Not Your Father’s Faith

How can you believe in an imaginary man in the sky?

It’s a valid question, and on the face of it, sounds ridiculous.  The easiest answer might be that I was raised a believer, but that shortchanges the doubts and struggles that have shaped my life.  There was a point where I seriously doubted the existence of God, but not because I fell into a dark place.  I began doubting him when my life seemed in a very good place.  Why do I need God when things are going well?  My mind opened to the beauty of logic and reason.  And they are beautiful, truly beautiful.  Logic and reason show the best of humanity, and so do compassion and emotion.  Most of the obstacles we continually throw in our path as the human race is when we get these things out of balance.  We become so passionate that we do not step back and use our reason to evaluate the reality around us.  Or, we become so detached that we miss the joy and excitement of being engaged in life and open to impossibilities.

In any case, why do I believe in the guy in the sky?  Well, the fact is… I don’t.  He’s not a guy, and he’s not in the sky, and he’s not a he… or a she.  He or she or God can be manifested in whatever form you need.  God is God.  One truth of which I am absolutely certain is that God exists all around us and works through us.  Yes, it defies reason to believe that something ephemeral exists that guides and watches and loves, but I have discovered, to my delight, that part of faith is the emotion of belief.  For example, I have been deeply moved for the past five weeks at church, which is a somewhat new experience for me.  Now, you may explain it away as coincidence, as the result of meditation (because that IS part of worship) and reflection, or as a psychological mind trick, but for me, it is more.    I have not experienced that kind of emotional connection to my faith since… well… ever.  But for some reason, my heart, or ears, or brain, have been open lately to the very real emotional effect that inspiration can cause.  Either the message of the pastor has made a personal connection, or a lyric in a hymn or song has moved me to tears because of the emotional connection it has created in me, or maybe, something bigger than that is at work.  I am not vain enough to believe that God makes time for little old me, but apparently, even sparrows do not escape his attention.  I am a bit larger than a sparrow.  So, maybe the twisted, craggy trail of my life has led here:  a place where my faith feels renewed in ways I never expected.  It’s not anything like a conversion event, and God did not appear to me.  I just feel… good, when I go to church, when I think about my faith, when I think about why we’re here and what set this whole crazy think in motion.

Let me be clear here.  The universe is 13.8 billion years old and the earth is millions of years old.  It was not all done in one week, even though I am sure God could have done it that way.  But why?  I believe in science, and I believe it because not believing it would be like not believing that the earth revolves around the sun.  It does, even though at one time, it was considered blasphemous to say so.  That is ridiculous.  God gave us reason so that we might understand the world around us and take care of his creation.  This conflict between reason and emotion is silly to me.  They both exist and fit together and that works for me.  It is not necessary for me to believe in a God that created the world in a week, and it is not necessary for me to believe that all this incredibly complex universe came into being through a series of random events.  Sometimes, we find out that what we firmly believed might not be true.  So, we think about it, work it out, and move on with new knowledge.  Why is either side so intent on being immovable?  Granted, I see much more immobility on the part of those who rely on faith, but I suppose that is because faith is such a personal, and emotional thing.

I’m rambling.  Probably semi-incoherently, but I will most definitely revisit these ideas again.  Just needed to open up about what I believe.  Maybe I just believe in love and compassion.  Maybe I just believe that we as human beings are capable of good.  Maybe… But I do find comfort in believing in something beyond reason and emotion and the present.


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