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.


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!