“I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. Enough for me, the mystery of the eternity of life and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.”Albert Einstein
God, to me, is unfathomable. How are we, as finite beings, to extrapolate the mind, the will, or the very essence of God? Is he really a bearded old puppet master inserting himself into the lives of the chosen at the pitiable expense of the rejects? This is a question I have been mulling over for some time.
My understanding of God has looked a little something like this: as a child, heavily influenced by a familial legacy of Catholicism, I believed that good people go to heaven when they die, while bad people go to hell. In my youth, my family regularly attended a Methodist church, where I was taught that a profession of faith in Christ would cleanse me of all sin and grant entry to heaven upon my death. As I matured and entered pubescent turmoil, I sinned heavily, and having done so, I muddied my soul, reserving for myself a special little hot spring in hell. In college, I professed my faith in Christ again, copiously influenced by student leaders in the Baptist Collegiate ministry, now reserving for myself a sizable manor in heaven. Finding it difficult to bear the fruit of the spirit, I labored to retain ownership of the heavenly inheritance I was promised. As an adult, I began to realize that all my self-righteous peers (who chastened me at Bible studies for inept interpretations of the Word of God) were actually insecure assholes, attempting to buoy their own self-worth, and well, my doctrinal scaffolding–the “biblical” characterization of God–crumbled in a heap of rubble at the pit of my soul. I craved mercy. I craved honesty. I wasn’t finding either at church, and I wasn’t finding either through the wasted hours of “quiet time alone with God.” Like the rolling tide, questions broke across the surface of my consciousness. What does it mean to be good? What does it mean to be bad? What does it mean to have faith? What happens to us when we die? These questions unsettle. These questions provoke. These questions liberate.
My interrogation of the divine has been a solemn sojourn, but a sojourn of solace, nonetheless. Where “Bible based truth” left me anxiously clambering for purchase on solid ground, my interrogation of the divine has brought me to rippling waters of acceptance. Certainty is stony ground, but uncertainty churns like the emerald sea. Which image brings more comfort to you, I wonder… ?
Thus, I have enjoyed a steady diet of theological, philosophical, and scientific media, which is nourishing my soul in ways my church, small group, and Bible studies never could. I have not abandoned the idea of God; on the contrary, I believe I have opened myself to a richer experience of all that is true and good and merciful and divine in this universe.
In conclusion, I will again borrow the words of Albert Einstein, as they manifest my feeling comprehensively:
“My religiosity consists in a humble adoration of the infinitely superior spirit that reveals itself in the little that we, with our weak and transitory understanding, can comprehend of reality. Morality is of the highest importance, but for us, not for God.”Albert Einstein, letter written in 1927