Recently in large part thanks to conversations with my wife, I have changed from defining myself as agnostic to believing in God. Although I am not religious in any way. I think many religions were founded based on the interesting teachings of wise, moral people who had a lot of interesting things to say - but much of the growth beyond that is simply the growth of human tradition and custom in the years that followed their deaths. To be more specific, I grew up a Catholic and am very familiar with the Catholic and other Christian traditions. I think Jesus is a profound moral philosopher and really admire many things he said in the Bible. That said, Christianity comes with a bunch of other beliefs that in my opinion are basically just what people decided and interpreted in the last 2000 years since Jesus died. I don't really care about all these specific beliefs and claims (and especially not what much more primitive humans thought about the natural/ontological world) - rather just what someone has to say specifically about love, morality, and the human condition.
I believe the universe is beautiful.
On the highest levels or order you see filaments of galaxies that remind of synaptic connections in the brain.
On the quantum level, matter literally pops in and out of existence. This and other phenomenon regularly occur that are so strange that it would appear magic and nonsensical to us.
That time actually likely doesn't exist and rather is a construct of our experience of the universe.
I can continue to list so many more, but the awe and wonder I feel at the universe and natural world is so immense and striking.
And yet as powerful as that is, the love that we feel for each other and other living beings is by far the most powerful and interesting thing in our lives. The power, complexity, and interconectedness of life is so awesome that it surpasses the wonder of the natural world.
Is there some part of us that passes on after we die, even though it doesn't retain our knowledge? ... I suspect maybe so, even though I honestly would tell you that I do not know.
I believe that all of this is God. God is Love. God is energy. To me, God isn't an anthropomorphic being that makes decisions.
But most of all, I don't think I can really comprehend God in any meaningful way just like I likely can't comprehend the true nature of reality.
My brain is limited, and I only make crude approximations. What I call God is not the same as what many would. My former agnosticism was based very largely on the idea that I truly believed that I could not know the answer to such profound mysteries. Yet, recently I have begun to feel that deep and profound awe and wonder at the beauty and marvel in the world around me - that this love and energy is God. I could not tell you much about God, nor could I tell you much about the ontological truth of the universe/reality at large - and I believe that most religions that claim to have the answers to these types of questions do not. While some might call my change from agnosticism a largely semantic one - I do not believe it is.
I have not spent enough time and energy in the pursuit of further clarity on this, despite its importance. Yet, this is how I feel.
And here are some responses I wrote to people on Facebook that further expand on this article:
1) We are all star stuff. In fact, if our cosmological understanding of the universe is correct... it is entirely possible that our whole universe started as a quantum fluctuation that expanded through the process of the Big Bang and cosmological inflation to be the universe that exists today. So then, not only are we all made out of the same material in a sense - the remains from stellar explosions (novas) - but all the material and energy in the universe might literally have come from the same "place" or origin. And in fact, Quantum Physics and other physical laws lead to such bizarre conclusions - that there are even strange theories such as the "One Electron Universe" ... and of course there is quantum entanglement - a proven theory which shows the possibility of things being connected instantly regardless of distance. This among many other things that I can recall having learned about physics and cosmology, force me to the feeling that the natural connection between all matter, and more strongly the connection among living beings, is something palpable and magnificent. When faced with this, I am in awe.
2) Someone wrote, "From your entire post I can find no reason for labelling an awe inspiring universe or an understanding of human limitations as God or support for a belief in one.Atheism is the rejection of theistic claims of supernatural beings. With there being no empirical evidence for any of the gods claimed by any theology atheism is your default."
Sounds like you are atheist. I have never been atheist, and frankly I find it to be an arrogant standpoint. The idea that someone can know that there is no God, had previously seemed just as far-fetched to me as the idea that someone knows there is a God. So, even before this post, as I said, I was agnostic - because I was always forced to humbly admit that I could never understand, much less know the ontological reality and truth of the universe. I also basically reject religious claims of supernatural beings on the grounds of lack of empirical evidence. So I guess I agree with you there. Although I would allow for the fact that these could exist despite a lack of empirical evidence as clearly if there were Gods of these types, they could warp reality in order to not have there be empirical evidence that makes sense to our brains stuck entirely in this reality. That said, nowhere in my post do I claim to believe in supernatural beings, and am fact try to be quite clear about this. The primary definiton of God in Mirriam-Webster is "the supreme or ultimate reality" - and not supernatural beings. So, it seems to me your atheism is grounded in a very limited definition of God. Yet I believe in God now, as the more I learn and the more I can appreciate the universe and life, the more I believe in the true connectedness of all things - and in this, in my opinion, is God. And while I will never understand the true nature of God, I believe the word is actually correct - no matter how much it does mean different things to different people.
3) Someone wrote, "I think it’s wonderful that you and we can appreciate the awe and wonder of the universe. However, God is a word that has a definition. Why try to change the definition? Why not just call it something else? By supporting “god”, you are giving comfort and relief to those who want to promote faith over evidence; who promote certainty where there is none; who promote division rather than unity; who curtail education of science in favor of superstitions.We do not need the Bible to have morals or to teach morals. We don’t get our morals from the Bible. Rather, we bring our morals to the Bible and pick and choose which parts of the Bible fit our morality rather than vice versa.You are showing respect for philosophy and philosophers. I like it. I wish you and others would do this without calling it god. People will twist your words or conflate the true meaning to be what they want to hear.Just my opinion. You’re Always thoughtful."
I appreciate your perspective, and don't disagree with you really - but think you're misapplying your thoughts to analyze what I said. Just as you say that we bring our morals to the bible and I am changing the definition - I think you are bringing your perspective to my words.
1) Mirriam Webster definition of God: the supreme or ultimate reality.In truth, I am using the definition of God correctly, as I think "the supreme or ultimate reality" most closely evokes exactly what I am describing in my entry. Now the definition goes on to outline more specific particulars, of which I am not necessarily in line with - but I bring up this discrepancy myself and say, and in fact make a claim here when I say I am not being semantic in my differences.
2) Additionally, I was pretty specific in my writing to outline the teachings of Jesus and not the teachings of the Bible. I think the Old Testament is filled with things that are morally questionable, and it is easy to find those, whereas it is quite more difficult to find Jesus say anything that is morally questionable. I am showing respect for philosophy and philosophers - in this case Jesus - without calling him God. (That said, because we are having the discussion, I believe that God was in Jesus just as he is in everything - and it would appear to me that the Love and Energy inside Jesus was so powerful that in that sense, he was more in touch with God than almost all of his human brothers and sisters. And to bring this back to the definition - in that sense I am saying Jesus was more in touch with the supreme or ultimate reality - which is more specifically the love and connection between all things.) In fact, nowhere in my passage do I equate Jesus or other religious traditions with God. I merely cite religions (and specifically Christianity as I grew up Catholic and am most familiar with its teachings by far) as traditions that have many interesting - and good - things to say about morality.
I believe upon further analysis, you'll find that a large part of your critique is something you are generally applying to much writing on this topic, but actually applies very little to what I actually said.I'm not saying I disagree with what you're saying, but I think you somewhat misappropriated your thoughts to apply to my article, when I think it doesn't fit well.