Friday, April 9, 2010

The Necessity to Explain and Believe

One thing I had to come to grips with on my own journey to atheism was our apparent necessity as human beings to try and explain things we don't quite understand. It seems to be imprinted on our genetics. I've met many people who will explain away even the slightest things as the 'work of God' - things like getting a new job, a new date, debts paid off, etc. It willfully strips the individual of their own choices and freedom, giving an invisible deity all the credit. Likewise, some people will answer the big question of why we are here with something such as 'to praise God' or 'serve Jesus'. It often astounds me how people come to such rapid conclusions when:
1. The existence of that god must be proven first before we can say anything related to what he enjoys or requires from us.
2. A god of such omnipotence and omniscience (which goes for just about every religion; I mean, who wants to worship an impotent deity?) must be even more improbable than that which he is postulated to solve.

I was surprised yesterday to hear a Christian completely admit, without me even saying a word, that in a sense God must not exist. Why? When you consider God to be the creator of all things, the uncaused cause, then he has created everything, brought everything into existence, including existence itself. I never fully understood the question of "who created God" until I learned that. Did he bring himself into existence? No, he's always been? Already this god sounds more complex than the simple loving deity you hear about in church. How can we really expect to have his written word or hear from a being so unbelievably and confusingly unknown to us?

To me, using God as a cop-out for our own origins is not only avoiding the question, its complicating it. I don't pretend to understand all the specifics of how the Big Bang could've occurred and produced life in a godless universe, but adding an infinite being of God's sort to the equation only seems to raise more questions and make things a lot less simpler. Now, on the other hand, I don't feel like life has no meaning when you cease to believe in the supernatural, or that it adopts radical relativism. As an atheist, I get asked that question more than anything else: so if there's no God, why are we here? Why not just do anything you want? I still believe we have a moral responsibility and we have a purpose. The only difference is, that morality is defined by what benefits our race, not what benefits a god, and our purpose is one which we make ourselves. Even monkeys have a kind of ethical code in their social groups, and those who violate it are often punished by the rest of the group.

As for purpose, I think we all feel the need to love and be loved, regardless of what religion or beliefs we hold (or do not hold). I know that sounds pretty hippy-ish, but find me a person on this earth who doesn't want love and acceptance of some kind, whether from a deity or another person. I've often heard people say that life without God leaves a void in you that can't be filled with anything but faith, and I declare the opposite. You can't fill a loveless life with God. It's feigned love, an empty kind that is basically a form of schizophrenic love. That is why you see celibate priests doing all kinds of sexually immoral things. We are not made to force resistance of our natural instincts.

And so there I fall into the trap myself, of feeling the need to explain things to others. Is that such a bad thing though? I think not. You should invite discourse and be confident enough to share your beliefs. I hold that against no man or woman of faith, and indeed it commands some amount of respect for those who openly discuss things of such personal importance, knowing full well that it may be challenged.