Monday, 12 December 2011

Does God Matter? (or would we live our lives differently knowing an undebatabely true answer?)

I typed this post up a week ago and lost it on my computer. I realised* half hour ago that it wasn't saved on my computer but to Google Docs. Duuuuuuhhhh.

*yes with an 's' - stupid Google stop trying to make me spell like an american!

God. What is He doing? Is He a He? Is He even real? What is the grand plan? Is there one? Does it matter?

...Does it matter?

I don’t think so. Not one tiny bit.

For pretty much as long as I can remember God and I have had a strange relationship. We don’t really write or call each other. Sometimes we poke each other to see what happens.

When I was really young, I think maybe five or six years old I made a really strange request of God, to test whether or not he was there. Now I know you aren’t meant to test God, but I was 5... or six... and didn’t know any better. You’re all going to laugh when you read this, and I’ve never shared it before so be kind :P

Tiny little five or six year old Brett, all tucked up in bed one night, wondered if God was real. And if he was real, did he listen? Did he grant requests? Would he listen to me? So I put my hands together, closed my eyes and prayed.

I asked God, to give me a sign that he was there and that he was involved in the world. Tiny little five or six year old Brett, all tucked up in bed, hands together praying, asked God to make it so that if he touched the colour orange, said the word orange, ate an orange, that he would need to shit.

Don’t ask me why. Of all the possible signs a person could ask for, my strange five or six year old brain asked to be tortured by the colour orange. And it worked.

For what seems like it was weeks, maybe months after that. If I touched orange, ate oranges, said the word orange, I would very shortly after need to run to the bathroom. So it seemed, God listened. I spent a long time avoiding orange in all it’s forms. Though I think after a while I prayed for God to take 
it away. And it stopped, though I was still wary of orange.

So for a while as a kid I was pretty certain God was around and paying attention and oddly indulgent of a chilld’s silly wishes. As I grew, I became extremely agnostic however, and these days I would chalk up that experience to being self-induced. I’ve spent many hours contemplating the divine. What form it might take. It’s name. How many gods there might be. Which religion might be right.

These days I would describe myself as a devout agnostic.* I want to believe very very much. Sometimes I feel there is definitely something out there watching over us, whether actively taking care or not. Other times I feel staunchly that there is nothing there and that the world is a construct of maths and science.

I am a scientist. I have a degree in biomedical sciences and I believe in evolution and the big bang. I believe the entire world can be explained mathematically. That doesn’t mean I discount the possibility of the existance of a deity, obviously, hence the whole agnostic thing. 

Whether God exists or not is not going to change my basic operating patterns. I'm going to live my life the same way either way, I'll still be a good person and do my best for all around me. If God is watching, hopefully that'll be enough to get me into heaven/nirvana/elysium.

I could spend hours writing and discussing the arguments for or against the existance of God. But why bother? What would be the point?

If God exists, then there’s a grand plan right?** And if there’s a grand plan we’re all doing exactly what we need to be doing. And if not, then who cares? Whatever the hell we decide to do is fine. To paraphrase Robin Ince in his TED: if there’s no God, we all get to decide what the point of our lives is. So we follow the grand plan and our lives are meaningful, or we do what we like to make our lives meaningful. Either way we’re all cool. Sweet.

*Don’t argue. I get to choose what I call myself.

**Which would link in nicely to my thoughts on free will vs determinism, but that's too much for this post.

Definitely want to hear what people think on this one. Let me know :)


  1. To answer your first question, I think God does matter. If He didn't you wouldn't be asking the question.

    What goes on between God and you, is between you and God. The process of discovery is so personal, and profound, doesn't matter which way you end up going, that it should never be taken lightly. I worry about those that automatically disregard the possibility of a higher being. It feels like there is something lacking in their personalities.

    Being raised atheist, it was important for us to search out things and settle our own conscience before declaring what we discovered about ourselves and God.

    Some people find God, and live happy fulfilled lives, others find God and blame. The same goes for atheists and agnostics.

    As for the grand plan,

    A Jesuit told me once to think of God as your dad. He helps you along, and as a child you listen and do all you can to please him. Then as a teen you rebel. Doesn't matter what he wants, you think he doesn't know what is best for you and is oppressive. He just want you to be like him, and nobody wants to be their father! Then as an adult you make a choice to either follow your dad's advice about life, or go your own way. Then years later when you are old, you miss your father and call out to him in the end.

    And then the Jesuit bummed a smoke from me. We use to sit for hours talking. One of my favorite people.

    If you are still finding yourself questioning and wondering, I might suggest that there are some things about yourself that you have yet to discover. Take a moment to write your questions down and go to different faith leaders. Ask them, and allow them to answer without argument. I know it's hard to do, believe me. But as someone who has gone through it, it is well worth it.

  2. That's an interesting point. God matters because you have to question if he matters. That'll take some mulling over.

    I've spent a lot of time the last few months reading different books from different view points, I started attending mass. All trying to find a way to fit everything together in a way that makes sense with my world view. Stupid religion, making life so confusing.

    I've kinda relegated all the big questions to the sidelines now. I do a lot of reading and thinking, but I figure that as long as I do what I think is right and good, it'll be OK in the end.

    I know a lot of people who have faith find it greatly comforting to believe there is a purpose and an afterlife. And I almost see your point about people without faith lacking something, but as someone who doesn't really have faith, I don't feel less than whole. I've taken it to be an additional part of the challenge of life: to keep going without any certainty as to if it'll be worth it in the end.

    I really like the Jesuit's analogy, and his smoking bumming ways. He sounds like a cool guy. What it got me thinking though, is would God actually be pissed if you pick the wrong religion? I just can't imagine He would be as long as you were a good person and did what felt right to you. I can't imagine any loving God not letting in people of all faiths to Heaven since they all promote goodness and worship the divine, regardless of what form they believe it takes.

    I think that comment wandered away from me a bit there. Sorry


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