Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Moments of Doubt

I am not what you would call religious. The idea of religion in general does not sit well with me. I tend to frown upon religion but I look upon belief or faith - even when they are more simply disguised as hope - far more charitably. I possess those things myself.

I've questioned religious topics my entire life. At least, when I was old enough to realize I should question. Not to the point where I studied religion, but simply that I was very aware of when something I was taught felt wrong. As I grew older, I learned to doubt. and not to just accept simply because I was told by people who "knew better" that this is the way things are.

Certain events in my life helped drive me down the road I am now on. Nothing amazingly dramatic, but people I trusted to provide me with these answers turned out to be flawed. They made mistakes. Some of them huge mistakes that didn't involve me yet I still saw it all happen. I realized they were people. Just normal humans prone to err just like I was. They weren't qualified to give me the answers I needed.

So I question. And I torment myself because my current self conflicts with my past self and his beliefs. The things that I believe now which seem only logical to me at present clash mightily with my young self, who was terrified by scare tactics. Who feared the bite of the flames. Those two sides of myself war constantly, even though one side I've stopped believing for years.
It's rather exhausting.

I believe all the little details are unimportant; you know, those little details that have caused people to argue, clash and kill over the centuries. All of that waste for something that won't matter in the end. It's the overall song that matters, not the notes that make it. Yet it's the little details that keep my mind racing. I feel like I know better but my brain can't convince my sub-conscious. Years of conditioning can do that to you.

I've never doubted the existence of God. Not once. I don't know if I have that capacity, and I'm completely fine, even relieved, with that. I think it's important to note this point; I am not a bitter, jaded person who has suffered great tragedy and feels like his creator has wronged him and thus began to question. I simply think we have been gifted with our minds for a reason. To use them. To seek answers and understanding. To create.
What greater joy could there be to the one who gave you such a gift than to use it to its utmost potential? To utilize such an amazing gift.

Certainly I've doubted a million things I've been fed over the years about what is right, what is wrong, what God frowns upon, what God rewards, what matters, what doesn't. I can't trust people on this and there's no one to look to for answers except myself. That's a hard truth to uncover when you realize the one person who you can go to for answers has none.

Over the weekend, I doubted something new as I lay in bed sleepless. I don't know what conjured the image but for a second - a terrifying second - I doubted an existence of life after death. For that one second, I was completely convinced of the truth of this. And then the moment was gone but I was left a bit shaken. As weary as that one moment made me, I can't imagine going through life with such a belief. That this is it. That there is no great mystery we will get to unravel after we pass on. It must be horrible to live with that constantly gnawing at you.

I would hope for the people who have such views that it would spur them to take better advantage of life than most do. And that when they are done, they will have a pleasant surprise awaiting.


april said...

I don't believe in a comprehensible life after death - that is, I suspect that whatever happens does not include my consciousness/identity/soul/whatever persisting. That doesn't mean awesome things don't follow, just that there's a good chance this life is all this self gets to experience.

Which does mean, yes, that I try to live a life that feels rich & which I think (hope?) has positive impact now.

ryan said...

here's a quote i quite like that is along these same lines. i like it, not because i have an agenda or belief one way or another but, because it makes sense to me regardless of whatever actually happens at death.

"..and in every detail of your life, if no ultimate purpose redeemed it, there was a quality of greyness, of desolation, that could never be described, but which you could feel like a physical pang in the heart. Life, if the grave really ends it, is monstrous and dreadful. No use trying to argue it away. Think of life as it really is, think of the details of life; and then think that there is no meaning in it, no purpose, no goal except the grave. Surely only fools or self-deceivers, or those whose lives are exceptionally fortunate, can face that thought without flinching?" -george orwell