I’m a very spiritual person. My belief system is pretty simple in practice, but comprised of several different religions. It’s basically the “greatest hits” from Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism with a dash of Paganism. I have a strong faith in God or a creator, I talk to him all the time. Like Catholics pray to Saints, I talk to my Angels and ask them for guidance. When I need extra special light energy in my home, I burn oil lamps (thank you Nikitha) for Ganesha, Durga and Lakshmi. During the holidays I decorate a Christmas tree and enjoy the amazing tradition of saying prayers while lighting a menorah. So you can imagine what a horrible feeling I experience when all of this collapses and I don’t believe in anything. That’s what I call a faith crash and I’m sure I’m not the only one that goes through it.
I woke up the other morning feeling like crap. Another day of facing the world and its problems, another day of walking the dogs, feeding them, feeding myself, showering and going to work. Another cycle of the exact same thing with no difference in outcome. I found myself quoting Belle from Beauty and the Beast, saying “there must be more than this…”. I didn’t dare turn on the TV, I mean what for? We all know that someone died in a shooting and that Trump tweeted something shocking for a President but not for him, and that the world is going to shit. I thought to myself why hasn’t anything changed? God where are you?
That’s usually how it starts. I start to ask questions and then I realize that’s exactly why Southern Baptists like my myself (yeah I’m going straight to hell with a window seat), aren’t supposed to question God at all. You’re just supposed to trust everything happens for a reason and have faith. In fact they teach you the practice the of “faith falling” when you’re a kid at Sunday school. You know, that’s when you stand up on the edge of a table and fall backwards and let the other kids catch you. It’s actually a lot of fun, like safe-scary fun. And then afterwards the teacher asks you “Now if you trust the other kids in this class to catch you and you might not even know them, why wouldn’t you trust God to catch you when you fall?” This of course is supposed to bring about a big light bulb moment for most young Baptists, and I have to admit it did for me at first, but then I thought about it and concluded “well because I can see them and if they let me fall they’d probably be sued.”
So the questions lead into more questions and they get more and more complex until finally I come to the conclusion that the Universe is out to fuck me. My faith is completely destroyed and I feel stupid for believing in anything, let alone half of the world’s largest religions. Yes I know what you’re thinking. If there’s no higher power then how could it be out to do me harm? The very act of contemplating this concept means I still believe in something.
This doesn’t make me feel any better. I start to feel without purpose since much of who I am as a person has to do with a desire to do good and think positive. And if there’s no higher power to ultimately call the shots and “judge”, then isn’t everything just relative anyway? Is there really any good or evil? Is everything just a matter of perspective? Who’s perspective? Mine?
Holy shit, now I’m in a full blown existential crisis. I’m beyond believing in God or a creator, now I’m questioning everything. This truly sucks and I just want to go back to what I was before, on this natural high believing Angels are following me and even thinking that my uncanny ability to always immediately find parking has some sort of divine meaning (think Oprah Winfrey and “The Secret”). This is a very dark and lonely place. A place without meaning, purpose or logic. Mother Theresa has said she’s been here before, I probably bumped into her without knowing and even maybe spilled my drink on her.
This crisis lasts usually about a week or so, then for some reason things begin to change. I start to realize that my “faith crash” is more of a symptom of something else and not really what I’m believing. It’s a symptom of anger. It’s a symptom of losing control. As someone who loves science and technology, I don’t like not knowing the answers or not knowing where to find them. I don’t like all the obvious contradictions in religion and all the people around the globe killing each other to defend them. The anger I’m feeling is not with God, it’s with people. It’s with the assholes that find it so easy to shoot you the middle finger but find it so difficult to lend a helping hand. Slowly I start to realize where my real frustration is and then something strange occurs. My roots in science starts to fuse with my spiritual beliefs in an attempt to explain it all.
If you believe that humans are on this planet for a purpose, for a real purpose, then what do you think that is? Many friends of mine who I hold dear to my heart believe that mankind’s single purpose on Earth is to worship and praise God. That’s it. To me that makes God seem like a pretty vein, pretentious God and a bit of a prick. Why would you make such beautiful and amazing creatures, with such complex thoughts, emotions and a desire to explore, for the sole purpose of telling you how great you are? Wouldn’t that be the ultimate “it’s all about me” gesture? Why do we assign such horrible human qualities to a God? A deity? Isn’t that just an oxymoron?
No, there has to be more to life than this (thank you Belle). Perhaps it isn’t all about God, perhaps it’s all about us? Oh shit, I think some people reading this just fell off their chairs or they’re possibly throwing holy water at their screens. Seriously, think about this for a second. Maybe our purpose here on the Earth is to actually learn something, to become better at something, I dunno like maybe being human? Maybe that’s it. We’re here to become better humans, to learn right from wrong, to learn to help each other. After all isn’t that what Jesus taught us? That we should help and love each other unconditionally?
If we learned anything as a child we found out that we need to fuck up to move forward. We say it all the time… “you need to fall off a bike to learn how to ride.” We learn that mistakes make us better at everything because we usually learn from them. The one’s that we don’t learn from we repeat until we’re tired of how it hurts emotionally, physically or financially. That’s just basic math. So why would this be any different for humanity as a whole? What if God isn’t helping us because we won’t let him? Falling off that bike might be exactly what we want and need to do.
All of this makes perfect sense to me and even more so when you think of the concept of evolution. I know that’s a four letter word for some but it works in this equation. As a species, humans have certain characteristics which will benefit or hurt them. Just as in all living things, attributes which benefit an organism allow them to procreate and possibly pass those genes on to their offspring. For humans, our capacity to do good and help each other definitely benefits us as a whole, thus insuring our survival. But when we engage in behavior that’s destructive, such as violence, the outcome is nature’s way of weeding us out.
Thinking of this concept I started to become more like my former self. In fact it almost felt like an awakening of sorts. The very thing that many people assume conflicts with religion and faith helped restore it in me. Science of all things, specifically evolution and natural selection, helped me regain my faith in God and the Universe. And it felt right to me. It satisfied both parts of my core being. We’re definitely here for a purpose and that means we have to make mistakes and that also means there’s hope for us. Eventually we’ll get tired of making these errors in judgement and we’ll want to move forward. We’ll get tired of hurting each other, starting wars, talking down to each other and shooting the middle finger. We’ll get tired of looking at differences as a weakness and we’ll celebrate them as strengths. I don’t know when this will happen, but it’s something to strive for and look forward to.
I also started to wonder that maybe the faith crash in itself was a lesson for me. The experience caused me to look deep into myself and to explore possibilities that were otherwise clouded or obstructed by dogma. The darkness led to light and the light led to solutions and new ways of reasoning. I had definitely come out of this stronger then I went going in and although I know it will eventually happen again, I have yet one more tool in my belt to help overcome it. And so, I’m evolving personally and spiritually, along with the human race.