I’ve been thinking about thinking about my spiritual beliefs, such as they are. I’m a sort of fuzzy agnostic, in that I mostly believe in God, though I’m not religious in any way people would recognise. For the most part I tend to view organised religion as a kind of memetic disease.
I was in High School when I first came to believe that God could exist. In studying Cell Biology, it suddenly struck me that such a beautiful thing as a simple cell was actually so incredibly complex that it couldn’t have arisen by chance. Later that day, in Math Class, the same thing struck me about some of the complex number sequences. Now, you have to understand that up until that point, I’d been vehemently atheist, so this sudden realisation, for want of a better word, was a bit of a shock. I saw God as an Engineer, creating a universe which could function quite well without His (or Its, as I came later to prefer) interference, rather like someone who creates a beautiful and intricate domino rally then sets it going. Since then, of course, I’ve learned that it’s entirely likely that these structures did actually arise by chance, and that a universe without a God looks almost exactly like a universe with one in every way that we can measure.
But at the time, I was lost in the concept of what kind of God was It? I couldn’t for one second accept the “old bearded guy in the sky” image of God. In fact, assigning a gender to It seemed presumptuous. I came to believe that anything capable of creating a universe must be almost entirely beyond our ability to perceive and understand. Like the tale of the three blind men trying to understand an elephant by touch alone, global religions have attempted to describe God, and they’ve failed. If It exists at all, I don’t think we have the necessary mental equipment to understand what God is, or what It wants. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, of course. Examining the question of God allows us to discover answers about our own nature.
So, what does God want from us? Beats me. I’m pretty damn sure that It doesn’t send us to Hell for being gay, or for eating shellfish, or for taking Its name in vain. Humans are that petty and stupid, and I’d like to think that God is a good deal more evolved than we are.
Does this mean that I don’t believe in Christian tenets like the Commandments? Not really, I just don’t think that God is really all that bothered, and I find people who behave in a “Christian” manner out of fear to be, frankly, disgusting. Altruism is a worthy path to take because it’s good for the species, boys and girls. Good and evil are human inventions, but that doesn’t make them any less valid. Doing good because you’re afraid some policeman in the sky is going to drop you in jail forever equals cowardice, not courage. Doing the right thing so that you’ll get a nice seat in Heaven doesn’t make you good, it makes you greedy. People who need a reason to do good aren’t good people.
Christian doctrine used to have a place for people who were good, but not of the faith. It was Purgatory, just one step up from Hell. Seems a little odd to me that God would send all the truly decent people, ones who did good without concern for their immortal souls or their faith, to Hell’s waiting room. It’s stuff like that that made me reject Christianity as a religion.
I don’t have any answers to the question of God. I don’t know if It is listening to me when I talk to It, and I don’t have any faith that It’ll back me up when I’m in a spot through any means other than my own quick thinking and courage (God given, of course). I try not to bother It too often, as frankly I find the idea of attracting God’s attention absolutely terrifying. But I do believe that there’s a purpose to the universe, a reason why things happen the way they do, and a power behind us and everything around us. And that’s enough for me.
See you in Purgatory.