By Christopher Kato:
“Do you believe in God?”
The question startles me. The earnestness in which it is asked is even more disarming than the inquiry. Do I believe in God? I usually hope for lighter topics to write about. Not this time.
A spiritual conundrum, I think. That's what my friends call me. Although I have studied religion for years, I don't think I am a religious fella. I respect the power of faith. The benevolence of churches, the strength religion gives so many people and yet, for me, the intellectual suspicion of disbelief that is imperative if one is truly going to belief has always proved too bid an obstacle for my academic mind.
“I want to believe'. I can hear myself say
“So why don't I”.
Well, it's not easy. Having faith requires leaps of faith, cerebral acceptance of miracles, immaculate conceptions and divine interventions. And then there are the codes of conduct. The bible, the Koran, Buddhist scripture – they all carry similar penalties. They claim that if I don't live by a specific code, I will go to hell. I can't imagine a god who would rule that way.
Besides there is a difference between what man says about God and the divine being himself. Holy scriptures are more like tales – legends and history of man's quest to understand his own need for meaning. And I am not passing judgment on the literature. When I lie out under the stars, I sense the divine. I do feel it in my gut that I'm staring up at the work of God's hand. So I think I'm a believer to some extent.
As for being religious, I don't think so! Religion is like a language or dress. We gravitate toward the practices in which we were raised. In the end, we are all proclaiming the same thing. That life has meaning. That we are grateful for the power that created us. In short, religion is a birth rite not choice or conviction. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim or neither simply depends on where you were born. Why should a person be deemed unreligious when they didn't choose what sect to follow?
“So, faith is random?”
Hardly. Faith is universal. Our specific methods for understanding it are arbitrary. Some of us pray to Jesus, some to the holy Mary, others go to Mecca while some of us combine all the above. Moreover others do study subatomic particles. In the end we are all just searching for the truth, that which is greater than ourselves.
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