I have friends who are critical of theistic belief. Some are outright incredulous. Having experienced my own fair share of dangerous unhealth within the church at large, there are times when I resonate with sentiments like theirs as much as I do my own core beliefs.
At any given time, there is a good chance I’m wrestling with curiosities and skepticisms of my own, trying to sort out my faith as it collides with all the unavoidable life experiences which would seem to fly in the face of its very nature.
What if my perceptions of divine orchestration are simply the eccentricity of a biological organism just trying to make sense of its environment? What if an intrinsic need for pattern and purpose is merely a side effect of sentience, itself merely a bizarre cosmic fluke? Or what if the truth about God is far more nebulous than the well-defined theological system I’ve presently got in mind?
One way of saying the truth is that I was raised a socially progressive Catholic, lost faith in middle school (owing to a combination of sincerely had reasons and the fact that it was trendy to do so) was chewed up and spat out by some fringe elements of the American Evangelical social complex as a young man, spent many years trying to drink away the trauma of that experience, and am currently doing life in recovery, with some semblance of a grasp on my original Christian faith.
Another way of saying it is that I became convinced during adolescence that I was being pursued by the person of God, in the form of Jesus Christ, for involvement in active relationship. Boy, it really sounds crazy when I say it like that, but it’s an honest way of saying it. Whether this was really happening or just a series of extreme coincidences, I found that as I practiced my faith God seemed to actually interact with me to an extent which any normal person would likely describe as uncanny. There just comes a point where, when you begin to routinely see things which it’s genuinely fair to call miraculous, you can no longer rationalize it without considering the paranormal.
Do I believe that there’s a big magic man in the sky, who drops little hints of his existence all the time, and who personally interacted in spectacular ways with a Semitic tribe of people on Earth, several thousand years ago, and that these interactions resulted in a series of documents, later published and distributed En masse, whose contents are absolutely true and make up a concrete form of deliberate spiritual guidance from the divine? For all intents and purposes, yes. Do aspects of this whole scenario rub certain of my rational sensibilities and philosophical inclinations the wrong way? Yes, they do, all day long.
So, why persist in faith if I’ve got so many questions all the time? Well, because I believe cognitive dissonance is an unavoidable friction that we’ll all have to live with, no matter where we land with our philosophy. It exists within the mechanics of human psychology, full stop. I believe what I believe because I’ve interpreted my experiences in such a way that I am convinced certain things are simply true. The past twenty five years of my life have involved phenomena which I am content to explain in no other way. Could something be awry with my mental process, there? Like, might I just be crazy? Yes, perhaps.
Ultimately, I simply choose to err on the side of what I feel is the most optimistic of all possible explanations for the way things are, and this because, of all the different things I believe about the God with whom I have to do, the most pronounced and significant of them is the pure and simple fact that I believe God is love.