Everybody is faithful

“[T]he intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us. (…) [T]he existence of God seems like an extra layer of complexity that isn’t necessary. The world makes more sense to me as it is, without postulating a divine being who is somehow in charge of things.”

This is how Ryan Bell, a former Seventh-day Adventist pastor who became an atheist after spending a “year without God” as an experiment, explains it in an interview (Huffington Post, January 2015).

Yes, all theistic religions put an “extra layer” around reality by “inventing” a personified “God”. You may perceive this extra layer as useless or even falsifying. Atheism wants to look at reality directly. An understandable desire.

Ryan Bell explains in the same interview: “Anytime you can step outside your comfort zone, you will learn important things about yourself and the world. I’ve learned that atheists are not the miserable nihilists that many Christians think they are. I’ve also had a few remarkable moments of irony. Once I was in a gathering of atheists and the speaker referred to “seeing the light” and “finding freedom at last.” It struck me then that most people really are searching for the same thing.”

Nobody –including you and me– knows whether a religious “extra layer” is useful for yourself or at cultural or sociological level. Your individual preference depends on your personal history. It is a matter of taste.

Yes, the Bible is a dangerous book. It has caused much harm to many people. But I claim that it has done even more good to even more people. Like every Holy Scripture it is a noteworthy phenomenon.

Dare to vary the colour of your glasses when looking at reality.

Yes, there are still Christians who cause serious harm. I can only beg your pardon for them. And let me remind you that there are also non-Christians who cause serious harm.

If you have a problem with the words “God” or “the Lord” in the Bible, I recommend pronouncing them “Reality”. “The Lord” is how Christians translated the word “JHWH” of the Hebrew Tanakh, which was pronounced either Jahweh or Jehovah. We definitively have no definitive name for this ultimate reality we are talking about. The name of God is holy.

I disagree with people who say that religions are obsolete. Every world view –including an atheistic one– is a “religion” in the meaning that it relies on assumptions. Atheistic cultures are as much faith cultures as any religious culture. Atheists and agnostics believe in the teachings of their culture as much as Christians believe in the Good News.

You may be convinced that it is evil –or just useless– to imagine reality using religious vocabulary, but this is just your conviction. And permit me to have mine.

Of course there no scientific evidence that my faith in the Good News is realistic. But there isn’t any scientific evidence against it, either. That’s why every human should have the right to freely decide whether to believe in the Good News or not and how to cultivate their faith.

Let’s learn to speak to each other lovingly and without hate. My challenge to both Christians and Atheists: please stop assuming or insinuating that a member of the other side is “naive”, “wasting their energy” or “needs to be saved by our Lord Jesus Christ” (see saviorism).

Speaking requires a vocabulary, a set of concepts and definitions. Let’s learn to use a common vocabulary when talking about the spiritual part of reality.

This is especially important in a context where different cultures have to coexist next to each other on a same territory. It we want peace, we need to learn this.

I suggest to consider faith as a decision to live “as if” God exists. “I desired the peace manifested by my Christian friends. Therefore, I decided to live my life as if God existed. (…) I felt much more comfortable with an approach that allowed me to view some of life’s difficult moments in my work as a physician as being meaningful, rather than as meaningless tragedies. As I gained more life experience, I recognized that other “as if” approaches can be very helpful and even healing for people.”[1]