The end of faith

I’ve tried. I gave it my all.  I really did.   I studied, prayed, meditated, studied more and… I give up.  There is no God.  Period.  I say this because it’s time to be honest about it.   I’ve been lying to myself (and all of you) for well over 10 years.  I used the “nontraditional belief” as a ruse and excuse, but the truth is, I lost my faith in a “Father God” a long time ago.  The quest I’ve been on has really been me trying to convince myself, with your help, that the God I was taught to believe in since childhood actually existed.  

Yes, I enjoy the Zohar (the mystical text that serves as the foundation of Kabbalah) but that has really just served as a mystical escape from reality.  I enjoy reading it because it relaxes me.  Gnostic texts do as well.  I don’t read them because I believe them to be true. I read them because I was searching for truth any place I could find it (the Bible alone didn’t cut it).  What these mystical texts actually did was help me develop an understanding of how beliefs evolved and how the church suppressed (and extinguished) anyone who didn’t “fall in line.” I also admit that many times the Torah and Talmud have drawn me into a “belief” system of sorts, but it was the process itself that drew me in and not the subject matter.  The rabbis in a way were trying to prove the unprovable and they did it in a way that I believe gave rise to the scientific method of today.  

Faith is a virtual for anyone who can benefit from it in a positive way.  By benefit, I mean benefit in a way that gives them a sense of comfort and joy… not financial gain.  I’m not a fan of people who make a living off passing any of these myths off as actual truths.   At the same time, I know many people believe what the Bible says, but I think what they believe isn’t really grounded in the text itself, but what these people tell them it says.  The Bible is full of horrible stories and it glorifies a malevolent character that many believe to be a merciful Father… a character who is definitely not worthy of worship at all.   If you struggle with faith, chances are you’re doing more harm to yourself than good (both psychological and financial).  It’s not worth it.  Rational thought and reason will bring you to the same conclusion I have once you eliminate dogmatic fears of eternal punishment.

I mean no disrespect and I am in no way trying to influence anyone to NOT believe.  I have no intention of joining the anti-theist movement or attacking people or their faith. That’s a horrible thing to do. I’ve just come to the conclusion that the Quest for Light doesn’t lead to a deity.  Let’s keep searching though… Light is wisdom and knowledge and we should still seek it.

Can anyone “prove” God exists?

In the months since writing the post entitled Divine Science I have had a number of debates as to whether or not it is possible to prove God exists and I have never made the statement that God is a scientifically proven entity.   The evidence of the existence of God has long been an argument.  However, since there is no evidence to the contrary naturally it still remains a logical possibility.  This is not a scientific debate though; it’s a spiritual (or subconscious/emotional) one that Finger of Godif provable would propel the enigma of why evil exists to the forefront.  Part of the problem I think with the argument on proving the existence of “God” is the very defining of what “God” is or is not.

I, personally, am not a believer of an anthropomorphic deity.  You know the one that billions of people believe in and atheists completely detest and reject.  The God that judges and has had fits of rage that result in global flooding or fire and brimstone raining from heaven is an irrational concept to grasp or believe with any sense of reason.  Nor do I believe that God was a man who walked among us 2,000+ years ago in the flesh that had to subject himself to execution in order to forgive me for sins I hadn’t committed yet because that was the only way he could forgive me.  When you put God in a delusional dogmatic box like that, most rational people will not truly believe.  In fact, the only reason many people do believe it is because the genetic lottery caused them to be born into a family that believes it and thus the indoctrination as a young age begins.

That being said, something still compels many people to still believe in God even though they have managed to discard youthful things like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Part of it is obviously the fear factor – lack of belief in Santa or the bunny will not result in eternal damnation and proving they were myths was easy.  Yet there is also something within a person’s soul (or mind) that makes a distinction between God and the average run of the mill myths or beliefs.

Theists can be classed into one of three genres –

1. Unquestioning dogmatists, who believe exactly what they are told the Bible (or other sacred text) says.  By all outward appearances there is no questioning the existence of God, the infallibility of scriptures and the supernatural events that are attributed to God and those sent by God.

2. Cafeteria believers, who observe the major holidays and abide by the traditions (baptism, bar mitzvah, etc) because it is their “religion”.  They say they believe yet they couldn’t tell you what the primary doctrines are or even understand concepts like predestination or atonement.

3.  Heretics.  These are people who do not follow any religion and use either a comparative religious theology or a personal theology that is nondoctrinal and antidogmatic.  (Yes, I am often considered to be a heretic and I am proud of it)

Most of you know I study the “sacred texts” of numerous religions.  The Hermes archetype has existed since antiquity and will so long as people require hope for things not rationally obtainable.  Hermes was a transitional deity that acted as a messenger, intermediary, and conductor between the divine and mortal worlds.  The idea that mortal men could commune or speak with the gods was made possible through Hermes.  Oddly enough Hermeneutics, which is the art of textual interpretation, is derived from the name Hermes, who could also be considered the interpreter of the gods to men.  So whether you adopt the theology of the Odinist, the Wiccans, the Jews, Christians, Muslims or the Pastafarian you will not find “anything new under the sun” as theology and religion has been an ever evolving process; just like nature.

I have found that one of the best ways to put a reasonable argument around the existence of God is by blending multiple schools of thought together.  There are 2 primary schools of thought in Judaism – rabbinic and mystic.  In my opinion it is these 2 schools of thought that encompass what is needed to come to a sensible perception.  The Rabbinic thought is based on – “I shall be what I shall be” (not I am what I am).  The mystical side is based on the concept – “God is everything and God is nothing.”

When you incorporate these two together you get:

“I shall be everything and I shall be nothing.”

So, I really think it is a choice that each person has to make for themselves.  If you choose not to believe in God, then God does not exist to you.  If you have an inherited and shallow view of God, then you will have a shallow almost nonexistent God that is more an abstraction then reality.  If you truly and deeply believe in God, then God exists and makes a difference to you and how you live .

Divine Science

Parthenon from west

Parthenon from west (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To the Ancient Greeks, Zeus was not a myth. Neither was Poseidon, Hercules, Perseus, or Hades. These were real gods and demigods. The landscape of Greece and Italy still have the ruins of the temples that once stood to pay homage to these divine beings. So what happened? The answer is actually rather simple. People stopped believing. It had always been the belief that as long as the gods were worshiped and prayed to that they would be strong. All except Hades who obtained his strength through fear. The Romans had a similar pantheon of gods and the biggest difference between the Greeks and the Romans (aside from the names) was that the Greek deities resided on Mt. Olympus, again except for Hades who lived in the under-world. The disappearance of these deities changed the religions and beliefs of ancient times into the myths of modern times. The question now is, are the current gods that are worshiped (Yahweh, Allah, Jesus, etc.) any different? Is it possible that God is just an imaginary friend to a theist and as a result completely nonexistent to an atheist?

If science is the source of absolute truth then it would seem that we have no known origin, no known purpose, and no watchful father-like deity that we can turn to. We are just meaningless globs of matter and when we expire we decompose into dust and are no more significant than the dirt we are buried in. The various emotions experienced by mankind of love, joy, sadness and hope are mere chemical reactions that have evolved over time and our sense of morality is just a natural evolutionary code of ethics that developed over time as man increased in intelligence and furthered technology. We have nothing beyond the realm of current existence and life beyond the grave is nothing more than the musings of mythology and fairy tales.

The existence of God is not provable by science. This is an irrefutable fact that only the dogmatically sheepish would try to argue. The existence of God is an argument that mankind has had with itself since the earliest of times. People have slaughtered entire villages and marched their “Armies of God” across the world to force conversion and spread their religious influence as if by divine directive for thousands of years. Even today the madness continues by way of IEDs and suicide bombers on one end and the endless intellectual and apologetic debates in the blogosphere on the other. One of the biggest arguments used to disprove Theism is the existence of evil and why bad things happen to good people. This argument is one that human perception cannot rationally or objectionably engage in, unless they look at the broader picture displayed in nature. Most theists (Christians in particular) believe that the reason bad things (or evil) happen is because of sin. They trace this back to the Biblical tale of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit. Original Sin is a flawed dogmatic doctrine of the church that is just as much an injustice to infants and children as it is an illogical and incomplete explanation. Aside from the obvious issue of children and their suffering, what about animals? Does not the sheep live in fear of the wolf? Isn’t it excruciatingly painful when an alligator rips a deer to pieces? Anyone with even the slightest amount of common sense knows that although animals may not be able to drive or write, they do have intelligence. So that means they, like man, are very likely capable of emotions and exercising free-will to a certain extent. Do animals suffer as a result of Eve’s sin or do they just suffer because that is part of the balance of nature and the circle of life? To say that the animals suffer as a result of the sins of man is ridiculous. As such, the suffering of people cannot be pointed to the sins of a mythical woman either. I am sure someone is saying that I am ridiculous to equate the murder of a person at the hands of another person with that of an animal hunting its prey. What if man is the prey? Is it an act of evil if a man is attacked by sharks and eaten alive? Well to the family of the man its a tragedy but to the sharks it was a meal. How dare I say such a thing?!? Well, when a man kills a deer and uses the meat for his family its OK right? Perhaps that deer was a mother and its babies will now die because they can no longer nurse. A tragedy to the baby deer and just another meal for the hunter. Dare I even mention if the deer is shot just for sport…

Now, I know that I used some parallels that some may think are extreme comparisons. In a world of instant gratification, reality TV, self-help speakers, and personal conveniences it becomes almost impossible to realize that we are just specks of dust in relation to the enormity of the cosmos and that our own little realities are irrelevant in the grand design. So just as we pay no mention to the colonies of ants we destroy when we spray pesticides, the tides take no notice of the villages that are destroyed when an earthquake triggers a tsunami. Evil and Satan are easy cop outs (I will expand on these in my next post), but the balance of nature is the true cause.

So does this chaotic cosmos have a Creator? Does God exist? Well a scientist will tell you that God cannot be proven. God cannot be seen and cannot be tested. So let’s use their logic as we review a few concepts. Can we prove why a compass will always point north? The theory is that the earth has an invisible magnetic field that causes this. Gravity is also invisible and yet it is the undisputed reason given for why whatever goes up must come down. The winds cannot be seen, yet scientists have been able to discover that the changes in atmospheric pressure (also something invisible) in conjunction with the rotation of the earth and it revolution are what causes the wind. The sun emits light that is generated from a burning ball of fire and gases in space. This light is invisible yet enables one to see. This light is invisible yet when gather through a lens can burn a piece of paper. Light from the sun also warms the surface of the whole planet.

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who have pleasure in them. – Psalms 111:2 (RSV)

I have given some completely invisible scientific theories that have not been disputed and I do not dispute these theories, nor do I reject the science behind them even though they use unseen concepts as their basis of proof. If the unseen can be proven in scientific theory, why is it not acceptable as proof of Deity? How can one dispute the positive impact that God, whether a provable entity or not, has on the most faithful of people? Can we deny that people are moved by their faith in God to be charitable? Can we deny the fact that people are willing to give up their own lives for these beliefs? Can we deny that the truly faithful try to live a life of humility and selflessness? Can we deny the hope that otherwise hopeless people feel when they discover faith? Can we deny the inner strength a person may feel after a sincere prayer?

Faith in God will vary from person to person. It is not a conclusive science, nor will it ever be. It has been said that God is Light. Which is ironic because we can’t see light and we can’t see God either. We can feel the warmth caused by light of the sun and a believer can feel God by the warmth within their soul. Maybe God is imaginary or maybe God is calling and only those with ears to hear and are listening.