Whirr2005-03-30
Conversion Experience? Part II
So here's the link between a wonderful God Experience and Atheism.
To start with, I was trying to see the world based, more or less, on logical rationalism. The only faith-based reasoning I allowed myself was to answer skeptics claims that my cat doesn't exist.
Logically, therefore, unless there is sufficient evidence to disbelieve a proposition, how can one discard it? Thus my agnosticism. I can't prove anything about the Holy Wombat, so maybe it is up there in the sky, watching over us all.
I firmly believed in the possibility of a personified, Christian God, just as surely as I believed in the possibility of Cosmic Nothingness. (Mind you, I was not at all pleased with the Christian God Possibility). So I was a devout Agnostic, but firmly committed to the logical possibility of God.

This had been changing for some time, as I had grown more and more interested in developing my spirituality (to no real effect, I felt). Katya consistently challenged my strict rationalist point of view, as well, and eir recent conversion to Christianity added more fuel the my desire to explore Faith. And then Spong's book was influential, too.
As it happens, I've never felt very comfortable with qualitative data. I consider myself to be "artistic" and "creative", but I really like binary, yes/no systems. I like logic. I've always been vaguely mystified by the non-rational--how does anyone know if they've got it right?
Mystifying or not, it certainly seems like a good place, and a creative place, and one that I'd like to explore. This Easter Vigil service really blew me away with just how intense that feeling can be, and it gave me a real vision of how I could live for moments of my life free of rationality, existing within the experience or, for Christians, the Experience.

Now things have changed, however. Once one embraces the world of Faith, one entertains qualitative data and gives them just as much weight as quantitative data. As a person of Strict Reason, all I can say is, "Well, it sure seems unlikely that God wants to punish sinners, but plenty of things seem unlikely."
Viewing the world through the non-rational faith Experience, however, I can say, "That's dumb. It's ridiculous. There is no cosmic Wombat. God doesn't strike down the sinners." In fact, I can go even further and say, "Any conception of God that interacts in any way with anyone on Earth is fantasy." I can't prove it, mind you, and I certainly wasn't there to see Jesus step onto the lake and plunge right in, but I feel that it's all silly.

This might not be very impressive to you all, but it's a pretty big step for me. Here's another thing: that experience at Easter Vigil was wonderful, and it made me more aware of the world and more fully in it, and God was not involved--it was all the work of humans. Humans designed the beautiful rituals, humans trained their voices to master the beautiful music, and humans constructed that awesome pipe organ. To even mention God, or certainly to worship a god, is to devalue and demean the people who are truly responsible.

I'm now all excited about getting together with people and experiencing the awe and ecstasy of life in a non-rational, faith-based environment. It has to be safe, however, and an environment with God (a personified, invasive god) cannot be safe. One of the few truly sour notes in the Vigil service was the reading Exodus 14, in which their God 1) brainwashes the Egyptians into pursuing the Israelites(it "hardened their hearts") and then 2) drowns them all in the sea, to the person, and then 3) glories over it.
No thank you. If I'm going to suspend my rational judgement and partake of a faith experience, I won't do it when that kind of rhetoric is around.

To sum up, then:
  • God doesn't take action.
  • God doesn't affect our life in any way.
  • Focusing on God prevents us from experiencing the world as it truly is.
  • However, there is more to life than rational thought.

You could say that I'm still Agnostic, really, but arguing about whether or not the Deist god (the blind clock maker who moved away) really exists is a waste of time, like saying "Dude, what if, like, the color you thought was red, I, like, totally called 'orange'?".
I now consider myself a Humanist, Spiritualist Atheist, and I'll leave it at that.
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