November 3, 2009

These Things I Believe

In the past month I have been asked independently three or four times about what it is I do believe in. This blog tends to focus on why I do not believe in the LDS church, but may often leave the reader wondering about how I view life, the universe, and everything. I hope the following helps.

I believe in the truth. I have never seen it, and I admit that I do not fully understand it, but I have absolute faith that the truth exists and that I can get closer to it in this life. I suppose that I do not feel it entirely necessary to obtain absolute truth in this life, but I do believe what is most important is the seeking of the truth. To paraphrase the old saying, the truth may be the destination, but the journey is what's most important.

Although I do not consider myself an atheist (click here for some thoughts on atheist spirituality), I am open to the possibility. I do not fear the truth even if it means we are all just blobs of flesh with a few short years of existence on a rock. Because whether I like the truth or not is a matter of how I interpret it. Suppose we do discover some day that this life is all there is. In that case it is what it is - we can choose to think of it as devastating, bleak, meaningless, or we can think of it as giving even greater urgency to living life to the fullest now. Many believers I have spoken with end up saying something like "I just have to believe." In other words, the idea of there being nothing after this life is too terrifying to deal with, even if it is true. I feel that, although this may be a comforting route to take, it may ultimately be inauthentic. Even if these are the only few years we have, that is all the more reason to make these years meaningful. I fear that religion too often gives people excuses to delay living life. Believers may suffer needlessly for a lifetime, never experiencing the good that life has to offer, insisting that all will be made right after death. "God will sort it out." While I do hope that justice is served at some point, I do not believe that that is any justification for delaying life. By experiencing life, I do not mean that we should live fast, have as much pleasure as we can, and die young with a big smile on our faces. But to deny one's self happiness for the sake of religion is often unfortunate (e.g., a young LDS football player was offered a position in the NFL, but reluctantly refused so as not to miss church and be labeled faithless; otherwise excellent marriages sometimes never happen because of religious differences). I believe that the ultimate pursuit in life is an understanding of who we are, and how we fit in to this place called the universe. For me, I feel that family and education are the keys to living life to the fullest.

Spirituality means different things to different people. For me, a "spiritual" experience is one that involves giving meaning to my existence. It is something that helps me to feel like a worthwhile organism in the context of this Earth. This is why I have expressed several times on this blog that my family is the most important thing I have; I can be the most meaningful person to my children. This may also be the reason I was drawn to clinical psychology for my profession. By making this life more tolerable for others, I obtain the most meaning for my own existence.

I certainly hope for something more after this life. I am constantly amazed at the complexities of the universe and especially of life on this planet. I make no claims to know what happens after we die. If something happens, I can honestly say that I am doing all I can in this life to know what it is, and living a good, decent, honorable, and full life. If there is nothing after this life, I am spending the time I do have authentically, following conscience, embracing knowledge whether it is what I hope for or not. And if nothing else, I feel that my existence on this planet has been and will be of some good to those around me. As Billy Corgan said, "My life has been extraordinary: blessed and cursed and won."

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