I haven’t believed in God since I was 12 years old, which doesn’t mean I didn’t want to at one time. I had this idea that it was my particular brand of religion that was at fault, and that if I just found the right religion, then God would make more sense to me.
That completely explains why, when I started college, I majored in philosophy. In my defense, keep in mind that I started college at 17. I of course thought I was a fully-formed adult human, sprung from the head of Zeus or something. Of course, I was in fact, lame. My first college crush was on my philosophy professor Dr. Bowman, who taught Philosophy of Religion. He once gave us a quote in class, by somebody famous, which said something to the effect that it’s sad that man loses his faith in religion without at the same time losing his need for it. Yes! Exactly! I said.
I’m pretty sure I wasn’t alone in this quest, since there has to be some explanation for the Hare Krishnas.
However, the philosophy angle didn’t work for me. I thought I had found the magic lamp when we studied Spinoza who logically “proved” the existence of God. Except I had to write a paper on him and poked holes in his argument long before we got from A to C.
Then I switched to anthropology, where I learned something very interesting. As far as I can recall, there is no culture, no civilization without a concept of “God” or “gods” and a corresponding belief in an afterlife. Which taught me this: religion is a univeral human need. But universal human need is not the same thing as universal truth. That is the problem. When you leap from “Everybody believes it” to “It must be true”, then I’ve abandoned you before we even got from A to B.
In the end, the only people I really respect are the Pascal-ish people , who say, Yeah, I can’t prove it, but I choose to believe it and it makes me happier. (That’s a bit of a perversion of Pascal, but like I said, Pascal-ish.)
If only I could find more of them who said, if you choose not to, that’s okay by me. But somebody is always trying to convert me, and I have several pet peeves about the whole thing.
There must be something more than this life. Really? Why? Maybe if more of us believed that this is all there is, we would try harder. Maybe we wouldn’t just wait for a better life around the bend. Maybe we wouldn’t be sucked in by the idea of the 72 virgins.
I’m praying for you. Grrr. This one really gets me. I don’t mind you praying for me to the God of your choice if I’m having a crisis, but I do mind you praying for me hoping I’ll “see the light”. It insults me.
Here’s what I think. I think the universe is a miraculous place, and we are miraculous beings within it. I don’t need a “watchmaker” to have made it all. (And who was it who said that anyway? St. Thomas Aquinas?) The main thing you can get me to agree to in the Bible is this: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. There will never be another you or me. I used to upset my grandmother endlessly by quizzing her about Heaven. Will we have bodies? What will we look like? Will we be old or young, or the age we were when we died? Can the dog go too?
I think we are made of atoms, which will combine with other atoms at some future date to form a new entity. That’s enough immortality and awe to suit me.