Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reasons to Believe

Up until this point I have found that precious few of reasons people seem to have for believing in God have attracted my respect: (1) a personal, internal experience and (2) the apparent design of the universe. It is easy to see the former as pretty persuasive to the experiencer and yet it is nearly powerless in convincing others. I have some sympathy for those who see a creative hand in the workings of the universe but science offers an answer to almost every question that God supposedly answers about what we see. He is all but reduced to hiding in the gap before the Big Bang.

Now, I have developed a sympathy for another impulse that leads many to Faith: alienation. If you do not feel like the world you are forced to move through is not your real home, you are fortunate. If you did not feel this way as a teenager, you were on some heavy meds! We all feel this way to some degree at some time. How simple to conclude that our feelings are actually instincts pointing to the unseen truth, that there is another place, another person whose discovery will complete us and stop these feelings forever. Heck, Disney made this movie at least half a dozen times: Sword in the Stone, Little Mermaid, Hercules, Aladdin, ... Expose this temptation to religious indoctrination and proselytizing and that one true home becomes a heavenly one, that missing father becomes the father of all creation.

I would rank this particular faith-producing influence on the same level as the creationist impulse - compelling in the absence of a critical or skeptical outlook and yet not so difficult to root out as John Wesley's "heart strangely warmed."

I imagine that as I get older, mellower and (hopefully) wiser I will add to this list, acknowlege and accept the range of experiences that lead people to do the (sometimes squirrelly) things that they do. And, yes, the current post was triggered by my own experience of alienation although in this case at odds with the church (don't get me started on "Purity" lock-ins). I can only hope that I will not be so close-minded that only my own discomfort can ever lead me to accept the validity of the experiences of others. [Can we count that as an atheist prayer? ;)]

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