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On The Subject Of Belief


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I have been looking for a forum to share what follows. Please excuse me if it is too simplistic for this readership.


On the Subject of Belief


Christina G. Weaver

September 16, 2003


Five years ago, I retired from the world of work that I loved due to Parkinson’s disease. From spread sheets, clip art and team meetings to poetry, photography and writing groups. “You must be so spiritual,” I am told all the time. But I don’t feel spiritually connected; my bond is to the reality that surrounds me on earth. Recently, I spent two weeks with my newly converted, eighty two year old cousin who knocks on doors in London spreading the word of her current understanding of truth. It became the impetus me for me to define my own belief system within the general context of belief. It works for me.



On the Subject of Belief

In the beginning there was nothing except a universe of possibilities. There were the makings of things that lived not. They came in the form of solids, liquids and gasses. And there were the makings of things that formed a cycle of living, replicating and dying. And the possibilities of the things with life were vegetable that knew not and animal that had the potential of knowing.

And the universe of possibility was influenced by a force known as energy over the course of a concept known as time. Energy battered the oceans with mighty winds and broke the land from within with tumultuous eruptions. And the course of time extended so long, it was named according to the ages of ice, pre-history and others.

And the time became right that the force of energy gave order to the universe of possibilities so that it could evolve to a world of probability. And that force became known as God, the creator of all things.

From order came light that was warm and was known as the sun, from which was associated the day and the seasons of spring and summer, and the combustion of elements into fire. And light was associated with life, health and all that is good.

Conversely came darkness, which was called night, followed by cold and the seasons of autumn and winter, and formations of ice. And the darkness was associated with death and all that is to be feared.

And from the order of light and dark came balance. There were oceans, land and space. There were mountains and valleys, forests and deserts, zones of extreme and ones called temperate. And as the kingdom of living things evolved, some became known as male and others female, each being required to come together to replicate. And some grew where there was more light and others where there was more darkness. And all was balanced; yet some experienced the luck of light and others the unfairness of dark.

And over the course of millions of years of ages and lows and crescendos of energy, the universe of probability evolved to a world that formed the beginning of the age of man. And in this world the animals that had learned to best adapt to fit the changes of their world and who had reached the highest state of knowing, were called human beings.

And human beings, in their quest to know all the possibilities of their existence, wondered about the beginning of time and wondered about its end. And the wisest of the human beings used language to communicate stories to explain the inexplicable. And to help explain the inexplicable the wise ones referred to the force from which came order as God.

And there grew a need amongst human beings to know more about God and to feel a connection with this most powerful of forces. Thus the wise ones talked of God in terms that the peoples could relate to which was themselves. Thus it was understood that human beings evolved in the image of God, their creator.

And over the course of the age of man, the wisest of the wise learned how to use symbols to communicate the words in written language. And each of the wise ones interpreted the stories according to their own memory, experience and imagination. And the wise ones became known as teachers. And at the end of the day and on the last day of the week, the human beings gathered together around the village fire, their jobs done, seeking warmth, light and community. And it became the custom for the people to turn to their village teacher and beseech to hear the stories of old and to learn their meaning.

And the human beings listened well to their teachers and recognized that order was good. Thus the force called God must be good, and from good comes love. And from love is associated the concepts of peace, joy and hope. And they learned that those who knew love should be grateful and thank God that they live in the light and pray that all may experience light and love.

And as the stories of the wise ones progressed over time, there became rules that governed the rights and wrongs of behavior and provided order amongst the human beings. And, as in the physical world, there became a balance of wrongs and rights, good and evil. And the converse of God the creator is the evil of Satan that God made as subtle to tempt human beings to choose wrong.

And the wise ones accumulated their stories into books known as great. And over the course of time to what is now called the present, there developed communities of believers of one or another of the interpretations of the wise ones’ stories. And the term religion was used to differentiate one set of beliefs and believers from another. And as time became quantified according to calendars, small communities evolved to societies of human beings whose way of life evolved from simple to sophisticated. So-called civilized communities used one or another of the great books as the basis for rules, known as laws, to govern the behavior of their citizens.

And many human beings believed according to the religion that was prevalent in their extended communities, and others believed not and others did not know whether or how to believe. And the people who believe are said to have faith for they believe without tangible proof. They find solace amongst the community of believers, comfort in their shared understandings and have faith that when this life is over they will be closer to the goodness and light that is God.

And amongst those with faith are believers in their religions who hear the actual word of God and of God’s prophets in the great books. And they believe theirs is the only way to believe. Other believers allow for differences of opinion in their interpretation of the great books. They choose to use more of their imagination and make the word of God fit the way that makes the most sense to them.

And some of the human beings grew to know God as an image of perfection who shares ongoing love only with those who truly believe the wise ones’ stories as the actual word of God. Thus God’s word is their truth and God’s eternal love is reserved only for those who believe as they believe and who die in the mercy of their God’s hand and the rightness of their truth. Theirs is a God to be feared, worshipped, obeyed and fought for against foes of their God. They feel righteousness in their knowledge and see virtue in their limitation of imagination and choice.

And others have grown to see their God as one more human, less perfect. This force created order but knew within the order there were pockets where goodness and light were unfairly distributed. This God’s love comes not from perfection of deed but from the energy of striving to achieve goodness. God’s energy lives within the hearts and minds of those who know, imagine, feel, communicate and make their own choices as to how they believe. It is an energy that comes from the goodness that is the essence of order and from the memories of those human beings whose wisdom, imagination and choices are most God-like in their goodness.

Theirs is a God who learned to laugh when all that was created was less than the perfection that had been the goal. How silly to have created a serpent more subtle than good! That was the bad news. But there is always a good side, for the serpent came to represent the inevitable choices of knowledge and ignorance, good and bad, in a world of light and dark, fair and unfair.

And laughter is integral to the ability to rise above the inequities of balance, to find the goodness and love that is God within: laughter and kindness, common sense and personal accountability. Without the serpent there would be no need for a sense of humor as humor and laughter are valued human characteristics that are unmentioned in the great books.

And over the ages there have always been individuals who have formed fellowships, separate from the mainstream religions of old. Some have sought to worship the sun and others have been attracted to the opposite of light and the force known as Satan, the god of darkness. Other human beings have been influenced by a one of several individuals whose particular message is sufficiently strong, prophecy believable and charisma seductive, that the unique composite fills a void unmet by established religions. Yet other human beings define themselves according to the indefinable term spirituality. “I’m not religious, I’m just spiritual,” they say. Being spiritual has become an acceptable alternative word to religious for those whose belief systems are ethereal.

And there are many that continue to search for something to believe in and many others who think not at all about belief. Indeed many of the non-thinkers associate themselves with a religion yet neither practice nor pay attention to its teachings.

And there are some that have given great thought to the concept of faith and belief that has evolved through the ages. They have concluded that the religions of the present and even the concept of a God or higher being, omnipotent, all-knowing and loving belongs not in their personal understanding of living and dying. They have lost the age-old need for human beings to have a relationship with that force that may have caused the creation of order in the universe of possibility. They welcome the wonders of this life and this world and think not of an extended state of being after their bodies become as dust with the earth. Yet they are logical and thus open to reconsidering their belief system if in some way, they experience an intangible happening that results in the concept of faith entering their reality. But this is something they neither expect nor covet.

For me, a thinker without faith, personal accountability forms the basis for my belief system. I do my best in this world, believing this life to be a one-time performance not an earthly rehearsal. I believe that what remains of human beings after death will be no more nor less than the genes passed on to future generations and the memories, good and bad of that person’s deeds in the hearts and minds of those touched by their living. Instead of praying to God for help or to give thanks, I make the time to listen to my own arsenal of the memories of voices chosen from the wisest and kindest that I have known. Voices whose words could be anticipated by the way those lived their lives; people who one would like to call and say, “I am concerned, come over and have a cup of tea and be my sounding board”.

To believe that I will be remembered well for doing my best will be my comfort in dying. I am a person who knows myself well, and who understands that others have a faith that nourishes them, and I am glad for their peace of mind. In some ways, I like the idea of sipping gin and tonics in a heavenly hereafter and listening to my friends chide me for not trying harder to join them in their faith of a good God. I am in awe of the world that surrounds me, both its beauty and ugliness, without equating either to the presence of God. I live each day to the maximum of my capabilities because that is the human being I am. Mostly I believe human beings are merely the current highest order of living matter in a continually evolving world. Relating positively to other human beings is the essence of my purpose. I just don’t “get” this relationship others seem to need to have with their God.

And despite the variations in believers and beliefs, at the end of the day the flames from the fires that leapt into the air with the voices of the storytellers, all settle as crimson and gold embers becoming ash within the ground. And each human being still makes their way alone or with another to a dwelling called home. And some pray to their God in the highest and others listen to the force that lies within and yet others think not at all.

And what does it matter? It matters first for individuals on a personal basis. For no matter how many loving others surround the bedside of one who is dying, the final breath is exhaled alone. And it is appears that those human beings who are the most comfortable in their dying are those who are most certain in their belief or non-belief. The human beings who struggle to last longer than their time are those who have not thought about the meaning of their living and dying or those who sought and never found answers that made sense to them. Like wise, the loved ones who experience death without understanding and accepting their truth about what life and death means to them, suffer the most difficulty dealing with their loss. Each human being benefits from the thoughtful choice of a belief system, traditional or personal, that is right for them.

And secondarily the beliefs of others matter because amongst the religions’ believers are those whose teachers interpret the great books as universal dogma. Their way is the right way; their God is the only God. Some fundamental believers are overt in their actions and other work with the subtlety of the serpent they despise. These believers tend to be followers of the chosen few who represent God ‘s word within their religious communities. From fundamentalist to extremist is but a hop, skip and jump of irrationality, not a leap of faith. More deaths have occurred in the name of God than any other cause of war. But much of the cause of death is due not so much to the fervor of fundamental believers, as the apathy of the masses that did nothing until too late.

There is a fine line between the good that has been called freedom of religious belief, the rightness of individual freedoms, and the order that keeps society free. The role of zealots is as clear as dark and light. To them, compromise is evil in camouflage. They believe those who behave contrarily to their view of God’s word are heathens to be shunned, punished, and even eliminated.

The real question is whether and how the disparate groups of moderate believers and non-believing, thinking individuals will assert the voice of human reason, kindness and laughter.

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