Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bark, The Herald Angels Sing

I wouldn't mind believing in God.

I say this because people troubled by my lack of faith seem to think I'm just being stubborn. I could really believe in God if I wanted to, they seem to think. They seem to believe. Like I have a button on me that says FAITH. All I need to do is press it, and, VIOLA, I'm religious.

The closest thing I have to a button is this unsightly mole on my back. If I ever get some extra cash, I think I'll have it removed.

It would be much easier to believe in God if there was, like, a God. If you want to believe something exists, if kind of helps to have it, like, exist.

I'm not saying there is no God. I'm just saying if he, or it, were right here right now, in front of me, where I could see and hear him, it would go a long way toward making me believe in him, or it.

Some think God is going to punish me for my agnosticism (See? I didn't say atheism. I'm not that far gone.) I've never understand this whole idea of God punishing someone for not believing in him, or it. If someone didn't believe I could talk, I wouldn't punish them for it. I would just talk. That person would would be converted faster than you could say "road to Damascus". Actually, faster than you could say "Damascus" all by itself. Or "road". Or "to". I suppose once that person was convinced I could talk, they'd ask for my forgiveness for ever doubting me. My reply to that? No forgiveness necessary. I've always been on the quiet side, so it's understandable someone might make that mistake.

There are those who will say that if I just prayed, or took a leap of faith, or opened up my heart and looked inside, I would know God exists. But why go through so much trouble? I mean, there are a lot of things I know exist because they have the virtue of existing. The keyboard on which I type I know exists, as well as this chair that I'm sitting on, and the library I'm sitting and typing in. And for all you grammarians out there, I also know that proposition that ended the preceding sentence exists. I just couldn't figure out any other way of ending it.

Of course, all those things I just mentioned are man-made, including the proposition. Especially the proposition. But God is more intangible than that,
you say. You have to look beyond material things. OK, fine. Let's move away from material things to nature. Beyond taking a stroll through the Cleveland Metroparks, I've never been one much for communing with nature. But nature at least exists. The Cleveland Metroparks exists. The plants exist. The trees exist. The scrunched up condom in the middle of the bike path exists (scratch the last one. We're back to material things.)

Some of you will say, "Can't you see God in nature?" I don't want to see God in nature. I want to see God like I see nature. I mentioned trees. Why can't God exist like a tree exists?

I don't have to pray to know a tree exists. It's there.

I don't have to take a leap of faith to know a tree exists. It's there.

I don't have to open up my heart and look inside to know a tree exists. It's there.

I don't have to eat wafers, light candles, light incense, pass the plate, clap my hands, bathe in the Ganges River, bow to Mecca, dance around a totem pole, or shave my head and wave a tambourine at the airport to know a tree exists.

It's there.

I can touch it, climb it, stand under it, pull twigs off of it, hang a tire and swing from it, chop it down, or take too much cough medicine and drive my car into it. Empirical proof of the tree's existence.

So, God, if you do exist and want to prove it to me; in fact, even if you don't
want me to prove it to me (I mean, I don't think the keyboard, chair, library, or scrunched up condom cares one way or another in their repective existences) make yourself obvious to me.

As obvious as a tree.

I'm waiting.


OK, how about a sapling?


  1. I've been a recovering Catholic for 49 years. I do 12-step programs very well, so my run from the holy water font has been hard and fast. I remember the afternoon I knew I didn't believe, after being dished up more than this 8-year-old could handle by a nun I loved very much. It broke. My childish faith broke and it is not mended.

    I am moral and upright and caring and generous. I do not tell any other human being not to believe. I do not think it is my business what any other human being believes. If a friend finds god and is transformed, I cheer for that friend. If a friend is moved to search for god, I wish her the very best journey. I feel utterly no lack in my life from disbelief in god. I wonder why so many people want to foist god upon me?

    I understand your comment about the button. I haven't chosen not to believe. I just don't believe. I didn't choose it. It simply is. It doesn't break any laws. Can you tell this is a spicy subject to me?

    By the way, true story: we were talking about 12-step programs and I said I had trouble with that whole god/higher power thing. David - who VERY much believes in god - said, "Leslie, you can pray to a doorknob. It doesn't matter. It's simply about YOU not playing god." Oh. Who knew? I'll choose the doorknob.

    WV - latter. I'm a Latter Day Pastafarian, as proudly proclaimed on my blog.

  2. There is no god. Now go enjoy your life.

    WV - facen: Here's facen the facts. There is no god. Just be a good person and get over it.

  3. oh how i love this post! It WOULD be much easier to believe in God if there actually were a God. That one had me laughing out loud -- because it's so true! I don't claim to be an atheist either, because how can you prove a negative? I just want to be agnostic. I'm good with that. Why isn't everyone good with that? It's not a bad thing to admit you really just don't know because the evidence isn't there. Right? Also, I really loved the thought that God shouldn't punish this questioning. Any God that may exist for me would never punish that. it's clearly a power trip thing. which as we all know, is clearly a human thing.

  4. Being in constant communication with a piece of my imagination I call God has thrust me right in the believer's camp. For me it's like being a fish and not believing in ocean.

    But non-belief or agnosticism is certainly understandable in these days when miracles seem to be few and far between though they are common as traffic lights.

    As a practicing Dudist I just have to say "whatever, man."

  5. You & I have similar views on this. Who wouldn't want to believe in a loving God that wants the best for us? Unfortunately some of us can't quite get there without some tangible proof. While some force created this world that we are born into and die from, having ultimately no control over either event, I'm not convinced that this force will be waiting for me at death to explain what it was all about and to start me on my path to eternal life. So far life seems a bit more like an episode of "Lost" -- each week more questions that go unanswered.

    I have to say I'm a bit jealous of the comfort that others get from having such faith, though. If I could press a button to get there, I'd probably go for it. Unless the button was that mole of yours.

  6. i've always felt that the debate between is there or isn't there a god was one of semantics. how do you define god? if god is defined as some supreme (oh please) being outside of yourself, one that demands worship, and can punish-well, no. if, however, we define the divine as that state in which we are all connected, that we are in fact one, oh yes. i am you, you are me, we are all together, kookookachoo. we're all the walrus!
    from that place, all the rest are the bells and whistles that we use to connect to the divine, in ourselves and others. meditation, rituals, prayer, tai chi, writing, being in nature, whatever gets you there.
    the research being done in physics (quantum and otherwise) is beginning to show that the boundaries we imagine to exist are just that-imaginary. we live in an illusion of separation.
    what would happen if we chose to live in an illusion of connection?

  7. Hmm...Awful lot of comments to respond to.

    God, give me strength...

    @Limes--I wasn't raised in a deeply religious household, so agnosticism wasn't that hard for me to come to. In fact, had I been raised in a religious household, maybe I would have rebelled and become an out-and-out athiest. I don't know if that makes any sense or not.

    Why do so many people want to foist God on you? There's strength in numbers.

    Those 12-step programs seem to help a lot of people. That's one reason I don't want to do a savage attack on religion, as I might have done if I were a couple decades younger.

    I would pray to a doorknob except I'd be too tempted to look through the keyhole.

    Thanks for the comment, Les.

  8. @Badger--I said I'm an agnostic, not an athiest.

    Schism! Schism! Schism!

    : )

  9. @Dreamfarm--Power trip, right. We imagine how God behaving the way WE might behave if we were suddenly granted omnipotence.

    "The Lord thy God is a jealous God!"

    Why would an omnipotent God be jealous of anybody?

    Well, David Copperfield did make the Statue of Liberty disappear that one time. That would make any diety green with envy.

  10. "We imagine how God behaving the way WE might behave if we were suddenly granted omnipotence."

    My syntax is certainly not omnipotent, is it?

  11. @Tag--Whatever works for you, dude.

    I'm much, much, MUCH too adept at decieving myself, kidding myself, fooling myself, to ever trust any God that sprang soley from my own consciousness. If they ever gave out Oscars for self-deception, I would win one every year.

    But that's just me.

    I don't know what God makes of the Coen brothers.

  12. Adam--Right, Adam, it all fits in a little too neatly with my own desires.

    Funny you should mention LOST. I've been thinking of doing a post on the series finale, but I'm not sure how many of my followers watch that show (The term "followers" sounds kind of religious, huh? But we all follow each other, so that kind of negates the whole thing.) I believe you watch it, so I'll say that while I overall enjoyed the finale, I though it tilted a little too much toward the spiritual. Cecil B DeMille taught us long ago that if you want to use a movie or TV show to convinve people of God's existence, all you need is SPECIAL EFFECTS.

    Though, as you said, LOST did leave a lot unanswered. Just like life.

    The comfort some people get from religion makes me jealous, too (though not violently jealous, as seems to be the case with a certain Old Testament deity) That's why I started the post the way I did.

    Thanks for commenting, Adam. It's always a pleasent surprise when you pop in.

  13. @standing--As I indicated to Tag, I've made enough wrongheaded choices in my like to want God at least slightly on the outside. I have no problem with prayer, or meditation, or, for that matter, out-and-out worship. If God talks through writing, as you said, fine. I just wish he wouldn't mangle up sentences like he did with that one to Dreamfarm. "We imagine how God behaving" Jesus!

    I believe when the Beatles sang "I am the Walrus" they were referencing either Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass. The poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter" appears in one of those two books. I can't remember which one. I almost named this blog "Cabbages and Kings", a line from that very same poem.

    I agree with you and theoritical physics that it all might be an illusion. If so, where's the exit?

    I've got two related posts I did last year detailing my spirtual journey. Let me go find the links.

    Thanks for commenting, standing.

  14. Here's spiritual journey post number one:

  15. Here's spiritual journey post number two:

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

  17. "What do you think of God," the teacher asked. After a pause, the young pupil replied, "He's not a think, he's a feel." ~Paul Frost


  18. Thanks for the comment, Gabi. I'll think over what you said; )

  19. Gabi's quote is apt. Belief in a god is not a rational decision. As a believer you can see god in action everywhere. If not than it all can be chalked up to coincidence and time. I also believe you can't decide to believe. Belief comes to us in it's own good time.

  20. @ Tag and the others ~ Not believing is also not a rational decision or any kind of decision at all. It just *is*. One believes or doesn't.

  21. limes, i must respectfully disagree. we choose what to believe, like we choose what not to believe. we both chose not to believe in catholicism. we both chose to believe in other things. that we are making a choice may not always be obvious, or rational. on what we are basing our choice may not always be obvious or rational either. it's still a choice.

  22. Apparently it is all in our minds. From Psychology Today:
    Serotonin, the brain chemical crucial to mood and motivation, also shapes personality to make you susceptible to spiritual experiences. A team of Swedish researchers has found that the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people's capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality because drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. But now they have proof from brain scans linking the capacity for spirituality with a major biological element.

  23. @ SOMH – I understand that many people leave a religion after growing to an age, applying their good heads and experiences to whatever form of Pablum was being force-fed them and deciding to leave. I also understand that many people study some particular doctrine and decide, “This is for me.” I might have included in my second comment, “For me, in my experience” and not come across as speaking for anyone else in the world.

    I didn’t decide not to believe in Catholicism (or god) that afternoon. I was 8 and fragile and what Sister Maren Therese said cut into some things central to my existence (a.k.a., the deep Freudian shit). It was a deeply emotional experience and it shifted my beliefs the instant her words hit the air waves. I’ll be brave: I was so damaged by 8, I NEEDED to believe. It was an anchor to hold onto. I wouldn’t have been capable of deciding not to believe. But it drifted out of me – an emotional kidnapping - and right out the window of that school room into the LAX flight corridor like smoke. For I knew that she only spoke the truth and if what she just said was true, then there could not be a god.

    I intended this as a meaningful exchange, not argument. We don’t all travel the same journey. Sometimes we don’t get the luxury of deciding something. Sometimes the freight train barrels down the tracks, hits us and our belief system shape-shifts without us being able to control any of it because of our own emotions and prior experiences.

  24. @ Tag ~ I found that serotonin connection interesting. As I aged, after I no longer believed, I watched other people approach religion. From the Beatles and the Maharishi to personal friends who found god or enlightenment, I tried to understand. It is so empty for me I have sometimes kicked myself. "What the heezy, Les, just believe it." That doesn't work, as many have said here. I'm the poster child for low serotonin and have the prescriptions to prove it. You've given me something to ponder.

  25. That li'l tidbit was interesting Les as I am on a daily dose of ssri's. It doesn't negate my belief but maybe tempers it just a bit. Or maybe it just opens the gate a little wider for folks. More mystery.

  26. @ Tag ~ Ha, Knave! More topics for us human beings to approach differently and individually. It's a wonderful world!

  27. Tis indeed! unless your are like me and (wv) over reactic to everything.

  28. I'm almost afraid to post a comment here. I'm slightly schizophrenic or maybe multiple-personality disordered when it comes to God. When I get around my extended Mormon family, like I did this week at my cousin's funeral, I want to believe, because they're all so warm and fuzzy and connected, but I'm afraid I still belong to the Church of Nobody Knows For Sure. When I refer to God, and I do in poetry and song, I have a whole construct going on in my head that includes awe, openness and a sense of a space I hold sacred. What it all means is up for grabs - and I like it that way.

  29. @standing and Limes--Coversation's getting kind of abstract here. Why not just ask if it's possible to choose one's own personality?

    I don't want to have to persuade, cajole, or brainwash myself into believing anything, whether it's the existence of God, or some song that gets excessive Top 40 airplay yet nonetheless sounds grating to my ears. I don't know if that falls into the catagory of choice or not.

    What it really comes down to is I don't want to have stop thinking critically in order to believe. It's not an acceptable trade-off, in my opinion. As Spencer Tracy as Clarence Darrow said in Inherit the Wind, if we're not supposed to think, why did God burden us with such big brains?

    Now, I know some will argue that it's possible to think critically and believe in God at the same time. Fine. You can do something I can't do. I'm inferior to you. If you can show me what the trick is, I'm willing to learn. But it's gotta be something other than "looking into your heart". If looking into the heart was all it took, I would have won a Pulitzer Prize, Acadamy Award, and a Rueben (comic strip award) by now.

    Standing, you said earlier that God may speak through writing. If that's true, then my agnosticism must serve some divine purpose. God works in mysterious ways.

  30. Limes--You apparently had a bad experience with religion as a kid, which I've noticed turns a lot of people into athiests. I didn't, so I guess that's why I'm a mere agnostic. Just to put it in perspective, while there are rotten nuns and priests in religious realm, in the more secular realm, you also occasionally run across rotten teachers, in fact, any authority figure that you care to mention. The difference, I suppose, is that you can mutter about secular authority figures under your breath, and not feel like you're going to burn in hell for doing so.

  31. @Tag--Knowing that there's a brain chemical that can bring about a spiritual experience makes me MORE, not less, skeptical about such experiences. But, again, whatever works for you, dude.

    As for taking a drug that could possibly boost your Serotonin, a word of caution: spiritual enlightenment and driving don't mix.

  32. @Kass--Fear not! "Up for grabs" sounds pretty good to me.

  33. I enjoyed this post, Kirk. Thanks.

  34. @Erin--Glad you liked it, Erin, and thanks for dropping by.


In order to keep the hucksters, humbugs, scoundrels, psychos, morons, and last but not least, artificial intelligentsia at bay, I have decided to turn on comment moderation. On the plus side, I've gotten rid of the word verification.