Of Spirituality and Belief

I live in a world of spirituality and belief, of happiness and joy, of pain and suffering, of understanding and doubt, of faith and trust and of imagination and reality. I live in a world without god.

For many years I have grappled with the concept of god. Perhaps a better wording is ‘my’ interpretation of god. This distinction needs to be made because the nature of god is not a singular structure that exists, but that god is presented to the world as representations of religions AND the introspection of the self.

This personal struggle has lead me to cover much of the ground that surrounds god. Starting at religion, which seems to be the first instance of god that a child has, to belief and faith and onto spirituality. I have journeyed to my conclusions on spirituality and belief that I am sure I will continue to address for the rest of my life, and yet my internal answers serve as a great comfort in easing my inner duality that we all have to come to terms with.

For now the only conclusion that I would like to put forward is that I whole heartedly believe that the notion of a benevolent god, an external entity from me the self and mostly associated with a religion although not by necessity, to be non-existent. That for all common purposes I am an Atheist.

From this point forward, I would love nothing more than to delve deeper into my journey, telling tales of adventure and discussion with long nights around a table with friends and family and trips out of town to further my understanding of the world. But the truth of the matter is that much of my discovers come through quiet contemplation, through reading and watching documentaries, and that my answers are my own, and not fed to me through external sources such as revelation of mind.

Perhaps the reason for this is that this issue is as much of spirituality and belief as it is about my own identity, after all we are nothing without an identity except a body. My identity to me is me, being more than just who I am to others and myself, but the choice in the delicate path that I weave through space and through time. My identity includes my perception of me, in what and how do I see myself.

So with this in mind, my journey through spirituality and belief as well as the search and discovery of my own identity will begin, and with the recognition that I am not and can never have finished this journey, I will discuss some of the major hurdles that I have crossed in my struggles.

Does God Exist

This is THE fundamental question that we must all contemplate with discussing any issue relating to spirituality and belief because it so intimately shapes the way in which we make related decisions. If a person believes that a god exists, then the self reflection and internal dialogue will be swayed to mirror this, and they may disassociate themselves from their identity. This is reflected in the Christian (and maybe others) religious concept of being a ‘child of god’. If however, we consider a person who does not believe in god, then they will without a doubt place a different association on their internal dialogue with their identity.

The association with the identity is the key, and the existence of god, or the personal perception of god, plays a vital role. This concept does nothing to shift my point of view, nor should it make a person feel any different at all, what it should show is that people will have a different identity, based upon the answer to the question.

One of the toughest concepts of the existence of god that I have ever worked through is that of the quote by an ancient Greek scholar Epicurus

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
— Epicurus (ca. 341-270 BCE), Greek philosopher

This quote really made me think. What did I have to say about this. This scholar has come from a time and place where considerable advances where made in academia, yet too early to do anything but think and play with some rudimentary mathematics. Yet here is a man who rationally questions the notion of god.

The first thought that comes to mind is perhaps some part of his logic is misconceived or misunderstood and yet, at least to me, this is a valid argument. Of course the religious schooling in me tells me that the line ‘whence cometh evil?’ is an answerable question, in such that god ‘allows’ evil to persist for any number of reasons, most notably free will. But to me these answers are too simple and avoid the question’s true essence. That if he is willing and able, and has a capability beyond human reason, why is there evil at all. If a god is so determined to have us love him because we as humans want to, doesn’t that make him a narcissistic character on a level that could by human standards by unacceptable.

To me personally, this quote does have it’s flaws, but it also encapsulates the way that I feel. “Why call him God” is a great question to ask, for why do we need god. I can understand a need for religion, in that a set of beliefs helps society to function. But history tells us that it doesn’t help keep society at peace, and often causes far more problems than it solves and most importantly, provides it’s followers a means to stop behaving rationally. But a need for religion without a need for god suggests that we could choose to live without both and build for ourselves a world where we have the values and morals that allow us live socially and at peace.

Because of this conclusion, I can say that I don’t believe in god. I wish that I could say that god doesn’t exist. I wish that I had some evidence to prove that there was no god and that we would all be better off without his concept. What I do have is the writings of many philosophers, scientists and great thinkers, who have all weighed into this question and came to relatively the same conclusion. Because of that I am happy to be part of the society who chooses to accept in the non-existence of god, a part of the atheistic society who lives by rational and logical reasoning.

But just because I deny the existence of god, does not mean that I cannot be a spiritual person. Spirituality can be separated from god and religion such that an identity can be had from an internal perspective. However that is for the next post.

If you have an opinion about something that I have said in this post please leave a comment.

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4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  August 27, 2011

    Who says evil exists though? It’s only fair to ask where it comes from if it exists.

    Reply
  2. Fair enough

    Reply
  3. I’m curious–have you read the Eastern and Western responses to the “problem of evil.” Both the Judeo-Christian Western and the Hindu/Buddhist philosophers have responded to this issue that you bring up, and offer answers for why it isn’t a problem… I won’t waste your time if you’re already familiar with the arguments against the problem Epicurus brought up and weren’t satisfied with the answers, but it just seemed from your blog that you had not looked into how others had directly attacked and dealt with the problem of evil.

    Reply
    • I have read a little on the differing responses to the problem of evil, although by no means have covered all the different arguments. To me though the fact of evil seems to be as much of a human and society problem as it is a god and religion one, god feels unnecessary to question of evil.
      In my writing, I am beginning to reconcile my spirituality and belief against my ardent grounding in science and reason. Epicurus made me think long and hard about myself, and what I held as my belief towards god. Unfortunately it is difficult to physically describe those feelings because they are so intangible, and so I can recognise in some areas my arguments are lacking.
      At the end of the day though, my beliefs on this topic are not arguable. I cannot say for sure why, yet. Perhaps as I continue my inquest into my own identity and continue on my journey I will discover a more arguable position.

      Reply

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