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God is an all seeing, all hearing, and all knowing being that no one has really ever been in direct contact with. For skeptics that is enough to make an unbeliever, yet, with all of the resurrections, walking on water, and visions of the Virgin Mary crying something must be there. That something is the true dilemma. What exactly is God and what exactly does he want us do? Many have tried to analyze what the answers to these questions and most of them have received answers, it’s just that all the answers are different. Many factors have played part in my understanding of spirituality, from the views of the past to the radicals of the present each idea has helped me realize that God is there, anyway you want him to be.
I feel that religion is overrated, just as cigarette ads try to suck young teens into smoking, religion tries to suck kids in through fear. Yet, while this approach may work on some, others grow out of, just as in believing in Santa Clause. Currently, with the more open-minded view of everything in society, there are less and less overtly religious people in the world. Jean-Paul Sartre saw this concept. He saw God as a concept dwindling on the brink of existence. “Traditionally religion tells us that we must conform to God’s ideas of humanity to become fully human. Instead we must see human beings as liberally incarnate. Sartre’s atheism was not a consoling creed, but other existentialists saw the absence of God as a positive liberation” (Armstrong, 68). The idea of God as “just there” appealed to me. That is how I have always felt; yet was convinced that a life without full-fledged devotion would get me nowhere. All though this view was refreshing I still questioned the reality of God.
The world is not a warm, loving place. Although you may have a good life filled with much happiness, what about the millions of others that have a life of despair? “The Koran says ‘Not so much as the weight of an ant in earth or heaven escapes from the Lord.’ That is touching that Allah, God, and their ilk care when one ant dismembers another, or notes when a sparrow falls but I strain to see the use of it” (Dillard, 195). Annie Dillard skepticism is threw a wrench in the gears of my thoughts. While I wish to believe that God is on a constant look out for all of his creatures, so many things have happened that can in no way be for the benefit for humanity. Catastrophes such as the Holocaust and the sinking of the Titanic show no good. “’God Speaks succinctly,’ said the rabbis” (Dillard, 194) either God really knows what he is doing or he isn’t there. Yet, I feel as though I have to believe in the second.
While Dillard does make excellent points in her disbelief, there is too much belief in our world, it’s people, and in myself to just give up. A.N. Whitehead brought up an interesting concept in my quest for God. He believed God to be “the great companion, the fellow sufferer, who understands” (Armstrong, 73). What if God isn’t mean to always be the solution? What if he is in our lives for support, someone to talk to, someone that is there to believe in you, someone that you know believes in you. With the billions of people in the world and the constant disasters, no matter how large or small, that occur God has his hands full. It is almost kind of silly to believe that he can do it all. No matter how holy and amazing he is, he once walked on the same soil as us, breathed the same air as us, and lived a life like ours.
While the truth is the truth, belief and speculation often are the more commonly accepted. Humans are on a constant quest for paradise, Utopia. When they hear that God will lead them there, many find it as a relief to life, to “know” that one day they will walk among this being that will bring eternal happiness. “The idea of God has frequently been used as the opium of the people” (Armstrong, 80). This God drug makes people act very strangely, watch any late night religious TV show and you’ll see how crazed they get. Yet, most remotely sane people see that there is no way the greasy looking man trying to sell “holy water from a spring blessed by God” at three o’clock in the morning does not hold the secrets to eternal happiness. People need to use their judgment and common sense to see what is actual and what is just a shady deal to “eternal happiness”.
I believe that God would not like himself to be peddled on late night TV or even be feared by millions of people. I believe that God wants to be seen as the father to all of us. Someone we trust and just believe in. “Life (is) an endless dialogue with God, which does not endanger our freedom or creativity, since God never tell us what he is asking of us” (Armstrong, 75). This statement is the culmination of my religious quest. We talk with God, he knows us. He realizes what we want and aspire to be. He knows that we must encounter our hardships in our life to make us grow. That is his plan. To make us the person we want are destined to become, whether we realize that is what we want or not. God doesn’t ask questions of us, he doesn’t need to, and as much as we might ask questions to him, he doesn’t need to respond because it will all be told in time.
I have seen most types of religious people, from the hard-core Jesus freaks that shudder at the word “Hell”, to the disbelieving atheists who cringe at the word “conformity”. Yet, why do they feel so strongly about their branch of religion? When asked the question, a surprising number replied, “It’s just the way I feel”. No one really knows why they feel the way they do, it’s just something inside of them that they feel is right. I’m not here to preach my way of religious thinking. I believe what I want to and just as if you have a preference over Coke to Pepsi, one has a religious preference. Armstrong digs deep into the thoughts of many religions and tries to pick apart the tiniest bone to get any religious meat she can. She wants to understand and have no questions about faith. Annie Dillard views the world and questions how God can accept all of its faults. She wonders and in a way doesn’t want to find an answer because it may go against her ideas that she holds very dear. Me on the other hand just goes with the flow. I see the world, I realize that things in fact do suck sometimes, but there is so much more, so much beauty, so many good times, and so many people dear to you. No matter what people say about God, he must be doing something right, and that is just the way I feel.
Armstong, Karen “Does God HAve A future”
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