Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher all have my respect and even admiration for their talents, and their ability to stand their ground and state what they believe and know, so too, the millions of professed Atheists around the world. They have shown us that there is neither scientific evidence nor rational explanation for the existence of god—any god. They have demonstrated that religion, when left to human beings, is not only dangerous, but evil itself malevolently expressed.
All that can be said in favor of religion is that with this observation made about humanity, and its inability to ever act rationally, and with humanistic ethics put in place by humankind on any large scale, their faith in it is totally unfounded by the very same methods by which they have destroyed the efficacy of religion in our world. Face it, humanity is lost, an evil strain of life that probably would have been better never created by the evolution of plant and animal life on this planet, and perhaps others throughout our galaxy and beyond.
When we die, it is over. We are merely the chaff and are mere echoes in the winds of time. There is nothing meaningful in this existence, perhaps except debauchery lust, greed, and pursuit of power over others and the gratification over our consuming hatreds as long as we are here and free to pursue them. Enjoy. This is a hopeless vision of our world and existence and I am repelled by it.
Writing inSalon recently, Sean D. llling had this provocative observation about what Atheists might be missing from quiet believers who simply with all our faults believe in something greater than ourselves:
“But there’s something missing in their critiques, something fundamental. For all their eloquence, their arguments are often banal. Regrettably, they’ve shown little interest in understanding the religious compulsion . . . Religious convictions in many cases, are held not because they’re true, but because they’re meaningful, because they’re personally transformative. New Atheists are blind to this brand of belief.”
To top it all off I personally violate what llling has said here. I do believe in God, the Great I Am, the Alpha and Omega, the Creator Spirit, The Christ. I am compelled to account fully for the hope that is within me.
I can’t settle this question to the satisfaction of anybody. What I can and must do is to tell you what beliefs are central to me in my practice and path of Protestant Christianity. I’ll tell you through what our wisest and best have said about what’s important, and the transcendent quality I have felt over them all. Further, I have experienced the transcendence of God. Only for a few moments of time, only in a few very intense situations did I factually know I was in the presence of God and no other. If you wish to label me a fool than consider what Paul said thousands of years ago about this very thing:
“Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written : ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’, and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise that they are futile.”
2 Corinthians 18-20.
Something on this line of reasoning comes from an anonymous ancient writer in the persona of King Solomon, part of the Apocrypha, those biblical books that were out there, but were not chosen for the Christian Cannon. Its value is less in the epistemological truth of the statements, but that someone thousands of years ago anticipated where the split is for those of faith and those of evidentiary science:
“They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up. And their lawless deeds will convict them to their face, then the righteous will stand with great confidence in the presence of those who have oppressed them and those who make light of their labors. When the unrighteous see them, they will be shaken with dreadful fear and they will be amazed at the unexpected salvation for the righteous. They will speak to one another in repentance, and in anguish of spirit they will groan, and say, ‘These are persons whom we once held in derision and made a byword of reproach—fools that we were!”
The Wisdom of Solomon, 4:20 and 5:1-4
This has nothing to do with the innate superiority of the believer over the non-believer as my faith makes it as clear as is possible that it is God’s love for us despite our many flaws, and our responding to that love with belief and regard for God that saves us.
For the faithful, our faith or the transcendent belief and knowing we carry deep inside us justifies God, the Great I Am or Creator Spirit in offering us and our souls eternal existence with God. We didn’t do a thing ourselves to get this precious gift. So it’s not exclusive to us who believe thus far.
The very core of what God is to me is Love: unselfish love for him, for others, and for ourselves in communion with that which is divine and beyond our ken.
Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, said these words—the very last ever addressed to humankind until that final judgment spoken of so often and not our business in figuring out. It is the most important thing Jesus ever said or wanted to tell us:
“Love one another.”
This is expressed in more than one Gospel. Note: Jesus made no qualifications whatsoever here. The good, the bad, and the indifferent, all are rained on to use the Christian and Judaic philosophers, and Jesus’ words of wisdom. We are all in on this injunction to love. What we do about it is entirely up to us. We simply have to open our hearts and minds to God. Apparently this stuff called faith and the transcendence of it does not work unless you sit, be quiet, and wait openly for God to act on your heart. Paying attention to communications we got from the divine are what we have to do. Deliberately denying God and defying God’s existence is not going to do it.
But we Christians are enjoined here not with a mere suggestion but a command to do the very hard thing—love one another without limit. We fall short as we ourselves are not gods. But we try, and when we fail God forgives us for not being gods ourselves, but mortal beings. But to try and just do it whenever and how we can is the thing. When we are not doing this we are disconnected from God.
Matthew 25,31-44 provides the Christian standard of right behavior direct from Jesus’ own mouth, God Emanuel, the aspect of God as a Son, who experienced the miseries and flaws of human life right along with us for 33 years, and was killed by humanity and his death showed how God love us and wants us with him despite all that. Jesus disciples were asking how people could inherit God’s Kingdom—eternal life in communion with the divine. Here is what Jesus in part said:
. . . “’for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous [those that pay attention to what God wants from us, and act on their belief in God] will answer him ’Lord when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the King will answer them, [the King being Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ] ‘Truly I tell you , just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
Conversely, later verses provide the contrary example when these things are not done. Jesus tells his disciples that in those cases what was refused was not done for him either. This teaching is hard but clear: “And these will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life.”
I had to know how we are given salvation or know we are saved. I do and have known for quite a while, and the knowledge is transcendent in itself. Field goals and goalposts in football games come to the modern mind:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
John 3:16, and I’ve added verse 17.
Conversely, those that spend their entire existence on this planet as a mortal human defying this “are condemned already.”
I’m saved. It’s a fact because I believe in Jesus the Christ. And not because I am any better than any human who has ever existed or will exist in the course of the Earth and stars and for all time. That is a fully transcendent thing and cannot be proven scientifically. I am going to spend eternity after I am gone, with God in communion with this divine entity called by so many names because God says so and God does not lie. God fulfills all declarations and promises without exception. None of us can do that.
There are many paths to the divine. Love is a common denominator for all the great inspirational transcendent faiths of this world. But when humans run them without that close connection with God or parts of the Judeo-Christian scriptures where God is not speaking directly to us via himself or the prophets empowered by God—but by human inspired interpreters who are fallible, we need to make close distinctions, and recognize how flawed we mortal human beings are without the divine.
God is love, God is the light that shines and even outshines the darkness and evil cupidity of an ill-directed humanity that does not look for the divine and open themselves to it. There are many paths to the divine, but Christians have to be on the path I described. In fact, the early Christian believers were called “People of the Way.”
Love and blessings to you all without exceptions.