What should we choose, reality or belief? This was the theme of one of my first Church of the Churchless posts almost six years ago, "Just have faith."
Here's how to tell the difference between true faith and false faith: Imagine that you are standing in the middle of a bare windowless room. Two doors lead out of the room. Both are closed, but can be opened with a turn of the doorknob. The doors are marked with signs that describe what awaits on the other side: (A) Reality, (B) Belief
After you open a door, you have to walk through it. The door then will shut and you never will be able to leave the place you have entered. Choose Reality and you will know things as they really are, from top to bottom of the cosmos. You will know whether or not God exists and, if so, the nature of this ultimate divinity. You will know whether death is the final end of your existence or if it is the beginning of another form of life. You will know whether there is a meaning to the universe beyond what human beings ascribe to it.
Or, choose Belief and you will know only what lies within the confines of your current suppositions about the nature of the cosmos. For the rest of your life you will be confident that what you believe to be true, really is. Any evidence to the contrary will not make an impact on your mind. You will remain doubt-free, faithful to the beliefs you now hold about God, creation, life, death, and the purpose of human existence.
Which door would you choose to walk through?
Terrific question, if I say so myself. Which, of course, I did. And still am.
There isn't an easy answer. Sure, most of us churchless types probably would offer up the "politically correct" response: Reality. But would we, really?
Speaking for myself -- the only person I can speak for -- I'm pretty sure I'd choose the door of reality. After all, I no longer hold many faith-based beliefs about God, creation, life, death, and the purpose of human existence.
So I wouldn't have much to lose, belief-wise, if reality turns out to be a lot different from how I currently consider it to be.
Now, if I learned that Mohammad truly was Allah's messenger, and the Koran was the true word of God (or that some other religious revelation actually was right about the nature of the cosmos), this would be a shock to my churchless psyche.
But I could handle it. With my GPS receiver I'd have no problem figuring out which way I needed to face to pray in the direction of Mecca.
Whatever truth is, it's greater than our blind beliefs. I believe this. Which isn't really a paradox, or contradiction, because positing the existence of "truth" is necessary for any sort of satisfying and workable life.
Taking a single step, doing or thinking anything, presumes that reality isn't a shape-shifting mass of slippery near-nothingness that could be anything at all in the next instant other than what it is now.
There are regularities to the universe. This is truth. Always imperfectly recognized. Never completely perceived. Inevitably filtered through the lens of human consciousness.
Yet truth nonetheless. Superior to passing ideas, concepts, fancies, beliefs, imaginings, hypotheses.
Such is the message of Evid3nc3, who has made an interesting and entertaining series of You Tube videos explaining his deconversion from Christianity to atheism. His latest is "3.0 Atheism: A New Way of Seeing God."
I like the first 1:15 of this video the best. When the guy gets into his embrace of Pantheism, this strikes me as unduly belief-based -- given my newfound skepticism about unity or oneness being the hallmark of the cosmos.
Nonetheless, I'm cool with Pantheism, especially compared to Theism. And the notion that truth is greater than God definitely appeals to my churchless non-soul.
As the video says, it is possible (let's say highly probable) that God doesn't exist. But it isn't possible that truth doesn't exist.
So we need to aim for truth, not God.
If God is found along the way, great. And if we change our view of "God" to essentially be identical with "Truth" (as Pantheism does), this is fine -- though Truth still is greater than God.