I consider myself a deeply spiritual person. I also consider myself an intellectual. Sometimes the two sides of myself don’t understand each other. And as much as my intellectual side can reason itself into believing it is right, my spiritual side sometimes just feels right.
I’ve lately been using my intellectual side to think through the existence of God. I have a friend who is a devout Christian who told me that she prays for me. I really don’t understand what that means. What exactly is she praying for? I asked her and she replied:
“Mmm great questions. Buckle up!😄 I firmly believe that this is the beauty of a God outside ourselves. A truly autonomous force doesn’t need us to conjure or manufacture him, to “do” anything; at the same time, this is a being so personal that he knows the number of hairs on your head… and that’s saying something.😜He will speak to you in a still small voice but the reverberations will hit you like a freight train. And it won’t be abstract. It will make sense, in vivid and clear colors, like your expensive TV…. ☺️ When that happens, you’ll know what you need to do next. And don’t be surprised if this encounter is at once somewhat familiar and completely foreign. For now, you don’t need to understand it with the mind. I don’t expect you to. You are open— that’s all that matters.”
My intellectual gut reaction is that this is a lot of patent nonsense. Pure fluff.
But then I started reasoning about this.
What if atheists and agnostics just simply haven’t experienced God yet? Of course they would deny the existence of God. They have no idea what it’s like to experience such a thing. Further, what if the militant atheists– you know, those who go on twitter and actively mock religious people and assume they are stupid nitwits– are the ones who are most out of touch with God? Their exclusive reliance on reason actively inhibits their capacity to be open to their experiences in just such a way that would actually reveal the existence of God to them?
Now, Maybe these are crazy questions. And I’ve basically been an atheist my whole life. But I kept thinking…
What would God feel like? Then something clicked deep inside me. I started thinking back on the moments in my life when I felt most connected to my fellow humans. I thought back on moments when I felt I was my best self. When I felt universal love. When I was in the flow state of creating something. When I felt uninhibited, non self-critical, empathetic, warm, sincere, authentic, open, honest, gentle, and caring. Could it be in those moments I somehow was deeply listening to God? That it wasn’t more to it than that? That that’s what my Christian friend meant?
Further, could it be that any moment of peak self-transcendence and connectedness with the universe and other people is us experientially listening to God? That would include a good LSD trip, a hug from a loved one, a moment of gratitude, a gesture of kindness, an open heart. What if a critical mind inhibits an open mind? And what if an open mind is what is needed to open one’s heart?
Or, what if I’m talking crazy talk. What if everything I’ve just said makes absolutely no sense: The concept of a God is incoherent and highly improbable given what we know about the physics of the universe. My intellectual side is inclined to think that is true.
Regardless of the existence of a God in the old-school religious sense, this thought exercise was helpful to me and I appreciated listening with an open heart and an open mind to my Christian friend’s question. Because it made me realize one big thing:
Each of us has a built-in moral compass and sense of when we are realizing the absolute best version of what a human could be. We wax and wane in how strongly we are feeling this inner compass. Some days or moments the compass may be faint. Some days or moments the compass may feel strong. For instance, at this very moment I am feeling very emotional. I feel very connected to love. I feel very connected to the pain and suffering of my fellow humans and feel the burden of it all on my back. Maybe in 10 minutes it’ll be gone. I’ll get sucked into some twitter war, or get agitated with something my Mom said, or feel jealousy or embarrassment. All that too is part of being human.
Whether or not a real God exists or not, I feel very blessed that the machinery and mechanisms of God exist in all of us, ready anytime to be tapped into whenever we are feeling ready to listen to the deepest reverberations of our soul.