Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The older I get, the more relevant religion becomes. And no, I’m not saying that because I’m concerned about my after-life. I’m concerned about my present life, and finding as much meaning in it as possible. Religion gives my life much of its meaning.

But how, you might ask, can I buy into religion, in light of its basic premises? Isn’t it true that religion begins with the adoption of a belief in the cosmic Santa Claus – the notion that there exists an omniscient, omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omnipresent deity who created this world in accordance with His own inscrutable will?

Well, it that were to be true, then I definitely should stop blogging so much about religion. Like a huge fraction of the educated people in the modern world, I think of that deity as a figment of our own imagination. Or, if you prefer, let me say it like they’d do it in logic class. “If there’s a field called pediatric oncology, then there’s no Cosmic Santa Claus. If there’s a place named Auschwitz, then there’s no Cosmic Santa Claus. If there are tsunamis that kill tens of thousands of people, then there’s no Cosmic Santa Claus. If there’s an institution called television news, and all it ever covers is the death of Anna Nicole Smith, then there’s no Cosmic Santa Claus.”

But exactly who made the law that requires us to think of God as a Cosmic Santa Claus? Who made the requirement that, to be religious, we must adopt the view that this is the “best of all possible worlds”? That latter phrase comes from Leibniz, but the last time I checked, he was just a blow-hard, not a law maker. When it comes to our religious beliefs, we, the people are the only lawmakers. And as the Lord of my own beliefs, I say that I can believe in a God that is altogether different from the old-fashioned, miracle-working God of Scripture.

My spirituality starts with a much more modest assumption than omnibenevolence. I’ll admit it’s an assumption – pure speculation. Then again, believing its opposite would be pure speculation as well. I choose to believe in the assumption at issue largely because I intuit that it makes sense and largely because it makes my life more meaningful when I adopt it.

My assumption is that all of life is unified – and by that, I mean that it is one single substance, one single organism, if you will. My assumption, in other words, is that everything that exists today is intimately connected with everything that did exist but no longer does in the same form, and everything that will exist even though its form hasn’t yet manifested itself to our senses or thoughts. I start with the idea, in short, that The All is One.

And to that All, I grant the notion of divinity … of holiness, of beauty.

Try that approach for yourself, sometime. Consider that all your thoughts, everything you can sense with your five senses, and everything you can’t sense but believe is existent in some hidden set of dimensions, are part of a single Being – much like you already believe that your bones and tissue are part of a single being. Then, walking down the street or lying in bed, look lovingly at that single Being. Praise the Being for its beauty and complexity. Allow it to inspire your own actions. Give the Being a name (I’m partial to the name “God,” but you might prefer another – like Absolute Being). And then devote your lives to honoring that name.

Try that for a few days. Then let’s talk about whether there’s room in our lives for religion.

1 comment:

Finding Fair Hope said...

This post suggests that you don't believe in The Secret, the popular new DVD-parlor game that assures us that all it takes is confidence that the universe itself is a genie like the one from Aladdin's lamp, providing everything you wish for (because "energy attracts," meaning that the mere expression of positive vibrations will create the magnetism that will draw the things you want to you. And "things" seems to be the operative word. Believers describe the houses they got from knowing the secret, the cars -- which always seem to be BMW's -- the swimming pool, the book deal, and so on.

I can buy your interpretation more easily.