Who Am I To Say?
I am not a minister. I have no formal theological training. I don’t have a philosophy degree. To be honest, although I study the Bible and think of in often, I don’t read it every day. There’s a lot I don’t know about my own religion, and even more that I don’t know about other systems of belief.
What is it then that qualifies me to talk about belief?
I am a person in this earth. A person that many would have me believe was created by something divine. Ostensibly, for some purpose.
If that divine entity did indeed put me here, and if that divine self has an expectation of me, I would certainly hope that he or she or it or godself would make godself known to me without a theology degree or extensive study.
If there is something specific I’m supposed to do, I would hope that the divine would make it plainly known and understood by someone as ordinary in their understanding as me.
A faith that requires years of expensive study and complex reasoning to understand is not a particularly useful one for most of us humans down here, who are largely just scraping to get by, day by day.
Some would say this is where faith comes in. The Christian Apostle Paul describes faith as “the evidence of things unseen.” And I do believe that we can “know” things that we cannot directly see or hear or apprehend with our physical senses. But still, I believe that faith still has to be based on greater evidence than simply believing what we’ve been told by the “authorities” who really understand it.
The Bible also talks about having “childlike” faith. It’s been long enough since I was a child that it’s hard for me to remember precisely how all my mechanisms of belief worked at the time—those memories have been overlaid with so many retellings and rethinkings that the surface isn’t as clear as it once was.
But I am the father of a child myself, and I must say, children are pretty shrewd at discerning truth through adult obfuscation, such as when I’m trying to talk in code to my wife about an adult topic or something going on with my son at school. He sees right through it. “You’re talking about me, aren’t you, Dad?”
And he can also come up with surprisingly common sense solutions to problems for which I’ve come up with complicated solutions. We might be building a bookcase from Ikea, and I’m down on the floor leaning over trying to screw something in from the back, and out of equal parts laziness and efficiency, he will lay it down flat. Much simpler.
But he also believes things that are not true, which were either told to him by someone else or that are based in fear. Things that hang out in the dark in the middle of the night. (At least I don’t think those things are there. Who knows? Maybe sometimes he’s discerning something I’ve forgotten.)
For those fears for which there is no evidence, which are just fabrications of imagination, I do my best to show him the evidence of my experience. I know from my experience that it’s ok to jump in the deep end of the pool, even though it may be scary.
When it comes to religion, it is the same. There are some things that seem so simple. And other things based on what’s been told, or on what we fear.
I hope this experience will show me different.