September 21, 2014

Why I believe in God

The purpose of this post isn't to convince anyone that God exists.   One either sees it and believes, or doesn't.   In addition, I'm not speaking specifically about the Abrahamic God in this post, though my beliefs are heavily influenced by the Abrahamic faiths.  

There are many levels of my belief, as I tend to be the kind of person who analyses everything, perhaps too much at times.   Each and every one of my beliefs has to sit well both with my heart, and my reasoning.   Thus, the specifics of my beliefs change over time;  they evolve to better understanding.   To me, that is the purpose of life.

There are times when my heart has been shattered, or my life thrown for a major loop, and part of me wanted to give up believing in God.  I am going through a particularly rough patch at the moment; however, I find that as time goes on, my ability to doubt the existence of God dwindles.  My intellectual side has considered the question too often, and even the pieces of my shattered heart still echo with love for God.
I'll admit to feeling a little abandoned right now, but overall I know that God is a force for love and life.  It is not God who has caused my issues, but God tries to motivate other people to help those who are in need.  Such is the design of our world; we grow most by helping one another succeed, so God leaves most of it to us.

Cogito ergo Deus est

Descartes famously said, "Cogito, ergo sum," which is, "I think therefore I am."  I agree, and I also say, "Cogito ergo Deus est," which is, in my middling grasp of Latin, "I think, therefore God is."

Consciousness is a sign of God.  It is almost believable that life, even complex life, could randomly evolve from the elements created in stars; given the currently understood size of the Universe, it's statistically probable that if it is at all possible to happen, it would happen somewhere.   However, consciousness is amazing, especially among humans.  We have the ability to think and reason, to drastically alter our environment, and even to leave it and go into space.   Unlike machines, we can wonder about existence and purpose.  Consciousness and sentience are signs of God, or at least some divine force, even if you think of it as a universal consciousness (see "Who is God" also on this blog.)  Consciousness and sentience are not things which I believe can occur by random chance evolution; it goes far beyond survival strategy, and often works against us because of our ignorance.

Related to those concepts are good and evil.  We don't see much sense of good and evil from animals, though pack, flock, pride, and other group animals they do have a concept of behavior which is or isn't socially acceptable.  We find this distinction most pronounced in carnivorous and omnivorous mammals, elephants (herbivores) and primates (some of whom are herbivores.)  Our dogs, and only some cats, will even express what looks to us like guilt when they piddle on the rug, or steal food when our backs are turned.   It's a survival response, and evolved so that weaker group members could survive. 

Humans have these same drives, but we also have the ability to think of right and wrong as individual and abstract concepts, beyond survival and what is socially acceptable.   Even some atheists are vegetarians because they believe it is morally wrong, while some deeply spiritual people are omnivores and see eating both plants and animals as part of their place in the cycle of life.  We have empathy, even genuine empathy, when others suffer, often even if they aren't a part of their own pack.  Though, some animals, such as the African painted dog, will care for older and injured pack members, and form relationships with other animals.  Sometimes even animal behavior can be seen as more than just for survival.  They too mourn their dead, and perhaps some plants do as well.   There's no evolutionary reasoning for morals, ethics,  sentience and consciousness in general to randomly happen.  It is evidence that there is something greater guiding evolution and life, even if you simply think of life as the Universe guiding its own evolution and trying to understand itself.

I believe in evolution

Evolution, as it has happened on Earth, is evidence of God.

Based on the evidence currently available to humanity, evolution seems like a probability.  It does appear that life began as simple organisms, and gradually became more complex.  My book, "An Angelic Journey Within," offers one theistic answer to why it happened in such a way. 

It is almost feasible, as I said, that life could evolve randomly, through the trial and error of random mutations,  and become more complex.  However, since most mutations are maladaptive, causing sterility and/or death before reproduction, it simply doesn't make statistical sense that enough adaptive mutations would occur to explain the billions of varieties of life on the Earth (think plants and insects, mold, fungi and bacteria, etc)  not to mention all those which came before and were wiped out without leaving genetic descendants; including some species of hominid (early human variations) and billions or trillions of species at the end of each zoological era, only a tiny fraction of which survived to leave descendants.  (If future science proves that last fact to be untrue, we still have trillions upon trillions of species which have evolved over the past lifespan of the Earth.)

So, evolution itself becomes a proof that some force greater than us, which I think of as God,  is guiding the development of life upon the Earth.   It has happened successfully too many times on one planet to be random chance, and I personally think that the way nature and different species balance one another, like wolves culling herds, deer eating and then fertilizing plants, happens almost too perfectly to be random chance.   Only humans violate those principles, and our ability to do so, as mentioned in the previous section, with choice is even further evidence for something greater than us. 

I believe in God

The reasons which shape my personal beliefs about the nature and being of the aforementioned greater force; ie, God, are complex and, well, personal.   I believe that there is historical and cultural evidence of the Divine around the world.  There is evidence that the overall teaching of the Divine is that we are to learn real love and compassion for one another, and to seek knowledge and wisdom.  I believe that Yeshua, the one many call "Jesus," and his ministry are one important reflection of that message, and that there have been many others around the world throughout history and prehistory.  It is a nearly universal theme.  However, the specifics of belief are topics for other blog posts. 

The spirit of God be strong with us all.