I have been asked if I believe in God and I reject the question out of hand. The question comes preloaded with a set of ideals and standards that no sane person would consider if they were laid out on the table.
The problem is one of selective blindness.
The Will of a Deity has driven people to murder and think that it is right. It has been used to enforce fear and hide secrets. Be your source recorded history or yesterday’s news, there is always an undercurrent of Divine Right.
The belief that there is more to it than all this is the primal need of our giant brains. It has healed the sick and put people on a celestial body. The constant, relentless need to find ultimate truth has built and destroyed countless civilizations. It is a terrible yawning vacuum, this kernel in our psyche that asks, “Why?”
We each worry that question like a dog on a bone, and each world is unique based on the answers we find. We all end up with our big piles of Truths, and we constantly get at odds with others whose piles of Truth don’t stack the same as ours. Same question, different answers, and some of them might even be right.
Whether the world was created a few thousand years ago by a bored deity, or if we are the advanced carbon-based infection on a ball of rock hurtling through space, I still have a hell of a time matching my socks, even though they are all black. I always hit ‘snooze’ on an alarm clock, regardless of whether I thought that someone heard my prayers. If you’re calling out a name on a prayer chain or talking to your community, situations are addressed with an eye toward resolution.
What you have is this moment and the choices you make in it. Whether you chose ‘Good’ or ‘Evil,’ it is a choice that you are eternally making in the now. There is never a time when things have gone too far and you cannot turn back, because there is no time in the now.
A recent study suggests that our reality is 15 seconds long. That’s it. The Great and Powerful Is simply boils down to ‘What _IS_ it that you are doing, right now, at this moment?’ Is someone watching you with an idea of final judgement? Does it matter? How would you explain this moment if asked?
” Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:16-19 New International Version (NIV))
That’s not a bad list. Buddha had more. It is all in how quickly you can rattle them off.
‘Nope. Not killing anybody right now. Check! Not cheating on my wife right now. Check! Not stealing nor lying right now. Double check! I honor my father’s memory (despite his best efforts) and I love my mother. Check! I wave at the neighbors and they haven’t started shooting at me. Check!’
The whole list, completed! If one of my neighbor’s were to change their mind and shoot me, I am in.
Buddha’s list, though longer, is easier to cross-reference. What should I be thinking now? Right thinking! What should I be doing? Right action with right intentions.
Be good and don’t be a jerk.
There’s the old 80’s courtroom trope where a crime investigation reveals unrelated hidden activity. If the police suddenly appeared, and you had to explain what you were doing right now, in this moment, would you be able to without embarrassment or shame? How is that different between a Theist and an Atheist?
All people have some sort of internal gauge for right and wrong, even if they call it ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ or label certain things as ‘sin.’ In the end, we understand the guidelines for acceptable behavior. If these observances are adhered to, why should it matter so much what someone else calls their scale?
Now. The 15 seconds where every decision is made and every outcome revealed. Unless your life is a lot more exciting than mine, in the next 15 seconds, you will not be making a decision which will greatly impact the course of humanity. The age of the Universe and Quantum Mechanics will have very little impact on your next 15 seconds, nor will Origin of the Species or the edits from the Vatican.
Last I checked, you were too busy just trying to be good and not be a jerk.
If the one you admire most were to suddenly call your actions into question, what would you say? What would be your defense?
Everyone has a version of Mork’s Orson. I don’t see where that would change all that much, no matter what you believed.
So, if you still insist on knowing whether I believe in God, I would like to redirect you to the top of the page. Perhaps in another 15 seconds, I’ll have a better answer.