This morning is a glorious early Fall day in New York. The temperature is hovering around 70F, the sun is shining from a cloudless sky, the crickets have established a base of sound for the world, upon which sparrows, eagles, frogs and humans have woven a delicate aural web. It’s the sort of day containing such beauty that I am grateful for every breath I draw. It is a day to be out of doors, soaking in the sun’s rays, smelling the early decay of autumn leaves and wishing the day could last forever.
Unfortunately for us, there are only 7 hours and 11 minutes until the sun sets and this beauty is gone forever, not to be recreated the same way again. It is a day that makes me think about God and whether one exists or if “He” is an elaborate construct of humanity’s need to explain the absolute beauty of a day such as this. After all, surely a being that loves us would give us a gift once in a while to sustain us through the deep winter months, right?
I have serious doubts about such a loving other-worldly being. I totally understand that there was once a need to explain the world and all the mystery therein. All ancient societies had a belief system to help their people understand the world around them. From ancient pagan religions to more recent poly- and mono-theistic religions, there was a need for belief when ignorance reigned the world. As Christopher Hitchens wrote about religion, “It comes from the bawling and fearful infancy of our species, and is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for knowledge (as well as comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs).”
As time went on, however, men and women gifted with curiosity and logic began to discover the real reasons behind the workings of the world, and even the universe. Telescopes and microscopes were invented, allowing us to discover the macrocosm of the universe and the microcosm of the inner world. These intelligent people discovered that lightning is really the discharge of electricity from the atmosphere and that disease was caused by bacteria or viruses, and that the body’s ability to produce antibodies is what “cures” illness, not some celestial being with a magic wand.
I would like to pose a few questions: Is it time for us to rethink the concept of God? Is our attachment to God and religion a crutch that enables us to allow someone else to think for us? Are we essentially a lazy species that would rather hand over control and be virtual slaves to a completely intangible being “out there” than assume responsibility for our own actions and behaviors? Why are we so willing to believe what common sense tells us is false? Is life really so terrifying that we look forward to a reward after death that makes our trials here more acceptable?
Anticipating the reaction of some people, I submit the following: Mankind is an inherently moral species. To say that we are wicked and incapable of determining right from wrong is an incredible insult. We are bound through love that comes naturally to us to care for each other, to be kind and giving to each other, to nurture and protect each other. Otherwise, the species would never have survived its first few centuries!
It is impossible for me to believe that the Hebrews wandering the desert with Moses would have self destructed had he not gone up on Mount Sanai to get the ten commandments. However, it is very likely that whoever wrote the book of Exodus had a need to control a free and diverse (and ignorant) society. It is important to remember that, according to Exodus, when Moses came down from the mountain, he got pissed that people were partying, smashed the ten commandments on the ground and ordered that the Levites (his tribe) arm themselves and go through the crowd. They killed 3,000 people that day, and THAT was how Moses instituted the Judeo-Christian ethic. The horrified people who were left would believe anything he said at that point because they had just seen their friends and relatives hacked to pieces. Unfortunately for us, fear and bloodshed are still the tools used today to keep people in the dark in many religions around the world.
Also, I submit that sometimes life IS difficult, people DO get sick, life ISN’T fair. There is no guarantee at birth that we will live a life full of health and plenty. Modern science has made it possible to improve the quality of our outer lives. Our barometer as “good” people should be, therefore, in how we care for each other, in how we love each other and nurture each other, providing for the longevity of our species. We should not discriminate against other humans who love each other, regardless of whether they love someone of the opposite sex or the same sex. Love is love and should be encouraged.
So to get back to my original question – does God exist? Is the notion of God a crutch? I have no space in my psyche for a being that is responsible for the fomenting of hate. I want no part of a being that says it will turn a large percentage of our species into crispy critters when we die, regardless of whether our intent and our hearts were set on that which was good and kind. I also cannot ignore that science has revealed that which man dreamed up the gods to explain. To that end, I say there is no god.
However, I, too, have days when I want to hand over control of my life to another person, and it would sure help if that person had a magic wand. There are also moments of life filled with breathtaking beauty, when I see the twin gifts of love and compassion in action, or hear a piece of music of such perfection that make me feel part of something greater. Perhaps that something greater is our shared humanity. After all, we are but energy in the end, connected by cosmic forces to every other bit of energy in the universe. Maybe some days we just feel that more than others.
As of today, in my mind, magic wands don’t exist. The reality of my life this moment is that man made god, god didn’t make man. I believe in the goodness of humanity, which transcends religion and faith. We are good because it is in our nature to be good.
Having said that, I look forward to your comments.
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