On Faith

Michelangelo's_Pieta_5450

Of Jesus, there is no historical record and that is very strange when one considers the volumes of records that the Romans left behind. Of God? Well, if there is a God, then where did He come from? A rational mind can’t help but question, yet the Church teaches that it is wrong to question. We must accept blindly. Anything that doesn’t make sense, like the Holy Trinity, we are told, “That, my child, is a mystery.” Still, I pray. I pray for my enemies. I pray for all life on this planet. I pray because it brings me comfort. Is that faith? Or is it self-delusion?

I find it interesting that the lesions in the temporal lobe of the brain cause sufferers of this form of epilepsy to experience religious/spiritual hallucinations. Is there a chink in the armor of religious passions? A creationist would tell you that God put that in the human brain because of his grand scheme.  I am not a creationist.  I do not believe that God created the Earth in six days, nor do I believe God is responsible for the singularity that created the Big Bang.  Yet, perhaps because of a life-time of brainwashing, and experiences that could also be put down to coincidence, I shy away from declaring myself an atheist.  Isn’t saying “There is no God!” the basic equivalent of saying, “There is a God!”  But agnostics hold no water with me either.

To me agnosticism is a cop-out.  Agnostics say, “Well, I don’t know for sure. Maybe there is a God. Maybe there isn’t.” That is not rational thinking.  It’s like playing roulette and hoping your number lands on the right spot. I’ve never met an agnostic who could carry a theological or philosophical argument to its conclusion.  I have no respect for them.  They might as well be religious zealots because they argue a point that has no basis in rational thinking.  They are simply cowards who are hedging their bets.

Many religions are responsible for the creation of amazing works of art: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, even the cave paintings of Lascaux.  (Please note that I have left Islam out of this equation.  Despite some lovely mosques, I find that Islam, iconoclastic and jihadist is better at destroying things than creating them.)  Let us examine this burst of creativity for what it is.  Mostly, as in the Renaissance, it was the product of talented artists in the employ of corrupt, sociopaths like the Medici and Borgias.  It has been said that the worst crimes of humanity have been committed in the name of religion.  Any student of history can confirm this.  Exactly how many people were brutally murdered and tortured by the Inquisition, and by their Protestants is still up to debate, but it can be safely said that hundreds of thousands of people were brutally tortured and murdered by both the Inquisition and by their Protestant counterparts.  It makes me laugh that Thomas More, a martyred saint of the Catholic Church condemned dozens to the stake during his brief tenure as Henry VIII’s chancellor.  Then there are the modern-day Islamic jihadist terrorists who callously take their own lives and hundreds, thousands of others in the name of their religion.  How can any rational mind not see religion as a blight, a curse on humanity?

So yes, my faith wavers.  Sometimes I go to Mass, but I find little comfort in it.  Sometimes I go to Confession.  Almost without exception, I find the words of the priest, as he gives me absolution and penance, hollow and of little relevance to my everyday life.  I like to go to churches, Catholic churches, because they are so pretty inside.  I find aesthetic pleasure in the stained glass windows, the little shrines, the flickering candles.  Is this faith?  No, it is an age-old slight of hand to divert my attention from the serious question.  Is there a God? What is His nature?  What will happen when I die?

It is this age-old existential anxiety that I find pulling me toward faith- a fear that if I am not good, if I do not believe, then my soul will be condemned to eternal damnation.  Idiot morons who have never actually read the Christian bible will tell you that God is love.  Well, that may be part of the Christian God, but He is also vengeful, waiting in the wings to send his only-begotten son, born of the Blessed Virgin, to come back and judge the living and the dead.  Those who don’t pass the mustard will be condemned to an eternity (and that means forever) of everlasting pain and suffering, torment beyond belief.  Let us think of the God of Abraham, who told him to sacrifice his son to him as some kind of test.  Well, if God is all-knowing and all-powerful, then He would already have known how the test would turn out.  Why put this poor man through such psychological torment if He were not some kind of sadist who enjoys seeing His children suffer?  Why would he create a set of rules that He already knows some will break and some lucky few will keep?  It makes no sense.  None of it makes sense.

Despite all this, I continue to pray the old prayers that I was taught as a child.  They bring me comfort.  They settle my mind.  Is this some biochemical reaction in the temporal lobe of my brain?  Self-delusion?  Or am I really making personal contact with the Great Creator, our Father who art in Heaven?

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About Russell Smith

I was born at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. I find inspiration in the lives of so many people from Joan of Arc to Oscar Wilde. While my primary avocation is photography, I also enjoy philosophy, theology and most of all, history. My beloved wife, Robin Anne Smith, who passed away in 2013 is also an inspiration to me. My beloved partner, Dana is also a great support and inspiration to me. I'd be remiss if I did not mention my cats: Natasha, Maxwell, Tigger and Nigel.
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One Response to On Faith

  1. mcovaleski says:

    We all search. We all seek. I am no theologian but I do have faith in a God that works for me. My faith is based on my experiences, not on literature. I don’t feel a need to debate what faith means. I don’t think it matters. It’s like wasting time trying to figure out “why me?!” It doesn’t matter why! All that matters is how are we going to deal with it. I believe, because it works for me. That’s it.

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