I have written and erased this post a bunch of times. Too preachy? Too self indulgent. Poorly written? – Maybe one or all of the above. In any case, I feel like I need to get it down and just throw it out there, let the universe have it, if it cares.
My pastor said something a while back that stuck with me, “Show me the God you believe in and I will tell you who you are.” That’s pretty radical, if you think about it. The God in whom you believe really is more about you than him/her. The traits with which you identify, amplify, and espouse, really tell us about you, not some mythological character. If you believe in a condemning, vengeful, short tempered god, guess what? That’s you. If your God is merciful and loving, the same.
When I was young, the angry god who would send people to Hell just didn’t jive with me. There was never any doubt, even before I had any sense of theology, we’re talking like second grade, that there was something flawed about this god. The idea of original sin, an angry spiteful god who would punish us for misdeeds never made sense to me naturally. Like a good Catholic, though, I kept my more radical thoughts to myself.
Recently, the Internet has given voice to a growing movement of Atheists, emboldened by the ability to connect anonymously, they have found new solidarity from the daily pressures to nod and remain silent while the shrill voices of Christian dogma swirl around them. To say you are an Atheist is nearly a death sentence in many circles, so they have found respite online. While rational and cathartic, I have noticed some things that trouble me in the same way as those shrill angry vengeful self-professed christians.
On the one hand you have: god cares and has a hand in our daily lives. He punishes the wicked and rewards the just. He’s out there waving his magic shillelagh always on notice to smite the wicked.
On the other hand you have: the universe doesn’t care. It’s not that the universe is capricious, though. The universe simply cannot be appealed to. We may prostrate ourselves to it, but there is nothing. There is nothing to care. Even an indifferent universe would seem a conscious choice. No, there just is simply nothing that may care about you and your needs and your life and your little petty issues. Nothing.
The universe is cold and does not feel your pain.
So I say to you, my fellow, do not tell me the universe does not feel, because I feel. I feel your pain. I care about you. The universe is not indifferent, because I am not indifferent. I know that I make a conscious choice to love. It is not always easy, and I fail frequently, but I try to point my bow into the wind toward what I believe is my God, a god of love. We may fail. We may despair. We may feel alone. We may want to judge. We may wish to punish, but if we do not have love for our fellows, we are lost, and surely god is dead. You see, he’s not out there apart from us.
It is not magic, it is faithfulness. Faithfulness to what, you ask? Be faithful to love, my brothers and sisters. Be faithful to each other.
Faithful to love as in trust love or as in full of faith of/to love?
I think, in terms of atheism, there should be a better word with a less entangled etymology.. 😉
Good question. Actually I think it’s time to take back the word faith from religion – or at least faithfulness. What I mean is being faithful to those that you love. Showing fidelity to others when it truly counts. Being faithful is choosing those you love over yourself. I suppose it also takes a leap of faith to decide that that is the best way to spend one’s life. Bah, you philosophers.