Unasking the Question

I want to write a post about god. Sounds ridiculous, even to me. I guess I’ve been thinking that the debate is about whether or not there is a god, when maybe we should start wondering whether the answer to that question would change anything.

I submit completely to the idea that different people ‘know’ different things. So that one person can ‘know’ that there is a god and another can ‘know’ that there isn’t. For the purposes of this post – and in general – I’ll give both sides that much. It’s when either side begins to claim empirical ‘truth’ that I get worried – until I am able to remind myself that there is no such thing – ask the quantum physicists. So it doesn’t actually matter what anyone claims is the ‘truth’.

Knowing there is a god doesn’t make people nicer to one another. Lots of proof of that. There’s an argument to be made (by Chris Hutchins, for instance) that religious people are worse to each other than atheists. I won’t bother with that right now. I’m not sure I believe it. But it is a fact that believing in the existence of a god does not make people kinder, more compassionate, or more respectful of their earthly brethren.

Knowing that there is no god doesn’t help to make people kinder, etc. either. If people learn to be good to each other and strive towards it, it seems to have more with other things – such as psychology, moral courage, hard work, and – to some extent – the luck of life circumstances.

Knowing that there is a god  – even a very personal god to whom one can pray, and who will answer prayers – does not make people less afraid. This is a fascinating fact. Fear is what makes us jerks – for the most part. Lack of kindness, compassion, and respect usually – most often – springs from deep-rooted fear. To say that the Ku Klux Klan is made up of fearful people might sound crazy and ‘excusing’ of them – but this is true. They are afraid of power being taken away from them and hence they will go to all sorts of lengths to prevent this. I see absolutely no evidence that such a person – believing (loudly) in a personal god – is less afraid than anyone else.

This is really important. Fear is the root of all evil – and the root of many other problems as well: the ‘little evils’ as it were – such as lying to oneself. The godly cannot claim that a personal god removes fear. I’ve heard people say that this faith or belief in a ‘friendly’ god helped them through this or that tough situation. I can see that. But it doesn’t seem to change their fearful stance in the world. If there is a personal god watching over your shoulder and keeping you from harm, why must you pray in so much desperation for his (?) attention? And how can you put down people who don’t see the world as you do – how can you see them as dangerous because of their (lack of, or different) beliefs? That seems soaked in fear.

I can’t see that this question of whether or not there is a god is an important one.  I plan to try to let it go. I’m curious to see what will happen if I do – in my own thinking, that is. If – every time I wonder about this – I say to myself: ‘that’s not the right question to ask’. I wonder what question will take its place.


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