No Faith? But that’s no good, either . . .

April 18, 2006 | By | 1 Reply More

I love that there are people like Erich Vieth in the world, people who take the time to refute dangerous “fact” spouters like the Creationists who got themselves powered up to the top of the Google listings for vestigial organs.  I love that he researches so thoroughly and carefully points out the enormous flaws in what passes for logic in the world of the fanatical faithful.  They need to be pointed out, those flaws.  Because in recent years, their voices have become very, very loud.  And often, unfortunately, loud wins.  Especially when loud is accompanied by legislation, or worse, explosives.

Seems fanatics, whether they be Christian, Muslim or otherwise, are dead-set on yelling the loudest and therefore claiming victory.  It pains me.  It obviously pains lots of people; even most flocks of the faithful can see that anything carried too far becomes dangerous.  People like Erich, or Al Franken, say, do good work.  I applaud them.

I, on the other hand, might be more likely to just cover my ears and say “la-la-la-la-LA-I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU!”

Yeah, yeah, I know, not particularly effective in the battle against ignorance.  It’s just that I get soooo tired of it.  Of the fighting, of the rhetoric, of the nonsense that parades as so much religion and the often arrogant verbosity working to knock down the many points of faith, one at a time, but not being heard because, after all, if you believe, you don’t need proof.  Or un-proof, as it were.

I happen to believe every bit of scientic, evolutionary evidence out there.  I believe there is a scientific explanation for everything that happens, or has happened, since the beginning of the universe, and I believe that science has proven that much of what Bible-thumpers tout as fact simply isn’t.  Parables, fables, stories with valuable lessons, attempts at understanding what could not once be understood – but not fact. 

Trouble is, I also believe we have yet to understand most of what makes the universe tick.  I believe we have a fairly great understanding of the stuff.  What we don’t understand is the power behind it all, behind us, the most complex creatures we’ve found thus far.  I can still be filled with a sense of wonder at what I don’t understand, and I still believe in God. 

Hmmm.  What?  Don’t get me wrong.  My version of God doesn’t fit any religious version of God I’ve read about thus far.  Mine is, I guess, a bit more like a science fiction God, a force, if you will.  THE force, I guess.  And The Force is, as Luke (Skywalker AND Apostle) learned long ago, very powerful.  Omniscient, you might say.  Not particularly meddlesome, however.  Not terribly concerned with our everyday details, but sometimes able to be pulled toward need by the power of prayer. 

Right.  Science, and prayer.  Sure.  What the hell is she talking about??  Yeah, well, I’ve been asked that before.

And I’ve never done a particularly good job of explaining it.  I’ll try again.  Feel free to knock it down, point by point.  Feel free to call me blasphemous.  It won’t hurt me, because I don’t just believe it, I feel it.  I feel it imbedded in a bedrock of faith, a bedrock built over many years of questioning and learning and watching and experiencing . . . and seeing, in my own mind’s eye, proof positive that what I believe is real.  And none of what I believe can be disproven, at least not at this place in time.

OK, here goes.  My version of religion.  Nah, not religion.  Let’s just call it “what Mindy has faith in,” and leave it at that.

We are all connected at the soul, every one of us.  We are much more than our individual selves; we are all part of this force – call it cosmic energy, call it God, call it our collective soul or spirit.  Each of us is the embodiment of a soul, a part of this one gigantic spirit.  I happen to believe we all live through many lifetimes, reincarnation, if you will.  I believe that in each one we learn more, tiny parcels at a time, about what life really is all about and what part we play in it.  Who knows who I was before or who I might be next time – I’m not consciously aware of such a thing, but what I believe will happen is that my next lifetime will be rich with lessons I didn’t learn this time and concepts I have yet to grasp.  I won’t be able to explain them any more than I can explain much of what has transpired thus far in this lifetime.  But I’ll learn.  I’ll be enriched.  I’ll be challenged, and if I survive, I’ll be wiser than I was before. 

I believe in the concept of some children being “old souls.”  Some of us have been around the block many times.  We have a better handle, even as children, on how to achieve peace.  Some of us, though, have a steeper learning curve than others.   I believe that when one commits heinous wrongs against others in a lifetime and fails to make them right, one will fall victim to the same sort of pain next time around.  Then one might learn. 

A caveat – I don’t believe that every bad thing that happens is some cosmic punishment for a wrong in a former life.  Sometimes, bad stuff just happens.  Like accidents.  Blame cannot always be laid.  Hard concept to grasp in this litigious society of ours, but true, nonetheless.

We haven’t begun to understand the power of this force, although we’ve seen glimpses of it.  Very few of us have not read of unexplained medical miracles, say, that seem to make no scientific sense.  A life-threatening tumor, for example, vanishes when the bearer is prayed for by hundreds if not thousands of people, all focusing their prayer – their POSITIVE ENERGY and HOPE – on that one tumor in that one person. 

It doesn’t always work, of course.  Many who are prayed for still die.  I’m not sure I believe that “everything happens for a reason;” I think that is a platitude we throw out when we have no idea how to soothe someone’s broken heart.  What I do believe is that with every passing, every tragedy, every challenge we face, we are handed the opportunity to make choices that will determine our paths, and I strongly believe that we are often aided in those choices by those we’ve lost, or perhaps by those we knew in other lifetimes, long ago. 

Yeah, yeah, I hear you.  Now she’s just lost it.  Sure. 

That’s OK.  You can think that.

But I don’t.  Because every choice we make affects all of those who love us still, and so forth and so on in a huge complex intertwining of lives and emotions, I believe that the souls of loved ones lost intervene on behalf of those they love, or miss, or know need help.  They turn our heads and show us new perspectives, they send us in new directions, give us courage we never knew we had, or pop ideas into our heads – you’ve had flashes of brilliance seemingly from nowhere, right, that tilted your life on its ear?

Sounds bizarre, I know.  It’s much clearer in hindsight.  Looking back over my life, I easily see a series of major events, both joyful and tragic, that together led me to exactly this spot. 

I am the mother of two daughters, neither of whom were born to me, yet we found each other.  Our connections and the impact we’ve had on each other’s lives is profound.  I doubt anyone could convince me that I wasn’t meant, through the ages, to be their mother.  Sure, you can try.  But I already know, in my deepest heart of hearts, the truth.  Our truth.  I can’t prove it to you, and you can’t unprove it to me.  

Nothing can be proven until we are among those souls, free of our corporeal selves and filled with the knowledge of the universe that we now can’t begin to fathom.  Until then, my faith gives me my truth.  

If you could prove to me otherwise, that these girls are my daughters only by an accident of paperwork, then my bedrock of faith would crack and I’d have to rethink what I believe.  But you can’t.  Any more than I can prove it is so. 

While I don’t understand the kind of “faith” that flies in the face of what has been scientifically proven or is based on hurting others to further a cause, any cause, I do understand believing without seeing, and I do understand that life is richer because of it.  What I believe *is* possible, even if it cannot be proven.  And even though I believe it is true, I fully understand and accept that many don’t, many won’t. 

I was married to a wonderful man but am no longer, although he remains a friend and the adored father of my girls.  I have dear friends I’ve met through a wide array of places and connections, I have a wonderful family.  I am in love with a phenomenal man.  Looking back, I can almost see the moments when someone’s soul, knowing ever so much more than I did, intervened.  Sent me in a direction of which I was terribly unsure, but which ultimately brought me the greatest joys in my life. 

Those knowing scientific cynics will quickly write off these moments as coincidences, interesting perhaps, but meaningless.  And since I have no proof, I bow to their cynicism and allow that they may very well be right.  But I don’t think so. 

I saw my oldest daughter’s tiny face for the first time on the very day, actually moments before, I received the phone call telling me that our final attempt at creating a biological child had failed, my sister had miscarried our implanted embryos.  Now, of course, I look back on that in wonder at all that transpired.  I wonder why on earth we tried so hard to create that child when our daughters were just waiting for us on the other side of the world, but I realize that it had much to do with solidifying the relationship between my sister and me, and with the timing of our adoption.  We had to be ready to go overseas when *our* daughter was ready. 

When I learned that the exact dates of many of the events leading up to that adoption coincided exactly with enormously significant dates in the life of the man with whom I’ve fallen in love, something I never expected in a million years, the significance we’ll play in each other’s lives was confirmed for me.  Time will tell exactly how that will play out, but I have no doubt that we will always be connected, always important to each other.

So.  There it is, my soul laid bare.  Laugh if you must, shake your head and call me loony. 

I, however, will continue to find great peace in my beliefs, and because of them, I will continue striving to live by the Golden Rule I learned as a little child.  I will try to treat others as I hope to be treated myself, and in doing so, continue to pray for the day when each and every living soul chooses to do the same – regardless of upbringing or gender or religion or birthplace or job or choice of partner. 

Now, throw something at me.  Ask me how X and Y and Q could possibly fit my bizarre version of God.  I’ll do my best to answer.  OR, I might just learn something I didn’t know. 

The older I get, the more of that I realize is out there. 

Go figure. 

 

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Category: American Culture, Good and Evil, Meaning of Life, Religion, Science

About the Author ()

I am a writer and communication professional in St. Louis, Missouri, a crafter of jewelry, a disorganized optimist and most importantly, the adoptive mom of two China-born daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    OK, Mindy. You are loony. But we’re ALL loony. And why not? We inhabit a planet full of intestinal tracts, many of them mobile, some of them loud and dangerous. How couldn't we be loony? Out of such unpromising beginnings, however, arise miracles like friendship, principled behavior, the taste of chocolate and the deep commitment that parents toward their children. How could this be?

    Science is often accused of being reductionist in that it attempts to explain phenomena in terms of ever-tinier parts. Recently, complexity has also become a scientific player, assisting us to study those magic-seeming points at which tiny homogenous parts take on fascinating higher-order forms. Even equipped with this two-fold lens, though, science seems to be missing something. No one can meaningfully explain my Grandmother in terms of molecules, no matter how detailed the explanation.

    Most of us don’t turn to science to be inspired (though I think we could and often should). There is a widespread prejudice that scientists are smug people lacking a sense of awe. Sometimes that’s true, but not always. Many of the greatest scientists were humble in the face of their work, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin being good examples. They weren’t at all like those know-it-all television Bible thumpers. I do admit, however, that some smug scientists commit this same sin. Whether they be scientists or Fundamentalists, people commit my version of mortal sin when they blaspheming deep mysteries by acting smugly.

    But not all scientists are smug. Most of them know that they are working on only a few patches of a quilt that stretches further than the eye can see. They are humble because they realize that we are incredibly limited in what we can know. Though science continues to illuminate the dark corners of our world, it can never give us a “God’s eye view” of the universe or any part of it. Those tiny things eventually smear into waves and the big universe got there . . . HOW??? It’s ultimately opaque, no matter how far we end up pushing the horizons. No one really knows. That we’ve learned enough to make planes that really fly and medicines that cure deadly diseases doesn’t mean that we know how to ask meaningful ultimate questions.

    Cat Steven wrote a song called “Longer Boats” in which he sang:

    Cause the soul of no body knows

    how a flower grows… Oh how a flower grows

    I think this is fundamentally correct, no matter how well we analyze the flower’s chemical components, whether we correlate its growth with sunshine or whether we trace that plant’s phylogeny or ontogeny.

    I think that this is also what Nietzsche meant when he wrote:

    Just beyond experience!– Even great spirits have only their five fingers breadth of experience – just beyond it their thinking ceases and their endless empty space and stupidity begins.

    [from Daybreak, s. 564, R.J. Hollingdale trans.]

    Good scientists know their limits, even though they must remind us that humans tend to notice coincidences way out of proportion to the far more numerous non-coincidences of our lives. Thus, no scientist currently has the tools to deny that the thing you might describe as “fate” somehow put you put you on this planet at this specific time for some very specific reasons. Stories like this endow our lives with meaning. We all weave these stories and we must do so. Our will to go on depends on these stories.

    Scientists also know that no computer simulation can give you the same satisfaction you get when you look into the moist eyes of your beautiful daughters. They don’t pretend to really understand what life “means” to you, even as they continue to digest your world with their models and theories that are capable of quantifying, correlating and interweaving the effects of emotions, evolution, hormones, synaptic strength and social knowledge.

    I doubt that those scientists will catch up to you during your lifetime. That should leave you plenty of room to continue to spin the compelling (and possibly true!) stories that allow you to make deep personal sense of those disparate and sometimes amazing events of your life.

    e

    ps.  May the Force be with you.

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