God Is Teasing Me, Just Like He Teased Moses in the Desert

A frequently used argument for religion is that it’s a comfort to people, and in no way do I disagree with this. There are definitely times when I wish I knew that there was some meaning to my life, that my existence wasn’t going to just cease someday, and that good will be rewarded and evil punished in the end. The thing is, I don’t really see any evidence for this. Just because it would be NICE for something to be true doesn’t mean it is. So why do I keep on living, if I don’t really see a point? In my darker moments, I tell myself that it’s simply the path of least resistance. When I’m feeling more content, however, my thought is that you have to make your own meaning, that life can suck but at least you get a chance to experience the good parts. Besides, it’s not like religious people don’t suffer from depression, regardless of what some of them might say. Even if Jesus really does save from sin, he doesn’t save from misery and drudgery. I guess I’ve always found it kind of odd that the same people who say that mankind is fallen and the world is the domain of the Devil will also talk about how the beauty and majesty of creation prove there’s a God. Which is it? Well, obviously the world is both wonderful and horrible. It’s not necessarily contradictory to have both existential angst and the joy of being alive, although perhaps not both at the same time. Hey, it was the chronically depressed and persistently atheistic Andy Partridge who wrote the lyric, “Everybody says join our religion, get to Heaven. I say no thanks, why bless my soul, I’m already there.”

But if there’s really some supreme intelligence in charge of it all, why did he (or she) make everything so complicated?

One issue that religion answers for some people is what happens to you after you die. For me, this is a non-issue, as I don’t think there’s any evidence that ANYTHING happens to you after you die, other than your body decomposing. It does relate to some of the things I mentioned at the beginning of the post, though, as the afterlife provides some sense of meaning, and a way to reward the righteous and punish the guilty. That said, if Heaven is perfect, why did God bother making all the non-perfect stuff? And if you blame Satan or Adam and Eve, well, who made them?

And I think the idea that this life is just a testing ground for where you’ll spend eternity kind of cheapens it. I do envy people who don’t fear death, but for me it isn’t a fear of what will happen afterwards, but of my life ending before I’ve really done anything. I also have somewhat of a desire to be remembered in a positive way, even if that’s kind of weird for someone who craves attention, because I won’t be around to receive any of that attention after I pass on. Sometimes I figure I wouldn’t mind being immortal, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be all that practical.

Besides, what if I live forever and my life just keeps getting worse and worse? I know about the Struldbruggs, thank you. I often hear of Heaven and Hell being used as motivators, but I don’t think this is all that effective. If I don’t believe in Hell, why would I really care to stay out of it? Sure, it COULD be real, but if the Vikings were right, I could also miss out on the cool afterlife by not dying in battle. I kind of think the carrot-and-stick mentality is missing the point of Jesus’ teachings anyway, although if the Bible is at all reliable, it does say that he was known to promise glory to his followers and damnation to his enemies. That said, the stuff that even non-Christians can look out and say that Jesus had some pretty good ideas, what might be loosely referred to as his don’t-be-a-jerk teachings, can be seen as more or less the opposite. You should follow the Golden Rule not because you’ll get into Heaven, but it would make THIS world a better place. If that also lets you live a blissful eternity, fine, but you shouldn’t do it JUST for that reason. If you act simply to gain rewards or avoid punishment, I’m not sure you’re a follower of Christ so much as of B.F. Skinner. The thing I DO appreciate about the idea of salvation is one that appears in many other religions as well, that even though people can do some terrible things, we all have the potential for goodness. Not perfection, but goodness.

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4 Responses to God Is Teasing Me, Just Like He Teased Moses in the Desert

  1. Joe says:

    I haven’t had much time of late, but I couldn’t pass up on such a great post. Always appreciate your honest reflections and refreshing open-mindedness. For myself, after much contemplation, reflection, questioning and studying, I’ve found satisfying answers to most of the questions you ask. And there is quite a good deal of comfort and contentment in that. But I think good things come to those who put forth effort. So, it’s cool to hear others’ thoughts on their journey.

    There are three books I’d recommend off the top of my head which provided me a tremendous amount of insight and wisdom, and which I think you’d enjoy:

    The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D., was amazing and one I look forward to reading again. It’s from psychological perspective about the journey to spiritual growth and maintaining loving relationships along the way. It’s actually much deeper than that sounds. Another is The Misunderstood God, by Darin Hufford, which looks at the ways religion disfigures the God of the Bible by distorting his essential nature. That’s a quick read, but packed with incisive information. Finally, the heaviest of the three is Love is Stronger Than Death, by Peter J. Kreeft, which is a philosophical treatise on death, its essence and meaning, and is one of the deeper and more profound examinations of death I’ve ever seen.

    I found them all used on Amazon, which made them pretty affordable, and far more worth the price I paid for them.

  2. Glenn I says:

    I rather like the idea that we are the manifestations in 3D space of a 4th dimensional phenomenon and that death is just the removal from the 3D space of that 4D phenomenon. Just kidding.

  3. Bryan Babel says:

    You ask a lot of entangled questions and bring up a lot of points, each of which would demand an answer at least as long as another blog post to start to direct you to some of the answers that have been given. I do have to say that I think you are actually at a good starting place, being interested in Fantasy and Mythology; not because I would say (as a mere Materialist would) that is because they are all untrue, but because they make you speculate beyond the immediate physical world. As Tolkien said, “We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God.”

    Joe above has given you some good leads, and at the risk of overloading you with more I have a few suggestions. For laying some philosophical groundwork I would recommend “Mere Christianity” by C. S. Lewis (available free online), especially the first part, ‘Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe’; also “The Last Superstition” by Edward Feser (not free online, alas). Here is a bit of Lewis that came to my mind when reading your post, which seemed directed toward some of your difficulties:

    “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet. Of course I could have given up my idea of justice by saying it was nothing but a private idea of my own. But if I did that, then my argument against God collapsed too—for the argument depended on saying that the world was really unjust, not simply that it did not happen to please my fancies. Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist—in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless—I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality—namely my idea of justice—was full of sense. [… ] If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be a word without meaning.”

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