Thursday, July 7, 2011

I've been saved!

When I see the sun shine through the window, I do not see God.  I see starlight.  I think simultaneously of vast empty space, of light travel, of dark matter and photosynthesis.  I think about the things we know from years of scientific study and testing and research.  I wonder about what we might discover.  I hear Ira Flatow in my head asking questions.  But I do not see a creator.  I see only existence.

But I’ve been thinking about God lately.  Well, I’ve been thinking about godlessness.  I’m always in some sort of transition in my beliefs about spirituality.  God has just about dissolved for me.  In truth, he was never actually there.  My belief has dissolved.  It’s taken me over ten years to figure out about god what it takes a six year old only a second to grasp about Santa.  “No, Heather, there is no god.” 

As is typical for me when I learn something new, I immediately become disdainful of those who don’t know or see things as I do.  Therefore, yes, I’ve been judging you believers.  I’ve been inwardly scoffing at your faith.  If you know me, you probably already know this is true.  I try very hard to be understanding.  I remember what I was like to believe something so much.  But now it all seems so silly, like I spent 25 years believing a fairy tale.  I like the Urban Dictionary definition of Christianity best:

“The belief that a cosmic Jewish Zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree... yeah, makes perfect sense.

But I get it that there are things at work in the universe we don’t understand.  And I get it that sometimes coincidences look like miracles.  And I know, deep within, how comforting it is to believe these things, to “know” that there is a great, loving being out there who is looking out for you.  That’s a very nice idea.  It’s very tempting.  But there just isn’t evidence to support its existence, and so I cannot believe it. 

And here’s the thing, life without god is still amazing and phenomenal and wondrous and profound.  Life here on this planet is radically awesome just as it is.  Existence is startling.  However I got here and wherever I’m going when I’m done, this time, this life, this universe takes my breath away.  And I’m not saying that because my particular life is so wonderful.  For me it is, truly.  I have been fortunate beyond measure.  But I’m talking more about nature and the pure existence of what is.  And if everyone on earth could see the beauty and the interconnectedness and the goodness, we might not have all the truly horrific problems that we have.  We, as mankind, have access to goodness at any moment.  But we feed the wrong wolf.

In the same way that Christians have a life-changing moment when they “get saved,” I too have had a radical change within.  The radical change was realizing that I had goodness all along.  The radical change was realizing that I don’t have to accept a man’s death as payment for my horrible sin.  I am pure just as I am.  I may not always do good things, but I am not doomed to hell for eternity because of that.  It is incredibly liberating.  I sometimes feel that same sort of evangelical passion – to tell people.  You too can be free.  You too are good.

And scientific evidence is revealing more and more that I’m on the right track.  Mindful meditation has been proven to help us train our brains to build new pathways that enable us to have a greater capacity for empathy, morality, attune communication, emotional balance, extinguishing fear, pausing before you act, autonoetic consciousness, intuition and body regulation.  We have healthy, truthful, kind living right here in our minds and bodies.  Watch this video to hear what I’m talking about. 

I’ve got a lot of training to do.  But I love doing something that has actual research behind it showing its effectiveness.  I feel so at peace basing my life on things that can be measured, studied and duplicated. 

The problem I have with faith is that it can be so easily manipulated.  Once you get into the realm of basing your life on what “god” is telling you, you’re headed into dangerous territory for making decisions based on what is most likely your own desires.  Once you attach god to an idea, it makes it all the more appealing, all the more important.  Faith is too loose, too vague, too fickle.  If I started telling people that aliens were telling me to do things, you’d all be very concerned about my well-being and fearful about what I might do.  Faith leads to jihads and persecution and witch hunts.  Faith led a man up a mountain to kill his own son.  That’s insane.  If you are following a god who would tell a man to kill his own son, you are in dangerous territory. 

I know, you’re thinking, can’t I be making crazy decisions with my own mind?  Yes, I have the capacity for that.  But I’m at least starting from a point of Do No Harm.  The same cannot be said of the god of the Old Testament.  That guy was horrific.  He was downright evil. 

I know that I’m being self righteous.  I know I’m probably feeding my own wolf of pride and judgment and intolerance.  I’m working on that.  I want to be patient with believers.  I want to be kind to those who do not yet know the truth.  I want to come from a place of love and understanding.  Truly I do.  But I’ve been an outsider for so long.  I’ve been treated as the backslidden, the confused.  So, I just wanted to set the record straight.  I truly feel that I’m headed in the right direction.  I truly want the world to know that there is no god.  You have the capacity for goodness.  You too can be saved from religion.


Sarah Park said...

Hey, Heather. I'm a Christian... you may know that, or not. But it grieves me that even just writing that to you means that you will now lump me and my beliefs in with the witch hunts and persecution. I have no condemnation for you. And I cracked up when I read the Urban dictionary definition of Christianity—I know that what I believe is utterly wacky. And yet—I do. Please don't judge me!

I don't understand what I believe, and I can't explain it. And I know there is goodness and loveliness in me. But I also know that I'm like a cracked mirror—in some ways I am truly fucked up... I know no better way to say it.

What I find in my beliefs is wholeness, peace, freedom. I hate that Christianity is used to manipulate, and that it comes across as the most unhappy, un-free religion. Intolerance just comes with human beings—you and me. We all need to work on it.

Thanks for this honest post.

Heather Minter said...

I really appreciate your comment. I know I was being smug and judgmental and rude. I'm not always feeling so much this way. But my reaction to Christianity is strong because of my history and my family. It's hard because I deeply desire to feel that everyone can believe what they want. But the truth is that I don't believe in Christianity for very specific reasons. But because I feel strongly, I end up being just as "ONE WAY" as the doctrine of Christianity. When you stop believing something, you come to feel that it is downright wrong. And that places me in an awkward position with my closest friends and my family.
Mostly this just makes me sad. But because I am surrounded by many, many Christians in my life, I end up feeling isolated. My perspective is not honored. My opinion is not sought. Everything I have to say is written off because I am not with God. And, you know, when you're not with God, you're in sin, following the "ruler of the kingdom of the air" (Eph. 2:2).
It's a no win situation. I sometimes just feel like my voice is irrelevant and that there is no merit to my personal growth and inspiration and belief because it is not the Christian God. I just get a lot of “that’s a shame” looks and attitude. But I have arrived at this point very thoughtfully and deliberately and have just as much introspection and moral guidance and empathy for my fellow man. In fact, I often feel I have more than many Christians I know – which lead to my judgmental attitude and smugness. I guess that reveals just how fucked up I am. It’s just – I think that brokenness is part of the human condition and one we work with – not one that requires salvation.
I'm not really always judging people. Mostly that's just me trying to make myself feel better and not so alone. "NO! I'm right! You're wrong!" It's juvenile and silly and exactly what I dislike about the doctrine of Christianity. But I liked the post – it felt sinfully good to be self-righteous.
Sarah - thanks for posting and being so loving when I was so snarky. :)

Sarah Park said...

OH, phew. I was a little worried about my comment, and am glad for your response. And sad... I wish I could change this history of people not honoring your perspective and writing you off. I get that, I know that Christian culture so well, and the whole accompanying language. It kinda gives me the heebie jeebies, like the radio preachers who activate my gag reflex just by their inflections.

I just want you to know that I've been nourished by the words on your blog, and am grateful that we've been able to connect! :)

Ranui Samuels said...

Hey Heather

Belief is a funny thing - but it is just that - Belief. Whether people need a construct to better understand themselves or they have an experience that breathes validity into their faith - they require that to remain sane. Nonbelief or belief in an idea is both rational and subjective - I dont really believe that arguments or objectivity can dissuade belief. The truth is, beyond the opinion, there is little in the way of answers. The idea of us acknowledging God or not does little to disprove His existence if He exists. The truth is, we will all find out if our ideas are wrong or right in the end.

My belief in God is often not backed up by what I see in Life - but I maintain that belief because it is valuable to me. To believe or disbelieve in the presence of God for me does not actually change my actions that much. Im still open, caring and accepting of others and do my best to serve others without too much deference towards my own feelings.

The God of the Bible is not the sum of what God really is. Man has interpreted their idea of God, but Jesus said that there is much more truth than is contained in the Bible regarding God. Our interpretation of the God of the Bible does not make God that. My opinion is that He is - and we Are - and that is pretty much the end of it.

I see all the things you see regarding the universe and I share your sentiment regarding the wonder of it all.

My hope is not to be proven right about my beliefs, but to live harmoniously within myself, sharing with others and believing the best.

I find my world to be a very dark place without belief - so construct or not - I think that Belief is essential.

It would be great to catch up one day. Friends are elusive it seems sometimes.

Say hi to the fam!

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