Friday, May 23, 2008

Reveal yourself to me...

Rather...I would reveal myself onto you...

Recently, Deb asked me a question: "Have you ever asked God to reveal Himself to you?" I am not sure if those were the exact words she used but it's my belief that my recollection is in the spirit of her original query and is accurate in spirit if not its precise wording. As with most questions of deep gravity I've been giving this question from our latest interlocution a deep measure of thought and reflection. The short answer to Deb's sincere and compassionate question is this: "No I have not." This raises the deeper question with some degree of obviousness:

Why have I not asked God to reveal both Himself and His will for my life directly to me?

There was a time in my life when reason and faith were very much at war for my allegiance as it were. This time comprised the years betwixt my mid teens to my late twenties. I was, and still am to some degree, a quiet and bashful person. My adolescence was awkward and painful. Sooner would I wish my own death than be the center of any sort of attention. Having been a curious child I wanted to know the workings of the physical and natural world. My parents made it easy for me to obtain answers to the questions their limited educations could not any longer provide. It was at this time Carl Sagan's magnum opus "Cosmos" premiered on PBS. It was a sincere revelation of the most awesome kind. It tied EVERYTHING together. I began to understand that the Universe was indifferent to humanities cares, concerns and sufferings. It was our own intelligence that was the greatest force for our own survival and success. This clashed doggedly with the Christian teachings I was being instructed in every Sunday. For more than 15 years I somehow managed to compartmentalize two realms. The realm dominated by reason coupled with empiricism and the realm of revealed truth and faith in a personal God.

Over the years I have come to the intractable conclusion that God, if He does exist, is not active in the world of humanity or in its affairs. There are just too many horrors evident in this world to believe in a personal deity. Such a being is inconsistent with the world as revealed by my senses and my reason.

So again in answer to Deb's thoughtful question; No I do not ask God to reveal himself to me because any answer I get will not convince me of his existence anyway. The reason being thus; the human mind is far too powerful a manufacturer of sensation and feeling. How would I know for sure I was experiencing the divine and not some manifestation of my own mind that my inner consciousness was convinced that I needed to have?

While I am sure that those of you did indeed have a spiritual experience that changed you in a deep and personal way, it is by definition a personal experience and therefore outside of my own and naturally from standpoint of empiricism it is, in the end, untestable and unverifiable. Perhaps these spiritual experiences you all give testimony to are experiences you needed to have at some particular point in your lives to give you purpose and direction when you desperately needed them. My own skepticism to the veracity of your claims of the divine origin of the experience would, I hope, do nothing to ameliorate the power and authenticity of your experience. To my mind and, hopefully to your own what would it matter what the origin of the experience is? It has clearly given purpose and direction to your own lives. It is not my station nor my intent to relieve anyone from their beliefs.

All of my life I have had a very stringent and rigid moral sense. I have never abused any physical substance. I have obeyed the laws of society to the best of my ability. I have endeavored to treat with my fellow man in a way that is fair and honest. I have not needed to call upon God for answers as to how I should behave in day to day existence, to my mind answers and requirements have always been self evident. I have not felt the need to inquire with the divine for purpose in my life for that is for me to decide and no one else. Even if I were to have such an experience I am not convinced that I would attribute it to God. To quote the eminent mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace when asked by Napoleon why he (Laplace) never mentioned a creator in all his mathematic and astronomical works is said to have replied: "Sir, I have no need for that hypothesis." Do not take this as arrogance but simply as my way conveying that I have enough understanding of the nature of the universe as to be comfortable with my lot in it.

R.

PS Deb, I hope this response is accepted by you as coming from my heart and is in keeping with my wish to be as intellectually honest as possible. Sorry it took so long to answer! Peace to you and your family!

8 comments:

nate said...

SirRobert,
I am somewhat comment-shy. I usually respond to posts via email if possible, but you have no address posted.
Anyway I am a believer. I would say I am not the best representation of my beliefs. In fact, I am constantly doubt the veracity of my beliefs so much so, that I have come to see the element of doubt to be nearly as crucial in my life as my faith...if that even makes sense to anyone but me.
That was quite an interesting string of three posts, and I glad I read them in order from the crazy car ad to this post. Your soft spoken sincerity is humbling, and the poignant transparency makes sense of your words. I'll probably re-read it 2 or 3 more times to soak it all in.
Peace!
Nate

SirRobert said...

Hello again Nate!

It is gratifying to hear such praise from a reader of my blog. Sometimes it feels as though no one is listening (or reading) . That said I realized that this blog is more for ME than anyone else. But it's good to know that someone does see value in my drivel!

I'm glad that my occasional profanity doesn't put you off. I often struggle with the use of such 'colorful metaphors' BUT I feel they are necessary at times to convey the proper emotion!

Thanks again for your kind words!

R.

SirRobert said...

Incidentally, my email address is robertmark68@yahoo.com

R.

Christian Beyer said...

Well put Rob. Very clear and understandable. There is much in common in the way that both you and I perceive the universe and relate to it.

I don't ask God to reveal himself to me, because he has. No burning bushes, no pillars of fire, but through nature and more importantly through his created beings, particularly humans.

I agree that the universe is ambivelent about us. That it is the human intellect that most forcibly will 'do' the most good in our own little part of it. But I believe that that humanity, when it does good, is the agent that God chooses. Cruelty, what we call 'inhumanity' are those acts that are made by men who choose to ignore God's revelation.

In my mind, from what I know of you, you have seen God and 'obey' his will, although you have chosen not to constrain God within the limited perceptions of other men (aka religion).

1godsgal said...

Rob...I completely understand what you said, and yes I do belive it is straight from your heart and I respect that. I too, am not one to confine God to "religion"...I'm in a relationship with him, which we have discussed in length. :)

The reason I asked that question is because I know that He would be faithful to answer...that is the faith I have in Him. Forgive me for saying this if it is in any offensive, but I believe that this post is in some ways beneath you. By that I mean...if you are going to accurately make an assesment in what is true, you should in fact explore all avenues...that is what you have taught me to do.

I assure you, that when He does answer you...there will be no mistaking it. You are still thinking in terms that you can wrap your mind around...He is so far beyond that...but in turn, loves you so much, that He is more than eager, it you just ask.

Love you, and look forward to our next conversation...Smiles! :)

hoverfrog said...

Robert, good post. It's interesting in that it makes perfect sense to me, there is no leap of faith need to assign something that you don't understand to a supernatural cause. Not until you've exhausted all the natural ones anyway. :)

Even then there would be many steps for me to conclude that the supernatural cause were the Christian God. At least half a dozen additional steps. My own experience is that I've never felt the need to look beyond that which we can measure and detect and theorize to explain something so I've never got to the point of "seeing" a supernatural influence. Having never got that far I've never proceeded towards a specific supernatural entity in God.

Christian Beyer said...

Hover makes perfect sense. I think this is why so much of Christian evangelism and apologetics are ineffectual.

Now, just because I am a theist there is no reason for me to consider your atheism to be some sort of 'character flaw', an opinion that many outspoken Christians seem to hold. By the same token, I don't think my belief in God should paint me as being delusional or ignorant. (Not that anyone on this thread has suggested this.)

My sense that so much of the universe is miraculous is, admittedly, due to a priori reasoning. I think the real miracles, that are difficult to explain through science, are the times the human animal rises above his condition and sacrifices him or her self for others. In other words, love.

Duncan said...

What of other theistic and spiritual beliefs? I am a seeker of sorts, spiritually speaking. I am curious as to your thoughts on non-christian beliefs, and the concept of polytheism.