The idea of God has been hijacked since the beginning of time by clergyman who want you to believe that they alone have the answers, by overbearing parents who want to scare their children into being controlled and by politicians who want you to believe they are somehow more righteous than their opponents. It has been used to coerce the masses into a harmful way of thinking rather than simply offering an alternative framework to the negativity of the world.
In fact, religion more often than not tells you what to do and not how to think at all, so it’s no surprise that a population who was sick of being lectured and told what to do has turned away from the idea of God completely. What’s taking its place is the idea of “science as the new religion.”
The narrative is that we have to choose between the two (science and God) so it makes sense that most decide to go with the one that doesn’t constantly try to strap them with an ultimatum. “Live this way or face eternal damnation” doesn’t exactly conjure up feelings of inclusivity. I'll take science for $300, Trebek.
Not to mention, science often relies on reason as a means of determining outcome. In a world where we are racing toward singularity, exponential technologies and everyday understanding the fabric of our reality more and more by reductionist methods, it’s not a wonder that the side claiming intelligence becomes more attractive.
Oh, and science has caused significantly less war and killing. And doesn’t ask for your money once per week. And doesn’t seem to contradict itself. And doesn’t tell you to “just have faith” when no sufficient answer is supplied. We have inquiring minds and those minds want answers. Science is often the promise of answers where faith simply is not.
Yet, in my experience we all desperately want to know two things: Why are we here? And what is the point of it all? Even if you spend the majority of your life avoiding these two questions, deep down, you still want to know the answer. Because to be human is to be curious. And so to be curious about what it means to be human is naturally instilled within all of us. And science has always done a particularly awful job of sufficiently quenching our thirst in regards to these two curiosities.
Darwinian theory after all, relies on random genetic mutation + evolution in order to explain our existence. But sometimes, life is so beautiful and so perfect that it’s too random to be random. We can’t explain it, yet we feel it at a cellular level. Witness enough sunsets from the top of a mountain that you climbed yourself and you’ll know exactly what I’m referring to.
In some sense, the idea of mixing both science and God is the idea that our teacher wants us to show our work while simultaneously believing that our parents are unconditionally proud of us, regardless of the answer that we come up with.
What’s more is that we all want hope. Hope that the best is still yet to come. It’s the most powerful motivator in our lives and it's why we get up everyday and grind away. In modern times we tend to place our hope in things from our world, the material world, and we are continually let down because of it. We put our hope in phrases like “once I have this thing or person I’ll be happy,” or “one more raise,” or “one more chance.”
We feel like we have to earn our happiness, never believing that we are actually good enough as is because that would hint at the fact that something made you perfectly for the life you’re living. And if we’re all here by accident, by random genetic mutation, that wouldn’t make a lot of sense. We feel like we have to go out and earn our happiness and as a result our hope is always in something we will get in the future and is never contingent on the perfect present. (Note that I didn’t say, “easy present”.)
It’s been my experience that after constantly putting your hope in the physical world, all we’re left with is a garage full of things and a puzzling outward stare wondering if this is seriously what it’s all about. The human spirit typically has a yearning to understand deeper than what can be proven, purchased or observably repeated.
I personally reject the idea that the world we live in and that the metaphysical have to be separate ways of thinking and believing. Can’t we believe that we should further our understanding of our world and still also believe that there is a connectedness that ties us all together? Most religious leaders or scientific thought leaders would have you believe the answer is a resounding No. Evolution and intelligent design must never be thought of as synergistic ideologies even though there is essentially no concrete evidence that points to the fact that they can’t be.
We are after all, tribal creatures. We have to have our parties and our clubs. The idea that God is love and love transcends the notion of borders, party lines and locked gates is a massive threat to the power of all involved. If you refer to God as Allah I refer to him as God and my hippy friend refers to it as universal intelligence, isn’t there a mutual understanding buried in there somewhere? Doesn’t the complexity of our existence draw light to the fact that a gray area must exist between the black and white realities that we tend to side with?
Because at the end of the day, the belief in God is a framework for understanding all of the things we know to be true but can’t seem to work into an equation. The things we feel deeply but that our lexicon can’t always accurately express. It is a reach at the intangible.
It’s the idea that you and I were made to prosper because the universe is one of abundance and not lack. At a minimum, it’s the idea that we have the highest possible ideal to orient ourselves toward. A force to lean on as we navigate it all, regardless of how lonely this place can be at times.
It’s a relic from a different era; A north star, a trusty compass or a road atlas. We don’t use it nearly as often as we should but when we do, it provides an unexplainable sense of direction, regardless of the ensuing disarray. In that sense, the idea of God provides order amongst disorder.
It’s the idea that there is a divinity that resides within us all and it’s manifested as the inherent sense of right and wrong that both you and I have innate. It’s why deep down you know the answers to your questions. Believing in the idea of God is believing that a path forward will be shown to you, regardless of the chaos that constantly threatens to overtake you.
Many times, I have looked around at carnage and at the worst the world has to offer and I’ve wondered aloud how a God could exist that would allow such wreckage. And then I realized that the fact that I understand it’s bad and that I know good from evil is in itself a sign of something higher. Because it’s not clear why humans would even know good from bad or feel the need to make that distinction. Yet here we are. Consistently striving to do our best. To shine light where there is darkness.
The idea of God is also the idea that the earth is alive to the extent that we don’t trample all over it and that the vitality of the wild should be protected because regardless of whether you are conservative or progressive with your beliefs, we have a home worth protecting. A creation worth participating in.
It’s the idea that in nature there is a natural death followed by a rebirth of everything. And that rebirth isn’t just equivalent to what was, it is better in every sense. That is the essence of redemption and that is a powerful notion when dealing with the death of anything in our world; be it a loved one, a relationship or part of our identity that didn’t serve us. To be born again is to have another chance. To create heaven where hell previously existed. To believe that the best is still yet to come.
Lastly, it’s the idea that you and I should care for each other as deeply as family because if there is a God and if he or she played a part in us all being here, that’s exactly what we are.
Side note - I don’t care if you believe in God or not. I have spent a significant amount of time on both sides of the fence and I understand it both ways. I have simply chosen the one that makes the most sense to me. Happy searching.