Religion is something that can both bring people together and put a great divide between them. It is something I have never put much thought or value in. I've always straddled the fence between believing in a higher power and straight up atheism. For me, it's hard to believe that the universe formed by chance, just as it difficult for me to believe that God, or this great cosmic deity, created everything. Neither makes sense and both rely on faith of some sort. Faith in the power of the universe to create something out of nothing, or faith in a God or gods. After much debate within myself, and a conflict of the head and heart, I feel like I've drawn a somewhat logical conclusion.
As humans, I think we all want to leave a legacy, and feel like our time on this earth isn't all that we're given. We like to value ourselves so much that we end up needing an afterlife, because we're just so wonderful we can't simply die and be done with things. Most all religions speak of an afterlife of some sort, where our souls go after we die. If you live a moral life based on the practices of your faith, you will be rewarded with many virginal wives, or a mansion and streets of gold. If you live an immoral life, or do not subscribe to a faith, you will end up being punished in Hell or something of the like. Why do humans feel so entitled? Just because you live a moral life, you think you deserve riches and glory after you die?
Personally, I believe that's just selfish. I think the reward of living a moral life comes in the form of knowing you've helped someone who could not help them-self. I agree, life is too short. Instead of putting all your stock in an afterlife, why can't we focus more on enjoying the time we are allotted and live a life of love. Love for our families, love for our friends, love for our fellow man, and love for ourselves. Many religions teach that love for oneself is simply selfish and that we should ultimately only love God. But that seems hypocritical. If there is a God, and God created you, wouldn't it be wrong to not respect and love this vessel provided to you?
Much as George Washington warned against political parties in the early formation of the United States, I believe if there is a God, God is universal. God has no gender, no beginning, no end. God is in every man, woman, plant, animal, cloud, atom, molecule. If this is the case, I feel as though God would not want the people It created to be divided among different denominations and religions. If a closer look is given to some of the main prophets of the world, ultimately their message was the same. Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad all spoke of loving those around you, being kind and generous, not being judgmental, respecting ourselves and others, and about being grateful for the lives that we are given. Whether or not you believe all of the prophets, one or none of them, they all had a similar and wise message.
God does not want human beings to focus on separating themselves from others, I believe God would want people to come together. Stop drawing lines in the sand between your faith and the faith of the person next to you. If we were created in the image of God, are we not all divine, regardless of what faith we subscribe to?
With that being said, here's what I believe: There is a God. This God is not a Christian God, Muslim God, African Goddess, Norse God, etc. This God is a universal God. It is in everything, and is the beginning and end of all things. When we die, we wont go to a specific level of Heaven or Hell; when we die we will return to the Earth and be recycled into the universe. I believe everything in this universe is cyclical. The circle appears in many forms and has many connotations. To me, that is significant. I don't need a mansion when I die or streets paved with gold. I believe there is beauty in becoming one with the Earth, being recycled into a plant, being food for insects and animals so that life may continue once my time has expired. It is the circle of life. Instead of worrying about what others believe in, who they pray to, how many wives they have, their sexuality, their race, or their political affiliations, I am going to chose to love everyone around me. I will strive to live a life free of judgement and hypocrisy. I believe that in living a life of love, giving to those in need, helping those who need a second set of hands, and respecting myself, I will please God. I will be closer to what God intended when mankind was created.
God doesn't have to be a wizened old man, with a white beard, sitting atop a throne surrounded by angelic beings, in a constant battle with evil forces. For me, God can be the universe. God can be nature. God can be me. We are all connected, whether through the sharing of atoms or connections between souls. I think we should stop trying to separate ourselves from others who are not like us, and come together. When we create a unified, loving, and respectful unit of one, we are the closest we will ever come to knowing God.
Lindsey. Twenty-Five. Currently pursuing a degree in Professional Writing & Film Studies.