- Religion and Philosophy»
- Exploring Religious Options
As a child, my religious aspirations were divided into two separate categories. One part of me desired to know God, as many others had claimed that they did, and the other part of me wished to reject God due to the overwhelming contradictions I noticed in His followers. To understand my personal contradiction in belief, you must realize that I had only viewed religion from an outsider’s perspective. My parents had very little involvement in organized religion yet we would still attend church from time to time because it was the ‘right’ thing to do. As a result, I developed a deep confusion about religion and the idea of God.
I don’t remember ever actually believing in God as presented by the church or any organized religion. It was all foreign nonsense. I never felt as though submerging someone into a pool of water would grant him or her a more desirable afterlife, if there were one at all. Still, I realized that just because this was my opinion, it didn’t make it any more correct. Throughout my teen years, I merely rejected involvement in religion whatsoever, unless it were for social reasons. I didn’t judge those who held any particular belief nor did I assert that they were any more correct than anyone else. I simply abstained and left the matter for a later time.
When my interest in religion, and more specifically the idea of God, returned to me, it came in a very unusual way. The first time that I can recall seriously contemplating the idea of God was through the words of Erich von Daniken in his book ‘Chariots of the Gods.’ His belief, however, was centered on the idea that God was the result of extraterrestrial intervention throughout human history. He provides an enormous amount of ‘evidence’ and is very convincing in his logic. Despite my best efforts, I only managed to complete about 75% of his book before I began investigating other perspectives pertaining to the plausibility of the existence of God.
I started reading books on Philosophy, Atheism, Agnosticism, Deism, Christianity, the creation of the universe, Islam and any other material I could find that may lend me insight to the nature of God. Throughout my search, my own personal beliefs changed many times. At first, I was an atheist. Atheism seemed to reject the notion of God for the betterment of humanity. It was particularly intriguing to me because I felt as though religion was destroying the world and doing more to divide us than to bring us together.
It turned out to be, however, my own bias that was pulling me towards atheism. I wanted to reject God. I still had the mindset that God was a certain something, and since that something was improvable, it therefore mustn’t exist. It wasn’t until sometime later that I actually questioned what God was. Up until this point I merely based my perspective of God as the same God that Christianity had defined Him as, and since I didn’t believe in Christianity, how could I believe in its God?
This epiphany led me to agnosticism. I felt comfortable asserting that I didn’t know and that no one else could know more about God than me either. It was satisfying for a time, but there remained a desire within me to know more. Agnosticism was starving my curiosity. So what was I left with? My final, or more precisely, current, philosophy is that God, if he does in fact exist, can be found to exist without anyone initially claiming that he does. In other words, God isn’t exclusive to any particular religion nor should anyone have to tell you that he exists in order for you to believe that he does.
This article is devoted to those who want to believe in a higher power yet feel unsatisfied with any currently available answer. If you are of a particular religion, hopefully this article will address questions that you remain uncertain of. It is indeed not enough to believe something solely on the basis that that belief is comfortable. Furthermore, you should be wary of anyone who tells you not to question your beliefs. If God had intended for us to simply submit to preexisting theologies, our thoughts would be irrelevant, and thus, we would exhibit characteristics of instinct rather than deep abstract thought.
I will begin by admitting that this article will not offer proof of God’s existence. No one can prove God. This is the reason why believers call it having faith instead of having fact. But should this diminish our efforts in attaining knowledge of God? Hardly. Think of it this way: When you gaze up into a starlit sky, does the fact that your sight has limitations mean that there mustn’t be something beyond what you can see? And when we develop telescopes to investigate further into space than previously imaginable, does it mean that our new limitations define what exists? As a notion of provability, it does, however, we can deduct from logical reasoning that the next more advanced telescope will once again define that which we can prove to exist. This analogy demonstrates that, just because we cannot currently prove something to exist, we know, from logical interpretation, that things can exist beyond our ability to prove them.
This is the fundamental concept behind what I call God’ asymptote. An asymptote, by mathematical definition, is a line that continuously approaches a given curve, becomes infinitely close, and yet never actually touches it. So how is this idea relevant to postulating the existence of God? As I demonstrated with the telescope example, we can only prove something factually with observable evidence; however, we can still logically infer the existence of things beyond what is currently observable. There will always be limitations to what we can discover (the asymptote) and yet we seem to be gaining information exponentially (the curve).
I have engaged in many conversations where people claim that God has never presented himself to them personally, and as a result, they avidly doubt his presence on Earth. The question then becomes ‘how would you define God as presenting himself to us?' It is anything but a simple question, however, it is one of religions' main goals to supply an answer. Not surprisingly, each religions’ answer seems to be independent from the others. But mustn’t there be some universal consistencies that provide more than opinion? I tend to believe so.