Posted by: gcarkner | September 24, 2012

Prayer of a Curious Skeptic

Dear God, Buddha, Allah, Confucius, Plato, Krishna, Beings from other planets, Jesus, the Universe, Etc. Is anyone out there? Do you care? Can’t you have a meeting and send us one rep? This pluralism is really confusing.

OK, right, this is awkward. I don’t really believe in you anymore. I’m kind of still angry with my  father who dragged me to church and forced religion on our family. It’s just not cool with my friends you know to think or talk about spiritual things; they are all agnostics or atheists, singing the praises of Richard Dawkins or A.C. Grayling. They are big on science and extreme sports as the way to go. Is that faith?

One of my social science profs is keen on Nietzsche, will to power, self-assertion therapy. He also likes Foucault’s idea of self-invention. Is  Foucault a neo-Nietzschean? I’m concerned about my career big time–medicine I am hoping. At university, there is a litany of complaints about religion, every day. Perhaps you should send an envoy to address some of them? Science & Religion seem like oil and water or worse. Faith seems like wishful thinking or pure emotion, something for weaklings, an escape from reality. Be realistic they tell us. Be rational.

But just in the outside chance that you, whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you are, are real and that my fellow agnostics, skeptics and atheists are a bit overconfident, I have some questions that I’ve wanted to ask. I heard of Justin Barrett, a cognitive psychologist from California, who claims that 90% of people around the world believe in some kind of supernatural being or ground of existence. He says believing in God comes naturally to us, that we are hard wired for religion. I have a lot of doubts, and I still have this hangup with my Dad.

Why are you so hidden if you run the universe? You have a very low profile for being so omniscient and omnipresent. A spot on CNN maybe to update humanity? At least a Facebook or Twitter account, I suggest.

What’s the deal with the terrible violence, human suffering and injustice? This is very disturbing. I just hate it. Can’t something be done to stop it? Do you care?

What is love anyway? I don’t get it. Frustrating, illusive stuff. Aren’t people just out to manipulate one another for their own interest? How do I sort out reality from fantasy here? Is it more than sex or an emotional high? My last boyfriend hurt me so much. It knocked me down for months.

I sense the need for more substantial meaning but I am afraid of looking the fool, hoping for too much and being disappointed. Partying is not doing it for me anymore. I’m so damn lonely. I really wonder if there is really anyone I can trust, even my friends. They are often manipulative and exploitive.

Things are so complex. Is there a formula for happiness I’m not getting? Does Brené Brown have the answer in her vulnerability discourse? Sometimes I think life, academics, parents, others expect too much of me. I feel guilty all the time in trying to meet others expectations. The stress is not fair!

So many worldviews on offer; so many games in town. How do I choose? How do I know what’s true and bogus, aside from all the shouting, the rituals, images and outfits?

It is an awesome universe and nature is fantastic; hiking, biking and skiing gets me high and feeling good, above my problems.  I am inspired by the beauty of these mountains and the vastness of the ocean, the size of the cosmos, the mystery of the early morning fog. That’s something that speaks to me. Are you in the fog?

I’m trying to be honest with myself, but it is really hard. Is it all just a game we play until we die, this search for self, identity and meaning? How do I get above my basic desires and fears, all this anger inside me? Are we humans any different than other animals? University seems so full of paradoxes and irony. Smart people do some really dumb things.

Morality confuses me, but I sense there is something to it, living for some good cause or some ideal, save the planet, feed the poor, cure a disease, help the refugees. I don’t like it when people cheat or lie to me. There have to be some trusted parameters for human relations.

I sense I need something to believe in more than work and romance, a source of inspiration beyond survival, paying bills, a mortgage. Is there an article or book I can read to sort this out? A class maybe? A brilliant person to mentor?

Please respond….Sarah <@sar_ah>

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