Sometimes people seem to expect that I don’t believe in God, as if atheism was the natural state for an analytical mind. My analytical friends seem surprised that I have stepped outside the bounds of the provable to make a leap of faith.
Certainly true, believing in God is a leap of faith. But so is believing your life has a purpose – you can’t prove your life means anything any more than I can prove that God exists. I guess there are people that believe their life has no purpose, but I haven’t met many – to my knowledge all of my analytical friends do believe the life they are living will accomplish something, that somehow their life has purpose. Personally, I can’t even imagine living a life without purpose.
If you believe your life has a purpose, then you also believe in some form of greater good. You believe that somehow you, fulfilling your purpose, help advance that greater good, whatever it might be. That greater good might just be helping to lessen the pain of a cruel world, but you still believe the world is better for you doing it. We pretty much all make a leap of faith, we all believe, whether we are conscious of it or not.
It’s certainly possible to build an intellectual framework to support your leap of faith, to rationally support your belief that your life matters. I know some people find comfort in the cold intellectual discipline of doing so. To me this always seemed lonely. And no matter how much it’s intellectualized, it’s still unknowable – it’s still a belief.
I know some people think believing in God is a form of intellectual laziness. I view it as a form of intellectual honesty, of not pretending that one’s leap of faith is something other than faith. Perhaps that makes me a simple man. But it also makes me both a happier and more purposeful man. If you build your own structure of belief you have to spend your time maintaining it – you have to keep convincing yourself that yes, what you do does matter. Time you have to spend convincing yourself that your life has purpose is time not spent pursuing your purpose.
Not to suggest that being a believer in God is easy, but at least for me it’s far, far easier than trying to intellectualize a structure to support my belief that my life has meaning. I can’t describe how comforting it is for me to just believe – to believe there is a God and through God I find my purpose. I can’t describe how empowering it is to believe that I am part of God’s plan.
Also published in Medium