why God? why believe?

we live in a mostly 'rational' society. that is to say, that we need justifications for everything. why are we here? why do we suffer? these so-called 'big questions' that are pursued (to some extent) by most, if not all, people with the capacity to consider them. if you believe in God, many people will ask you the question, in some form, why do you believe in God? people have their own reasons for believing or not believing. atheists and agnostics mostly have criticisms regarding certainty, or blind faith; the existence of suffering; negative personal experiences with organised religion; criticism of seemingly pointless rituals, and so on. but the question why do you believe in God? is best divided into two questions, as in the title of this essay (but reversed) - why believe? and why God?

why believe?

everyone wants to survive, and then to thrive. we want to maintain our lives so we can achieve meaningful lives. people find meaning and community in various things - sports, work, politics, religion. for many people, life is a matter of continuous accumulation of wealth, assets, and material goods. this may be motivated by vague ideas such as success, significance, and ambition, but undoubtedly measured within a capitalist framework. the problem with most meanings is that they are entirely constructed by human minds - and are thus just as fallible. they are easily questioned, and easily fall apart. the same can be said for religion - every religious person will have moments in their lives where they have questioned their faith, and in many cases have come out stronger for it. you need to understand why you believe the things you do, and that is the entire purpose of this essay.

the fact of the matter is, the world is vastly lacking meaning. the majority of the population go about their daily business, completely alienated from their work, working for a subsistence paycheck and the limited free time that they can 'earn' from their benevolent employers. this issue of the soul, however, can't be solved by all going freelance. and indeed, though the material needs of the population could be satisfied through a thorough dismantling of capitalism, a socialist revolution that would eventually change the population's psychology to a more collectivist one, religion serves a similar purpose on a spiritual basis.

belief assures one that there is more than oneself in this world. it is the ultimate denier of solipsism - you exist only due to a divine power, as does everything else. the blade of grass you step on is as much the creation of God as you are, the only difference that humans were created in the image of God to act as stewards over the earth. it could be simple to say that the blade of grass doesn't take care of anything, but anyone with a knowledge of plant life and ecology would assure you quite the opposite. the world is endlessly complex, seemingly chaotic but in fact very unified. the rejection of grand narratives, postmodernism, and chaos theory serve to confuse the general population - a notion that the world is beyond our understanding and thus incapable of being changed. religion (speaking perhaps specifically to judaism here) has a quite different understanding. the world is complex, but tikkun olam, or repairing the world, is necessary - this world was created by divine authority, but we as humans still have a role to play not only in maintaining or stewarding it, but in fact repairing it, an admissal that no creation is entirely perfect. we all play a part in this world, and thus we have created and destroyed things and the world has changed over time since it was created.

a belief in something bigger than oneself is essential for a positive outlook on life. in order to save the world, you must believe it is worth saving. most religions are more concerned with deed than strict belief - it does not matter entirely why you do something good, as long as you do it. although some religions, christianity for example, say that belief is necessary to be saved, you would be hard pressed to find a christian who believes some great world-changing figure is a bad person purely due to the fact they don't believe in jesus. religion as a world-view is one that is not solely based on God but also on humanity, on the world, on society. all religious people should aim to create a world that reflects their values, and see this as an essential part of their religious practice as much as any other kind of worship. showing love to God's creations, God's creatures, and ensuring their survival and wellbeing is a high form of showing respect and admiration.

why God?

having established the purpose of belief, the next question is naturally but why God? how come a single deity is responsible for all of this?

there is beauty in unity. the world is wholly interdependent - we are born dependent, we die dependent, and we live dependent, as much as some people would try to argue otherwise. the whole world emanates from a single source - God. rastafarianism uses the concept of 'livity' to describe the force flowing through all living things that is rooted in God. the 'one love' mantra reflects this belief, we all exist in oneness and must thus treat everything as if it were an extension of ourselves, our own family. familial metaphors are often used for God, most often 'father' but God has undeniably maternal characteristics too. the infinite God exists undoubtedly beyond barriers of gender and sex, and this parental metaphor is merely that, something to help humans understand the infinite and incomprehensible God and God's Ways. much like a parent, God has brought us into this world, taught us all He can (in giving us sacred texts) but must then contract in order to allow us to learn and grow. at times, He could stop us from failing, but that would also stop us from learning from our mistakes. at times, suffering happens for no reason - and it is our job as humans to learn about it and try to prevent it. God has given us all a revolutionary spirit, and we must nurture it to repair the world.

we should pray not to beg God for things, but to praise God for what we have already been given, in order to make us thankful and change our worldview into a positive one. in the face of a complicated and harsh world it is easy for faith to waver, but we have to consider every piece of the puzzle, we must use the thinking skills we have been given, we must use every tool at our disposal in order to live holy and righteous lives, and lift up the world in the process.

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