There is a God. Of this I have no doubts. Big Bang Theory. Fine, this I can accept. But where did those elements come from that resulted in said occurrence? In my mind (small and lacking significant study and experience in this field), science has already proved the existence of “God” whatever that may be: You cannot produce something from nothing. Scientific principle. So where did it all come from? Something started it. I do not provide this as a sufficient argument for persuading other people, simply as a basis for your understanding of where I’m coming from.
But, then, if there is a God—and I’m convinced there is—what then is the nature and/or state of this deity? This world is a horrifying place: people in places losing parents, and siblings, and children, and friends, and selves to preventable but appalling diseases every single day. Children who are starving model counterintuitive frames with swollen bellies deprived of nourishment and engorged with worms. It amazes me that Christians threaten nonbelievers with accounts of hell. Hell? Look around; there is no hell as great and terrifying as this. And, what’s worse, we do not all experience the same levels of hell. Many are lucky, or fortunate, or “blessed” enough to never endure such trials. This is nothing more than further evidence that something is amiss with this God I understand, or rather, don’t.
Then God is either dead, or disinvolved, or wretchedly evil. These are, sadly, the only true conclusions I find to be in any way believable within myself. Again, I have no answers here to provide, and I doubt that all the education, experience, and prayer in the world will ever get me closer. (My opinions will certainly change—no doubt! But an answer to the questions posited here today will not be found.)
Therefore, ultimately, the question is not whether or not there is, in fact, a God, but rather, Who is this God?
If I cannot answer this for myself, it leaves me in quite an existential pickle. Without due citation, but rather simple lived experience, I am confident in saying that the human condition is riddled with questions and quests related to meaning, purpose, and existence, much of which culminates in a debate over morality and ways of living. So then, if there is a God, but not one who either still exists, or is available, or worthy of listening to, where does humanity go in this pursuit for what it’s all about?
All of this is simply preliminary background which (hopefully) is sufficient for introducing my claim.
The most essential element to human morality is appreciation, because in truly appreciating things, people, experiences, knowledge, life, one hits on all the other important traits of humanity: sacrifice, respect, compassion, responsibility, perhaps even come conception of love.
So, in this one can see I do believe in universal truths (contrary to claims made by myself in discussions prior), but here is also demonstrated the unstable nature of that state.
One can agree with my position and ask oneself if he is upholding it in his own life. “Am I truly appreciating X?” But then that is open to 6 ½ billion different interpretations in itself. Consider a simplistic illustration:
Am I showing appreciation for my intelligence?
--Yes, because you are working towards a degree of higher education which is a staple of respect for human intellect in our society.
--No, because societal values are immaterial and true appreciation for one’s intelligence is expansion of the mind which is only a talking point in the academy, not a point of action.
--No, because conforming to the many’s idea of what education should be is not being true to the vision one has for one’s self.
--Yes, because there are no correct ways to appreciate intelligence, rather one is doing so in the mere act of taking an interest and making an effort in that direction, whatever that may be.
Here are only four wildly different interpretations; all in a sincere attempt to live up to and embody what I have no determined to be that foundational element in, what I would argue is ultimately morality at its core.
What is to be done? Where do we go from here?
I do not throw out formal religion in its entirety (as a matter of fact I am a member of the First Congregational Church of the United Church of Christ, and a participating element of the choir). As a matter of fact I think a lot of religious people had a lot of great insights into existence and the ways of living. This conundrum with interpretation is an excellent example. Many veins of contemporary Christianity preach to not concern oneself with this world, or, more generally, “What other people think.” In my mind, this is less some grand revelation related to morality and that which is good to concern oneself with, but rather a practical observation that it would literally be impossible to ever take into consideration the nearly countless perceptions of each thing (whether it be idea or action) that a person engages in in his life. One simply cannot do it.
And so I come now to what I really think it’s all about, if not even my theory of appreciation as the cornerstone of human morality.
For me this is about experience. Life is a series of experiences and my aim is to string together as many good ones as I can. This, in my way, is the embodiment of appreciation in my everyday life. I like my “Life’s To Do List.” I revel in the adventure and newness of challenge. If it’s the best, the most, the highest, the deepest, the hardest, the fastest, the steepest, or priciest, count me in. I’m there to engage and learn and not only let being be, but create being in a moment. The experience is an expression of that appreciation which I hold so dear.
But, most importantly, if you take nothing else from this, take but this one point. I mean it in the sincerest and humblest of spirits. This is that “conclusion” (and I use the term hesitantly as understanding life is always a work in progress until the end of one’s life) which I have come to, and only for myself. I believe in sharing positions, in talking out understandings, or lack thereof, and—most importantly—taking the time to think about them to begin with. If there is no sharing, no knowledge, well then I feel, at least as a community, we truly are nothing. And so I share this with you because I felt like putting thoughts to paper (electronic paper as it may be) and because I want to encourage you to, rather than set the alarm, glance at the clock, and settle in for another day, take the time to look up at the stars and wonder.
And please, I beg mercy! This is merely a theoretical perspective on life and existence. Don’t hold me to it all the time. After all, all fall shot the glory.