The conviction in knowing that so much of religion is a game sometimes make it impossible to sympathise with the faithful. I am shamed by this. After much time watching religious argument on youtube it seems the communities, religious and non, have come to the conclusion that there can never be proof of God. For all creationists try so damn hard, in reality the very concept of god demands that you would not be able to prove him. The very idea of a god is supposed to be of something so great that we could not comprehend it. I concede this and although I say to Christian converters I cannot believe without evidence I know that there is no way they would be able to provide any, as such I do not ask it of them. Instead these people must accept that I really am so far out of the reach of their beliefs they should not waste their breath- their God cannot touch me.
The evidence that I have heard for the existence of God has been either that the person just ‘feels it’, or that how can so many people that ‘feel it’ be wrong? I answer that what they think they are feeling has less to do with God and more to do with their mind filling in the security and peace that it cannot do without. Where it cannot find love or fulfilment it makes it up because we become depressed without these things and that’s never a good state to be in. Does this mean people who have no belief have unfulfilled needs? No. As a lot a religious zealots will tell you we fill this need with other things- heathen activities!
The bible is not unique in the way that it can make us feel. Neither is it unique in the morals its stories put forth. When I was young the reason I didn’t understand that religion wasn’t supposed to be fictional was because whenever they told us anything from the bible they said it was a story. That word to me meant fictional but with possible values and interpretations that you could make yourself- you could find your own morals within the text. Some people do use the bible in this way. And then there are those who take it literally or at minimum think the stuff did happen even if the people who wrote it down didn’t get the details quite right. For a long time I went about oblivious to the notion these stories were supposed to be true. I remember when that was shattered, watching the Prince of Egypt with my Jewish cousin when we were about 7-years-old. The seen near the end of the movie where the waters come crashing down on the Egyptian soldiers I thought had been done very well, speaking in terms of the quality of the graphics. I said to her “They’ve made it look so real,” and to this my cousin replied with a complete misunderstanding. Her reply was “But it was real. This really did happen.” With that statement many things fell into place in my mind. All of a sudden it hit me that religious people believe the bible as fact and all of the science and history I loved to learn, must be somewhat meaningless to them. Somewhat meaningless to my cousin also, who happened to be one of my favourite people in the world. Rather than discuss it further I chose just to nod and agree with her; she was one of the only children my age who hadn’t yet called me ‘spaz’ or ‘retard’. In this way I felt ashamed that maybe I was missing something when I watched the story of these people being liberated from slavery. I questioned if I was not feeling as deeply as my cousin. Later I decided something entirely different, concluding that actually I maybe felt it more. I felt their plight as an empathetic human being that had nothing to do with someone telling me how to feel- like a God.
Guess again 7-year-old me. I don’t feel more or less than my cousin did. In fact, religion is using the fact we have these feelings to get us to believe in a God. I feel the emotions of the faithful, but I can say to myself that they are just part of being human and to resolve them I must look to reality. I cannot look to the indescribable God, because I cannot be sure such a power would do anything about it. I cannot be sure something so vast and great would intervene in the matters of humans- why would it? If this life does not matter to it what reason would it have to settle our quarrels? Yet the faithful believe it will. It is from this I feel the conviction that they are being played in a cruel game. Not cruel in nature, but cruel in that they are cheated from the truth.
The bible is not unique in the way it can make us feel. I have read many a book, watched many a film whose stories present even greater moral questions and evoke even greater emotions. I have played games that have made me question my moral core more than the bible! The faithful may concede this to me I’m sure. I read a blog recently that discussed that going to church shouldn’t be about them trying to play with emotions all the time as many of them do. It should be about obeying God. Even I as a non believer would put to people this should be what religion is about… but then we run into the things the bible, torah and koran want you to obey. With these items I have the greatest discourse as many of them would have you kill other faithful people for choosing the wrong book, essentially. They would have you wage wars. They would have you make slaves of your daughters. They would have you damn those with same sex partners. They would condemn you for thought crimes that you couldn’t help but have.
If there was a God- the chat with me at the gates would probably be something to behold. I start off like, “nice universe you created. Honestly- I tried to understand it while I was there and there was just so much to learn and so much to discover. Really impressive. Hats off to you. I understand if you need to send me to hell now; it’s okay. I do have one question- were any of the religions practised that I saw correct about you?” The whole point of God is that I cannot know what the answer might be. It might be, “Yes. It was [fill in the blank]” or “Kind of. They all had a little bit of truth in them.” or “No. They pretty much all got it wrong. There is no hell- in you come to the good life.” or perhaps we can go down the reincarnation idea with the twist that there is a God and the answer is “Sort of. Now you have to live another life and you have had lives before and will after. Use them well and learn even more about my universe where you can.” It might be none of these!
After a long debate on whether the universe could really have come into being by and for no reason, against the idea that we are given purpose by a higher entity, my friend back in high school said to me “well if you believe you haven’t been given an inherent purpose your life must be meaningless, right? Why don’t you just end it all now?” I answered with a grin, “I believe even your life has not been given meaning by something or someone else. I believe that you yourself have given yourself a meaning and a purpose in life- your nature as a human drives you to do so. Stop living some higher beings game and play your own. If the higher being does not want you to, at least you can say that it never made it very clear what life you should live; there are umpteen different religions and cults you could have followed all claiming theirs was the only true one.”