Wednesday, June 11, 2008
soul searching
So there has been this on going thing at work where my boss is trying to get me to become a Christian and I am trying to get him to become an environmentalist. It's like a tug of war... sometimes he pulls me a little and sometimes I pull him a little but I don't think either of us are even remotely close to the jumping off point.
I'm not sure if I've ever really blogged about my religious views or lack thereof. Those of you who know me in real life have probably had a conversation or two about it with me. The Cake Lady and I have explored certain avenues together and in all honesty she is the person who I feel the closest "religious" connection with. I think it is because we have the same core feeling about Everything and the same openmindedness in regards to exploration of this core feeling.
The long and short of it is that I have classified myself as agnostic for many years. And previous to that classification, I don't think I really knew what I was, I don't believe I had invested enough thought into the decision.
From Wikipedia: Agnosticism (Greek): α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge; after Gnosticism is the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims — particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology afterlife or the existence of God, gods, deities, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently unknowable.
In my searching for an answer, it all seemed unknowable to me. It still does. However, my problem with that was that I have always felt connected. I have always felt something. But I've never been able to connect that something to a god or a religion. You have heard me many, many times refer to The Universe and Karma and Balance and those are all things I do believe in. But how do you tie religion to The Universe? I didn't know.
So my boss gave me this book to read [Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis] when SnowElf came to visit a few months ago and I have been slowly trudging through it. Saturday when I went to the gym, I brought it in with me, hoping to get through a chapter or two while I was working out. As I am jogging along, I read this,
"Now I go on to the next big division. People who all believe in a God can be divided according to the sort of God they believe in. There are two very different ideas on this subject. One of them is the idea that He is beyond good and evil. We humans call one thing good and another thing bad. But according to some people that is merely our human point of view. These people would say that the wiser you become the less you would want to call anything good or bad, and the more clearly you would see that everything is good in one way and bad in another, and that nothing could have been different. Consequently, these people think that long before you got anywhere near the divine point of view the distinction would have disappeared altogether. We call a cancer bad, they would say, because it kills a man; but you might just as well call a successful surgeon bad because he kills a cancer. It all depends on the point of view. The other and opposite idea is that God is quite definitely 'good' or 'righteous' a God who takes sides, who loves love and hates hatred, who wants us to behave in one way and not another. The first of the views - the one that thinks God beyond good and evil - is called Pantheism. It was held by the great Prussian philosopher Hegel and, as far as I can understand them, by the Hindus. The other view is held by Jews, Mohammedans and Christians.
And with this big difference between Pantheism and the Christian idea of God, there usually goes another. Pantheists usually believe that God, so to speak, animates the universe as you animate your body: that the universe is God, so that if it did not exist He would not exist either, and anything you find in the universe is a part of God. The Christian idea is quite different. They think God invented and made the universe - like a man making a picture or composing a tune. A painter is not a picture, and he does not die if his picture is destroyed. You may say, "he's put a lot of himself into it," but you only mean that all its beauty and interest has come out of his head. His skill is not in the picture in the same way it is in his head, or even in his hands. I expect you see how this difference between Pantheists and Christians hangs together with the other one. If you do not take the distinction between good and bad very seriously, then it is easy to say that anything you find in this world is a part of God. But, of course, if you think some things really bad, and God really good, then you cannot talk like that. You must believe that God is separate from the world and that some of the things we see in it are contrary to His will. Confronted with a cancer or a slum the Pantheist can say, "If you could only see it from the divine point of view, you would realize that this also is God." The Christian replies, "Don't talk damned nonsense." For Christianity is a fighting religion. It thinks God made the world - that space and time, heat and cold, and all the colors and tastes, and all the animals and vegetable, are things that God 'made up out of His head' as a man makes up a story. But it also thinks that a great many things have gone wrong with the world that God made and that God insists, and insists very loudly, on our putting them right again.
And, of course, that raises a very big question. If the good God made the world why has it gone wrong? And for many years I simply refused to listen to the Christian answers to this question, because I kept on feeling 'whatever you say, and however clever your arguments are, isn't it much simpler and easier to say that the world was not made by any intelligent power? Aren't all your arguments simply a complicated attempt to avoid the obvious?' But then that threw me back into another difficulty."

And as I read that, I thought to myself - Holy Shit. You mean that there is an actual "religion" where The Universe, Nature and all beings as a whole make up it's foundation? How have I made it to almost thirty years of age without anyone telling me this? I went back and read that so many times that I haven't been able to move forward in the book yet... it felt to me like someone was showing me something that was a part of me for the first time. I hope that doesn't sound overly dramatic... I am so enthralled by Pantheism that I can't wait to go and check out everything there is to read on it. And I don't know if my boss will be thrilled about this or not because I truly feel like by discovering this, I will be pushed even further from Christianity or any other of these types of religion because someone has shown me the other option, the option I've felt all along.

And I feel like Christianity is looking hypocritical now. [And I have to say right now that I do not challenge anyone's beliefs. I do not consider myself even close to being remotely educated enough to do so. But I do have questions and I consistently ask my boss these questions to better understand him and what he believes. And so please do not take any of these or my future comments to be insulting, I don't intend them to be so.]

Regarding the cancer comment and not to be based solely on it but as an example, using your faith/outlook/religion - How could you not think, even as a Christian that it (the cancer) wasn't part of God. It's his world, his universe that he created according to that belief system. They believe that cancer, a disease separate from human and human good/bad, is evil. How did it become evil? Where did the evil stem from?

And if Christianity considers the world, Earth, to be God's creation - his work of art and Christians themselves to be a work of art how can so many people (Christianity and religion as a whole make up the majority of the population) have so little respect for this "work of art?" Do they simply believe that the Earth in being created by God will simply withstand whatever humans put her through? Why is there not a more "green" emphasis through religion?

And finally, not so much a question but he repeatedly implied that humans have an innate need to be good, a set "moral law" [in Mere Christianity, there is a constant reference to an inset Moral Law where you know what is wrong and right because (they believe) God has told you and there could be really no other option] where we know right from wrong but seems to only equate that with God. Why is it so unthinkable that The Universe has no will or idea to be good because it isn't considered a singular object. Wouldn't it instead be more likely that The Universe could take on the good or bad of all the beings within it? And that the whole ebb and flow of The Universe is the concentrated energies of the whole Universe itself?

These were some of the things I proposed in my conversation yesterday and since I've had this whole Atheism/Agnoticism/Patheism/Christianity thing on the brain, I needed to share with you all where I am. And instead of pondering and researching and not blogging, I figured I'd blog the pondering and researching because I am all about the multitasking :)


so eloquently put by katehopeeden at 6:43 AM
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