It's also not very pleasant, I'm afraid. But it's something I feel I need to talk about. If you don't feel like reading this one, I have a somewhat lighter one below.
It's come to my attention that I can't find God. It's been a long time since I really felt God was there... I always just kind of assumed He(/She/It) was there, somewhere, and now I'm not so sure why.
I never even asked myself these kinds of questions before I went to college. It was only after leaving home and the church where I couldn't dissent against the idea at all that I started calling all the dogmas of Christianity into question.
And one by one, I explained the contradictions, the hate and intolerance, the ignorance in the Bible away (As I write, that "The Bible is totally literally true" song is playing in my head). Then I came to ask myself why read the Bible at all? Ultimately, if you eliminate the stuff that's not "totally literally true", what do you have left that doesn't exist in every other religion? What, other than God, does it leave that isn't in just about every secular philosophy? Furthermore, what, other than my having always been raised to believe in Him(/Her/It), makes me look for God?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against religion in what it stands for or what it promises. I do want what it promises. I do want to believe in a God who cares about the universe and cares about me. I do want there to be more to life than just this earthly existence. I want the religion I was taught all my life to be true. But wanting it to be true doesn't make it true.
My big problem, as I think I mentioned in my very first post here, when I was talking about "God bestaat niet", is that I'm so easily talked into things, and to compensate for that, I get paranoid and suspicious of everybody. I've always been the kind of guy who reads C. S. Lewis (his "serious" books, not just the Chronicles of Narnia, which I never finished), and I haven't given up this habit (although I really haven't read much more from Lewis than Mere Christianity, that's more do to with lack of time for it than lack of interest). Only in the last couple months, however, have I also been the type to read Richard Dawkins, who up until then just repulsed me with his (admittedly near-)certainty that there was no God (again, because it made me feel personally attacked).
I'm surrounded with simple and reasonable explanations against religion, based on observable behavior of religious groups or people, and believable statements against theism in general, to which the only rebuttals, when they are even coherent, which is distressingly rare, are all either taken right out of the Bible or based entirely on the speaker's "feeling God's presence" or something similarly subjective and impossible to demonstrate in a way that means anything to me. I won't state categorically that these people don't feel God (I realize that I probably am addressing some of the people of whom I speak), because I can't prove that they don't; in fact, I hope they really do. The problem is, what they feel, what you feel, stays with them, with you. I can't feel it, and I can't let myself simply take their word for it.
If I've gained respect for intellectuals like Dawkins, there's still one thing I can't pardon in them, or at least in Dawkins himself: when I've heard him speak and someone would ask him about how to deal with the pain and stress of abandoning long-held religious beliefs, he seems utterly bewildered that this could go beyond a simple concern for how this will affect their relations with believing family and friends. He seems to take for granted that religious beliefs are some kind of crushing burden from which one would be glad to be liberated, rather than the order and structure of the world that is violently shaken and blown away. Yes, I am deeply concerned for how this can and will affect my relations with my parents, friends at church, my girlfriend (the only one of the aforementioned to whom I have mentioned this, and I would appreciate that it remain so for a while longer)... but the idea that my life is worth nothing more than its face value just terrifies me. I see nothing inspiring or liberating about the fact that whatever freak occurrence could kill me tomorrow would be the end.
I have never, and will never, have any respect for the gleeful God-bashers who scream "God bestaat niet" and call believers "delusional apes". I refer in the latter case to a certain Brett Keane, who manages run a fairly impressive network of free-hosted websites, including a YouTube channel. He's rude, crude, and barely appears functionally literate (he can't pronounces the word "on", and admittedly appeals to the pro-wrestling mentality in his debating style). The link I just provided is pretty characteristic of his style. Even so, when they do actually address an issue (even Brett Keane on occasion), they can make substantial arguments against it, and the response is never very strong.
Again, I'm trying to avoid just going with who wins a debate, but it seems that if there were reasons to believe in God that didn't come out of the Bible, they'd be pretty obvious.
The complexity of nature has been something I've used for a while to support my version of the idea of "intelligent design"... not the neocon antithesis to evolution, since I've long been able to accept that idea, just that the whole thing wasn't left to chance... but even if there is some supreme intellect that put the whole universe in motion (which Dawkins argues would have had to have evolved from something less complex anyway, but that's beside the point), what guarantees that It(/She/He) has any interest whatsoever in what happens to the world afterwards?
It's funny... I'm not used to the idea of not believing in God yet. Maybe just because I still want to believe in God, maybe because it's just such a deeply ingrained habit. I'm still always looking over my shoulder for God to be there, and when He(/She/It) isn't obviously (not "obviously isn't") there, I feel that letdown all over again.
I want to believe in God, but I want to believe for real. I don't want to make up a God to believe in, and I don't want to believe in a God that somebody told me about or that I read about in a book. I don't even really want to "believe", I want to know.