So lately, as in the past 3 weeks, I’ve been involuntarily finding myself contemplating a single question:
What Would Jesus Do? (…in this situation.)
Now, I’m not the kind of person to base my life off Jesus’ life. Even when those WWJD bracelets were popular, I never found myself likening myself to Christ.
Yet, for some reason, I’ve been asking myself at least 30 times throughout the day,
“What Would Jesus Do in this particular situation?”
For example….tonight I was walking home from work, it was somewhat late, maybe 12am. In a doorway to a certain business, a woman was sitting against the door sleeping. She appeared to be very drunk as she was in a sleeping state and had clearly urinated all over herself. Upon seeing her, I immediately reached for my phone to text a coworker of mine about the woman…I just knew that he would get a great laugh out of this woman’s misfortunate. However, all of a sudden, “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”..popped in my head, and I honestly knew that Jesus wouldn’t make a joke out of someone else’s misery. So I put my phone back in my pocket and walked the rest of the way home.
Last night before I fell asleep, I concluded to myself TWO things about the nature of God.
1.) If there is a god, this god is always going to be a PERSONAL god and not an institutionalized god. If there is a god, this god will teach you what you need to know about god in the only way you could understand god. To think a universal generalization of god can work for everyone is illogical and unsafe.
2.) Even if there is no god, it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. If a concept can make people become better and more self aware, then the concept is successful. For example, Jesus and God can both be made up; man-made concepts in order to give people faith and hope. Yet, if by giving people faith and hope can make the person better, then it doesn’t matter if God and Jesus exist or not.
Now to address and explain each one.
In regards to #1, I must explain religion and its part in my life. I was raised in the Catholic church. I went to church every week and I went to Sunday school every week. I was taught all sorts of Catholic propaganda. It wasn’t as if I was learning about God on my own, rather I was learning what people had simply learned themselves without any kind of personal thought. This of course pushed me further and further away from the concept of religion. Why believe in something someone else does when they can’t even accept the fact they could be wrong?…This was all very narrow minded to me.
So I became an atheist…a pretty hard core atheist at that. My senior year in high school, in my religion 4 class, I wrote a paper on my religious journey and why I believed that there was no god. My teacher gave me an A+. He said I had written one of the most eloquent papers he’s ever read despite him not believing any of it himself.
However, within the past year, I have found that I question myself more than anyone else. I realized that the only reason I didn’t believe in god was because I had always been told there was a god….and in this sense, I was being hypocritical. All this time I scorned christians for not accepting the possibility of there not being a god while at the same time, I was ignoring the possibility there COULD be a god. It was then I realized that ATHEISTS ARE JUST AS NARROW MINDED AS THEISTS.
Fall Quarter 2005 comes rolling around and I’m enrolled in Animal Science. It’s in this class I conclude that science and religion aren’t foes. In fact, science and religion work hand in hand. Based off what we know about evolution (the typical opponent to intelligent design), science almost, in some aspects, supports intelligent design. I suppose many people believe that one day science will prove religion to be wrong, however I feel like science is the KEY TO FAITH (I’ll explain this here in a bit). I explained it before, but the anatomy of the bacterial flagellum is a prime example as is the concept of Mitochondrial Eve, though I will only explain the former.
The bacterial flagellum is the tail which propels a bacteria through liquids. Darwin believed that each generation of a species only retained physicalities which helped it survive. That is, if you have long ears and they didn’t help your survical chances, your species would eventually not have long ears anymore. However, the flagellum defies Darwin’s theory. When analyzed closely, the flagellum is actually a motor which is made up of many components. Each component works together like pieces in a machine. One piece cannot operate without the other piece and vice versa.
What’s interesting about this flagellum is that each piece has to be put together in a certain order, otherwise the flagellum wouldn’t even work. This means at one point in the bacteria’s life, there had to be a single piece which didn’t serve a purpose. Upon this piece built another piece and so on and so on until the motor was formed. Each single piece has no purpose other than to move the piece after it and this is why Darwin’s theory doesn’t hold up because according to him, a species wouldn’t create pieces which didn’t have a purpose of its own…it’d simply be discarded in future generations. This concept is called Irreducible Complexity….and it hints to intelligent design though doesn’t necessarily prove it.
How does this all relate to God being personal? Well it all has to do with the way I learn. If I have trouble accepting what people tell me without questioning it first, then God wouldn’t present God’s self to me in a clear and overwhelming way. God would present God’s self to me in ways I would use my own logic to deduce that believing in God can make me a better person. Or in essence, God IS science (told you I would explain it soon)….God simply lays everything on the table for me to analyze (which is what I do best), and let’s me make my decision….and as I have already stated and you have learned, as I gave you a brief background on my religious journey through life, it would appear that I am leaning more towards the concept of God. I went from believing blindly, to not believing, to maybe wondering, to putting it all together, all in hopes of making a decision that will work for me PERSONALLY….and that is why if there is a god, this god is personal…I will have made a decision based on my own experiences.
Now for #2. I think that christians and atheists confuse a lot of formalities. I think when christians say, “I believe in God!”…they literally think a god exists….and when atheists say, “There is no God,” they’re still commenting on something which they themselves don’t believe, which is a bit contradictory in the sense that something exists only in the statement so that it cannot exist within the same statement.
I personally think that it is possible to say, “I believe in God,” without actually believing in a physical existence of this god. For example, I can say, “I believe in God…and because I believe in God, I do not make fun of drunk women who wet themselves.” I didn’t say God physically exists, I’m just saying I believe in the nature of a good and moral idea and because I do, it propels me to do good.
Last night I prayed for some people, and I didn’t pray the way you probably think I did. I didn’t say, “God, please let so and so get better and please let me make a lot of money at work and please protect those I love…” I don’t believe that is praying. I think praying is simply looking into yourself and trying to understand the nature of good.
So who did I pray for? I prayed for everyone who has it worse than I…I prayed for those who have made graver mistakes than I…I simply laid in bed with my eyes closed and thought to myself about these people.
So what did I say when I prayed? I didn’t really say much. I entertained myself with my own thoughts on why these people did what they did and why they are at where they are. At the end of the day, we are all people….yes, some of us rape children and some of us rape strippers and some of us simply make bad decisions in life….but THAT is life….and for those who didn’t do these things, we aren’t anything special and we shouldn’t judge these people. What we should do is look at what they did, feel bad for those affected, which includes the offenders, and learn.
My friend Craig had an interesting point tonight. Craig is a calvinist and from what I understood from our conversation tonight, he wishes that maybe humans wouldn’t place so much emphasis on a separation between them and God. I think what he wants is for humans to have more of an everyday relationship and understanding of the world with God actively involved rather than just being distant and looking down on us. I may be wrong, but that’s what I gathered. Anyway, he brought up the point that if we’re all just animals, then our feelings of morality are just a higher form of intellectual survival. That is, if animals rely on strength and speed to survive, then our method of surviving is simply our higher understanding and logic of the world. I agree, and this is why I believe that when we see people doing bad, or what we individually deem as bad, we shouldn’t judge, but rather use this “education” to further our understanding of ourselves.
At the end of the day, experience is what all of our knowledge derives itself from. We experience a teacher’s lecture, we experience the rain, we experience each other’s xanga pages, and all of this contributes to who we are as individuals. This is why even if Jesus and God don’t exist, we can still take what we experience by believing in the concept of Jesus and God and use it to make us better and more caring people, and I think that’s what religion is truly about…simply trying to understand who each of us are by using God as a “third party” consultant.