Does God Exist?
To those of us who enjoy a good argument now and then, few topics can generate the buzz a debate regarding the existence of God can. Having been raised in a religious family, left the church of my youth, and fluctuated between agnosticism and atheism for the better part of two decades, I have had my share of them myself.
But once the thrill of the argument has worn off, the feeling that there must be a better approach to spirituality than the either/or choice that the God vs. no God debate forces upon us remains. Having watched and rewatched Bill Moyers’ excellent series of interviews with the late American mythologist Joseph Campbell, I’ve long felt strongly there had to be a third way, even if finding it has until recently proved elusive.
Most people are neither theologians nor philosophers. Furthermore, we live in a world that is flooded with information like never before in our history. Like a detective in a cheesy 1950s era crime show, we are increasingly inclined to demand the people and institutions we deal with every day just give us the facts. Life, we think, will be much simpler that way.
But spirituality is not a fact-based way of relating to the world. That isn’t to say it’s not true, but that truth in this context means something different than it does when we’re seeking answers to scientific or historical questions. That myth has, in the minds of most, become synonymous with falsehood only underscores how atrophied our sense of the sacred has become.
The truths our various myths and rituals guide us toward, or at least used to, are intended to foster understanding the same way poetry or music does. Viewed in this way, arguing over whether Noah literally fit two of every living land creature on the planet into his ark or whether there’s any evidence to support any of the Buddhist stories regarding the Buddha’s past pre-enlightenment lives is like arguing whether Beethoven’s Ode to Joy or Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is factually accurate.
Some readers might protest that it’s one thing to say the story of Noah and the flood isn’t true in a factual sense, but it is quite another to say the same of God. Yes and no. A supreme being or ultimate source is surely what all our…