Thursday, July 3, 2008

Faith Seeking Understanding

Here's some more thoughts from one of our fellow sojourner's. Barry is a highly analytical and thoughtful type (retired Nuclear Engineer). It's interesting to me how God showed up for him. I actually took this from an e-mail that he sent to my friend Gordon Atkinson (a.k.a.--"Real Live Preacher").


I am a friend and parishioner of Jim Taylor’s, and I followed a link in his email announcing your visit tomorrow – and I read your “Preacher’s Story” with great interest. Although our histories are very different, we have moved to the same place – the “spiritual journey.” I don’t know if you still doubt the existence of God, but I thought you might be interested in how I became convinced of God’s existence.

I once spontaneously did something for another person, that is, I committed a true act of totally altruistic charity. The immediate result was a wonderful feeling that welled up in my heart, a feeling of pure joy. It was not like the way your heart swells up and your eyes tear up at the end of a tear-jerker movie – this was a million times more intense than anything I have ever felt. In discussing this with a Christian friend, he suggested that I had experienced God’s grace. There is more to this story and how my life has changed, but for now, let me make one point. This experience convinced me that God exists. No other explanation is possible. It was not psychological or mental, it was physical. I am a very rational person with an engineering degree, high IQ, very skeptical – In fact, my gift is what I call “critical analysis.” The existence of God, for me, is certain. It is not just a belief, it is something I KNOW.

However, the question now is: “What is the nature of God?” Clearly, the God who allows bad things to happen to good people (like Jenny) does not actively interfere in the realities of the world. It (God – I prefer a genderless pronoun) does, however act through people. This restriction on Its’ power is contrary to everything we have been taught about It. I’ll state the obvious: The God you pictured truly does not exist. God truly does exist, but not as we all had pictured it.

Our task is now to discern the nature of God. “God is love” is a pretty good start, for a working hypothesis. We can, in the same way, identify what we think god probably is not. For example, God would not encourage us to hate others for any reason, not to be kind to others, etc, etc. By the way, if you look at what Jesus said and did, he was pretty consistent with the above. (obviously, a lot more could be said here) Bottom line – the existence of a God, which was the model for Jesus, is not irrational at all. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

Love in Christ, Barry

1 comment:

matt said...

Altruism may also be another aspect of human nature, simply less revealed then the common and uglier aspects. From an evolutionary perspective, altruism may be an inherent aspect of our programming--a beneficial trait that allows those possessing it to survive in conditions where those who do not possess it could not. I am not trying to bring up the debate of God's existence, but rather that the existence God cannot be rationalized exclusively (i.e. I experienced an event by which the only explanation is God). I think it extends beyond "belief" or "knowledge" to "choice", even at an unconscious level. For myself, personally, the psychology of denying God has always been destructive in nature. I don't know who God is, and I've felt so small lately that presenting myself to God is unbearably humiliating. At some level in my psyche, a notion of God is there (due to cultural or genetic influences, perhaps, who knows), theologically correct or not, and to deny God entirely is damaging to my psyche. I consider this purely psychological in nature, because I have no notion of higher realities personally. I am working on rejoining myself back to God, without closing my eyes to the physical harshness and realities of this world. Definitely difficult, as I am also highly analytical and skeptical, but there is wiggle room. For some reason, I will always consider experience--internal or external--as a component of the physical world. I believe God is intractable from the physical world, and I believe the physical world, like God, is such a terrible and wonderful mystery that we will never ever scratch the surface of "reality" or "truth", and that it will always present itself to us when least expected. Sorry, I got ramblesome, hopefully there's some signal amidst the noise.