I have been asked to speak about my faith.
I am uncomfortable with this because my faith may be a thoughtless criticism and dismissal of your faith and second I may inadvertently expose that I really think your faith is foolish and I don't really have much faith at all, so who really cares what someone who has so little may think about it? But I do respect your faith or better your desire for a connection to the Real. But you have asked me for what I believe: A comprehensible God does not exist. God as the substance of reality may exist but her characteristics are unknowable. God is Love? Certainly that is not all God is. Life goes on because we are creatures who must keep going on. I cannot tell you any meaning except what we give it. We don't know why we are here but we are grateful. Religion has built these large beautiful edifices because we are thankful. We did not create ourselves and yet here we are. Something must have done it. Let's call it God. First and only important cause. The source. Always present.
The nature of God is what is problematic. Is God angry? Satisfied? Hopeful? Can he talk or write a book?
None of these questions really make sense. God can only be “other”, everything we are not and so
impenetrable or imponderable to human scale.
Our anthropomorphic God exists because we prefer beautiful illusions to possibly ugly truth. A God
who cares about us. Men talk about “The Truth” but I think a man's illusions bolstered by a faith may be more important
than his truths. Truth may not include us. Even now an asteroid could be hurtling to a rendezvous with our future. A man sacrifices to create truths in which to believe. A man's greatest sacrifice could be for a purpose, a goal, an idea, a meaning, a value, another person. And a woman's greatest sacrifice may be for her loved ones; a man right or wrong, her family, her children, other people. I will acknowledge that to suggest a gender difference is "sexist". Men are obligated to “Gauge the Meaning” or “Find the Purpose” or “Fight for the Right”, a woman must support her loved ones.. The sexes have different roles but together they create human ideals. The duality in some sense creates unity.
God, if he
existed, would be interested in the whole creation, not just mankind. What, after all, was his interest in
100 million years of dinosaur world? Who was praying then or going to services? Is there another
“real” reality behind the apparent world? Heaven and Hell and all that. I could assume it but I cannot
see it and I surely do not believe it. A faulty faith for sure.. A religion is a well worn path to a social
idea of the Good, the True and the Beautiful but these things change as human beings change and face different situations. Truth is irrevocably relative.
There is no one best way to live. Anthropologists talk about farmers and hunter gatherers. A basic
difference that requires vastly different utilization of the environment. Modern society goes way
beyond that. How many “-isms” can you name? My son wants to know what the best society is. I
reflect on this question and consider that the answer is the best of what is possible. It may not be
possible to return to hunter-gathering or monarchy. For our situation it might be something very
utilitarian AND Beautiful. The greatest good for the greatest number AND lovely. What would it look like? Who knows, we have to inch our way to perfection only to watch it all melt away.....
Prayer embarrasses me or I would ask for help. (I don't like being required to approach God one particular way) I am however very interested in your idea of God and how it helps you
The ancient Greeks had philosophies of right living. There were Stoics, Cynics, Epicureans,
Dialecticians, Animists, pantheists, and of course monotheists. What philosophy could help sustain us
today? I prefer stoicism. I could even try Educationalism: a philosophy that we should all study and get a lot smarter. But stoicism seems noble: Bear up with what happens and do your best. You get to determine what best is for you. If your best isn't my best we communicate, tolerate, negotiate or fight. Sounds a lot like history to me.
There are those who say a man has one best way to live and that is in communion with the God of the
Universe. Many speak of a “relationship” with God. This is a poor description for the unfaithful and a
scientific state of mind. If you say, I feel God in my heart and when I ask him what I should do a calm feeling comes over me and I know this I must do. This feeling then is my “relationship” with God. He
doesn't talk he just gives me strength to do what I feel needs doing. If faith is the only determinant of
that truth, all other aesthetics are denied: altruism, rationality, sensibility, artistry. Can you see that
others might dispute your “relationship”? They think you are “seeing things” or “hearing things” and
are missing a critical component of what would normally be called a relationship.
Good is linked to what we like and evil is linked to what we despise. Good is relative. We cannot be
absolutely good without God to certify it. But where is the certification? Where the validation?
Without a universal standard that is agreed upon, we cannot do an unquestioned Good deed. We do
various shades of better. It is all a question of whose ox is gored.... If a killer whale is not evil then
what about defective people? Can we even excise just the evil and keep the good? Kill the mosquitoes
but starve the bats. It's always like that, you wound the good when you cut the bad.
If a man has a code he can live by, he has done enough. People need a special philosophy. A set of
principles they point to and say “to me that is most important”. There is honesty, there nobility, there
beauty, there generosity, and there courage. There is my tribe and there my country. Here is my family
and here is my first loyalty. All else is friend, foe, or irrelevant.
I was talking about evil. Evil may be to live by desire rather than justice. We need desire but if we are
flawed then we desire the wrong things. I find it hard to fathom a preference for nihilism, a need for
destruction or vandalism.. Canabalism? Never say never. Child rape? Comprehensible as the desire of
defective people. Perhaps though they are another species and could be killed, like flies, with impunity.
Let's not encourage that gene. But didn't Plato have sexual relations with his pupils? We are at war with
microbes and terrorists. They are not necessarily evil. They have different “needs”. You can talk to
terrorists easier than to God and you have a higher probability of getting a meaningful response. Some
terrorists may tire of their own philosophy and we may tire of ours as well. We may each prefer a third
way that makes us accomplices.
So I have just propounded an evil philosophy: your absolutist dreams are dangerous to my way of
thinking and mine to yours. Can we go on as before? I do not like to talk about my faith.....
How about faith AND everything else. Faith is what happens after everything else. Keep all the other
good stuff and add faith for what we don't know and will never know. What could be simpler? But is it
true? It may be better to assume that the things we need are true.....
Where else can we go for a “fuller” life?