Thursday, January 13, 2011

Part III: Morals

And so the last part of our four part series on people of faith see what they want to see when they put their faith in God:

"People have faith in God because the idea of God brings about order - a sense of right and wrong - and people want to find that balance between right and wrong because it is soothing."

Or is that true?  Remember, good skeptics doubt their doubt.

Humans by nature notice patterns and by noticing patterns we ascribe meaning to those patterns.  There must a be purpose to a particular pattern that we see and so we are awakened to the world of art and music and all those things that involve the soul.  It is also our great undoing as a species as it unleashes selfishness, ambition and pointless TV shows like Glee.

In sixth grade, the girl that I loved with all my adolescent heart was sitting up near the front of the classroom and had looked back six times to the rear of the classroom.  I noticed this and quickly concluded that she was checking me out.  I gave meaning to something that I noticed.  It was what I wanted to notice.  I was oblivious that after lunch her bladder was full and she wanted the clock at the rear of the classroom to move quicker so she could hit the bathroom.  It became crystal clear when she bolted for the bathroom after class.  What I thought I saw was only what I hoped for.

Some would argue that this is the case with God.  That deep down we want someone like God in this world and so we invent Him unknowingly by our sheer desire.  Since we want approval we look for and eventually find a God that loves us.  Since we want to see departed loved ones again, we look for and eventually find a God that has them up in heaven.

This is the same with morals, some would argue.  Life is like a big board game with no rules if there were no God.  Since we are staring at the board and can't find the rules (but really want to play), we invent rules so that it feels like there is something we can take part in and play along.  We look for a God who gives us these rules in the game of life and so it is no wonder that we 'find' Him in faith because it is in the search that we see what we want to see.

It is a rather interesting argument and I completely agree.  Of course we are looking for a God that prescribes behaviors - but it doesn't mean we have invented Him just be our desire to find Him.  No, in fact the discovery is inherent not in the finding, but in the search.  We find God not in what we have come up with, but in the fact that we are looking to begin with.

If we are just animals, we should never have realized the point that we need law.  Regardless of the idea of a "Social Contract", community should never have been on our minds.  The fact that we pursue something external to the way we behave is . . . odd.  Do dogs try to supress their canine-ness?  Cats their feline-ness?  It is an extraordinary drive that all of us have and it goes beyond nurture, it is in our nature to seek something greater than ourselves.

So it is not in the arrival at morality that we have invented God - it is in the pursuit of it that we have discovered God's thumbprint.

1 comment:

  1. I spend a lot of time thinking about God as the source of universal morality. That dogs don't try to depress their "canineness" is something I never thought about. Thanks for the insight.