A Pragmatist’s View of God

Recently, I have seen a TV documentary where the producer tries to find out the reasons why people believe in God. He interviews a clergy, a scientist and an atheist to obtain different points of view. In the end, he still finds the answers unsatisfactory. His major concerns are — lack of proof and outside influence on a person’s judgment. On the contrary, I think his concerns are precisely the reasons why people believe (or disbelieve) in God the Almighty. They do it for practical reasons, whatever those may be.

I was a Buddhist at young age due to the influence of my mother. I loved Mom so I followed her. Later I attended a Catholic high school and got baptized because I thought my school and teachers were cool. My religious view is maturing as I grow up and age. Now, I don’t follow all the rules set by my church for it is an imperfect organization run by corruptible men, like all churches are. On the other hand, I find many religious teachings inspirational and timeless, such as “Love thy neighbor as thyself”. By contrast, I find the Bible’s narrative about Creation approaching a fairy tale. This is part of the reason I don’t follow the Bible literally.

Despite all the above, my faith in the Almighty never wavers because I feel that it is good for me in a spiritual way. They may call me a no-good Christian, but I want to be an enlightened one instead of a blind follower. Although I am a Catholic, I never believe that my religion holds the monopoly to salvation. Other religions can help save your soul for they also advocate love, kindness, mercy and goodwill. A religious person seeks salvation through his/her good deeds and by believing in non-material ideals more than strict adherence to church teachings.

Believing in the Almighty is a complicated undertaking. It will alter your world view, your relationships with others and your life. It’s not as simple as believing in a famous personality on TV or radio. Therefore, one needs to learn to believe at an early age (like me) through outside influence. That is perfectly fine for it is how life works. You first follow then question then decide. This is how you mature and become wiser. I started to believe and follow a religion when young, began to question when I went to college, and have decided to follow my religion in whatever way I think is good for me for many years now. If you are still thinking about whether you should believe, how much time do you have left?

Some of my friends don’t want to believe anymore, but my faith remains unshaken. The reasons are simple: If I choose to disbelieve, what do I have to fall back on? I don’t want to believe in something less than the Almighty or something coming from the material world such as money. Believing in nothing does not give me any security or comfort. There is no atheist proof that the universe comes together just by mere chance, let alone my own life. Thus my belief is mostly based on selfish pragmatism. I believe because I want to. Others disbelieve also because they want to. To seek proof of the Almighty’s existence to justify one’s belief or disbelief is only a pretense, not logic.

Being an imperfect human, I fail to see or understand many things. Even those things that I see may give me a wrong impression. One example is that I can see my thumb in front of me bigger than the tree farther away. Is what I see a reality? So I never use “Seeing is believing” as a standard. What if the devil makes me see him and I wind up believing in him? Those who employ this standard for the Almighty is naïve and simple-minded. They will never see the Almighty, but if they think deeper, they may see in a different light. It’s all up to them. God help those who help themselves.

Some people say they will believe when they see a miracle. When you open a newspaper or access the Internet, there are miracles occurring every day. Some people survive in an air crash, a deadly accident, a natural disaster or a grave illness. You will also find a miracle or two happening in your own life if you care to look (I’ve found a few in mine). In fact the world is a miracle because it does not fall apart due to the miraculous interactions of all the natural laws such as gravity, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, nuclear forces, electricity, magnetism, genes, evolution and so on.

The Almighty reveals His powers everywhere we look. Many believers wonder why He allows so much sufferings and pains in this world. This is something we need to think deeply in order to better understand the purpose and meaning of life. Different religions offer their own unique perspectives. As a pragmatist, I like to remind myself of “no pains no gains”. Pain is not something bad although many people are afraid of it. I think that pain is a purifier through which we will be able to find truth and salvation.

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