I have a really good friend of mine that sent me an email a long time ago. He was asking people about spirituality and their opinions on it. As an atheist, I was honored to be included in the list of people to participate. I tripped on my response today (I saved it) and thought it would be interesting to share. I think the questions were really insightful. Hopefully the answers I gave were as well …
It seems relevant today.
How would you characterize your spiritual beliefs?
I do not have any spiritual beliefs.
Do you personally believe there is such a thing as truth? Please explain why you believe what you do.
I think that “truth” is subjective. Each person has their own beliefs that they perceive as “truth”. Just browse Facebook for evidence 🙂
Let’s say someone tells you they believe their sacred text represents truth. What do you think about such a person and their assertion?
My personal belief is that people feel better if they feel they know the “truth”. Life is uncertain and the belief that you have the “truth” gives you something to anchor your life on. I personally, do not believe in “sacred texts”. There are too many of them. Charles Manson viewed the White Album as a sacred text, and we all know how that turned out 🙂
If there’s one thing you wish Christians would understand, what would it be?
My answer to this is not specific to Christians, but to all religions really. Every religion is a variation of the same theme. A metaphor that at its core has the same structure with all of the others. I would love it if people could take a step back and see the similarities in belief systems and how they are translated for different people, rather than just rejecting other religions because the details are different.
Joseph Campbell did a documentary called “A Hero’s Journey” in which he outlined the basic structure of all myths / religions. One quote that I really liked was the following:
“God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought, even the categories of being and non-being. Those are categories of thought. I mean it’s as simple as that. So it depends on how much you want to think about it. Whether it’s doing you any good. Whether it is putting you in touch with the mystery that’s the ground of your own being. If it isn’t, well, it’s a lie. So half the people in the world are religious people who think that their metaphors are facts. Those are what we call theists. The other half are people who know that the metaphors are not facts. And so, they’re lies. Those are the atheists.”
I think there needs to be an understanding that each person needs their own “metaphor” to ground themselves and that metaphor may be different for different people. Thats the problem that I have with “truth”. The perception of “truth” causes separation.