Stardust and Hope
This was written by me and posted on Rants and Raves on Craigslist, in response to someone who doesn't believe in God. The title is his. It is my idea of what God is. I hope that, even if you do not believe, it fills you with the same sense of wonderment I feel, and makes you question your own ideas of what God is...
You are I are not so far apart, really.
Don't confuse me as religious, someone convinced God has a plan for me I must somehow figure out and carry out successfully to stay in his good graces. I do think he has a plan, but it's one with lots of leeway, and if it goes awry it is on us as a collective species. Even in the Bible (which I don't buy as God's "word"), God starts out his creation by giving us free will. I don't think he predestined throwing us out of the garden, not after going through all the work of making us in the first place. I don't care what god you believe in, one has to assume he understands what he himself has created.
I have the same faith and hope in my fellow man as you. That is one kind of faith and hope, and it is a good one. But that is not the same exact faith I was referring to. When you look at all that's here, how complex, how integrated things are, from the way wheat grows to how exactly close and far away the sun has to be to make it grow, don't you wonder how that all came about? Your faith relies on man, but man is only one aspect of life. We do not live on the planet alone, or indeed, possibly in the universe alone. You are limited to hoping on a flawed species that has little control of anything in the universe. Invariably, your hope relies on yourself, and yourself alone. Indeed, it sometimes seems as if that is all that matters, that we have been forgotten by any god or man, and left to our own devices.
God's way of interacting with us is hard to understand. We want to think of him as Dear Abby, who will step down from his cloudy throne and give us advice on how to somehow fix a problem. Religious people are convinced they have an understandable way of communicating with God, like they are talking on the phone. I have never had God say a word to me. That doesn't mean I think God has no impact on my life. I think when I do wrong things, and hurt people, I believe there is a karma that comes back to me, a Universal Justice that just seems to work. OJ got away with murder, but karma did not let him escape the miserable life he set up for himself. I have done good things, too, and had them come back to me, not from the person I did them for, but from random strangers who could not have known what I had previously done. It is difficult to dismiss every act of karma as simple Chance.
Your faith is a bit lonely, internal. That is all fine and good, but it limits you and exposes you to the flaws of yourself. You are a lonely person looking for something, as am I, or I wouldn't be on Craigslist discussing God at three in the morning :)) My point in writing any of this is not to be better or smarter than you. Indeed, if I exposed all my screw-ups and flaws, you would wonder how valid the things I say could possibly be. But it is my screw-ups that have taught me faith in God, that I am not alone here without any cosmic system in place to look out for me. My faith is both internal and external, exercising both free will and submission to the idea that I'm not all there is.
I hope for the same things as you. I want love, peace, and happiness. I believe I have to work for those things, that they are not granted like wishes by God, but made available to me for the taking if I believe I can and make an effort. How is that any different from what you describe? It's different because I don't believe it's all up to me. Haven't you ever had a rash of good luck, a time where things just fell into place? One could believe in the science of probability, and dismiss it as Luck. I have no scientific argument to prove otherwise. You and I could play the lottery our whole lives, and never win the jackpot. Most people don't. Yet in life, it seems if we want love (the biggest jackpot of all), it comes to us eventually, against all the odds. We win little jackpots every day, we have food on our table, we live in an acceptable place, and we get by.
Does it work out perfectly every time? Of course not. It works out as perfectly as it should, and we are handed simple joys... it is only for us to recognize them. Bad things happen. And so do good things. We do bad things. We do good things. We are selfish and generous, and thoughtful and careless, and our karma spins around keeping everything on track. We all have a sense of doing the right thing, even though we have never successfully sat down as a collective species and agreed on what the right things actually are. Every time we've tried, we've disagreed as much as we've agreed. We just know intrinsically what those right things are. You can call it instinct, as an animal who fights for its life to the very end. We know we don't want to die, so if that is true we also know it's wrong to kill. But what put that automatic will to live inside of us, for what reason? Why are we concerned that we survive, that our species continues? Every time I examine myself down to my smallest component, I am filled with wonder. Aren't you?
Maybe it's all my imagination. I have a faith and hope in more than just myself, more than just my fellow species, the faith that the good and bad things that happen to me are not simply a roll of the dice. Have you earned every wonderful thing that has ever happened to you? Of course not. Sometimes it just falls in your lap. There is a forgiveness in God, not the forgiveness of a savior with conditions, but a cosmic, karmic kind of forgiveness of our blatant stupidity. God is merciful and kind.
Again, I can't prove any of this. I choose to believe it, as you choose to believe your future depends on your own efforts and the will of the species around you. I look into the sky with wonderment, and think there is more. I can't prove it. I simply choose to believe. And you, along with everyone else, can't prove I'm wrong any more than I can prove I'm right. And if there is no empirical evidence one way or another, what do we have to lose by believing?
It is not the same thing as throwing up my hands and giving up my free will. It is me looking into the sky, raising my hands, and choosing to believe in something bigger than myself, and trusting that bad times will pass and love will come. It is about refusing to be angry, as best I can, when life slaps me in the face. It is believing that I somehow fit into the scheme of things, and that I matter to more than just myself or my species, and that I am a part of the great Circle of Life, a part of the Dharma Wheel that never seems to completely spin out of control.
It is faith in God, and not just a simple hope that things will turn out. It is as explainable and as unexplainable as any other concept. Why *not* believe?
We believe a lot alike. I am just a bit more magical than you, my eyes a little wider with the sense of wonderment. It is a wonderful thing to me, this thing I call God. And I am offering it to you, without asking for anything.