It’s easy to feel insulted when one hears a callous derogatory remark made about God or religion when one is a believer. It’s a natural reaction. Even if we ourselves aren’t perfect in our faith — we’ll get to that problematic concept of “faith” later — and/or struggle with our beliefs, if we are a practicing or actively religious or spiritual person it just plain stings a little when you hear someone insult religion in general or God. As if they know. Which we know they don’t. Not anymore than we do. It’s the casual callousness of it that feels disrespectful. That’s what hurts. We may not even be that into it ourselves. Or perhaps we’re a three times a weeker seeker. Either way it’s just plain rude no matter how you slice it. No different than if you heard the same person insulting someone you loved or in your family. That kind of hurt. Which of course it is. People take their religion and their spirituality, their relationship with God, seriously. To many people their religious community is their family. And so too is their belief in whatever God they believe exists. It’s a heartless callous hardened heart that is capable of insulting religion or the God concept in mixed company. Such as on social networks like Facebook or Twitter or what have you. Especially when it is unsolicited. I’ve always found it a rather distasteful act.
Of course it’s their right to do so. Their opinion and their ability to express it publicly is protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. Just as all of ours is. And that’s a very very good thing. It doesn’t make it hurt any less I’m sure. But it’s important to remember that we live in a relatively “free society”. [Quotes due to how quickly these once taken for granted freedoms are disappearing over the last 14 years. It’s more appearance and political-speak now than reality. Truth is that any number of covert or secret “intelligence agencies” — whether we’ve heard of them or not — could enter every single one of our homes at a moments notice, search through our home and ransack our most prized possessions, arrest us, and cart any one of us to a known or secret prison here or in another country and we may or may not be ever be heard from again. There are more laws on the books now that permit that than ones that protect us FROM that happening. That’s just how things are in the “post 9/11 America”.]
But that’s not the point. We’ve already established in numerous other posts that for anyone to claim they’re an “atheist” is as radical and extreme as any bible thumping born again christian or stone throwing Muslim. They assert that they KNOW that God “does not exist”. Funny. I know plenty of Christians who aren’t even 100% sure if God exists or not. I’ll take the word and trust the nobility of someone who is that intelligent and bold any day over someone so ignorant as to claim that they know for sure that there is NO God. That’s just plain lack of intelligence. It takes just as much “faith” to believe something does NOT exist just because they can’t see it as it does to believe something DOES exist that they can’t see. We can’t SEE atoms. And we couldn’t for thousands of years and yet we predicted their existence as far back as when Greece ruled the world. Long before we could “see” them with modern microscopes.
Same thing with the earth being round. Sure the doubters said that it was most definitely flat because that’s what it LOOKED LIKE. I get it. It feels safer only believing in what you can see. You’ve been duped before and it’s not gonna happen again. So from now on it’s “I’ll only believe it when I see it”. Smart.
Except that it’s not. Smart. It’s just plain ignorance. Which is why we can’t blame atheists. They’re radical nature inspires them to make such bold proof-less claims the same way that a Muslim’s inspires him to believe that “women should be covered in black clothing from head to foot in public in order to stay pure”. It’s a radical nature compounded by a lack of intellect. Which is ironic when one considers that most atheists consider themselves “intellectuals”, or to be “more intellectually driven” than theists. But as explained above that’s a misconception.
Another aspect of the bigger picture debate — one that isn’t discussed often — is this: the primary reason why any atheist out of a thousand, take your pick, does NOT believe in God is because they have NEVER EXPERIENCED GOD. As stated above. They claim they “don’t believe in such a thing because they can’t see it”. Which means they never have. One assumes that also means they’ve never heard God either. They’ve never felt God. Never touched Him/Her/It. In other words they’ve never had a God experience. You see where this is headed…
Their problem isn’t necessarily JUST a lack of intelligence — though that’s a big one obviously, as explained above: an intelligent person doesn’t claim to know something for sure that is unknowable at a specific moment in history. There is not enough certainty either way for anyone to know or NOT know. So sure it’s a lack of intelligence to make such a clueless claim.
But what it really comes down to is this: the existence of God isn’t unknowable to all of us. Only to some. While it is true that a vast majority of religious people of all faith traditions steer their spiritual beliefs by way of “faith”, there are some who have seen God, have heard It, or felt It. They’ve had viable tangible God experiences. And THAT’S why they believe in God. Not because of “faith”. But because to them God is as real as their right hand or the nose on their face.
I KNOW this to be true not because I have faith. I personally have very little faith. I’ve always found it to be a rather weak cop out, faith. “To believe in something based on nothing or no evidence, solely because you believe in it.” Not really my thing. But rather it’s because I can honestly say that I once shared the atheist’s vehement disrespect and dislike of all things religious. I thought that God the concept was a cop out. A crutch used only by weak people who couldn’t find steady ground or security within and by themselves. Mentally this made perfect sense. There are plenty of examples and reasons in the world that help support the belief that we are alone in a vast expansive empty and lonely universe — no God to help us when we’re down or heal the sick or feed the hungry. Just random joy and pain. Happiness and sorrow. Ups and downs as random and arbitrary as heads or tails. Chaos in a quantum world. Just as some scientists have been proposing for decades. Think Chaos Theory or Quantum Mechanics.
But then something miraculous happened. I don’t use the term lightly. Miraculous because after years and years of searching, studying, seeking and praying God found me. I didn’t find God. Nor find religion. God found me. Why? I don’t know. I sometimes feel guilty and undeserving to be one of the few who can claim that I don’t believe in God because of faith but rather because I have experienced Him/Her/It. In person. Tangible. Measurable. Viable. As real as the sound of my breath when all is quiet.
I just wrote a more detailed account of the experience in the previous post of these Diaries. It’s all there. Everything I can remember. Which is everything. Experiences like the are not something one forgets easily.
This account I spoke of wasn’t the first time I had a tangible experience of God. Nor was it the last. They don’t happen often. I admit. I’d prefer if God were there whenever and wherever I wanted Him to be. And maybe He is. Maybe It is. In fact I am certain that this Divine Force, which we presently call God and personify with all our human attributes simply because we are too young still to know any better — and too frightened of just how gigantic magnificent and powerful It might be, IS with us all the time. Not only with us, but IN us. As we are in HIM/IT. OF HIM/HER/IT. Most likely we are ONE with It and don’t yet know it. Or not.
With that said — and because I can feel you asking — I will share that everytime I have personally ever seen or heard God it did sound and feel like something separate from me. Not JUST something that was a part of me. But something that was at the same time inside of me AND outside of and separate from me.
Yes of course one could claim these experiences were an illusion, or delusion, hallucinations brought on by stress or delusions of grandeur or wishful thinking. We humans have a marvelously twisted imagination. So much so that we both imagine what God is and then teach it to ourselves as children through made up legends and fairytales like the bible and the Qur’an AND at the same time turn around and call the first person who sees or talks with this God “crazy”. And we’ve created a whole catalog of mental illnesses to project onto each other in order to sound more clinical and credible when we are labeling another person “insane” if they admit to seeing or hearing God. It’s an awe inspiring paradox created by a deep seated shared human fear of the unknown. We all want to believe in God, and curse those who claim not to; but claim to have seen and talked with God, you better RUN. Fast. Just a perplexing species human beings still are.
So sure, every single experience could be classified as a hallucination if you will, and yet what is love? Is it not real? Or is it too illusion? Hallucination…? We can’t see it. Nor measure it. But we can feel it. We can see the effect of it. There are some scientists among us who believe that love is nothing but a chemical reaction in the body of the being experiencing it and because of THIS they hypothesize that love just may be nothing but temporary illusion brought about by chemicals in the body. But I dare say that anyone who has ever experienced real love in all of its various forms would find this explanation severely lacking.
Which is the real point of all this… circling back to bring the message home. The last thing in the world we should feel toward atheists is hurt or anger, blame or hate. They are simply expressing their reality — which is to say they have never experienced God before. They have never seen or heard or felt the presence of the Divine. That is not something to be hurt or angered by. But rather something to feel sorry for. To pity. To empathize with. To pray for. Who among us has not at one time or another felt betrayed or abandoned by God because He/She/It has not shown up when we needed It the most? Imagine NEVER having had an experience of God… Never experiencing anything Divine… Of course they’re angry. Bitter. Vehement in their claim that no such thing exists. It’s a natural reaction. As extreme as it is to claim that something doesn’t exist just because you’ve never seen it, it does at the same time seem a rational reaction — especially if those around you are filled with joy and excitement over having experienced such a thing. Envy probably plays a role too.
Behind every hard boiled atheist is most likely an aching heart of a someone who once sought out God but got no answer and is now hardened and filled with sorrow and anger. Denying the existence of something which has denied you, in any context, seems a rational and logical reaction. Extreme? Yes. But we are fragile creatures still.
The answer is love. And then more love. And a sincere prayer that every one who longs to know God in their life is gifted with that opportunity one day.