What if no one's watching?


In her comment on this post, Emma Goldman asked me a very good question. Two of them, actually. Her questions were:

Why do you want there to be a deity? What will happen if you don't find one?

The second question is not of much interest to me, because I don't think anything will happen if I don't find God. I'll be pretty much in the same place I am now--no proof of existance, no faith, but no proof of inexistance either. Unless for some reason my seach sours me so much it gets me all the way to Atheism, but honestly I just don't see that happening. The first question, though, is really at the heart of what is going on here.

There are quite a number of reasons I want there to be a deity, some kind of greater power. One of them is because I don't want to feel like I'm in this alone--I want there to be someone bigger than me watching out for me. Another one is that I can't stand the idea of never again seeing the people I love who have died, and in order to believe that I am going to see them again, I sort of need to believe in a God, some conception of Heaven, something. One of the biggest ones is that I want a community to be part of, and the kinds of communities people I know seem to find in their churches seem so great. I want to be part of that, and I think becoming part of it would be a lot easier if I actually shared beliefs with said community.

There are a more shallow set of reasons as well. I like church, especially ritualistic church. It makes me feel centered, safe. I like the rountine of it, the symbolism, the quiet, sacred space. I want to have a legitimate share in that space and not feel like an imposter in it. I want to a person who knows the words to the hymns and the proper responses, who knows when to say "and also with you" and "Amen."

The biggest reason, though, is simple curiousity. I want to know if there is a God or not, and I don't think factual evidence that I find believable is going to surface, or that it would be enough even if it did. I want to have some strong feeling about it, one way or the other. Agnosticism is fine when you don't care, but as I get older I do care, I want to have a theory of what is going to happen when I die that I actually believe and don't just find interesting. I want to be able to commit to a position of some sort, driven by something inside myself. I want to feel faith. I feel like I am missing out on some basic human experience by not having it in my life, and I am missing it.

I don't know if that's a sufficient answer, but it is what I have, for now. Thanks for asking.


That's a really interesting, thoughtful answer--I'll respond with a little more than that once I've had a chance to ponder.

I guess I agree with Emma. And just cuz you want to believe in something doesn't mean you necessarily should believe in it, you know? I could/have believe/d that the person I was in a relationship was right for me, when in fact they were not. We trick ourselves into believing irrational things all the time, mainly so that we'll feel safe and okay. But I don't think that means we should!

It also just makes me think that if a person has to try so hard to believe in something maybe it isn't for them, you know?

You might like this. It's a list of scientists answering what they take on faith to be true even though they can't prove it. There's always the Belief-O-Matic!

My strong desire to believe in something--based on about the same things that you mention--is what eventually made me realize that I really, in fact, didn't believe in anything. Any attempt at belief on my part felt too much like wishful thinking that didn't really express what I believed at heart to be true.

Just my 2 cents, not trying to convert you to atheism or anything, at all. Wishing you more luck than I had, is all.

and, for those of you who care, here's my longer exposition.

Great thread. My thoughts are here

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