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Why Do I Believe?


       ll countries, nations and tribes have religion. They have always had a way to convey the abstract topics of life, the longings, the joys, the celebrations, the feasts, the mournings. The abstract layer of life, the things not seen that are also important.

I saw an article in the last North Avenue issue 94 on why an individual did not believe in God. These are my thoughts on God and religion as a fact of life.

We come into this world as a blank slate. We learn how to interact with  people, the terms of engagement, what things are called. Some things are called tables, some are called stools. We become emotionally mature, we learn to distinguish good from evil, we start to reach for our desires, fulfill our passions, aspirations. Many things are inconceivable to us , and then one day we begin to understand.

We gravitate towards some things more than others. We say what we don’t mean, we test the boundaries of life, of existence, of all the rules we have learned before. We learn that we can lie, we can omit the details, and there is no immediate consequence. If you are a Christian, then you learn there is no reason to lie. For people without morals then they think they have discovered a hack. We wrestle with not just this process of discovery, but  with other people’s process of discovery. They also learn the lying 'hack', to differentiate  good and evil, discover their desires, and sometimes the inability to articulate desire. 

We are also interacting with our environment, the joint decisions of all the people before us, the land beneath us, the sea above us, the river that flows nearby, the mountains that hang  in the background, the never-ending construction that sounds as you go to sleep, towns with one traffic light. Some things you get used to, some things you don't mind,amazing things that are not a novelty to you.  We are interacting with the background construction, the rivers, the hills. Wherever you grow up, that place grows with you.

This is a setup for the logical conclusion that if all of this is random, then there is no expectation for perfection, no patterns to anything, it should be - random.

In this back and forth, someone might reply and say we know we are not random, and so we have expectations for how life should be lived, we observe that we all are aiming towards non random patterns of living. Even events that occur around us outside of our control - the birth of a child, an opportunity, we cannot still attribute to God, because if I imagined God he would be perfect.

The point is if you don’t believe in God, you should have no expectations about the organization of life, take the randomness of things as it comes and expect nothing more (or less) and just try to understand the case as it may be.

Also perfection is subjective, what is good for one person might not be good for the oher, we have elections because someone has to decide in one way.

A story in the bible before Jesus' crucifixion illustrates the two wills:one man's perfection is another's imperfection, and it always comes to that point where only one decision can be made. So the author of the issue I read  is making the case that I observe life in a deterministic way  to deny  randomness. But how could THIS be God’s will in all this?

But let’s say that we’re engaging in a conversation about the nature of existence , you may say 'Well if God exists, (which I have never considered) how could he be a moral God? Have you seen the state of the world?' But I don’t know if you have heard the rebuttal argument that you contribute to the state of the world, When did you last give food to a homeless person? When did you last donate to a good cause? When did you help a struggling person in need? When last did you try to improve the world, see how you could solve that problem rather than blaming…..God for the state of the world. But its fine, this is not the first time arguments like these have been made, from antiquity.

Augustine of Hippo wrote The CIty of God after the Romans blamed their transition to serving the  Christian God for the sack of Rome  by the Visigoths in 410 leaving the romans in a deep state of shock. In hindsight we know more. The Bible actually paints an ideal city with more than 600 laws to preserve it in perfection. It wasn’t long before that fell apart and they were sacrificing children in fires referred to in the bible in ezekiel 23.

But you see I am not blaming anyone for the state of the world. We cannot understand it. no one really understands how they shape the space around them, and we cannot quantify how our action or inaction shapes the world.*

So, to explain the title, “Why do I believe?” Because of the love. While you see just a portion of the story, (your life experience), there is a bigger  story that I bear witness to. That I sinned, that I do not act in the best interests of other people., I do not always choose wisely and can inadvertently impact my environment, my friends, and my world through these decisions. , I read a book called the Bible and it had all these lofty ideals that rang true for me, and made my heart lurch.they made me want to follow this man who made promises a better life, that  pointed in  the direction of perfection.

There comes  a part in the story where Jesus  dies, and the story says he died for me, and for some reason I believe it. But the story did not end there, the Son of Man raised himself up, an action no other being on Earth could even begin to fathom: triumph over death, power of their life-reality, and  he said if I believed I could be raised from the dead, could be born again.

Why do I believe this story? It’s a rescue mission  in action, I believe because I was  honest with myself and realized I NEED saving. I recognize the hand of love grabbing me out of a world doomed to destruction.

Why doesn’t God snap the world into perfection? I would love to say I have thought long and hard about this, but I have not. God just  refuses to snap us into perfection. the Bible promises a new earth, which means that God put us here, and made the Earth this way, for a reason. . God must want to work with humans. I believe in God and apparently God believes in me too.


*As I edited that paragraph, I realized that I had been ignoring the impact-a-thon flier with the promise of nothing but a free lunch in front of me at the student center. Feeling called out, I applied to avoid the possible ripple effect of my inaction.


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