This bit is for the on-the-fence partial or even non-believer. You have all heard the expression about there being no atheist in foxholes. That when push really does come to shove that everyone wants to believe and will make an appeal to a higher power. Well, that is I think mostly true. I will acknowledge that even in the foxholes that there might be some who still would not reach out for a form of divine help or at least understanding. I believe our faith should be based on intellect and analytical inspection of the existence of that higher power and the efficacy of that power.
If God does exist then He won’t be offended or upset with us being very discriminating in our evaluation of His being and the benefits of our faith in His love for us. If God is there then He certainly has nothing to fear from our feeble attempts to understand His nature and what our relationship to Him should be. What in the world (or Heaven) would God have to fear from that inquiry? I know that many adopt the idea that we should follow the teachings and instructions of priests or religious teachers or preachers. I don’t abide that concept. I don’t criticize those who do. The Catholic Church certainly teaches that you do as you are instructed and follow the lead of the priest and all will be well. The Church has had many difficulties and even venal leaders over the millenia but there is no question that it has been a force for good and offered some brilliant religious teachings over those ages. I would not argue with those whose faith is not based on their own analysis over the Bible and theological precepts but rather on the guiding hand of those priests. It is just not my way. I believe in the priesthood of the believer and that each of us must make our own study and commitment to God after our own understanding. That is not always easy. It can be confusing and downright painful on occasion when we are faced with circumstances we do not comprehend as being the work of God but perhaps even the work of evil.
Of course there is the logical starting point that if God exist then you better have a relationship with Him of one kind or anther. You have made the ultimate mistake if He is there and you have denied Him. Next it is logical to assume that if He exist, He cares about us. Indeed that He loves us. Just imagine the world if God really didn’t care about us or love us? You think we have problems now and too much evil in the world, then assume our total existence was based not on any Divine guidance or oversight and that the only rule is everyone man for himself. If you pare away enough of the layers of the onion I think that is where you end up. Oh, I know many might say that there is some inherent “morality” in all of us that we would follow for our on collective best interest if nothing else. But I don’t think that stands up to real scrutiny. Study your history of lands and peoples that have actively fostered non belief. You will find it is raw power and cohersion that have ruled the day more than any concept of morality. Yes, we are answerable to secular authority and they can put us in prison but those threats ultimately are not what make most of us responsive to a greater sense of morality or respect for ourselves or others and that power of authority will never give us any peace in our hearts. The Communist Manifesto can never answer the question, quo vadis? Food, clothing and shelter are necessary but they alone do not fulfill us. How many sad people are in their Armani suits sitting in their McMansions and feeling very lonely and unhappy right now?
Try to pray sometime if you never have. Study, debate with yourself about God and what if anything He wants from you or for you. Study a little bit of theology. The worst and dumbest thing anyone can do is to reject something they know nothing about. That is the opposite of an intellectual exploration of religion and its benefits, it is a unexplored leap into an unknown area. A foolish mistake. If you want to be an atheist at least make it an intelligent choice and not an article of faith base on —what?
The Lord’s prayer is always a place to start if you aren’t comfortable with how to begin. It never hurts to simply have a conversation with God as though He were there with you. Tell Him what you aren’t sure about and that you have doubts. The clouds won’t part and a voice rumble from the heavens but you won’t be any the worse for wear either. If He is there, He cares and will listen. He gave us this earth and the richness of life. Yes, a life that may have sorrow or tragedy on occasion because He didn’t want us to be mere playthings or robots.
There are no certainties about where the journey of talking with God will take you. No one can predict the outcome. But as you embark on your own journey of life you can have no better companion than Him. Prayer will reveal things about you and your relationship with God and your family. It is even low fat, eco-friendly, and cost free. You have nothing to lose except perhaps your sorrows and loneliness. www.olcranky.wordpress.com