel good or not? You are their escape from reality or worse, the sword in their hands. You have been used to start wars, to burn cities, to sacrifice life.

Do you simply not care? Why do you let your name be defiled and used to motivate evil?

They tell me I'm supposed to praise you daily, yet you let darkness roam free when you have the power to stop it, what is praiseworthy about that?

Some say that this is all part of some master plan and that evil is really good. Why should I accept that? Babies at the mercy of monsters is good? How foolish!

God, you are comfort; but is that all you really are? A light at the end of a black tunnel? A friend to hide behind when fear strikes?

Am I a heretic because I use the intellect you gave me? Why would you give me a mind powerful enough to destroy you?

I will serve you, if I know you.

I will love you, if I know you.

If not, if this is the lot of the man who searches for you, then God, I guess I'll go on from here without you. My heart stings as I write this. I loved you so much. I served you. I spread what I thought was your truth and you left me in the desert without water, you turned your back.

Are you mad at me?

Am I now your enemy?

Are you happy with me?

Is this the Divine plan?

Best wishes,

Your (un)faithful son

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Faith vs. Reason

What is to be considered more praiseworthy: Faith or reason?

What should be the greatness of man, if he perfects his art of reasoned thinking or if he has absolute faith? The basic follow-up to this question is faith in what? We can surely say that when you meet a man who believes that Elvis is still alive and the man beside him lives a life of reason, we would surely respect more the man of reason. The religious man would thus claim: Faith based on logical reason is the greatness of man.

He will say that whereas the Elvis believer is simply foolish, his religious belief is based off reason and therefore far more superior.

This is a great flaw in the thinking of many religious people. They, like most humans, respect and demand reason in their daily lives. Moreover, they scoff at beliefs based on no reason, yet when it comes to the real proof of their own beliefs, they demand a certain so-called "transcending" of reason. They seek to use and abandon reason at their will.

Isn't odd that in all other aspects of our lives we strive, albeit many times unsuccessfully, to make decisions based on a logical thought process. In fact, we rationalize so many of our life choices in order to fool ourselves and others that we are logically oriented people. Yet, when it comes to religion we are asked to abandon our reason and "transcend" to the plain of knowledge beyond. Is this not a preposterous request?!

Why should we abandon reason and believe in a group of Divine laws?

And so begins the argument for and against religion's utilitarian purpose in the world.

Truth is lost. Reason scorned. "Faith is the ultimate, if it's my faith... not yours. Yours is ridiculous and senseless." Quite sensible is it not?