Jessica Lynch has returned to her home town in Virginia. She mourns the loss of her best friend Lori. What I found interesting was what the Governor had to say:
“Our entire state has worn a yellow ribbon around our hearts, God is still in the business of making miracles. One of his miracles came home to the mountains today.”
I find the subject of religion fascinating, both socially and personally. It is something of an enigma to me, and one with which I have long taken an interest.
God is still in the business of making miracles? Ok let me nail my colours to the mast here. I am agnostic, I find the idea of a god to be an interesting idea, and even a possibility, but it something I do not ‘believe’ in.
I am sure the Iraqi soldiers that killed Jessica’s friend felt that ‘god’ was on their side too. In fact they are probably still praising him for the fact that they were able to ‘off’ one of the infidels.
And equally in the US the idea that god is on the side of America is ingrained. He is invoked in practically every speech I have seen Bush make. It is truly amazing to watch. I sit watching it dumbfounded, fundamentalist Muslims talking about Allah saving them, fundamentalist Christians talking about God saving them, can they both be right?
I was stopped on the street here in the UK by a Mormon from Ohio. She interrupted my Mozart listening to ask me directly whether or not I believe in God. To which I replied a resounding no.
She was prepared for that answer it seemed. She continued:
“Have you thought about letting God into your life?”
“Yes I have, but I do not believe in god, I have no evidence for his existence”
“Have you ever asked him?”
“What, you mean directly? Out loud?”
“Yes I have. I accept there is a possibility that god exists, or a god, so one day I asked, with an open mind. I looked up to the sky, and asked honestly, do you exist? No reply”
“You asked and got no reply?”
“No – none”
She was shell shocked. The look on her face was one of not comprehending how this could happen.
“Has he responded to you?” I asked.
“Yes, he has spoken to me”
“Really? Why you and not me?”
“I dont know” she replied.
“Well unless I have some evidence of a god existing, I am not going to spend my whole life either arguing for or against his existence. I have places to visit, and things to get done before I die, and I’m not going to spend my life wondering whether something with the same metaphysical properties as Santa Claus exists, or does not exist”
Cue more shell shock.
“I live a moral life, I dont need an entity to give me morals”
“But what about Jesus?” she asked
“What about him? Yeah he was an interesting guy, recycled some old ideas and said he was the son of god. But loving ones neighbour was not a new idea, read Confucius or Aristotle”
“But the bible…”
“I would prefer a document that tries some way to be unbiased or historically accurate”
“Now I have to get to work, and get back listening to Mozart”
“No problem” she replied, still looking a bit stunned.
Now that might sound like a heavy exchange but it was spoken in smiles and in very polite tones. No harsh words, merely an exchange of thoughts and ideas, she did make some interesting points, but they had little impact.
I think she might have found it strange that I was without ‘her’ god, and yet was perfectly happy and polite. And so too do I find it strange that she was standing in the rain on her own trying to convince people to believe what she believes.
She is entitled to believe, as am I to not believe. She has a right to stand in the rain, as do I. She has a right to try to convert people on the street, I could stand in the rain and try to tell people that they should weigh the evidence, but in my experience most people don’t like the idea of their being nothing greater than us, and that there might be no ultimate reason for human existence.
I guess I am in a minority, a very small minority.