An atheist asked me a great question:
“But anyway: if this way of thinking makes you happy, then go ahead, as this doesn’t disturb me. But you would be exactly as happy as you are if you would stop in having the need to related to something which is out of reach. What for? Why? This aspect interest me, can you comment on it?”
I love a question that cuts through the tangential and secondary obfuscations and gets to the pragmatic bottom line: Why do I want to believe in God?
I didn’t have a succinct processed answer. I guess I thought it was self-evident. Obviously important. And my Christian friends have asked what is essentially the same question:
“Chris, why are you spending so much time trying to find answers to unanswerable questions? Just accept it on faith and quit tormenting yourself.”
So I am sitting down at my desk this Saturday morning to see if I have an answer.
ONE: Science is good for How but incompetent for Why.
Many of my atheist friends say they believe in science as if that precludes the metaphysical and the spiritual. As if science and spirituality answer the same questions. I believe that science and the spiritual are both part of Ultimate Reality. Two sides of the same coin. One is focused on discovering Physical Reality. The other is focused on Metaphysical Reality. There are aspects of life that depend on metaphysical revelation to find the ‘good’ understanding and the ‘good’ action. Pure scientific pragmatism produces Eugenics and its moral equivalents. Even my atheists friends are ‘borrowing transcendence’ on a daily basis. Because the things that matter most to us are ‘the good things’ that are valued far beyond their material and pragmatic value.
TWO: I want to know the Best Way to Live.
Often the wisdom and religious streams of mankind are rich sources for the best way to live. We join the ancient conversations and bring our contemporary and individual understandings to them. It doesn’t require being stuck in pagan thought and superstition. It means building upon the spiritual work that has been done just as we build on historical knowledge and experience in disciplines such as Psychology, Science, Politics, and Economics.
It is significant if there is a Higher Consciousness guiding humans to make progress in all aspects of the human experience. It is even more significant if I can make conscious contact with that Higher Consciousness and involve that Higher Consciousness in the daily experiences that add up to the sum total of my life.
THREE: I want to understand my Many Spiritual Experiences.
Right now I am sitting at my desk in my bedroom looking out the window on the on the early November snowscape. It is a beautiful mix of fall colors and white snow. When I take a moment to be present with nature I feel my internal RPMs downshift to an idle. My breaths naturally come deeper and slower. The voice in my head becomes quiet. I feel at one with the rhythm of nature rather than my typical Race Against Time mindset. I would also say that I feel Love. And a Presence. And a Connection. And I gain Clarity. Out of this place my intuition is very powerful. I am able to reframe and find perspective.
Many would say that is simply Mindfulness. While Mindfulness does describe my experience I believe that term falls short of a full explanation. A more comprehensive and satisfying description would be a personal connection with a Higher Consciousness.
FOUR: I want to participate in a Meaningful Meta-Narrative
Of course Atheists can find meaningful ways to engage life. But then the earth will eventually be engulfed by our sun when it swells into a Red Giant. For me it would be very meaningful if our existence is more than a random occurrence. Most humans intuitively believe there is more to life and existence than that we are simply the result of a long, random chain of cause and effect that can be traced back to the Singularity. If life was created intentionally then there is some purpose to it. Maybe we can examine life and, in combination with our spiritual experiences, discern what gives life meaning.
FIVE: I want there to be Life after Death
If there is Life after Death it significantly re-frames this life.
I want to be reassured that I will see loved ones from this life in the next. And that I will see them set free from the faulty material of their bodies. Free from disease, injury, addictions and mental illness.
At nearly 54 I have entered a season of life where my chances of dropping dead significantly increase each year. Each year my body loses functionality. And I am definitely not getting better looking. My life will end before get a chance to do and to learn and to experience many meaningful and engaging experiences.
I know. I should have a bucket list.
But I am not talking about parachuting or getting a tattoo or going to see the Eiffel Tower.
I am talking about studying physics. I am talking about mastering a musical instrument. I am talking about living out entire new careers. Living lifetimes in different places.
I am also talking about my Personal Progression. At 54 I feel like I am just beginning to learn to be the person I was intended to be. I am just beginning to understand situations and circumstances and how to engage and respond.
I am just beginning to gain Wisdom.
I am just learning to Love.
I would like that progression to continue in my own life and others and experience what that life would be like.
What would I be like at 250 years old? I want to know that.
SIX: Now that I am free from the superstition, the dogma, the bigotry, the paganism, and the tribalism of Conservative Christianity I believe my new openness to follow the truth where it leads creates an opportunity to more fully experience God.
In the Christian circles I ran in we often talked about “Defending Our Faith!”. Conservative Christians believe they are in a “Spiritual War” against the world, the flesh, and the devil. This inevitably leads to Conservative Christians living in isolated bunkers. Often these Conservative Christian will only allow Christians in their bunker who share their own very particular version of Conservative Christianity. This creates a Brainwashing Echo Chamber that few escape from.
What I would give to have escaped decades earlier!!
But my new openness combined with a lifetime of spiritual experience puts me in a good position to come to a fuller experience and understanding of God.
CONCLUSION: I want to believe in God because: I BELIEVE IN GOD.
In the process of thinking about this I came to an important conclusion that just became obvious to me. I want to believe in God because I already believe in God. I know so many people whose lives have been positively transformed by God. People so naturally believe in God. I believe the Universe is obvious evidence of Intelligent Design. And I have a deep, unshakable belief that this life matters and is rooted in something beyond this life.
I am not a Christian.
Or any other organized religion.
I believe in God.