“I believe that everyone believes in God.”
Did that get your goat, or at least your attention? Let me explain why I said it, what I mean and how it might be a true and helpful concept to consider.
Of course it all depends on what one means by a word like “God”. Since there are probably as many definitions as there are people, let me play with one possibility.
Imagine it to simply mean “That which a person imagines* to be most central.”
*Note: (I chose the word ‘imagines’ not to imply ‘fantasy’, but rather as a more flexible/playful/evolving word than ‘believes’ which tends to imply fixed mental certainty, etc.)
Now, by that definition/description, wouldn’t any of the below fit?
- -The Laws of Science
- -A Relational Deity or collection of gods
- -A Mysterious Force
- -One’s Self, Higher Self, Unconscious, Etc.
- -The Universe, Everything
- -Dharma /Brahman
Why is this important? Because if we all start with an equalizing “belief in God” then we can have a conversation about what that actually means; about our experience with that ‘Ultimate Reality’; about what we know and don’t know; about our wants and fears, joys and struggles, etc -rather than the usual binary or oversimplified categories like “Theistic”, “Athetistic”, etc. I’m challenging the supposed atheists and agnostics to give their ‘gods’ more ‘praise’, and the ‘spiritual’ folks to be a little more down to earth. Remember the HUM: HUMility. HUmor. HUMan.
I’m not so much saying that everyone needs to change the language for what they hold as ‘most central’ to “God”, but rather I’m advocating for a humility that comes in recognizing that words are just words, just re-presentations (usually so inadequately) of larger realities that we are all a part of. Poetry, in this domain, ends up being more ‘accurate’, than any of our ologies or isms.
And if each of us really leveled the playing field, I think we would have less ‘triggers/reactions’ when we hear someone saying they believe in this or that…we could rather engage them on what their experience is, what the qualities, benefits, challenges, etc. are of holding their worldview.
Maybe, just maybe, we could even learn from and be enriched by each other. Maybe the world could even become a little more peaceful.
I think there are some additional concepts that just about any worldview I can imagine we agree with as to the nature of God (or substitute your God/most central thing/idea/being(s)):
1. MYSTERIOUSNESS -not everything is yet known about our God, nor probably ever will be…the journey of discovery is part of the delight and we’d hope it lasts for as long as we are conscious.
2. KNOWABILITY -some things ARE known, experienced, describable. It’s less a question about the ‘truth’ of that knowledge (though exploring that is an important endeavor) and more about the validity/reality of each of our individual experiences & knowledge.
3. BIGGERNESS -it’s hard to find the best word here, so I’m opting for a bit of humor. Obviously, it’s not about ‘size’ per se, but the point is that there is “more than meets the i”, more than our individual consciousness, ego, identity and more than the rational mind can fully know or that words will ever be able to define or ‘capture’.
4. CONNECTION -whether your God is all things, is in you, outside of you, controlling you, partnering with you, indifferent to you or even ignoring you…there is still a ‘connection’ and thus ‘relatedness’. And unless you don’t believe that you are a you, a personal being, that means you could imagine having a relationship to that ‘God’ -just like you can to another person, animal, tree, stream or even law.
5. WORTHINESS -being the most central reality, I think it’s safe to say that we’d all agree our ‘God’ is worth appreciating, understanding, exploring, perhaps even adoring…dare I say “worship”? 😉
6. DEPENDENCY -as the central reality, can we not also all agree that whatever it is we call ‘Life’, how we get it and what sustains it and makes it most worthwhile to each of us, that it in some way ‘comes from’ this central Reality and thus we are also dependent on it?
Of course, I’d love to add LOVE, but I have a hunch that trying to describe the nature of that love would lead to all sorts of disagreements and debates, and I’m aiming for super core basics to imagine agreeing upon.
So, what do you think about the basic idea –could you say you “believe in God” if defined as I do and if it included those qualities? If not, I’d also love to hear what’s missing or that you couldn’t agree with.