There is nothing I want more than faith. I want to believe there’s a reason my wife’s cousin’s father died of cancer at a young age. I want to believe there’s a reason my great-grandmother died in a concentration camp. Mostly, I want to believe in an afterlife; that death doesn’t mean an eternity of nothingness.
Alas, I don’t. When it comes to faith, I have little.
It’s an odd thing, faith. I have close Christian friends who believe you can acquire faith; that with enough practice and prayer and spirituality, a faithless person can become faith packed. I disagree. Simply put, one cannot force himself to believe what he doesn’t. No matter how badly I’d like Santa Claus to exist, for example, there’s nothing (perhaps short of a terrible accident that causes me severe brain damage) that will convince me St. Nick is real. The same goes for Jesus. I loooove the idea of Jesus Christ; of the goodness and the love and the every-human-is-flawed outlook. Yet I can’t believe he was the messiah, becauseâ€”to meâ€”it’s just too far-fetched.
I hear a ton of religious people say, “How can you look at a beautiful sunset and not see God’s handiwork!” It’s an oft-repeated refrain, and one that bugs me to no end. Somewhere on planet Oobie, billions of Oobiens are looking at a log of brown, bug-infested dog shit and saying, “How can you look at a beautiful piece of brown, bug-infested dog shit and not see God’s handiwork?” Just as we have been conditioned by time to, say, love the smell of chocolate and hate the sight of spiders, we have learned that the sunset is a spectacular sight, but that a piece of paper the same color as the sun is just, well, blah.
The same sort of logic goes toward humanity as a physical entity. Recently I heard Sean Hannity (hardly one of our deep thinkers) rip into a combative guest by saying, “How can’t a God be responsible for the amazing and complex miracle that is human life?” That’s how we tend to see ourselvesâ€”amazing, complex, miraculous. But if we’re so freakishly special, why do we poop really smelly stuff? Why do we live for what, in all universal measures, is the freckle of a speck of time? Why do we contract diseases? Why are we intellectually limited? Perhaps we’re the opposite of miraculousâ€”maybe we’re the garbage leftovers of a design plan gone terribly bad. Who knows?
The other day an associate of mine raved that, while on a Christian mission to Africa, she witnessed a blind woman regaining her sight through prayer. She also says she speaks in tongues when God moves her. Over Facebook she asked, quite seriously, if I consider her to be crazy. The answer is no, I don’t. But I do sometimes wonder whether faith is a polite term for delusional. Or, just maybe, I’m the delusional one.