I’ve acquired some wonderful new friends on Facebook, people who, from my perspective, see the world rationally. One, said something that got me to thinking.
C.S. Lewis, (or someone!) said something to the effect that if God/no God were an even proposition, then, choosing God cost nothing and garnered a great reward if God is real, but not choosing God would cost eternity if you were wrong. You get the point. My friend suggested that he had not found this argument compelling.
I share that conclusion, perhaps mostly because I “back read” my belief that there is not all or nothing, salvation or damnation dualism when it comes to God in the first place. But even if that is not true, I think my friend is right. Fear should not be the motivator to “becoming” a believer.
Surely, non believers care about their community and humanity. Surely they volunteer, and give money to good causes. But just as surely the believer engages in other behaviors based on faith. Attending services regularly is but one of them. An active prayer life, or spiritual practices constitute more “time” devoted to faith. These cost in time what can be spent elsewhere. And I think everyone agrees that a one time “I believe” is not evidence of a living faith. So, the non-believer must expend something beyond a mere assent to faith. Therefore, he/she is entitled to a better proof.
Unfortunately no proof is forthcoming. Only the believer sees proof, because proof is not of a tangible sort, it is a special way of seeing and knowing that is more akin to wisdom than intellectual fact finding. That of course sounds fishy to the unbeliever, and I also understand that.
But it remains true, nonetheless. It is a paradox. Richard Rohr in his books describes this as the losing of oneself to find oneself. Jesus of course said this first. It is precisely the act of being counter intuitive that aligns us with the divine. Like Justice Black, we know it when we see it.
A few days ago, I was driving to town for groceries. On the way back, I found myself in a tangle of intellectual musings. I cannot recall the topic now, but I “awoke” to find myself going down the road, a bit unsure of exactly where I was. Within a minute or so, I recognized a barn or house, and realized that I had executed at least two turns and was within a couple miles of home.
We have all had that experience. But think of what really is entailed. My mind (the one I am aware of) was busily engaged in working out a details of some thought on some subject. All the while, another “me” was lifting foot from gas, applying brake, turning wheel, and so forth, more than once. Some part of “me” was “seeing” the road, observing potential danger, reacting. Two of me were working in tandem, each apparently unaware of the other.
So what you say? Well, it seems to me that it suggests something of value. We are not who we think we are. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am,” and many of us take that to be a fine statement of existence. Yet, this shadow person, and there may be more, quietly seems to work along side, taking over as needed, to preserve me when my mind veers to daydreaming. It keeps me from walking off cliffs, and driving off bridges.
Is it so hard then to realize that within me is a God spark–that “feeling” of unity with something so much bigger than myself? I think not. All those who meditate know this feeling. I am aware that I tread dangerously close to the argument that “god is in the gaps”. In other words, what I cannot explain, I assign to God. As science explains more, God continues to shrink.
I do not mean this. I mean, that it is increasingly clear that the mind is more complicated, more multifaceted than we might have thought. I am an ego, that is the part of me that I talk to, but I am talking to something aren’t I? I must in some way recognize that there is more to me than this ego personality, developed from birth, the result of all experience and learning that are peculiar to me.
This “other” me, the one that calls me to do right rather than wrong, the one that calls me to hope rather than despair, the one that soars in creative dreaming, rather than logical rational mundane reality, this is the Spirit that offers. It offers union. It is the Divine being patient, gentle, never forcing, never demanding, waiting, offering, loving. Blessedly, I’ve had this experience, and at least for small moments in time, I have fallen into that offering. I have released my fears and need to control. I have experienced freedom, and unconditional love.
As I said, I cannot prove it. It cannot be proven. It must be experienced. It cannot be willed, nor demanded, nor intellectually mandated. The best way developed so far to take this journey is by meditative practice. It is getting outside of dualism. If I were to offer to my non-believing friends one thing, it would not be a bible, nor a theological proof, nor inspirational stories galore. It would be to read a good book on mediation, and then try it.
Even if you never experience this transcendent moment, you will find it serves good purposes. It will lower your blood pressure, reduce stress, and actually, I’m told, make you a clearer thinker. Answers to sticky problems come forth. That is good enough reason. The fact that you may encounter for the first time, God, and thus learn the joy and peace of the Holy, is bonus.
It has taken me a long time to trust that the experience of Unity or the Divine is REAL. For way too long I argued with myself that I was “making” it up to make myself feel good. I remember that Frederick Buechner wrote somewhere that he would rather follow Peter and Paul off the cliff in the ways they lived than not live that way and just die. A tall order, but my life has improved greatly since I chose to live with faith. And now meditating keeps opening me to more.
Jan I have the same issues with “am i just finding what does not exist because I want to”. But in the end, I come down where Buechner did ( I have a book by he and his wife, about daily spirituality). I’d rather be the person I’ve become than the one I was without faith. I guess I could discard the faith and just be a better person, but someone it doesn’t seem to work as effectively.
I hear you. The higher power or God seems to be exactly that which we cannot explain. I don’t think that the more that science appears to understand of a mechanism takes anything away from what God is. Science cannot being to touch or understand the mechanism that is at work behind the scenes (seen) of unconditional love.
dirtclustit, many would argue that there by definition can be no issue between science and God. God created the laws by which science is governed. It all works for me just fine. As MacQuarrie said, or quoted someone–what a marvelous thing that God created a system, (evolution) that can go on creating itself! God has other things to do too! LOL..
Let’s not forget that God created Everything! And the wat He did it: The “Big Bang” (Proven 25 years ago): From Nothing to the Inctrdible Universe, always evolving by His Laws of Physics.
It has been a polpular misunderstanding, imnitiated by One British Author less than 2 centuries ago, that Science and God are at odds with each other. Our Media has been a major promoter of that.
But Albert Einstein declared that One Cannot Understand Either God or Science without knowing the other.
And a few years ago, Newsweek magazine (before they went Secular/almost atheist) had an Issue a decade ago Citing the above facts, and adding that the More Scientists discover Science, the more they turn to Deist Creator
Everything is just too “Intelligent”, too Ideal, to not be Created by God.
Tony, I very much agree. I think the universe bespeaks it’s creator in all its marvelous glory. God created and it was “GOOD!”