By guest author Kit Summers
I used to be a world-class juggler. Then I was hit by a truck and spent 37 days in a coma. I gave recovery my full effort but it was impossible to return to my former skill level, so I wrote a book about juggling and started a fresh salsa business — then I got hit by another truck. I was also sent to jail for a month on a false charge. I continued to write and became a world traveler. I have been through a lot of ups and downs. [The following words are from a book I am writing about God and belief.]
After the appalling things I have gone through in my life, I tried to turn to the idea of a God to simply ask: “Why?”
No answer came to me.
After the accident, I was trying to go down that path, for help, for guidance, and for relief; but ran into too many dead-ends and roadblocks. Try as I might, I could not find that road to go down.
I cannot find this “father” in heaven who takes care of us, perhaps because I grew up without a father (he died when I was seven).
While growing up, I did not have much of a religious or spiritual influence. My mother never went to church and was never spiritually dogmatic, so ideas of church and deity were largely foreign to me.
In junior high school, I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia books by CS Lewis. I was lost in these books and could not put them down. My mind truly went to Narnia and was a part of the story; I got lost in this world and loved it. I was a believer — in Narnia, in Aslan, in Mordor, and all the rest. I do understand how people can have beliefs.
Although I was always aware of how faith aided many people throughout their lives, I saw it as a psychological necessity for some, but not for me.
I am not saying that I did not get educated about any kind of God; I have attended various denominations of Christian churches over a hundred times, as well as synagogue. I fully tried to find the God that everyone was so enamored with. My mind would not allow me to.
People at church appeared happy and good-natured, showing kindness and support to one another — always gratifying to see. Church often seems a good social mix for people; a connection place. Faith and belief have helped a great many people to live better lives, inspired them to help others, and given them comfort, guidance, relief, love and peace.
It all seemed so simple for them. I was highly critical of myself, asking “am I just too stupid to see what should be obvious?” People told me, “You have to believe in your heart, and not in your mind.” What, exactly, could that mean?
Under the impression that there was something there to help me, I tried to build up a strong belief and faith, but I could not find anything, anywhere. As I went through the massive changes in my life, there were times when I honestly did search for this divine inspiration that has helped so many.
For a time I attended church with my (ex-)wife at a Messianic church (Jews and Gentiles who believe in Jesus.) After some weeks, the rabbi asked us over for dinner at his house; I was pleased to go. After a nice dinner, the conversation turned to my beliefs and my relationship with my wife. He said we should not be together because of differing beliefs. This hurt so much I cried — big tears. This caused me a lot of mental anguish.
It seems that most of the time the pastor or preacher or rabbi or person running the show was trying to talk everyone “into” believing. “You must believe because of…” It was like all these believers have to be reinforced all the time to believe even stronger or the belief would fade away.
Rationality kept getting in the way: it was impossible to see past how things are. I could not ignore or look beyond the logic and reason that were so apparent to me.
People may say I was not trying in the right way, but I tried all kinds of ways and still — NOTHING. It’s not that my heart was closed to God. Even today I am open to the idea that there is a God looking over us. If you are a believer and can help steer me the correct path to find God, please do.
It seemed as though others could think in a different way than I could. And that, as it happens, is a fact. We all think and perceive things differently. When I found out there were other critical thinkers in the world it set me free.
People who knew of my differing beliefs seemed to act toward me as, “What’s wrong with him?” It seemed as if there was almost hatred behind their look, as they perceived me, just because I did not believe as they did. I wondered why we could not even be friends just because this person had decided on a certain faith and my thoughts and beliefs were different.
I see that there is no way to prove God exists, and there is no way to prove God does not exist — isn’t the same thing true for Faeries, The Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and Santa?
I have been told that you cannot see or define God; you just have to believe on faith. How can you believe something if you cannot see or even define it? I hear from people that God exists outside of space and time — then how would they know, if this knowledge is outside of their realm? This makes no sense to me.
People also told me, “If you don’t believe in God you will go to hell.” First, this sounds like a huge threat. And, why would any God that made me smart enough to know how to use my mind, also punish me “FOREVER” for not believing in him (or her) with no evidence whatsoever?
What if the Muslim God, Allah, is the only real God? Though they both fall under the category of Abrahamic religion, what if Christianity is heresy? Or what if it is the other way around? What if the Hindu God, Ganesha, is correct? What about Zeus?
If there is a God, what if the real truth has not yet been revealed, and a future religion is the correct one?
For myself, I have just found such a comfort and freedom not having to base my life on any kind of a God.
There is so much negativity and even violence in the various dogmas of the world. Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hinduism; each and every religion thinks theirs is the correct one. The fighting that is involved and true hatred toward others who do not believe as they do, to me, that behavior is truly immoral. All for statements that can never be proven true or false.
Wars are fought over petty disagreements where almost everyone on an individual level interprets “divine truth” differently. This is too often used as justification for virtually any act of inhumanity, costing hundreds of millions of lives over the centuries.
Still, we see these conflicts ongoing as religious divides continue to fan the flames of hate. The twin towers in New York City on September 11 in 2001, just one example.
As Rodney King said, “Can’t we just get along?”
I want to stop the fighting, stop the bickering, to get on with life. Let us heal the world away from religious infighting and the thought control that is brought on by this part of human life.
It seems that having strong faith often builds up a false hope in a person’s mind toward their own future. Religion sometimes gives people an excuse and a reason not to think. Faith provides a way to avoid studying something in depth and then making your own conclusions.
To simply say, “God did it,” and then forget about it is not a good thing. It seems to me that having faith, at times, is an excuse not to fully use your mind and figure out how life truly is.
When I talk with Christians (Christianity being the primary religion where I live) and tell them of my skepticism of God and ask where I can find or see this God, responses are mostly the same: “Well, look around you. See the green grass, the beautiful trees, hear lovely nature, and see the sweet circle of life?
“Yes, very nice,” I say, and continue, “Did you know that most of the earth is either too dry or too hot or too cold to support most life forms? Or that the harmonious circle of life is an endless cycle of forced kill-and-be-killed cruelty—that most creatures live in discomfort at best and merely survive day-to-day as a relentless struggle of life and death?”
“Or that thousands of species are constantly dying out, being killed off by the competition with or without human influence?”
“And what of natural disasters—hurricanes, drought, earthquakes, forest fires, lightning strikes and so forth, wreaking havoc, bringing misery, desolation, and death to all living things indiscriminately?”
With my words, I do not want to insult anyone in any way. I simply want you to think. Of course, these are my thoughts and discoveries about God. I do not want to change your beliefs; I simply want you to think.
I would like to help open your heart and mind to truly see the life you are living now — the only life we truly know we have — and aim toward the excellence that you desire, with or without God.
Even with all these choices, if you do believe and it helps you, then it is probably a positive influence. I do understand your beliefs. We must all believe in something, be it supernatural or merely our personal ideals.
I would like you not to squander this life you are living as nothing more than some kind of trial to be borne and suffered through on the path to something we can only hope is waiting in a possible hereafter (for Muslims, the hope of the seventy-two virgins who await them in heaven? Do the virgins have any say in this?).
I know that most people in the world have been taught, as children, to accept the spiritual beliefs of their parents, whatever those beliefs may be. When a child has these beliefs reinforced, again and again, with this idea of God during all their years growing up, no wonder they are a strong believer in that faith.
In learning of God as a youth, is that a good reason to believe something? You are older now; you need to thoroughly examine what and why you really believe.
Each person needs to examine why they actually believe and what is true to them. Take the time to analyze what and why you truly believe.
Kit is seeking to build friendships with more atheists, as there are not many where he lives; he’s also looking for a co-author for his upcoming book. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.