Since the beginning of the year, I have posted some entries to this blog in which I state that an atheist could believe in God, examine how I might have introduced the term “metapersonal God” to the Google-searchable record of human discourse, and expound on the difference between believing in a supernatural god (spelled with a small g) versus believing in a non-supernatural metapersonal God (spelled with a capital G). Because others may be skeptical of the consistency or merit of an atheist expressing belief in a metapersonal God, let me offer up here some additional rationale for why I choose to do so.
As discussed in the previous post on this topic, the metapersonal non-supernatural God that I choose to deify is…
“ALL that (a) is distinct from the authority of the ideas I hold dear and (b) helps me in the natural process of how my perception of what I am compelled to do is positively influenced by those things that I learn when I vigorously question … the authority of the ideas I hold dear.”
Also, I look for guidance from that God…
“so that my emotional heart is opened to accepting an authority beyond that which I may hold dear in my all too often human moments of weakness, anger, hubris, frustration or despair — or any such self-destructive ways of being…”
You may have noticed that “the authority of the ideas I … hold dear” is mentioned twice in this summary. From this, one may wonder how I could believe in anything if I am willing to question the authority of ideas that I value greatly. It’s quite simple: I have come to believe that I believe things regardless of whether I choose to question the ideas of those things. As such, the decision to question the ideas related to those beliefs at best could change my beliefs but never eliminate all of my beliefs in things.
I also believe that a characteristic of a human being is to have beliefs regardless of intents and/ or emotions related to such beliefs. In other words, I may believe in things even if I don’t want to. But important to this discussion are those ideas that I am emotionally attached to “in my all too often human moments of weakness, anger, hubris, frustration or despair — or any such self-destructive ways of being…” In other words, when my emotions get the better of me and interfere with my ability to make the most of the opportunity that I have with my natural life.
So, why do I rely on using the word “God” to do so? Because I have realized that doing so is a very powerful focusing device for my very human mind that helps me to accept being wrong when I am most emotionally resistant to doing so based on what others may be sharing with me, in person or otherwise. In other word, it provides a powerful check on my ego when I most likely need one. And the more I focus on the authority of “God” on such matters versus my own ability to reason out when my ego needs a mental hip-check — or more — the easier I find being able to keep my ego in check.
So why not use a different word to represent an externally-based authority, but one without supernatural meaning that typically associated with the word God? Frankly, it is probably due to my religious upbringing having already imbedded in my psyche the meaning of a metapersonal authority that I would do better for myself by recognizing. I have simply reached a state of belief that this authority has a completely natural basis, even if I may not be able to completely describe it. In other words, God’s completely natural basis is a point of faith for me that I am completely comfortable with even though others may not be comfortable doing so or even outright reject this notion. Others may use a different word to reference such an authority. I have simply settled on using the word “God” to do so.
With that said, let me offer up this clarification on this matter, which surely includes some repetition from above: I choose the word “God” because my human mind more easily recognizes this otherwise amorphous authority, and as a mental discipline, makes it easy for me to draw emotional strength from recognizing it coming from one source even if the manifestation of that authority can be from any thing that is outside of me. And as I choose to recognize it from one source, it makes it easier for me to invoke that source for guidance and assistance when I most dearly need it.
In fact, from what I only recently learned, the etymology of “God” suggests that its earliest root word in human language means that which is invoked, or called upon, for assistance, guidance, and/or inspiration. How convenient that a word already exists that I can use to reference an authority that is outside of myself that I have chosen to recognize as supreme AND which helps call upon in my mind to help me make the most of the opportunity of my natural life, even though I put no faith in supernatural interpretations of that supreme authority.
At the same time, because so many people before me have spent so much of their energy examining, discussing, writing, and debating what guidance human beings can get from looking to “God”, e.g. the countless texts motivated by belief in a supreme-and-external-to-any-particular-human-being authority that motivated/motivates the Judaic, Christian, and Islamic faiths, volumes of material already exist for me to explore, study, meditate, and yes, even pray about, that might help me in my life. How fortunate I am that others have cared enough about this matter to have written those thoughts down, made them readily available online, and/or are inspired enough to share them with me in person!
That being said, there is an aspect of my faith that is arises from my atheistic belief that many with other faiths would object to, and it is this: I try to keep in mind that no particular individual or faith has a monopoly on the truth about God, regardless of the number of followers that a faith may have, nor how strongly an individual may believe/feel about their faith, including myself and my atheistic faith. Because all of us are simply human beings, subject to various levels of cognitive biases on even our very best of days, as well as ruled very poorly at times by our emotions in our lesser good moments.
Has any of this discussion of a metapersonal God made sense to you? Or did it leave you wondering whether this atheist is off his rocker? Whatever your answer to these questions, please know this: I have gained an immeasurable level of peace in thinking of God in this way, as well as effectiveness in appreciating others’ perspectives on God absentthe angst that I previously struggled with in trying to frame for myself, as well as others, what I believe regarding God. And with realization, the following personalization of a passage from the holy text of a well-known monotheistic faith sums both a standard and objective for why I share to explore my thoughts on the subject of a metapersonal God:
“Let no unwholesome words ever pass [my] lips, but let all [my] words be good for benefiting others according to the need of the moment, so that they may be a means of blessing to the hearers.” — Ephesians 4:29, Weymouth New Testament
With that said, I surely could have benefited from reviewing and contemplating the merit of this passage before I had engaged in an online debate-of-sorts with a fellow atheist in the midst of posting other entries on this topic, a summary of which you can review in another entry on this blog — if that sort of thing interests you.
Whatever you decide, keep well until next time.
The Tightwire Guy