My default position is to believe in the existence of God. But there have been periods in my life when I have been without such belief. At those times I have simply willed myself back into believing in God's existence. To put it simply, I have chosen to believe in God.

Recently I have been wondering if I could achieve the opposite. Could I will myself into not believing in God? Most of my existential angst is down to my certainty that I was called by God to be a priest, a belief that is validated in my mind by the Church's acceptance of my calling. The fact that I am now being prevented from fulfilling my vocation by the rulers of the very church I feel called to serve has caused me to become confused and overcome with feelings of uselessness and anger. I am certainly unfulfilled in life.

If God did not exist then I would feel a fool for having spent so much of my life worshiping a non-entity. But my vocation in life, to serve God as a priest in the Church, would be void. It would be pointless. I would be let off the hook. I could join the legions of non-believers in their accidental universe where nothing has any value so failure is a measurement without any value. It's a horrible and depressing thought but far easier to comprehend than the ambiguity of the divine whose reality never seems to live up to what has been promised.

This is not an attempt to disprove the existence of God. That is as impossible as proving God's existence. It is the raising of the question, would we be better off not believing in God? Or rather, as we all must find our own delusions to cope with the pain of life, would I be better off without my faith? If I lived the life of the good atheist and if the God I no longer believed in is truly as merciful as I once believed then surely I risk nothing and may even gain peace of mind.


THE BURDEN OF GOD — 3 Comments

  1. Hmmm… I am wondering if I have a default position? Maybe I do not.

    My ancestors never thought of whether or not to believe in God. We account ourselves about the same way the Bedouin do. They do not say they believe, the say rather that they are the faithful of God. So too, the Rom.

    A long ago spiritual director once told me that the reason one prays is not to gain things, but rather to become more like a person who prays. That may be another way to say it. I do not pray because I believe — I pray to be more like those who pray.

    I do not see that as a paradox.

    I do not know what you need to do to gain some sense of self and peace. If letting go of both your default and your vocation could lead you to a place where you were relatively secure and peaceful, maybe it is a good idea. God certainly will look at you in the context of the stunningly bad leadership in the CoE, and make the right call. Or if he does not, why do we care about him?


  2. I am a child of the High Places . . . literally, just about all the best experiences of my youth (and many in my adulthood!) were in the Sierra Nevada, and other mountains.

    I believe it was a moment as a young adult, when I was in the Sierra on a snowy day, and the setting sun burst through the clouds and struck Castle Peak, and

    I. Just. Knew.

    I knew God was Real, I knew Love was TRUE.

    And for all the sucktasticness I’ve experienced since (there’s been bunches!), my faith has been solid as that mountain. [Blergh, grounding my faith in my vocation?! That sounds like a *curse* to me… ]

  3. Canon Jim Glennon of Sydney Australia came to a point where he said death would have been a welcome event and then he sensed that God was teaching him to depend on Him more. He made that a way of thought and a way of life and found that if he used every difficulty to depend on Him more that God came through with the power of Christ. In the meantime he practiced affirmations that God was helping him, God was healing him, God was making all things new. He was transformed by the renewing of his mind.