Why I’m Not an Atheist (or a Deist)

A few years ago I spoke at a free thinkers meeting. I told the audience that I identified as a truth seeker and wasn’t ready to cut ties with the possibility that life wasn’t just a random chance. As I was wrapping up my talk an older gentleman shouted out, “Why don’t you just come all the way over to the other said and say you’re an atheist. It’s a lot easier.”

He was right. Claiming to be an atheist would be a lot easier. It’s a title that is neat, tidy, to the point, and tells people succinctly where I stand on the issue of God.

Except that it doesn’t.

I’m a researcher. And the more I learn, the more I know what I don’t yet know. With a limited amount of time on earth, I only have so much time to give to any research. My field of study is cognition, or how we think, believe, and learn. It’s a topic of endless fascination for me. I will never live long enough to learn all I can about it.

But I also read books on topics like religion and politics, sexuality, social justice, neuropsychology and a plethora of other intriguing subjects. Though I have a level of expertise on things like conversion therapy, I realize there is more I will never know and never be able to give definitive statements on many of the things I do.

Science, as many of my atheist friends will agree, provides enough evidence to show that life evolved on this planet over billions of years. There is nothing magical about it. Evolution, based on the evidence, is true and undeniable. Nothing indicates divine intervention was or ever has been part of this process. Of course, my deist friends are likely to disagree with the latter statement.

So the question really becomes, if God exists, what is God like? Millions, if not billions of people attempt to answer that question every day. Mostly, their answers only give meaning to their own lives, not the bigger question of who or what God is. Unlike provable science, it boils down to subjective experiences and what we’ve been taught or want to believe God is to us.

But I’m not a deist either. I don’t believe, if God exists, that God is male or female, or even that God has human features. All of those things confine the presumed creator of the universe to a finite form with finite human attributes. The world is too vast and too complex for that kind of God, which reduces him or her into just another world leader. That god would be much too small and much too susceptible to the ugly side of human emotions.

If God exists, God would have to be un-confinable, un-measurable, and unattainable. If God exists, God would likely be found in the math equations that underly the truths of the universe. God would be the invisible and undefinable force we call love, intuition, or spirituality. This God represents all the attributes that make us fully human and a celebrated species.

No, I can’t prove my version of God exists either, and maybe that God doesn’t exist. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change the way I live or treat people. I don’t feel cheated out of an afterlife, or fear death. Instead, I feel privileged to be alive and privileged to love and be loved. If God exists, that’s where I believe God lives.

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