Do you believe in God?
I don’t for one second believe anyone that says it’s straightforward to answer that question. When I look around me, I see so many belief systems and ways people live by faith, it’s hard for me to wonder how people find that one thing they’re looking for. But then, I’ve always answered the big question very simply. No, I don’t believe in God. However, I have always considered myself an agnostic, that is I don’t really feel comfortable saying that there is no God, or a chance of being one. My understanding of most religions is living life by a moral code that is handed down through generations, originating from a deity of some nature. That’s fine, I’ve always been able to tolerate other people’s beliefs, as long as they don’t tell me my lack of a set belief system is wrong.
Then, something happened that thrust my beliefs to the forefront of my conscious mind. I lost my Dad. My Dad, on his own admission didn’t believe in God, but lived his life by the general moral code that is most familiar to Christians. I know that the concept of an afterlife straddles a couple of concepts; both religious and supernatural. My Dad believed in neither. One of the things that people have said to me in effort to comfort me, is to feel safe in the knowledge that my Dad is watching over me. On first hearing, this is of course a HUGE comfort. That he hasn’t really left me, he’s still got my back. But apply this to my general belief that there isn’t an afterlife and I become a little bit more uncomfortable. A couple of people have also said that they can ‘feel’ my Dad is with them. I don’t feel that, and it’s a terribly cruel twist that I don’t feel the same. Is it because I don’t believe in afterlife? Of course he’s still with me in that I have a lifetime of memories, as well as the physicality of his genetics that will always be a part of my biology. In that sense, he’ll never be far away. But as far as feeling a presence goes, I didn’t even dream about him until very recently. I talk out loud to him, but I don’t believe he can hear me.
So I found myself revisiting ‘The God Delusion’ in effort to go back over some of the fundamental reasons why I believe it’s unlikely that there is a deity, or being, so-called God. I think it’s been almost a seeking of reassurance that I haven’t been abandoned, it’s just that I believe there is nothing to be abandoned from. So far, I wouldn’t say it’s pushed me away from saying I’m agnostic, but the argument put forward by atheism makes a lot of sense to me, but then I can’t quite move away from the fact that people find a huge comfort in having faith of some nature – not so much that it interferes with their daily life, but enough so they find the strength and solace to move forwards.
I look around at my loved ones that have a firm belief system and I feel genuinely grateful when they offer me comfort drawn from their own faith, I still think that to share your faith to help others is a great gift. But it still hasn’t affected my own lack of religious conviction. I think it’ll be a long time before I will be able to say completely if I am religious or not. At the moment I don’t believe any deity, physical or otherwise. Perhaps this is the beginning of learning more, and finding out once and for all.
Then again, why do I feel as though I HAVE to have a belief system or lack thereof? Why is agnosticism so frowned upon? If I’m going to have a big religious experience at some point in my life, shouldn’t I just let it happen and not go looking for it?
Yes, I’m a tiny bit lost at the moment.
(Cross-posted from The Frenetic Mrs Fox)
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