Friday, February 02, 2007

"what do you believe now?"

I've been asked more than once by faithful Mormons (usually ones who are somewhat religiously liberal), "If you don't believe in the Church, what do you believe? How are you spiritually sustained now? Where does your direction come from?"

Here is the first part of one of my written responses.

About what else I do believe, I've been searching, and I was really torn up about writing back to you, because I wasn't sure what to say. But then I started writing, and realized I believe a lot. Some of it may shock you, and I'm sure you won't agree with most, but here goes:

I think that God and gods are created by men, in the image of humans, not the other way around. And that's okay. But because people believe so strongly in their versions of God, and because they operate their lives and make their decisions according to those versions of God, and because they let those Gods govern and direct their lives, from daily ritual to values and morals to who it's okay to kill, God is real. Do I think there really is a supreme being, an entity that created and directs us? Probably not. And I'm okay with that.

But I also believe that God can't be proven or dis-proven (e.g., I'm agnostic), and that therefore belief in God is actually a matter of faith, not knowledge. I could choose to have faith in the existence of God, or not. The "evidence" could be interpreted either way. (With Mormonism, I think there is enough evidence to say it’s not what it claims to be, so it’d be impossible for me to choose to have faith it in.) Right now, I choose not to place that faith in God. Right now, I don't think there is an actual God, that having faith in one is having faith in an idea that is real only because we act like it is. Like nations, or nationalism, or paper money, or anything else abstract. But I recognize that, in this way, God still does influence the world.

But I think that faith in God is a perfectly legitimate path. So is choosing to not place faith in God. Each way will influence how people think and live their lives. Both can produce despair, confusion, fatalism and nihilism, and both can produce productive, happy, and kind people.


Lilly said...

I greatly appreciate your sentiments above. I think you've articulated the same things I believe in a way I hadn't yet found to express them. It's nice to know that there are many whose minds have taken them to the same place where mine now is. Hope that made sense...

from the ashes said...

lilly- Welcome. It did make And thank you. I hope you'll stick around.