Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Faith for the Fainthearted - Are you there God? It's Me, Nicola

As I have progressed through this little series thinking a bit about some questions of faith and spirituality it struck me that the one thing I haven't really spoken about is the existence of God. Quite an oversight! Perhaps this is because the belief in God is something that is such a bedrock in my life.
Like the ground beneath your feet you don't think much about it. It is just there.

But I am also one of these strange people who went from not believing in God on the Friday and changing my mind by the Saturday, literally over night. Since then life has been a bit like God on Surround Sound but I still remember what it was like before I thought what I thought now. I know and understand the questions. I've walked the path.

And so the first thing I want to say on this matter is that no one can tell you for sure whether God does or does not exist. Sounds obvious perhaps but I remember when that dawned on me for the first time and how liberating a thought that was. This means that there is nothing you can read that will tell you, definitively, that God is there and there is nothing that you will read that can tell you, for sure that God isn't there either. No one can answer that question for you conclusively, I'm afraid, but that means the journey, the path and the choice is yours. And that is pretty cool, right?

That is not to say that I think we may as well all come up with whatever we fancy and expect others to merrily take on board whatever we have concocted up. For me the case for God is about plausibility. It is about arguments and experiences that ring true. We each have to weigh up all that we see around us, all that we think and experience, pop it in the scales and see how it comes out.

This, I think, involves the insights of the generations that have gone before us and the huge variety of cultures and beliefs in the world today. This choice may be our own but the journey is not a solitary pursuit. It is not enough to sit in a bubble like the 'See No Evil, Hear No Evil' monkeys with your eyes and ears stopped claiming a belief in something that you won't explore and question. That kind of belief is like the house built on sand that washes away when the rains come. And it can be pretty dangerous too.

So what have I got in my scales that has tipped the balance in favour of God? A few things really. Let's start small first. A big factor is people. I find people to be the most fascinating, infuriating and glorious of things. The idea that we are created, that our lives are meaningful and purposeful, that we have the capacity for great good and great evil is all something that just makes an awful lot of sense to me as I look at the world. I believe human life to be infinitely valuable, I know it to be. So it is no great leap for me to see someone, something behind our being here.

The Second things is on a somewhat grander more cosmic scale. When I think about the world, that we are all on this spinning ball of rock, orbiting around a ball of fire, surrounded by other balls of rock in a galaxy amid galaxies more vast that my imagination can hold, then the idea of God suddenly doesn't seem so outlandish.

This might make me sound like a simpleton but I find it hard to believe that we are really all living on that spinning rock in space. I know that my mind struggles anything that isn't right in front of my face. So the idea of 'God', a force so large, something behind it all? Well, that doesn't seem any less plausible or more hard to believe that the things that I know are true about the universe.

On earth itself I also see something in the natural world that hints at God. The way that a drive towards life seems hard wired into how the world is. How, wherever the circumstances allow it, life springs up in its infinite variety. That anywhere, at any time, if the conditions allow it, life will emerge. What is that all about? It is like life itself is an unstoppable force that just pushes on and on. For me, Life = the essence of God. So this powerful impetus towards life in the universe speaks volumes to me.

And then I consider our reaction to all that we see around us. I consider things like beauty. Why do we feel, in the depth of our beings, such a deep contented connection with the natural world? What is this seemingly innate capacity to feel wonder and awe that allows us to say 'Now that is beautiful'?

And while we're at it, where does a sense of love and truth, rightness and justice come from? The way we strive to live our lives, our greatest ideals, makes me believe in God. I know that as I commit to ideals that are often a huge inconvenience to me, like loving others as I love myself and serving without hope of gain, that something inside me is set free and soars. What is that all about?!

And lastly (for this little list at least!) there is experience. There is the comfort I have felt, the steady rock beneath my feet when my whole world has felt like it was crumbling. There are the stirrings in my heart that I have followed, questioning them all the way, that have proved to be exactly the right thing for me to do when I didn't even believe it myself. There is the record of God in my life that now
sits behind me like most whacking great piece of evidence in the world.
What can I say except deep down I feel I know God and that in many ways I always have, even when I didn't even think I believed. There is a joy in me and a hope in me that is not of my own making. There is a drive that I did not create. And all that, to me, just spells God.
And that is why I believe.

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