So I believe in God. Yes. And yes, I even made that G a capital G. But before you go writing me off for having antiquated beliefs - or before you go trying to get all chummy because you think I share your beliefs, let's take a second and slow down a bit.
A friend of mine on Facebook recently commented on a private group and relayed a story which I think is helpful in framing the discussion this blog post (and blog) was designed to foster.
He told the story of being involved with the church as a youth, in an evangelical capacity at an evangelical place with evangelical people. Needless to say he self-ascribed as a kind of evangelical. So as time went by this person I know on Facebook grew and did things and lived life and over time this person became less evangelical. They were no longer involved with a church, no longer around an evangelical place or evangelical people. In fact, this person began to more seriously doubt the existence of God as a construct at all. Not a big deal, happens every day.
The story goes on, however in that this person recently got a message from someone through Facebook - an old youth pastor. My friend on Facebook told the story of seeing this message in the inbox and of going through all the iterations in his head concerning the content of this message. Likely, he thought, this old youth pastor is attempting to connect on Facebook in order to "win him back" - you know - for the church. He hesitated to open it but finally did, fully expecting to get the full evangelical "Great to see you on Facebook, I can see quite clearly by your status updates that you need to get right with God" treatment.
Such was not the case. In fact the ex youth pastor was exactly that - he too had left the church, had left the evangelical place, no longer hung out with evangelical people, did not think of himself as evangelicalanymore. In fact, he too had begun to question the existence of God at all. In fact, he now considered himself to be an Atheist. That's right, I made that A a capital A.
Doubtless there are people who would see this as bad news, but to my friend on Facebook it was a welcome shift from the expected influx of guilt and awkwardness. I would have felt the same.
So there ends my anecdotal digression.
I bring it up to ask a question:
Must we always wear so much of our beliefs on our sleeves? Must we always be so in each others' faces about what should be believed or not?
I can't pretend to have the kind of evidence to support YOUR belief or disbelief, yet I have my evidence for belief. But I do not care to try and persuade you in any direction - work that out on your own.
I believe in God, yes, and only now raise my voice about belief - not to convince or convert - but to avoid having MY existence doubted.
"What? There are people who believe in God who don't want to convince me to do so on their terms? Preposterous!"
It is a rare bird, I know - but so many of these kinds of tolerant believers are silently sitting by and letting the world assume our extinction - our voices so drowned out that I feel compelled to say something.
In fact I'll go so far as to say maybe I don't believe in God at all - maybe instead what I do is rather to simply suspend my natural state of disbelief long enough to allow for the possibility of God to unfold over time in front of me rather than looking for life and all it's circumstantial joy, pain, excitement and boredom to fit neatly inside any ancient, insufficient, broken, misused construct.
I leave you with this quote from Stephen Fry on Quora.com and my response:
Stephen Fry, Tweeter, Eater, Cheater
162 votes by Shrey Banga, Mahendra Palsule, Adam Mordecai, (more)
"Atheists" are not organised or coherent. They are just individuals. If there was a word for not believing in fairies, flimpist, for example I would be one. But it doesn't make me anything or join me to any group. Flimpists have no agenda, do not insist on anything, they just reply, if pushed by wearisome, noisy believers in fairies, that to be honest they can’t be counted amongst them.
I don’t really care how many invisible friends a person has, one like modern monotheists, or many like the Ancient Greeks and millions of the world’s animists. So long as they leave us alone and don’t make preposterous claims that can’t be verified and yet result in suffering, bigotry and tribal enmity—or worse, legislation that restricts the lives of certain people.Suggest Edits
Via Adam Mordecai.
10+ Comments • Sent Thanks • Oct 30, 2011
Douglas Lee Miller
I love this. Mostly because I lament that my belief (or rather conscious suspension of disbelief) makes me anything or joins me to any group either - especially groups perpetuating the suffering, tribal enmity, etc...