It never ceases to amaze me how people put blinders on, and upon doing so, become completely unaware of – even willfully blind to – the fact that they are there. Indeed, when confronted with the existence and effect of these blinders, the response, rather than being rational and level-headed as one would expect, becomes angry, dismissive, even hostile to the very idea. And the granddaddy of all of these centers on the existence or non-existence of God. The blinders one puts on in this regard effect everything in life, and do so quite often “on the margin”, which is to say they effect how one views life’s most contentious and controversial issues.
There are really only two ways one can approach life. One must assume either that God exists, or He does not. Agnostics may protest, saying that they are just not sure – that they see some reasons to believe, and some not to believe. But the question still must be dealt with. Life still has to be lived, and the moral choices one makes are either according to one’s own conscience, or according to the teachings of the God one follows. You either adhere to the moral code established by God, or you follow the generally accepted morality of the culture in which you live. If you try to pick and choose between the religious teachings and the secular teachings, you are a functional atheist. God’s law is not negotiable, nor is it changeable according to the times in which we live. In effect, God says, ‘Take it or leave it – your way or my way. Choose.’ But before you can buy into God’s law, you have to buy into God.
I believe that it is possible to live without blinders, and that nearly every realm of life makes way more sense without them than with them. I am not “religious” in the often assumptive meaning of that word. I view my faith as all-encompassing and overarching. There is no part of my life that is separate from or unaffected by my faith-belief-system. The very word “religious” to me assumes that life can be compartmentalized, so that one has a religious life, a family life, a work life, etc., and that one realm does not necessarily spill over into or impact another. This may seem to some to be obvious, but many people try to live with the belief – which they cling to with “religious” fervor – that religion and science and philosophy for example, are completely different realms, and that one can live believing one thing in one of those realms and something contradictory in another without being inconsistent. To me, that’s patently absurd.
Faith is not optional. It is not possible to live life without taking some things on faith. I believe, for example, that without love, life is less than meaningful. I take that as a matter of faith, not as proven fact. There is a lot of evidence that it’s probably true, but there are no means by which we can prove whether it’s true or not. But while I have faith that it is true, I also have evidence that supports my leap of faith. It is not “blind faith” (which term many hold to be absolutely synonymous with faith). I believe because one day eleven years ago I said “OK, I’ve lived my life so far under the assumption that this life is all there is. Yet I am starting to see reasons to believe otherwise. And they are pretty compelling, so for the rest of my life I’m going to live as if God is real.” And when I made that decision, THEN I started to understand some things I thought I would never understand. My blinders were off for the first time!
If you decide to open yourself to the possibility that God exists, you need to decide what He wants of you, if anything. To do that, you have to decide what version of “God” you want to follow. I am a follower of the Christian theology, which means that I see Jesus as the second person of the Holy Trinity of the Christian Bible – one God in three persons. I can’t prove to you or to anyone that what I believe is true. But neither can you. Neither can anyone. But I do believe that what I believe is really real. And I believe that no other belief system allows us to see the world as it really is, and that every other belief system forces us, sooner or later, to compartmentalize our lives.
Take the realm of physics, for example. Most scientists believe that the universe had a beginning. They refer to it as “the big bang”. Most scientists also believe in the universal laws of physics. One of those laws is that action has an equal and opposite reaction. Cause and effect. Yet somehow even the eminent Stephen Hawking must twist himself into a logical pretzel to continue to cling to these two fundamental beliefs: That there is no God, and that the universe began. Only the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam can have an consistent, non-compartmentalized belief system that sees the answer as the same in both realms of “religion” and physics.
But to live life without blinders on, you need to invest some time and effort in learning. And while I am not an expert on other belief systems or religions, I know of no other life perspective that so completely comports with reality. Not secular humanism, not atheism, not Darwinism, not Islam or Judaism, not Bhuddism, etc., etc., etc.
In future posts, I’ll try to shed some light on how the blinders distort our view of some of the most “on the margin” and contentious issues of our day.
Seek. Ask. Knock!