Our newspaper includes the Parade magazine. I saw this week had Tony Blair writing about "Why Faith Matters". I disagreed with almost all of his arguments.
It made me think why? Why does faith not matter to me? I think it is simple to me. Chaos. I understand chaos and entropy. I understand that the natural state of the universe is to move from ordered to unordered. From clean to messy, from organized to haphazard. What does this have to do with faith?
Well, let’s take a simple example: let’s say I have a family member who is sick. okay, what if this person is really sick? I mean, maybe fatal sick? Many people will turn to religion for comfort. While I may be very very angry at the universe and life in general, the best I can do is help the family member by fighting chaos. I would try to find out what treatments are available. Talk with the doctors, learn pain management and possible end of life care. Having faith in a deity to do the right thing (whatever it might be) isn’t going to change the outcome (not in my mind), so the best I can do is fight the chaos with organization. Does this mean people who have faith are doing it wrong? Hell, no! But this is why I don’t feel faith matters. I could pray, but I don’t think that a fair deity would jump up and say "Good Golly! I should have helped that person! Let me reach down there and fix the situation." If you are faithful, it probably does help you to have a person(?) to talk to and ask for help and strength.
But I am not faithful. I have to find the strength within. Sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I can.
This weekend is Yom Kippur: the holiest High Holiday in Judiasm (although I agree with Soleil that Shabbot is the holiest of days in Judiasm). The day where you atone for the misbehaviors of the past year and pledge to do better. The day G-d writes down in the book of life who shall live and who shall die in the next year. I am going to Temple on Saturday with my family. Not to pray or fast. To handle childcare. Because it just doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe that a G-d decided one day "Okay Jose* and Gene*, Today you are going to DIE!" and somehow created the series of events that caused my best friend to become a widow because Jose never saw the train as he turned a corner and crossed the tracks. At the time, I was angry with G-d, but now I realize that there is nobody to be angry with. It happened. Nobody could have stopped it. Nothing controlled the series of events.
I have trouble believing that any deity that has the power to create life is willing to make such a fragile life. DNA mishaps, hidden diseases, stillborn children, these are not the work of a deity. This is the work of nature and physics. Chaos reigns in the creation of life. How many women have miscarriages and never realize that the egg fertilized, but the implant was rejected? Or the egg implanted and stopped growing, and stopped producing the progesterone that would prevent their period? I just haven’t got the ability to accept that a deity would do this.
What deity would create broken bodies and minds? Why create challenges when simply trying to get through life is difficult enough? Why would any woman be born with the inability to have children if the deity requires people to reproduce? Why would any deity create depression, manic-depressive episodes, migraines, schizophrenia? Why allow for the possibility of cancer, cystic fibrosis, or spinobifidea?
I just can’t accept these major flaws in humans. Perhaps I think too much. Perhaps I truly am a lost soul. Perhaps I am not willing to accept that any deity would kick out a soul that failed to truly worship Him in that sense. I don’t really believe in heaven or hell. It’s just too draconian for me.
I do believe in the cosmic soup. I do believe that amino acids from comets may be one of the reasons we are alive today.
I believe the age of clusters, of galaxies and I believe in the Cosmic Ray Background.
I believe the age of the universe is 15 billion years. I reject the biblical age of 6000 years.
I refuse to accept AD any more. I can only see CE and BCE. I cannot divide historical times based on a singular religion.
My faith in science and evidence is stronger than my faith in any religion.
I do believe that we ignore the insects on our planet, those small lives that we squish without thought because they are ugly and annoying, yet have been around for millions of years. We are but a blip in our universe. How can I reject the evidence before me to have faith in a deity?
*Not the real names. They died in 2000, just before Gene’s 30th birthday. His son was 2 and a half and his daughter was 7 months old.