Journey to Atheism, part VIII

This entry was written on June 10, 2008. I was 28 years old. My mom had died 5 years earlier, in August 2003. This is important because, in retrospect, I have come to realize that I struggled with being a “good” mormon for many, many years, and the main reason I kept up my struggle in the face of all doubt was because I believed in my mom, and in her example of faith.

Part of it was that I wanted to please my mom, but more of it was because my mom was such a good person, with such strong faith in her religion and in god. I love my mom, and I trusted that she knew best. If she believed in god, then any doubts I had were due to my own failings.

Mom and I, 1993

Mom and I, 1993

It was only after her suicide that I started really allowing myself to doubt. Mom had clearly been unable to handle the challenges god had given her, despite the many, many reassurances I had been given throughout my life that, “god gives us nothing we cannot handle.”

If, conversely, my mom’s suicide was somehow part of god’s plan, then that’s a horrible plan that completely and utterly sucks ass. I don’t care if he’s an omniscient being who knows better than I do, there is no explanation in the entire universe that can ever justify how my mom killing herself was some ineffable wisdom on the part of god.

And that led to more questions — What could god achieve through senseless tragedy that could not be achieved through other means? If god was all-powerful, why couldn’t he figure out another way? Why all the senseless pain and death around the world? There were three conclusions here:

  1. God was evil (impossible, the world has too much good in it for god to be evil).
  2. God could not prevent evil (impossible, he is not all-powerful being (or, god) if he cannot prevent evil).
  3. God was neutral.

I’d like to explain something else here. As a mormon, I had been taught not to read “anti” literature, that is, anything that causes me to question my faith. As a result, my journey away from the LDS church, then organized religion, then (ultimately) god was undertaken alone.

Even after I became inactive from the LDS faith, based on my unresolved issues with contradictions in the doctrine I was taught, I did not turn to anti-mormon internet forums, or atheist/ agnostic forums, or anything that would cause me to question the nature of god. I did not, at that time, read the works of Descartes or Pascal or Milton, let alone Hitchens or Dawkins.

I worked through each step to non-theism on my own, following each theological question that occurred to me to what I felt was the logical and moral conclusion. So the following entry is not influenced by outside sources, it’s just how I had personally come to conceive of god by 2008.

mathatheist

thoughts on god

June 10, 2008

I feel kind of light and bouncy today. It’s neat. I’m just in a good mood. I didn’t even get that much sleep last night.

So, I was talking to John last night, and we got to talking about what we think happens after death, and what God is. I’ve been thinking about it since, and these are my personal thoughts and beliefs.

I don’t often write about them, because I don’t want to insult people, or have anyone think I’m trying to change their views. This is what I believe, what I feel to be true. These are my thoughts, and I recognize that not everyone shares them.

I don’t think there is an afterlife. I think once you’re dead, that’s it. You’re done. I like to think of the possibility of re-incarnation, but since my conception of re-incarnation relies on the actuality of an afterlife, it’s more like a vague desire than a true belief.

There’s a possibility, I’m willing to concede, that there is something more. If there is, I think it has more to do with joining a greater consciousness, something amorphous and unformed, than with actual spiritual entities. Hence, interaction with spirits, angels, ghosts and the like is impossible.

Speaking of greater consciousness, that’s kind of how I think of god. I don’t subscribe, in any way, to the christian god. I mean, he’s exactly like the gods of the Greek and Norse pantheons – human in every aspect, just larger than life. People keep saying this god is infallible and unchangeable, but the bible itself depicts a being who is contradictory and ever-changing.

As well, mere belief in the christian god causes strife. Some of the strife comes from forcibly trying to convert other people; some comes from good christian people who still feel insulted and invalidated if you don’t subscribe to their belief. I think it’s silly to need to validate your belief by trying convert others; that is not a true belief if it cannot sustain itself.

Rather, since I do, absolutely, believe that there’s something bigger and greater out there than just us; I think that god is more than we can even begin comprehend or try to explain. I think that trying to say things like, “It’s God’s will,” or “Because this is what God teaches,” are ridiculous statements. How can a mortal, finite being understand the will or teachings of an immortal, infinite being?

It’s rather futile, given this viewpoint, to try to explain my belief, but I’ll give it a go.

I think that god, for lack of a better word, is also amorphous and unformed. A consciousness of knowledge and creation. Nothing we can really comprehend, but I kind see it in my mind as a massive golden glow that sort of surrounds and encases us, that imbues us with our sense of humanity and basic survival instincts.

What is right and wrong is what is taught to us from childhood – this is evident from how various cultures view right and wrong. If there was some greater meaning to right or wrong, wouldn’t the entirety of humankind subscribe to it? Wouldn’t more of the world’s people be drawn to this greater truth?

So, to me, god is neutral. Not watching over us with love and care, but not against us either. It’s a great neutrality, a source available to us for comfort or knowledge if we so desire. By the same token, if we choose not to draw on this comfort and greater consciousness, than it doesn’t really matter in the long run. We all die, anyway. There will be no lasting repercussions.

I suppose to some, this might sound a stark and unhappy view of life. To me, though, it makes sense, and it’s actually a relief. I can’t really intellectually justify any other view of god, although I respect the beliefs and viewpoints of others.

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