‘God is that which transcends our knowledge,’ is a line I recently heard a fellow named Jordan Peterson say in an interview. I’ve been trying to think about this a lot lately…the idea of God and religion. When I heard this line, I at first felt that it told me that I’m not able to figure God out…because it’s/he’s above my intellectual ability to comprehend. I do feel that that is partly the case. However, that’s just taking the easy way out…ignorance is bliss almost. And, I believe that it’s my responsibility to at least have a better grasp of religion…specifically Christianity, and that God. Since humans created the idea of God, I think it’s in my grasp to understand. I guess some would argue that God created the idea of humans. But I’m just not there. Maybe I will be after more time studying and researching. I’ll speak to this topic from my perspective, and considering what I believe and understand now. And by no means do I mean to offend others through this. I think what Peterson was getting at is that God is without flaw…and sin. And God (or Jesus) willingly took on the sin and suffering of all others. That voluntary undertaking of suffering…that flawless way of being…seems to ‘transcend our knowledge’.
We as humans are flawed in nature. We come up short in many ways. And we are mortal. We sin…which as I spoke about in yesterday’s writing, means that we ‘miss the mark’. Why is that? Maybe it’s the what the Taoists think of as yin and yang. It’s the balance between order and chaos. Part of us is good, right, and alive…constantly learning and growing…while the other part is bad, wrong, and dying off. On a much smaller scale than God, we are capable of willingly taking on suffering and moving forward into are lives. But we are still flawed in nature trying to do so. This is actually a beautiful connection that we all have as humans. I can say that I am flawed. I am not all that I could be. I am not living up to my utmost and fullest potential. Can you say differently? I’m not sure that any human can. In this way, we are all coming up a bit short. And as the Buddhists would say in the first of their 4 Noble Truths, ‘Life is Suffering’. The word ‘suffering’ doesn’t seem to be a literal translation into English, and it’s more helpful for me at least to think of it in terms of stress, chaos, impermanent…temporary.
It is not in my own belief that there is an omniscient being of God, looking down on us from heaven. I don’t live and understand life as though there is a somewhat ghostly Father figure present. In that way, I don’t believe in God. However, looking back and wrestling with these ideas of religion, and considering how they’ve affected and influenced the amount of humans that they have…through love and war…and the fact that these ideas have been created, recorded and carried through time by billions of humans…I can’t just simply brush it all away, thinking, ‘all that is meaningless because I don’t believe in God’. That’s lazy. It’s ignorant. I and we are more sophisticated than that.
In the early stages of humanity, we came up against the idea of right and wrong…or good and evil. We figured out over time what those meant, and the sources and consequences of acting out particular behaviors…the results of having particular thoughts. We developed ethical and moral principles based on these findings or understandings. The Bible seems to be full of stories that very effectively illustrate those principals. I admit that I am very limited in my knowledge of religions…and of Christianity and the Bible. Like I said, I have more work to do there.
But I do hold in very high esteem these ideas of right and wrong…good and evil. I do feel that it’s our responsibility to willingly and voluntarily try to live the right way…try to be good…live with truth, and integrity. I do believe in ‘karma’…although I don’t necessarily like the term. Simply put, I believe the good or bad energy you put out there, in a sense returns to you in some way…probably in some unrelated manifestation. In that way, I do believe in The Path, as the Taoists believe. I do believe in trying to live with less suffering, chaos, stress…as the Buddhists believe. So in that way, I believe perhaps as Christians would, to try to live as Jesus would…doing the right thing, choosing good over evil, loving thy neighbor…doing unto others as you would have them do onto you.
I guess I can gather and appreciate and use all of that without a necessary God. I can see how some religious people would be saying right now, ‘no idiot…that IS God!’ I can see how you may believe that this idea of good and bad, right and wrong began with God, and that I can’t have one without the other. I see your point. I appreciate it and respect your perspective. I’m just not there. I think it’s worth mentioning again that I don’t mean to offend anyone with this piece. I’m just a man seeking out meaning and purpose. I don’t propose that my way is better than your way. I’m not naive enough to think that I’ve ‘figured this out’. Thank you for your understanding.