What if I am wrong?

What if god is something beyond our senses or understanding? Who am I to declare that there is no god at all? I suppose my atheism was initially born as a response to the popular god concepts I have known best. Had all discussions about god been more abstract and vague I am sure I would feel less passionate about dismissing them. Not because I would believe in such a god concept, but rather because it simply wouldn’t matter if it were real or not.

That’s why it’s so easy to call myself an atheist. If god somehow exists in a place out of reach, how can it impact me? What consequence is there in being right or wrong about a god like that? None. It’s no big deal. We only care about religion when there is a reward or consequence to what we believe. That’s the part that feels dangerous.

A god without reward isn’t popular. One of the least convincing things about religion is how much it revolves around what we can get. We believe what we want to believe and then we write a story around that core desire. No need to explain why that happens, right? For some of us it is difficult to believe anything about ourselves without first wanting it to be true. When I was a Christian witnessing to others I was offering eternal life. Comfort. Hope. All of it was attainable. Because otherwise why would anyone care? If god is not interested in rewarding us, why should we worship and obey him?

What’s in it for us?

What we want is irrelevant to truth. I feel like those words come out of my mouth at least once a week. For many these are impossible words to live by, and that is one of the main reasons religion survives. Even if I could wrap my mind around the idea that we were created by some superior being, I find it even less likely that he is offering a complex reward system based on our abilities at cracking the puzzle he left us with. It makes no sense.

And shouldn’t it make sense? Is it enough that someone once wrote that the truth would appear as foolishness to a nonbeliever? No. No, it isn’t enough. And it shouldn’t be enough for anyone else, either. But we know better. Some people want to believe it and that desire makes it enough.

If there was a god, it would be more likely that we would live and die and our knowledge of some distant god would hold no meaning at all. God, science, the universe…. they can owe us nothing. Maybe that belief should only be held by those who desire truth above all else. Different strokes for different folks. We can eliminate many ideas, but none of us alive today possess the evidence to define complete truth. We all fill in the gaps in the way that meets our needs. And I see no reason to fill in those gaps with god. Who cares?

If only the evangelicals in my world could see what small pieces of the puzzle they actually hold. If only they could accurately calculate the chances that they are not representatives of the one true god or that they have any significant knowledge of him at all. They are stumbling around in the dark clinging to a tradition that offers something they want. They have no authority to apply their rules, rewards, or consequences to the rest of us; but acknowledging that would require them to consider that what they want to be true might not be true. And if they wanted to do that, they probably wouldn’t believe in the first place.

In my world such things make no difference. Reward and consequence are not tangled up in how I choose to define the undefinable. They are more obvious and have real impact right here and right now with the visible people around me. That’s it. And that matters.

 

9 thoughts on “What If I Am Wrong?

  1. Hi dear,

    “What if I am wrong?” Nice title. Conclusion: “It doesn’t matter”. Not really an enlightened conclusion in my opinion.

    I actually was wondering if this post was left by a guest blogger, because it didn’t read like one of your usual thought-provoking pieces. It seemed a little rushed.

    Your main theme here is that we believe because there is something in it for us. I have to ask myself why I believe…

    You know, I am not too big on this ‘life’ thing we have going here!!! Everyone goes on about how life is a gift. I keep wondering when someone gave me the option to choose to be alive or not. I mean, I had no say in who my parents were, where I was born, and on so many things while I was a child. But as an adult, everyday, I choose to be alive. I have this instinct to survive and want to survive.

    Now, on to eternal life. If it is anything like the life here on Earth, I think I would give that a pass, and just let this one finish once and for all. The idea of living forever is not really my cup of tea, so when approached by Christians that that was what God was offering, it wasn’t really a gagging moment for me. I could have gone either way on that one. So, I would have to disagree that I believe in God because I want to live forever. Not really. Maybe if I made the rules in eternity…. Maybe.

    Sometimes, I just want this whole not knowing for sure part of life to end. I want to know for sure the purpose I was born in the very first place. When someone talks about a God who knew me, it resonates with my spirit. When they talk about His commandments to live an unselfish life, to love others and hold Him at the highest esteem, it also resonates with my spirit. When I read the Bible for myself, and studied the words of Jesus, I believed that He existed. Not because of all the peace He promised me. Not because of the Home He said He’s preparing for me in Heaven…just because that was the most truth I had ever learnt (and still ever learnt) in this world. It makes sense to me.

    And what do you know…it kinda makes me want to make more out of this life that I did not choose. I am not letting time pass until I get to heaven to start living… I am living now, and living well and purposefully. I can offer words of hope and encouragement to others who also struggle with this life and may want to end it all. Maybe you might say that is what I got from it…the feeling of importance. Maybe. But I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know why some believe and some don’t. But I know we all wonder what is the meaning of this thing called life…and God answers that question for the majority of us in this world.

    Cheers, and have a great day!

    1. What we want is irrelevant to truth. I feel like those words come out of my mouth at least once a week.

      I strongly agree with your statement, but I’m curious in what contexts you find yourself saying it so often. (Verbally, out loud, to others, I take it.)

      1. It is difficult for many to wrap their minds around believing there is no god. As if it were a choice I made. “Why would you want to be an atheist?” “Don’t you want to see your loved ones in heaven?” “Isn’t atheism a negative view on life?” I could go on and on. I know that many believe that truth is a choice we make. And I cannot wrap my mind around that.

    2. All those things that resonate with your spirit? Those are the things you want, and your religion fits it. Not every Christian interprets it the same way, of course. We can want all sorts of things. But this post came as a simple response to the regular question I get about being wrong from those who are not strong in the Christian faith. I don’t have lingering questions about the Christian god, or the possibility of a god who is heavily involved in our lives and expects us to do something about it. And the reaction I get to this from those who are not Christian but still want to believe in a higher power is inevitably “but what if you are wrong and god is just something else?” And to that I say it doesn’t matter. A god like that is as irrelevant to me as I am to it, and I cannot know anyway. How can I make something like that matter, really? Thank you for your thoughts 🙂

      1. Hi dear,

        My last response didn’t go through. In a nutshell, I said that it’s better to say you don’t know than it doesn’t matter (which implies some knowledge, enough for you to affirm that it doesn’t matter).

        Cheers, Ufuoma.

        1. And that essentially is what I’m responding to; the idea that I should say “I don’t know.” Except, in this example the question is coming mostly from agnostics. I have explained it better in my burden of proof posts. I just have no reason to consider a god conclusion and it feels like I do know. Of course there will always be an agnostic who says, “but what if god is a concept beyond our minds and something we never even imagined?” A Christian isn’t buying that. In fact, you are probably buying it less than I am. But for the sake of defending the unknown I can manage to acknowledge that theory with an “I guess it wouldn’t make a difference.” And really, that is what I was talking about in this particular post. You know, people get all bent out of shape about labels and definitive beliefs. Sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

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