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- Exploring Religious Options
A View From The Pew
I can believe in God without having to believe there is a God.
There are so many different Gods. The world supports so many different religions. While these Gods and religions claim to share the same goal, that is achieving harmony on earth, the people who speak for them exert so little effort to find common ground upon which they can all coexist. I include under the category of religions those belief systems that extol there is no God because they display many of the same characteristics as conventional religions. They have their own “bibles”, venerate their own “saints”, and learn in their own “temples” only they have given them different names.
The most vocal proponents, and opponents, of all of these Gods and religions are often educated and dedicated. They sometimes have degrees, impressive resumes, and have earned other recognition for their expertise. They are sincere in their beliefs and devoted to their convictions. They have searched, learned, and arrived at conclusions based upon the sum total of their own studies and life experiences. Too many, it seems, have reached the conclusion that they now know everything they need to know about God and that there is little left to be learned from others. This applies to those who live in a world that does include a God as well. Perhaps I am overly judgmental to paint so many with the same broad stroke.
I don’t have any scholastic degrees. I believe that life is a university from which I will never graduate. I, too, search for the truth, and on my journey I have encountered three religious groups. “Believers” who believe there is a God. “Non believers” who believe there is no god. And in the middle, “Some Believers” who have slightly different beliefs in God then the “Believers” have. I have also observed that they will frequently argue that their viewpoint is correct and all the other viewpoints are incorrect. None of them have solid proof to support their beliefs and all, ultimately, rely on faith. Therefore, it seems odd to me that so few will admit that they may possibly be wrong. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I really know. Why, I wonder, is it so difficult for so many to say, "I don’t agree with you but I might be wrong?"
I find myself quoting Joseph Campbell a lot lately because much of what he taught resonates with my thinking and where I am right now on my journey to the truth. He observed, “God is a metaphor for that which transcends all levels of intellectual thought.” His view of how God relates to reason makes it easy to imagine that humans may never be able to prove that God exists. This concept of God, therefore, encompasses everything that the human mind can not comprehend right now. Even faith-based believers and scientific evolutionist could find common ground here if they chose to.
Dr. Campbell also held the opinion, “Every religion is true one way or another. It is true when understood metaphorically. But when it gets stuck in its own metaphors, interpreting them as facts, then you are in trouble.” If a discovered principle is worthy of being added to my own ethics, does it matter if it is based upon facts or myths? If there is some value in the life and teachings attributed to Jesus, does it really matter if he was born on December 25th? Does it really matter if he was ever born at all? If the metaphors used by a religion are of value in my search for the truth, then I believe in the metaphors and don’t insist that they be proven facts. There is much to be learned about living from the Koran, and the Bible, and a Good Housekeeping magazine. When I find it, I use it.
There are many, I am sure, who view God in other ways and will be anxious to point out that they have learned differently. I welcome their opinions and conclusions below. I encourage every one to share what they have learned with the rest of us. To those who feel compelled to tell others how they should believe, I ask that they please refrain from doing so. As a wise old sage once wrote: "Do not tell me what I should think. Rather, tell me what you think and I will decide for myself what I should think."
I am happy that our paths have crossed as we journey in search of knowledge and truth. I can understand God as a symbol, a figure of speech, that encompasses all the things in life that our reason and intellect can not yet explain. And in this form it matters not if you or I can prove God does or does not exists. I can believe in God without having to believe there is a God.