Recently, I had the pleasure of sitting down with a dear friend to discuss her faith and the subject of God over a glass of wine. Having been raised in a Christian family that regularly attended church, she took me on a trip down memory lane to discuss the experiences both inside and outside of church that have contributed to her current struggles with belief in God and have left her wondering ‘if it all still makes sense.’
As we began, I wanted to ask if she identified with the phrase “spiritual but not religious” to describe her views and she did to an extent. People identifying with this definition of spirituality often describe their spiritual journey as a private experience that seeks to answer life’s biggest questions from within rather than from organized religion and tend to be deeply suspicious of religious institutions. She describes experiencing an emotional conflict when she thinks about God. She feels it’s hard to see/feel God’s presence, and questions his existence in times she’s felt grief, loss and pain or because of her negative interactions with Christians. On the other hand, she feels that she has to believe God exists because otherwise, it would be terrifying to think of the emotional outcomes that would logically result if the opposite were true. She would find it difficult to deal with life on a day to day basis, especially when death hits close to home (the idea of an afterlife is comforting) or during times of monotony and struggle.
In the end, she feels that looking into the question of God’s existence is scary and exhausting. Scary in the sense that she might find answers she may not like. Exhausting in the sense she feels overwhelmed and confused by so many religions that claim to have the truth.I thank my friend for being so vulnerable in disclosing through genuine honesty, that her belief in God is based mainly on emotional necessity than on reason and logic. It saddens me to hear about the struggles between her head and heart though I can relate as I was once there. I think that the barriers which keep some from reconciling their belief in God with their intellect and heart, come largely as a result of general trends I’ve found personally to be true in many Christian churches that either: i)overemphasizing the role and importance of emotion, sentimentality and personal experience when it comes to question of faith and God, ii)failure to adequately address intellectual doubts with compelling answers or iii)dismiss the role of the intellect in the aspect of God and faith altogether. I can understand why my friend finds it easier to avoid seeking answers to the question of God’s existence. Tackling this question, at least from the perspective of the world’s major religions, would not only unveil differing answers about God, but how we ought to relate to Him, our human nature, morality and the afterlife. How these questions are answered would impact how we think about our lives, and how we live them out. However, when all three of the world’s major religions tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong with the spiritual and moral state of humanity, there is a lot of weight to that claim and I would want to know whether that is true and if so, what is the answer.
Why is it that when seeking answers to questions impacting our soul and spiritual health, we tend to put them in a different category than our physical health? In the spiritual health realm, we tend to choose the answers that satisfy our desires and bring contentment and comfort rather than on the basis of truth. However, if my doctor were to give me a cancer diagnosis tomorrow, I wouldn’t refuse to accept her diagnosis and advice to seek treatment but rather continue searching until I found a doctor that gave me the answer I wanted to hear. If our spiritual dimension is real, then shouldn’t we be seeking real answers to the struggles that plague our soul? It’s my hope that this blog serves to help bridge the gap between heart and mind as I continue exploring the topic of God’s existence and the important questions that follow as a result.