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I received questions this morning from a reader of this blog. It always thrills me to know that people are reading it and that it is actually capable of stimulating conversation on important subjects. Although the focus of the blog is organic gardening, in winter, while the garden sleeps, I have time to look at other areas of interest, like nutrition and spirituality.
He asked, “Do you believe in God? And do your beliefs in things like chakra therapy and the rest tend to come from empirical evidence?”
What excellent questions. The answer to your first question is no, if what you’re referencing is the god of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the like. And that in no way means that I believe that acceptance of these systems is a product of feeble thinking.
I never trespass on the territory of religion, but I believe that the notion of a creator god who made us, is concerned with just one species of primate (humans), hears our prayers, and has great reward or punishment waiting for us, depending on how we live our lives, is a very comforting belief, but ultimately, a delusion.
I reached this conclusion after many, many years of meditation, when it became completely clear that the self is an illusion. And without the existence of self, notions of salvation, reward and punishment, and other religious views become inapplicable.
This brings in moral accountability in a big way, and lays the burden of it squarely on our shoulders. I don’t believe that religion can be the answer to the question of moral truth. To not believe in god is to know that it falls upon us to make the world a better place. I am, down to my toes, committed to that principle.
To answer your second question: in one corner, we have scientific claims; in the other, metaphysical claims. I’m pretty ruthless in seeking scientific support for the practices I adopt.
We come from a long line of primitive ancestors who used symbols and stories to explain things they didn’t understand. But with the advent of physics and molecular biology, we have the ability to formulate theories and then prove or disprove them, answering once and for all, with repeatable evidence, the questions our ancestors answered with anecdotes.
Obviously, the things that we do to each other and to animals that are so needlessly horrible can’t be quantified in a laboratory. So, can we be empirical about everything? No.
I’m not trying to do the sidestep of ‘there are things that we can’t explain, so let’s just categorize it as a mystery’. There are human experiences that haven’t been quantified – yet. Unless we destroy ourselves and our planet first, we may one day quantify it all.
Life is amazing no matter what the source of it is. Even with science as my stay, I see mind-blowing beauty everywhere. We all have extraordinary experiences. I try to capture extraordinary experiences in ordinary language. I believe it’s a false fear, the idea that we would not find any reason to build beautiful architecture, paint paintings, write music, or fall in love not for indulging certain religious superstitions.
Ultimately, though, I believe that we all, regardless of our god talk or science talk, experience the world in pretty much the same way, and I believe in keeping the dialogue going every day.