Monday, January 14, 2013
Does God Exist? Why I Don't Care.
This was written for a family member determined to bring me back into the fold of believers (where I may still be: I am not precisely certain what tokens of "real faith" I lack; the only crimes I can find in my behavior seem like virtues to me, e.g. I refuse to say that I think as I do not, and I remain open to polite discussion with believers and atheists of all stripes alike--and find much to appreciate among individuals on both sides of all these arguments).
The deity I believe in doesn't need me to believe in it. It doesn't care what I think, about anything. It knows (as I am slowly coming to realize) that thoughts are just limited impressions (faithful impressions at best, but even then they are never going to tell you "the truth" about the way things are). I haven't decided I don't need god(s), since any gods out there don't care what I decide (and my decision would be silly: why would I make such a decision? I haven't decided that we are the only life-forms in the universe either, or that I am never going to eat toast no matter what happens). Worldviews are diametrically opposed, but the world isn't. It is just there, being what it is, no matter what rubbish anybody thinks about it. I don't believe in any worldview whole-heartedly. I think they all have their merits and demerits, as indexes to the world (which is more real than any of them will ever be). I like using them when they help me and avoiding them when they hurt me (in real life: I am about living more than I am about developing a blueprint for life).
I live my life based in faith (trust, confidence, experience), the same as every other person I have ever met (as far as I can tell). I trust some people more than others. I trust some stories more than others sometimes, too, but I don't have an unshakable commitment to any story. They are all true and false, in my eyes. The answer to the question, "Is there a god?" is really "Why should I care?" From there you get on to the practical things that God's existence is supposed to entail. As long as God's existence entails me doing things consonant with my integrity, then I am happy to call myself his friend. When his existence begins requiring me to sin against my honor, however, I become his enemy. I don't care whether he exists or not. (Of course reality exists! God is just another word for reality. Richard Dawkins is a fool waging a crusade against Santa because he cannot understand Christmas. Unfortunately, many people who love Christmas seem to be just as shallow and silly as he is: they think defending Christmas from his idiotic onslaught requires proving that there really is a Santa like the one he imagines. Gah! The whole charade makes me alternately sick with disgust and giddy with mirth. People are so dumb! But such is life, I guess.)
I don't love my family because somebody has come up with a mathematical equation proving to me that they exist (for reals). The god I believe in is like you (personally): he doesn't care (or even know) what scientists and theologians are doing with their little games, cheap parlor-tricks that have somehow become so expensive in recent times. Anyone can believe whatever nonsense he pleases about the gods, and they don't care. They just do their god thing, and let us do our human one (until our time runs out). The point is to be a good person, not to know the truth about gods--which is unknowable, especially if divinity is really the uncreated, inaccessible mystery that some people want it to be: I am open to experiencing the company of a being who isn't there the way we are, but how would that happen, really? How would I experience something so outside my experience? If the answer is that I do it by believing in the literal truth of bed-time stories, then I have to laugh. I simply cannot do that. Assuming he exists, God would understand. I love you, not because of theories or arguments or some such claptrap, but because I know you, personally and intimately, in a way that circumvents all arguments and evidence and nonsense. I will always love you, even if at some point in time you don't exist. Existing is not the point. Arguments over existence mean very little to me any more. They are a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing except the small-mindedness of those who take them too seriously.