Stick with me; I'll bring you current by the end of it.
From a recent conversation, I've been thinking about faith and life. Well, the story is longer than that. It had to do with C0wb0y M0uth, atheism, beer, and Republicans.
Anyway, I had to think: do I honestly believe in God? I was raised by a Quaker and a broken Catholic and a born-again Jesus-Screamer, and that meant going to Unitarian/Universalist church. At the start of my marriage I got pretty into a local Methodist church. I was in crisis, and the minister was very fine. Then I passed out of it again.
At this point I could say that I believe Jesus was a philosophical pacifist who was killed for being a formal heretic, but I do not believe that he was the son of God. The Bible? A historical text both wise and flawed.
But where am I, essentially, on the God part? Something felt wrong with not believing, as though that means I am a lesser, less moral person. I don't believe there's a giant Santa in the sky, handing out goodies or coal. I believe in grace, generosity, kindness, gratitude, and love. But not that they're a divine gift from somewhere outside myself. Still, I felt weird just saying, "Nope. No God."
Then I read this by Penn Teller from NPR's This I Believe: I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?
So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The atheism part is easy.
But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."
Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.
Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.
Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.
Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.
Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-O and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
OK, so now the current life story. Today I was driving the highway after a long few hours in Satan's Gaping Maw (Ikea). I was unshowered, driving the truck, listening to the radio, only one window rolled down because the driver-side window won't go back up once it's down. My son is having a problem controlling his temper in class. My boyfriend is out of town. My father is a clown and my mother is dead. Not crazy about my job right now. I sort of have a cold. But you know what?
My life is unbelievably great.