Does God exist? Do I care?

shroomsStressed.

I was so incredibly stressed being God’s child.

Can you imagine being traumatized by something that seemed to govern every aspect of your life?

Religion stresses me out. When I was young, I felt the need to micro-analyze all of my actions to conclude whether or not they violated God’s law; there were always internal clashes inside my head that consumed my time, and consumed my energy. 

Looking back, I essentially had an imaginary religion friend whom I consulted about what was right and if a little lie counted as sin.

This little voice in my head drove me mad. His opinion made me despise myself, and I felt like a felon breaking the law multiple times in a day.

I spent my weekdays reading books, but I spent my Sundays wondering about heaven and hell. For me, it was a waste of time, trying to settle a non-falsifiable issue like that.

On Sundays, I frequently went to Sunday sch0ol. The younger kids went to some form of class that was divided by grade level, and everyone later convened in the sanctuary in a large group to hear a sermon.

How much does my experience differ from yours because my family goes to a Chinese-American church? The sermons are given by two people, one who speaks English and the other who speaks Chinese. When the choir sings, the audience is encouraged to speak whichever language they are comfortable with. I’ve heard from multiple church-goers that our church doesn’t specify/refuses to take a stance on which type of Christianity they defend. Besides an obvious language barrier, our church operates just like any other church.

But does going to church automatically make you a Christian? You might be labeled as one, but it’s not going to transform you into a believer. Some go to church just go socialize.

I’ve played in our church youth orchestra for the majority of high school, but never once had a spat with anyone over faith or religion. It shouldn’t prevent people from convening and doing what they love.

If you believe, you want to connect with God somehow. Prayer is most often the way.

I prayed selfishly. I’d pray when I wanted something, when I knew that my fate was out of my control. I would never pray when life felt alright. I constantly wavered in belief, but always pretended to believe.

I gave up, letting go of religion sometime in high school. Instead of abiding by pre-written morals, I decided to let my experiences dictate my values. Why not figure everything out myself instead of giving into one-size-fits-all rules and regulations?

The Bible and I agree on many of the same principles, but now my conscience is guilt-free and rid of paranoia, and this I prefer to any holy status.

So now, whether or not a God exists is of no relevance to my life.

I am holding a cup of water. I take a sip.

God exists.

I take another sip.

Just kidding, God doesn’t exist. Christianity is a lie.

I take another sip.

NO REACTION BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER TO ME. Religion is no longer a dominant part of my life, and I have no time to waste pondering it.

I liked my 9th grade Old Testament bible class, I swear, I really did. The teacher taught us about more than just Christianity, but also about Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. He had a Jewish rabbi come in and speak to us multiple times, and at the end of the year, our class went on a field trip to a synagogue. And that was the last interaction I’d had with religion, until the second semester of my senior year. I enjoyed it because it wasn’t a one-sided approach to the concept of faith, and gave me multiple perspectives to consider.

 

I highly respect Christians, but that lifestyle is just not for me. Faith isn’t based on someone else; it’s based on me. I am my best motivator.

Who got me into college? Was it God? Was it Jesus? (You never know if Jesus was more than just a carpenter with a Jewfro) No, neither took the ACT and got a much higher score than they expected. That was me, and me alone. It sometimes seems like your fate is in the hands of God when you press submit on the Common App page, but it’s really in the hands of indecisive and capricious admissions representatives at a college.

My mom, on the other hand, is extremely religious, and that has ended up being a good thing for her. Religion is very relevant to her life, and she needs some sort of faith to continue being the well-natured, strong-spirited woman she is. Our differences shouldn’t drive a wedge between us, but there are definitely clashes when we differ over how to deal with hardship.

Maybe the form of Christianity under which I abided during my childhood was a twisted form of religion, and it’s arguably not like that for others, but I felt strangled as a child and the hands choking me seemed to release immediately when I stopped letting the potential existence of a God dictate my life.

20 comments

  1. Atheist

    Apatheism is a fine position to have, but not one that I hold. Especially in the United States, the highly religious anomaly of industrialized western nations, where many Christians want God put into the science classroom and religion dominates politics. Hell, we even have “God” on our currency and in our pledge despite separation of church and state. And let’s face it—the main reason anyone opposes gay marriage is their religious beliefs. Beyond American Christianity, in Islamic nations women face harsh discrimination, and martyrdom is a serious issue that is explicitly encouraged in the Qur’an. I don’t understand how one could observe these explicitly religiously-motivated acts and simply not care. To me, religious tolerance is condescending and immoral. Condescending because it presumes that no one will change their mind in the presence of reason and evidence. Immoral because it allows injustice and violence in the name of religion to continue. Of course we shouldn’t FORCE people to believe anything, but all aspects religion should absolutely be open to criticism. I care enough for my religious family and friends to be honest and tell them what I really think about religious claims, and I can respectfully object to religious beliefs without criticizing a religious person.

    If you really do not believe in God, then I would encourage you to call yourself an “atheist.” Because Americans are so religious, this term has been terribly stigmatized. Atheists are unfortunately thought to be irritable, disrespectful, intolerant, pessimistic, morally depraved egomaniacs who constantly seek to belittle Christians. Luckily, this stereotype can disappear if more regular blokes decide to “come out” as atheists. We have already seen a decline in homophobia as people realize that they have gay neighbors and friends; the same can be true for atheism.

    Yes, the existence of God is unfalsifiable, but so what? UFO sightings, unicorns, fairies, ghosts, and the Loch Ness Monster are unfalsifiable. But do most thinking people believe in them? Of course not. We have more parsimonious, reasonable conclusions that are compatible with our scientific frameworks. There is a difference between “knowledge” and “warranted belief.” I could imagine that underneath the rocky crust of the moon there is a lunar cheese core that behaves exactly the same gravitationally as rock and metal, but no rational person accepts this reasoning because there is a simpler description that makes sense of the moon’s composition in a larger context. I don’t KNOW whether or not God exists, I believe there is no God with the same degree of certainty that I believe the moon is not made of cheese.

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  2. Daveigh Addams

    Seeing as how im via mobile and cant type a decent comment, i hope i can get back to you on this but ill leave you with this quote:

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
    ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditation

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  3. Joseph E Rathjen

    Believing in any god is not about compromising what your mind, wishes and instincts tell you. It is about being comfortable with the fact that there possibly exists a divine power greater than yourself. Faith and religion is not meant to be an instruction booklet or checklist that you live your life according to. Searching for proof that a divine power exists is an exercise in futility. It is what you feel in your heart that matters most. Christianity, Buddhism or Judaism – it really doesn’t matter what the religion is. Too many people compare one religion to another and that is wrong. The one that satisfies your soul and the search for it is the ultimate goal. And if any religion fails to satisfy that quest, then you have to look deep, down inside yourself for another solution.

    Good luck in your quest!

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    • catdiggedydog

      Hope you can agree to disagree, though I do agree with most of what you said above, it’s just not very relevant at this time for a high school student like myself. I love, though, that you are very accepting of all religions! Thanks for reading.

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  4. cra1130

    I feel the same way. I went to Catholic school when I was younger and had that same schizo voice. Now I’m a happy agnostic/atheist. If something is out there, it’s out there, but I’m not going to spend my life worrying about it.

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  5. lerraci

    BTW religion = law & in Christ there is freedom from the law.. this is like YEARS of studying hun..
    just don’t forget the SPIRIT. & find God your own way! not all of this gobbldy RELIGION SAVES bull crap no- JESUS saves it didnt say “then religion came into the world & we were saved” bah humbug! no it says “& jsus came into the world & was given so that whoever BELIEVED on HIM, IS saved” so if you just BELIEVE in God, go about your living & just be like thank you & acknowledge the miracles or little things in life.. a grateful heart is truly a godly heart..He DIED for our sins BEFORE WE WERE BORN geez dont let anyone hold RELIGION over you & your life or even let deception deceive you into think that God is a God that’s gonna punish you DAILY for every little thing- it’s called being sensitive to the spirit, we dont understand it so we ask to understand what the Spirit wants us to understand because if you’re being beat up, damn you are a faithful woman to God! that is true CONVICTION. BUT here’s the catch DON’T MIX UP CONVICTION WITH CONDEMNATION. God delivered you from CONDEMNATION conviction is cuz you have that purity in your heart & you keep seeking after it! & geez trust me i was in the exact place as you, & it comes a lil bit at a time but girl YOU ARE NOT PERFECT. no one is.. so dont try so hard to be perf when only GOD is perfect & we thank God because He is slow to anger & lets us make mistakes.. I learned that through a lot of grace & prayer! remember ! You have freedom to do what you like, repent when you like, hae the relationship you WANT with God not the relationship others tell you HOW TO HAVE with HIM its not their life its YOURS- just some advice & hopefully motivating wordss to help you choose better.. :D
    Much love
    (lol i know i said i was gonna stop babbling but that time, i had to listen to get all that rather than just blab ! Ahahahha)
    So much jooooyyyyyy.. lol <3

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  6. lerraci

    hey! Jesus came to do away religion- don’t forget that in our self righteous, pompous lack of understanding :D haha.. JOKES;) *get it? because Christians have humor! (i have very dry humor i apologize)
    *stands by stroking imaginary beard, thoughtfully.. (though I AM a woman)
    just.. Thoughtfully..
    But, it’s also written to confess so that you’ll be healed.. theres a lot to learn in the mind of Christ, but He won’t take from you your own ideas or wants & needs & whatever you’re for He’s for- in good things.. which i am completely assuming the goodness of human nature.. Some He calls to do his work others He calls just to love- which is like everybody cause we seriously need love- like seriously..
    But, to reassure you.. I only read the first few lines so I would on ly have a few things to say.. :) but, I will continue to read it.. so that i can just
    stand& think… thoughtfully. & watch.
    Also, it’s also written, (Cause i seen yer comment above) Not to draw another away from their God..! all paths lead to God, because all is from God
    yet, He gave us the ability to create (because we’re made in the likeness of Him) & He truly embraced every dark & light crevasse of your being- bad & good
    cause He simply love you! Deeply..
    instead of preaching to ya, know what i mean just sharing a bit of RELATIONSHIP rather than religion! :D look at it that way, it’s all about your relationship to Him & to others not just about how the world sees RELIGION & how it should be heard, learned& taught.. we weren’t meant to conform to anything BUT godly living & to live like God did is to simply just love..
    You’ll be in prayers! :)
    Much love!
    BTW! It’s OKAY to question God! Habbakuk a prophet questioned Him as we all do..
    so stop beating yourself up cause God wouldnt break a bruised reed & we all walking ’round wounded but that only because we’re stronger from trial & tribulations..
    k, nuff of my babble :)
    Hope you find the way!

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  7. Isaac

    Hi Catherine,

    I admire your honesty in your post. Many who have grown up in a Christian household, like myself, share the same sentiments as you. God is a moral judge who imposes a one-size fits all religious law on the human race. He points out all the sinful things about us and suffocates us with our guilty conscience. What you say is true: life without acknowledging the existence of God frees us to do whatever we want, governed only by our own values.

    It is also true when you said that the form of Christianity under which you abided during your childhood was a twisted form of religion. I abided under the same form of twisted Christianity too, until a wise friend told me that God didn’t die to impose Religion on us, He die to have a Relationship with us. Jesus went against religious traditions and rituals – that’s why they nailed him to a cross.

    I would like to encourage you to rediscover a God who desires a relationship with you. I’m not good at explaining things. But I’ll leave a link here if you’re interested in finding out more. This man is frank and does not sugarcoat the truth.

    http://marshill.com/media/religionsaves

    I hope that you’ll find out more about the true nature of God before ruling Him out.

    God bless!
    Isaac

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  8. Writing Heart

    Interesting article. Considering I was just thinking about the fact that I am not into a “limited God”. Some of what was taught to us does define “GOD” at all. I believe God is here all around – real time… Waiting to reveal its many facets in the way that we can actually connect with.

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      • Writing Heart

        Thank you! I think that it’s actually kind of brave of you to even say what you are feeling. So many people have to deny what they are feeling out of fear of being judged, ridiculed, or criticized, but this is how the conversations start ya know! Keep expressing. I believe that God has a way of getting to us through anything!

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        • catdiggedydog

          Haha, thanks, though all I did was express my own opinion. I’m not concerned about being criticized because religion is non-falsifiable and relative to everyone, and I’m not trying to push my beliefs onto others. I am totally content co-existing peacefully with people of all religions, provided that no one tries to preach to the other! :)

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          • lunamoth

            I love reading your blog, because my children are around your age, and I can see a lot of them in your posts. My 17 year old could have expressed these exact thoughts. I think it’s wonderful that you are questioning. I was raised Catholic, and it took me many years to question my religion. However, I think I have taken bits and pieces of a whole bunch of different religions and sort of combined them to be my own personal philosophy. Just an idea for you; read and learn and try to experience all you can about the world’s religions, and then you can make a decision about which one resonates with you personally. Thanks!

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            • catdiggedydog

              Lunamoth, it’s interesting because I think I’m starting to do that! I’ve believed in reincarnation for the longest time, even though none of this “afterlife” business really matters to me right now. Hopefully you can relate to your kids a little better! Thanks for reading! :)

              Like

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