When I first knew for sure that I did not believe in the Christian god of the bible, I had not yet lost faith. If anything, there was a period of spiritual hope. Because if the bible wasn’t true, and if I never knew god, then all those things I secretly hated about god might not be true either. God could be anything.
It was short lived. A creator god who made us in his image and takes an interest in us personally simply cannot exist. And if he could exist, he couldn’t be good. A kind god who cares for us and made us in his image would never exist as a puzzle to solve. He wouldn’t play games with our souls; but, if the bible isn’t real, I guess he may never have intended for us to believe in souls. Or afterlife. So then, what can god even be? Do we need him, or are we just afraid of him?
The next logical step is to wonder about other forms of god. Maybe someone else did get it right. There are so many beliefs out there that I never allowed myself to consider. I started to look into it. Not because I really thought I would find something that filled a spiritual need, but because the topic is so fascinating. I suppose if I hadn’t already stopped believing in the Christian god this would have killed him for sure. Humans have an incredible drive to answer every question, whether the right answer is available or not. We require placeholders for truth. And, if enough time passes, we tend to forget which ones were placeholders.
The other constant theme is a fear of nothingness. Death. We need to control that which has power over us, but how? We are so proud of ourselves when we cheat death. As if it were a real thing. Sometimes I watch news stories or movies about some incredible triumph over death against all odds and I wonder if that feeling strikes them. After all of this, I am still going to die. Just not today. (Not that winning time isn’t admirable, too.)
Science fiction sometimes likes to point out how miserable we’ll all be if we ever do conquer death. It makes us feel better. Secretly we suspect that we were born too soon and that in a few generations people will live forever. We need to know that it will be a horrible disaster. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. We won’t know. In the meantime we might grab onto religion as an escape from nothingness. Those future generations will be miserable because they use science to reach immortality. Blasphemy to god! He will destroy all their plans. Well then, it looks like god made some mistakes when he made us. Because one of the great things about the human race is our desire to keep moving forward in pursuit of figuring it all out. And we’ve got a long way to go.
Often Christians will say, “But what if you’re wrong?”
Wrong about the existence of the Christian god, or the existence of any god? I can’t be wrong about the Christian god. Because if I am, then he is cruel. He was cruel and mysterious to me when I offered my life and begged for his guidance. And if the Christian god is real and good, he would not do that. If I am wrong about the existence of any other god, then I assume it must understand. If its understanding even has meaning.
I don’t have the answers. I use placeholders, too. Maybe I can earn another life or an afterlife just by succeeding at something during my present lifetime. Maybe there is a reward given naturally by some scientific method we have yet to figure out. But was it not enough that I was given this life? If there is more, then the most I can offer to that kind of a god (if it can still be called god) are words borrowed from one of my favorite humans to have passed into nothingness, or next, or whatever:
“I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”