Last night we watched Bill Maher's "Religulous" - a documentary of sorts about the atrocities and idiocies conducted in the name of religion. Now, it was Bill Maher, so of course it was aggressive and confrontational, but what bothered me the most about it was his attack on faith. He went to people with a strong faith and demanded that they prove their faith, that they back it up with rational logic, historical proofs, etc. He didn't choose the most educated or profound people of faith, certainly not people as quick and clever as he, so they came across as foolish, deluded goons, while he just came across as mean.
The rest of the film continued on in a less confrontational vein, as after his initial attacks, he just kind of settled in and let whoever he was interviewing kind of stick it to themselves, which is always more entertaining and enlightening anyway - it's hard to side with the interviewer when he's being a big fat jerk, right? And I am the first person to come down on the side against "religion." I think "religion" is the biggest waste of time and energy and money and resources, I think "religion" is so divisive and power-hungry, despite the fact that all the major religions are more similar than different, and all the minor religions are just whacked-out fairy tales.
But FAITH! Hold on a second. Faith to me is so important. Obviously, since I've gone through this whole document to talk about God and prayer and all that jazz, gone off on my "I believe in magic and fairies and angels!" tack - how can I be this steady, clear Agnostic with a huge amount of logic rolling around in my head AND be someone who is developing a profound faith? How do those 2 things correlate, and could they withstand a Bill Maher interview?
Here's how I see it: I believe in a Benevolent Intelligence that has created this world we live in, and that Benevolent Intelligence is that which we colloquially call "God." I have no "proof" whatsoever that this God exists, other than in my own wonderment at the incredible beauty and structure that I see in the world around me, and the certainty that I feel in my heart and spirit that this is true. For me. I believe that this God is the energy field, the force field, the glue that holds this all together, and that within this energy field are infinite variations on energy that do not have to be witnessed with the 5 crude senses in order to be experienced. I don't have any honest experience with a "microwave" but I've seen it turn white bread and American cheese into a sticky pile of glue. Same thing with God and with the other energy levels that we call "angels" or "gods" or whatever.
I look at the world through the eyes of someone looking for miracles, and therefore I am able to see miracles happen all the time. Bill Maher is looking at the world through the eyes of someone looking for "mundane coincidences," and so he sees mundane coincidences all the time. It's the same stuff, it just all matters how you choose to call it.
The God I believe in doesn't really care what I do or how I do it. The God I believe in has given us all free will, which means that we have every ability to do things in the most messed up manner we choose to, or we have every ability to do things in the best manner we choose to. I don't believe that God has any intention of destroying the world (coming back for the punishment of Judgment Day), but He has given us the free will that we are welcome to do so if we're stupid enough.
So if God doesn't care, then why do I pray? If God doesn't care, then why would prayers be answered? To me, it comes back to the energy of it all. A prayer creates an energy, which then stirs up other energies, which then enables the fulfillment of the prayer. It doesn't matter to me if it's "God" answering my prayers, or if it's me answering my prayers - was I able to fall asleep the other night because God put me into a trance, or because by praying I was creating a very relaxing energy in my body which then enabled me to sleep? Does it matter? Is it not in truth the same thing? I think it is, I feel it is, I believe it is. I don't need to classify it as one vs the other. I don't need to argue with the logic that supports that God doesn't exist, because God is beyond human logic, as is love and sex and really good food - other really excellent things that I believe in.
Believing in God doesn't mean that I put any faith or stock into the stories written about God. The Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, Scientology, the Bhagavad Gita, whatever - they have as much truth as Harry Potter. Which means, of course, that they have a lot of Truth. But they've also got a whole lot of fiction and contradiction and all kinds of garbage that makes it just so impossible as a human being to follow. It would be far, far easier to live your life according to Harry Potter, actually. Those books are more consistent. I don't need to believe in or argue about the creation stories (what a waste of energy!), or about the end-of-days stories. I don't need to believe that God requires me to make human sacrifice - of myself or my loved ones - or animal sacrifice or any sort of sacrifice. That to me is totally human garbage.
But there is Devotion. There is Spirituality. There is Divinity. These are the energies that pull us up out of our base natures and into a much better plane of existence. I believe that this is the purpose of human life, and on some level, the purpose of religion. To remind us of what is possible, not to mire us down into what is extremely likely.
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