Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Why I Can't Believe in Your God: Part 5- Final Thoughts

Believe me, I have nothing against the traditional theistic view of God. It just doesn't work for me anymore. It doesn't speak to me on an rational, emotional, and spiritual level. I've tried believing and I've tried wei wu wei (effortless doing), believing without trying to believe. Nothing. So what then? Am I forever doomed because I can't seem to connect with the god of the Bible, the Torah, or even the Qur'an? None of it resonates with me, but what does resonate with me is the spirituality of brokenness, of simply being human. I'm not talking about nature worship nor do I believe in supernatural healing energies, that all comes across as mumbo jumbo to me. What resonates with me is reality itself, not a hereafter devoid of pain and suffering but the here and now. I draw connectedness and meaning from my spirituality as an evangelical would from their religious beliefs. There's no need to feel disappointed for me because I don't "get it". The It I seek is behind and beyond the it we've created.
The reason why I can't believe in your god, in an orthodox set of religious beliefs, because it keeps me from experiencing the big picture. Religion that asks it's practitioners to be a better [insert believer here] will only move towards being what their religion asks of them. I've realized that any singular religion is but a limited expression, a singular experience, of the whole. It is part of the whole but not the whole Itself. But rejecting my submission to a singular religious identity doesn't mean that I reject the "values" within the religious systems. These same values exist across all, and outside of, religion because they are HUMAN values. So when I say I value honesty, mercy, compassion, humility, love, etc. these are not exclusive to any one faith (i.e. Christianity). THIS is what blew me off my Christian high horse when I started reading the Qur'an. Each of the faiths spiral towards their holy center without realizing that the center is the same as the edge! This is not to say that all religions are right or even worship the same god. I used to say this until I realized this only trivialized their unique experiences of Reality. What I mean to say is that regardless how strange our beliefs may seem to one another we still share in the Human experience. At any point, scratch that, at EVERY point in the spiral we are still human. I believe that any beliefs/ideas which strips us of our humanity and our basic human rights should be left in the past to rot with our ancestors.

Spirituality, however, spirals outward from the center (Ourselves) towards everything and everyone else with a sense of openness and connection to all life. Our sense of connection starts with our sense of self. Who are we? What makes up our identity and where are the borders? What do we believe? Why do we believe "X"? The difference between spirituality and religion I believe is the guts to question the world and narratives around us. Religion has an established narrative, a set lens through which you see and interact with the world. There's nothing wrong with narrative, if your religion is truly making you a better X then full steam ahead. I can't contain myself to just one narrative because I resonate with so many of them. But the reason is because I resonate with the human experience that the narrative represents, not the narrative itself.


captron52 said...

Hi Sam. You are the TRUTH you are seeking! Have a good one friend!

Don said...

This was a great series. I enjoyed it very much.

Doug B said...

I always very much enjoy your thoughts about religion/spirituality. I'm not able to be quite as charitable as you are when you say you "have nothing against the traditional theistic view of God." For me that's the entire difficulty, the idea that truth should come down from above rather than rise up from our own monkey minds. which is, after all, the best we've got. But that's just me.

Eruesso said...

Ronnie- Hope you had a very happy birthday. Your comment reminds me of a similar quote "you are your own guru" I read in Be Here Now by Ram Dass.

Don- I very much enjoyed writing it. It feels good to get your thoughts out and figure out where you stand. I've been in theistic limbo for years now and I'm glad I've internally settled the matter.

Doug- I guess I should consider being a bit clearer next time. What I meant to say was the notion of a fatherly God watching over us is quaint and helpful to those who believe they need God to look out for them. Doesn't work for me but if it helps others sleep at night, so be it. The idea and belief itself only becomes dangerous when the believers forget our shared humanity. I guess what I was inadequately trying to express was that I'm all for criticizing religious beliefs but I'm nowhere near the militant Atheist camp.


Anonymous said...

Hi Erruesso,

I love to read your stuff. The question for myself, however, has never been about "Religion" per se. I've almost always been aware enough to realize that dogma has no place in true spirituality. The idea of a "Power" or "Source" or "God" is unquestionned for me. The universe is too big and too "perfect" for lack of a better word. Arguing, as an Atheist would do that this force is nothing more than "cosmic accidentalism" as a friend of mine likes to say is like driving in a car and arguing that internal combustion did not require conscious thought. The evidence is right in front of your nose and it's what powers you. At least that is the case for me.

The true issue from my perspective is whether that force is cognizant and involved in the process. Either you believe that or you don't. No middle ground here. You can't say "sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't". Frankly, that's almost too big a concept for a human to grasp. That's why we reduce our faith to practices and approaches. It's just plain easier to handle.

But is it necessary to figure it all out? Let me share this quote from John Ortberg:

"A business man known for his ruthlessness, arrogance and religiosity once told Mark Twain he intended to visit the Holy Land before he died, in order to climb Mount Sinai and read the Ten Commandments out loud. "I have a better idea" Twain said, "You could stay here in Boston and keep them."
We would rather cogitate on what we do not know than actually do the things we know we ought to do.
Organizations often suffer from inertia. A company may know they need to improve quality control, so they discuss it, listen to presentations about it, read books, look at state of the art systems-but never actually get around to doing it. Their problem is not one of ignorance. Their problem is one of knowing too much but doing too little.
People would rather debate protein versus carbs, French cooking versus vegetarian, lifting weights versus cardio. Just spend more carbs than you take in. It isn't rocket science.
People love to debate individual stocks versus mutual funds versus real estate. Just save more money than you spend. It isn't rocket science.
People would rather debate doctrine or beliefs or tradition than actually do what Jesus said.
It's not rocket science. Just do it. Practice loving a difficult person or try forgiving someone. Give away some money. Tell someone thank you. Encourage a friend. Bless an enemy. Say "I'm sorry".
You already know more than you need to know. Don't debate minutiae. Just go practice. It is easier to be smart than good"

For me, that just about says all I'll ever need.

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