Is belief a necessity?

Re: Why believe?

Being an amateur in religious studies, I was really surprised when I came across Pascal's wager for the first time not too long ago. I had gone through a similar kind of thinking as I grew from an agnostic into a believer, or I should say when I chose to become a believer.

As a child I was a natural believer and I can remember moments of yearning for the day I would pass into the next realm and all the things I did not understand would become clear. My idea of heaven was knowledge and wisdom. But then I was "educated" in religion and this lead me into doubt. Spirituality, it seemed, was some kind of inborn faith in all kinds of fantastic and supernatural things and I was disappointed because I was skeptical of all that. I drifted into agnosticism.

Interestingly, while my early religious training made me skeptical, the more I studied science the more amazed I was at the miracle of life and existence. Now, I don't believe God needed to somehow guide evolution for it to create life as we know it, but at the same time the intricacy and beauty of it all just puts me in awe. The day I learned how some genes in viruses can encode two different proteins, one in a forward-reading and the other in the reverse-reading direction, well, it was nearly a religious experience.

As for Pascal's wager, well, I guess I thought through a very modified form of it. I was not choosing between Catholicism or Atheism, potential heaven or potential hell. First, I just chose to believe in Something More. Some Purpose to give meaning to life, to make the choices I make matter. Something to explain compassion and justice and thankfulness. Realizing that choosing to believe was absolutely as rational as choosing not to believe was the liberating point. Faith is just that and God can not be proven (although as many demonstrate here, God can be experienced!). Just choose. After that journey begins. It's better than just sitting on your thumbs until you die!

I must confess to some envy of those of you who have tasted merging with the Godhead, or Ground of Being, or Ocean, or Nirvana, or whatever metaphor touches you in summing up the experience. Maybe someday I will experience something similar. But until then I will have to be content to stand on the shoulders of giants, giant thinkers, before me. In my very limited brain and heart I can not recreate the wisdom of all the sages and prophets and Messengers of the past. I will try to be content reading and meditating on their legacy, in the Bible, the Quran, the Sutras, the Kitab-i-Iqan, etc., in the light of science, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit.

" every face, he seeketh the beauty of the Friend; in every country he looketh for the Beloved. He joineth every company, and seeketh fellowship with every soul, that haply in some mind he may uncover the secret of the Friend, or in some face he may behold the beauty of the Loved One." (Baha'u'llah, The Seven Valleys)

Sorry for the long self-indulgent post!


"When our souls touch again in the Great What's Next, we'll have a good laugh over how wrong we both were."--me
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