Faith. Got it?

It's God theme day! We were talking about the personal God thing once again, a boy and I.

He believes, and I said Good! That can help you and be a true form of strength . . . or so I hear. . . and then later on some random thing by Corn Dog reminded me of the subject again vizzz The idea of of A God Who Knows We, Each of Us, Exist (and actually cares). Nope, I can't get there. If there is such a set up, it'd probably be too Terry Pratchett in my mind.

My practically best friend in the world believes that God is watching and that there are angels. She doesn't seem particularly Hallmark Channel about it, and it's based on a thoughtful lifetime raised in religion by a pastor dad. She has said that she can't imagine living without faith, that if that corner of her were ripped out, she'd suffer. Maybe that combo of fear and comfort is enough to keep belief alive--because it feels right, it slips into place that would be howlingly empty other wise.

That's how I, a non-believer, imagines the process in a thinking person, anyway. I think she believes I'm missing a big something essential like another dimension to my character? Maybe along the lines of being tone deaf? I'm not sure. I should ask her.

And what if you weren't raise with belief? Some people, like my boy, can install the necessary faith. I was also raised without religion, but I can't bend my eenie weenie brain around any of the necessary accoutrements. One big God? Angels? Heavenly eavesdroppers keeping tabs on my daily output of good and evil actions? Nossiree, and I saw most of that dumb movie with Nicholas Cage (actually I saw a German version all the way through)

It cannot be. I'm not denying your rafts of angels and god, but in my brain? Nope. Occasionally when I'm happy, I can feel blessed and when I'm tired I can feel put upon personally by the universe, but I mark it down to chemicals and luck.

I can't conjure up a god who gives a personal damn about personal me and I've tried. God knows I have tried. Or he would, if he existed, which he doesn't in that form in my tiny human limits.
I'm still not putting a big black X in the idea of God and I don't care what atheist Douglas Adams said. (He appreciated believers and was scornful of agnostics.) Picking agnostic not always a matter cowardice and personal safety. Just like picking believer is not always Blaise Pascal's wager--which seems to be about what you personally stand to gain or lose.

From B.P.'s Pensées: "You must wager; it is not optional... Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God exists... If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists."

See, I'm not wagering either way. I'm just scratching my head and saying huh? I don't get how it's a choice, Blaise. That part of my brain doesn't turn on. But I know that doesn't mean jack shit. The calculus section never clicked to the on position either.

Okay, I'm off to vacuum for the guest who does exist and she would vacuum for me, blast her. And flowers for her, too. Because that's what she'd put in my room. Bah. (I seem to have very high tit for tat standards.)

Comments

  1. I think if you spend your life praying and scraping to the church, you've lost a lot--as in your own life.

    When I was 4, coming home from church, I asked my father about God. He said 'some people don't believe in God.' I thought that was the smartest thing I'd ever heard and haven't believed since.

    Want proof--give me God's supposed powers and if I couldn't do a better job than he has, fire me and bring in someone who will.

    Rob Preece

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  2. You're not alone in your thinking, Kate. The personification of God - the idea of a single, separate, powerful entity - simply does not work for me, for a lot of reasons. I've read a lot of theology, studied the history of religions, am close friends with devout people of different faiths.

    Yes, the universe is huge and a mystery and there is so much we do not understand, and amazing things - as well as terrifying things - happen that we have no logical reasoning for, both on a universal scale and a human one.

    I accept that, and accept that I will never know how those mysteries work. I can even be almost comfortable ascribing the name 'God' to that vast unknown, in much the same way that theologian Paul Tillich applied the name 'God' to 'that infinite and inexhaustible depth and ground of all being'.

    But the personification of God, as an omnipotent individual with the ability to directly intervene in human activity - no, it doesn't work for me. Not in any comfortable, benevolent sense, anyway.

    However, I do believe in the capacity of humans and humanity for compassion, justice, and love.

    I'd go on, but it would take a few pages and I'm supposed to be writing a novel, not composing a statement of faith in humanity :-)

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  3. I believe in God but it's a very personal thing. I won't go to church because God isn't there for me. Sometimes I think A.C., the homeless guy I feed, is God. I know that's kind of crazy but I think God is in all of us.

    ..and so I was walking my little white dog across campus about 20 years ago. No, I didn't see the crackhead with knife until it was way too late. He somehow doubling back on us. He started running. I ran too but the dog was small with short legs. I should have just picked the dog up and run but "should have's" are a dime a dozen in emergencies. We were running as fast as we could, but the crackhead was overtaking us. He had a knife. I could see it. I looked up and down the road way for help. No one was there. Another few seconds and the screaming manic would be on us. I prayed like I never prayed before, "Please God, I don't want to end up like this." When I looked again, a cop car was speeding straight for us. He pulled up beside me and punched his passenger door open and ordered me inside. I asked, "Can I bring the dog?" I can be such an idiot. He yelled "GET IN!" My door slammed and we sped off as the drug addict fell kind of on the officer's side of the car. He drove me home. About an hour later he came back. They arrested the man, a known felon, cracked out. It took 3 patrol cars to subdue him.

    I believe in God. I believe she helps me, if I ask her. She isn't always that direct and she doesn't always give me exactly what I ask for.

    I also understand people who don't believe. When I went to my friend's barbque recently. I was talking to Stan, 87 year-old heart attack survivor. He had an attack and was resuscitated. He told me, "You better enjoy life because I'm telling ya there's nothing after, no white light, no Jesus, no God." Then he went off to get another beer. I mean he was dead for 20 minutes. So, I guess he should know.

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  4. I'm glad you've posted this. I really am. I'm a hanging by a thread almost atheist, but hubs isn't, there's religion in school, and Sassy asks me questions and I'm rather hopeless about how to answer her.

    I also have a friend who's extremely religious and trying to tell me that the Earth is only 14 thousand years old. He doesn't believe in science and it's radio carbon dating and uranium decay. There is equal pity on both sides.

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  5. Great post, Kate. I think you know where I'm at on this . . . so, would you mind telling me where I'm at on this? I mean, when I was taking Darla's Hell quiz just now, there's a question "do you believe in God," and I was really torn because there was no "maybe." I finally answered "Yes," but I don't think God is anything knowable and clearly doesn't give a damn about us. What kind of god starves and tortures babies and children, not to mention adults? And that "mysterious ways" argument never washed with me.

    CD, your stories never cease to grip me.

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  6. Okay, Bron and Rob. you make me feel better, because not believing in god is more lonely than having a god.

    CD, you're zoe from Franny and zoe. Seriously.

    Doug. From now on you will believe in god on even numbered days except in February. All of feb, (except Saturdays) you will wear your underwear inside out to mourn the end of winter and assuage your sins and remind you of your ancestors' suffering.

    On odd days, you will not believe in god and yet will ritualistically (as in not having too much fun) commit the sins you repent for on even days (with feb free of sinning) Fridays you'll only eat tapas and you will, at all times, avoid dogs with two different color eyes because they're spooky.

    You will cut down all elm tries, doing god's work of ridding the world of the evil spirit that inhabits all elm trees.
    "Elem hateth man, Elem waiteth" is the only text you truly believe.

    My work here is done.

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  7. That incantation sounds vaguely Cthulhu to me. And btw, even if you catch me in a more 'believing' mood, I'm not much of one for repentance. I have enough personal guilt without having to feel I owe guilt to God, too.

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  8. Tchah, Doug, give your guilt to god! It's what you're supposed to do. An offering or something.

    It's religion that makes me giggle like a maniac, not the god thing so much.

    Also, that saying isn't mine. It's real and old. Real old and I still don't get it.

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  9. Interesting topic.

    "I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die and find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die and find out there is." Albert Camus

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