The Importance of Reason Within The Context of A Faith Or No-Faith Reality and The Power of Truth.
Updated: Apr 11, 2022
A friend of mine recently asked me the question, "Do you truly believe in God? If yes, what is He to you?" Please keep in mind, as you read, that this is my diary not yours, thus, do not expect to read your own opinion on someone else's site. To come with such expectations, to any reading material, would not only be a fallacy but a vastly ignorant and rude attitude towards another's identity. If someone cares to read what someone else has to write, that someone who decided to read should go into it for the purposes of expanding his/her possible knowledge as to why people believe things the way they do, why they act the way they act, why they side with what they side, curious about others' opinions yet never assuming one individual knows all things for this would not just be a big, fat lie but an atrocity to one's own mental integrity. Assumptions are not healthy. Thus, we should manage them carefully. I've come in my path of life to understand how important it truly is to become well-rounded, to go beyond what certain books teach, to expand one's understanding of life, to appreciate and love life, never assuming things about anyone because you do not know what path of life one had to walk, what challenges one had to overcome or face, what sufferings one had to endure. If you will judge, judge after you attained considerable knowledge, but do so, even then, in a kind manner that shows others sympathy and respect is my theory for living. After a myriad of ideologies studied, I have come to the conclusion that the most intelligent and wise of men knew that they possessed the right of judgment only towards the entity of self. But should one fall in the natural inclination of judging another, one should try to put himself or herself in the other's shoes walking away not with sour and hateful judgment of the other but with understanding that life isn't this black and white checkboard in which all of us make up identical pawns. This is my journal, my personal opinion, and thus, it is only for those who want to hear a possibly different opinion or are curious to learn as to why I do not call myself a Christian even if Christianity is the closest to my heart religion that I followed for many years. Why I call myself a woman of God, instead, is a personal reason rooted in a reverence for God that also doesn't allow me to presume things about God which I do not concretely know merely because some men put those things in a book and audaciously called it "God's word" with a proud authority that is questionable. What most people don't talk about is the distinguishing factors that God and religion are not the same entity. Religion is man-made; it is what men made of faith according to their perception. Faith is what a soul makes of God, which is God inspired in the very soul. This much became quite clear to me as a young girl, that if a God existed I did not want him shedding tears because of me. So, I was going to be careful about my assumptions about Him based on what others said or did. I was going to be cautious, never putting God in a box, labeling him, calling him names, pretending to possess authority over things which are way too profound even for me but are in fact above me and my understanding. And I was going to take my time getting to know Him, questioning what I was being taught, what I was being told, never assuming too much about God's very nature and existence - a knowledge only God himself can possess in entirety. This is called wisdom or reverence. And both were and have always been of great interest to me.
In response to my friend, I told him that yes I do believe that there is something or someone, that is bigger than all of existence on Earth. I call it "God" you might call it "universe" but could they not all be the same thing? To me or to you they might not be the same thing, but assuming God and the universe were one, would then not follow that they are of the same entity in the end? Who is to say they aren't? And then you'd say, "Who is to say they are?" We would be here all night going in circles if my objective was to simply see if your mental prowess would be stronger than mine. But my objective is not to win an argument, I told my friend. My objective was indeed to just answer his questions in the best manner I knew how, first and foremost honestly. Both of us agreed, that life was priceless. And we both agreed that there must be something or someone who put it all into motion. How you justify the beginning of all life and how I would justify it might be different, but neither you nor I were there when it happened, I claimed. So, we cannot ever know with indisputable certainty; we can speculate, debate, and decide which side we side with but ultimately neither you nor I were actually there. That is why we call it faith to begin with. We put our faith in many things in life, even other people. However, spiritual faith is a whole other thing. Yet, we both agreed that there must be something or someone who created all the wonders of our world our brains cannot fully grasp because of our human limitations. When we look at the complexities of the universe alone, the frailty of our very existence, and not to mention the resplendent beauty in elements of nature which were there before we were even born, we stand in awe and marvel at "how" this was all formed. It doesn't take rocket science, I said, to be able to note that there is too much to know and learn about our universe which our two pound, approximately in weight, brains cannot fully process. There is overwhelming evidence, that we are not alone on this planet and in the universe. It takes less than five minutes for me to answer your first question, I said. But, the question with the most weight you proposed, I uttered, the question intellectually most profound is "what is He to you?" This is the most important question you could actually have asked me, I concluded.
First, you have to know something about my background, I told my friend. I grew up as a child attending churches, Orthodox and Catholic, learning to pray yet never really understanding who it was we were praying to. I was expected my entire childhood to repeat traditions, words and phrases, which were really just habits, without an explanation as to why. Some were even irrational traditions, not rooted in any logic. I was expected to repeat the father's prayer fifty times in a row as if God was weak of hearing or incompetent to understand the first time what I said. I was expected to follow rituals imposed upon a congregation simply because that is what everyone else around me was doing, worse than a drone who is programed and I say worse because drones have no choice whatsoever in what their programmer does to them; I do and did have a choice because I have a brain to think for myself. To an intellectual child blessed with intelligence, "following the crowd" merely because it's accepted social conduct is not an acceptable explanation for behavior but an absent-minded failure to behave mindfully. God equipped me with the brain power to think for myself, to question, to ask myself questions such as "does this seem right" and "does this seem wrong," ultimately to inquire, learn, question, all of the above, bestowing the privilege upon my life of thinking intensely about matters, evaluating and re-evaluating what others said and thought, before I made a concrete decision of my own. I had always been a curious child, about the world and life itself. Most importantly, I had hunger for knowledge, a blessing in disguise. So if a God did exist, yes I did want to naturally know about him, what was he like, what made him happy, did he love me, etc. My personal faith became my personal actual search, not the brainwashed effect derived from organized religion's misuse of power. It was my personal walk looking for answers from many sources not just one single source. It's foolishness to think that one source is superior to another, for one should always ask himself or herself "in what way?" before coming to definite conclusions. We can learn from animals just as much and often times even more than we can learn from humans, for example, about love. Being open to learning from different sources is not only wise, but smart. And lastly, there is something about wisdom which always appealed to me. I will tell you how the desire for wisdom showed up in my life. It all started with a desire for a bicycle and then the loss of my father.
When I was a little girl, almost every girl that was my friend had a bicycle. I wanted one so badly. My parents couldn't afford it or maybe that just wasn't priority for them, understandably so. I never questioned my parents or blamed them. I had a natural inclination to be understanding. But, I would wait every Christmas for a bicycle. The bicycle never came. I wondered why I, such a well-behaved kid, why I never got the bicycle. A few years later, when my father died, everything changed for me. It was the first time when more than anything I would have wanted my father alive and well. But his desire for alcohol unfortunately turned him into an alcoholic which brought him to the grave at the age of but 45. So, then it finally hit me. Our desires, our very things we crave and choose, define our lives. It became obvious to me, that perhaps desiring a bicycle was just not that really important in the larger context of my life but that to me the desire for the bicycle was just as powerful as my dad's desire for alcohol. The difference is, one would have enhanced my experience of life in a positive way (the bicycle) while the other destroyed my father's life (the alcohol). As a young girl I could never understand why my dad would choose alcohol. Apparently, his desire for it became more important than his desire for his family and his family's wellness. Not only that but his habit became effortless because he did not have to work hard for alcohol. Buddies from work, colleagues, and those who superficially called themselves "friends" would always eagerly provide the alcohol. But, in my case, it turned out that I had to do the hard work to learn, to gain wisdom, to begin to understand things better, on my own. The work ethic to pursue these grand attributes was an important one in my life, one I am most grateful for today. And it also took work to buy my first bicycle, from my very first paycheck I earned at the age of 17. Earning something via work has always been part of my life, since I was a kid. And I am so grateful that this has been the case. I wouldn't be who I am today, if it wasn't for the simple fact that nothing was handed to me in life, not my education, not my faith, not my understanding, not my knowledge, not my very things I enjoyed like the bicycle I later purchased in life. Yet wisdom became central in my heart's ocean of desires ever since my father died. Because that is when I realized the reason why my father turned an alcoholic was not because he wasn't intelligent or he didn't know better. He was actually very bright, an avid reader, exceptional chess player, and very talented man. So, he had the "tools"(knowledge) to commit to better life choices and not end up an alcoholic, unlike me who didn't have the "tools" (bicycle) to have a more enhanced experience of life in childhood. It was because he lacked wisdom why his life turned the way it did. So, after my dad died, I wanted wisdom more than anything. I'd sneak into barren churches before and after school hours, without my family knowing, to pray to God for wisdom. I knew that this was the greatest of all treasures we will possess. This period started my personal walk seeking God and what indeed God became to me and my life. I was 13 yrs old at the time. Like the beginning of all things has a place in time, this was one beginning I could confess I witnessed because I was there when it happened and it was my own beginning to question what indeed was God to me, if indeed he existed. Each person at some point will question if there is a God and decides what God is for him/her. It's a personal quest. What each person makes of their knowledge attained, is his or her responsibility one which shapes over time. It's all an evolution, the mind itself evolves within time and is shaped by the things we learn, read or listen to, believe in, and ultimately choose. This is a fundamental truth about human existence. I was not the type to join any cult. I wasn't a narrow minded child, I explained to my friend. I was a young woman seeking the truth above all else, truth and wisdom. I did want to know God, of course, that too. I did not want to miss out on something like that, if something so grand existed.
Despite my immense love of God today, I do not belong to any particular religion. This is by far my personal choice, out of immense reverence for God himself and my spiritual relationship to God. Any religious belief is in fact a philosophy or series of dogmas based on some philosophies or ideas. The philosophy that my heart leans towards most is known as Deism which comes from the word Deus in Latin, meaning God. What I treasure about Deism was well said by a man whose words were so profound to me when I first read them I could never forget them, the words of Thomas Paine found below. Thomas Paine knew that God equipped him with reason, the ability to think beyond the surface of what something appears to be, to dive deep seeking the truth, and found it repugnant to his reason to think that God designed us to stifle our reason in order to be forced in following a certain belief system when reason is the bridge linking truth and wisdom together. And he knew that religion doesn't teach us this. At least, I never met one pastor or priest who taught me about reason within the context of truth and wisdom. I learned many things but never enough about reason. Reason, like the brain itself, is a gift from God. It should be treated carefully, nurtured, and given great importance because without it we would not have a baseline for conscious thinking. So, it is incredibly important. As is the fact that our love of God should turn us into better people, nicer, kinder, and less judgmental.
For me, a deity as powerful as the God I love doesn't expect or require my worship. He is way above it, way infinitely above it indeed. Is he glad when he sees that I want to love him and do praise him? Yes, I believe this does make him smile and if there was a God I rather him smile because of me than cry because of me. But does he require my worship and love, the answer is, I sincerely believe, no. Any logical being who understands the supremacy of God's nature understands this basic concept. In unconditional love, you don't need a reason to love someone unconditionally but just do. In the same way, God doesn't need our approval, prayers, praise or worship. He will still be the same God as always. Understanding this basic belief will allow a human to hold more reverence towards God assuming he believes in one, a God who doesn't need the church's approval or religious biases that were created because of religion. How many Christians have you met who rebuked you, if you did not call yourself a Christian? How many preached of love in the church and yet cheated on their spouses at home? How many talk about love and kindness but if you did not have a certain "status" you'd not qualify to enter their circles? I am ashamed of such any religion, regardless of what it is called. And one would say "well, those people are not 'real Christians' Carmen," I said to my friend. Right, because a label, a name, doesn't define the substance of the thing it represents. It is our very acts, our actions, which define us as humans. And before we were "Jews" or "Catholics" or anything else, we were but humans. When you were a child, you loved a flower in a field, thought the world of it, and you didn't care what label it had or what others called it. You cared more about what the flower actually is, a beautiful thing in this world to look onto with awe, to be cherished. I love that purity, that innocence. Thus, in the same way, what someone is trumps in importance compared to who someone is.
Most importantly, I shared with my friend how the tendency of most people is to rebuke that which makes them uncomfortable. It is important to question, everything. It doesn't mean we have to become aggressive, rude, disrespectful. Wise people don't; kind people don't. You should know that some people are not good at communication, at tactfully and kindly expressing their ideas, but we should be vigilant about what people we welcome into our lives then too. I believe in the truth and want the truth, even when the truth hurts. I rather listen to one big truth than a hundred lies. I am comfortable and willing to listen to others' views and ideas, as long as there is mutual respect. I don't believe in myths; I want truth. But how we deliver information to each other, how we tell the truth, can and should be done in a kind way, always. We cannot arrogantly call ourselves people of any God centered religion when we cannot deliver kindness towards our fellow men and women. This goes against the very discipline of any religion which expects mankind to be good, to choose good over evil.
I once read something from a Persian wisdom book which was quite beautiful and intellectually stimulating: "People may ask you 'Why do you know God?' You should respond, 'Because he is in my heart.' Look at the essence of life, not with the eyes in your head but with the eyes of your heart. Can you know yourself, if you do not know God?" Perspective is blessed by our willingness to learn from others but the willingness to learn doesn't come effortlessly. But let me revert back to the notion of reason, I told my friend. Our minds are extremely complex. In the third book I am now writing I will be talking about a concept I once read about related to this notion known as bringing order to the mind which is an extremely difficult task for most of us at times. Introspection requires much alone time, for one, and most people are uncomfortable being alone for long periods of time. Thus, ordering the mind is not as easy as baking apple pies or replacing a light bulb. It requires far more effort.
I do believe in reason as a gift from God, I told my friend. And above all things, I believe that should there be a God he would want me to follow reason and practice kindness in the process. Kindness is a beautiful attribute to own for oneself. What is God to me is truth, reason, wisdom, and kindness and yet so much more than I could possibly ever claim to comprehend. Yet, I cannot deny that it is this very notion and belief system in God which makes me crave more the truth, reason, wisdom, and kindness. But this is what God is for me. For you, he might be just an old lady's tale or a myth. I don't ultimately care what God is for you, I said to my friend, for that will be your joy or burden to carry. When you die, if there was a God, I won't be the one questioning you. It is your responsibility, I reiterated to my friend, to reason for yourself and make sense of what life and everything you learned, thus far in life, have taught you. I do want to tell you also, however, what God isn't to me. God is not evil. What that means is that God is good and this must be a good that is pure. So, everything good in my life is me embracing and welcoming God in my life and that purity which is given as a gift rather than an intrinsic quality. In other words, I absorb the quality of God which is pure goodness. Good can be subjective yes, you'd say, to the mind yes. But this is where reason comes in to play it's very important role. You cannot live a consciously sound life without reason. This is my honest opinion, of course, but once again you decide for yourself.
I love God too much, I concluded, in that I could never assume too much about him other than he is love and he is not just love but real love and real love is always good. I don't believe everything I read in the Bible as absolute truth. I'd consider myself mad to and I have reasons for it. I read several religious texts in my life. I've attended many churches in my life. I prayed as a Christian with a Muslim by my side I once loved, in the same room, and he prayed with me in return which was a beautiful experience that left me in good kind of tears. I've prayed in a synagogue with the same love in me as in a Christian church or my bedroom. I don't put people in boxes. Instead, I learn from all that which resonates with me that seems it would be good to incorporate in my life based on reason. What seems utter nonsense or insanity, I don't incorporate into my life. Here is a good example, one of my favorite verses from the Bible is "Every good and perfect gift comes from above from the Father of Lights with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17) It's beautiful to me because it says God is reliable, consistent, and ever truthful but also speaks about God's nature as the giver and creator of everything good and perfect. And yet, despite how truthful and beautiful this phrase is, others are false perceptions on what women should or shouldn't be which is nothing but primitive, sexism arrogance I would think twice before I would assume God would approve of such degrading words. 1st Corinthians 14:34-35 says, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak: but to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame to speak in the church.” It is more than insulting to suggest that women don't have much aptitude to learn anything but if they do learn anything they should not be permitted to speak. This is a disgrace upon all women in existence today. Another example, one of my other favorite verses from the Bible I cherish is, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21) I adore these words and my very life has been inspired by this great truth, reason why I am not a materialist. Yet, 1st Timothy 2:11-15 says, “Let the woman learn in silence with all submission. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” The statement combines forbidding women to speak, keeping them in subjugation, declaring they can never be above man (presumably then always beneath him not ever an equal) and tops it off by proclaiming they have nothing worth listening to. And we call this "the word of God." How dare we? And one that is most creepy to me, is this one from Leviticus 15:19-30. It is utterly disturbing what is being said about a woman's menstrual cycle, which is a God allowed natural biological process. A woman is considered "unclean" for days during this period of time and not only that but anyone who touches her during this time is also "unclean" including what she sits on. This is utterly disgusting to me. "Anything she lies on during her period will be unclean, and anything she sits on will be unclean." Does this sound to you like the words of a righteous and loving God? Cause to me, these words sound like more of some ignorant, immature boys than an entity as loving and as good as God. The woman is considered "impure" because of something she cannot control, something that God allowed for her to experience as a natural biological process as part of her very existence as human. There is some text in the Bible which I consider beautiful, poetic even, don't get me wrong. Such text is worth remembering, anchoring to the soul as a guide for one's soul, but I cannot ever accept that a God who is loving and good would be sexist and this ideology I will never conform to. I live for my soul, ultimately, I said to my friend. This is where the one I call God lives for me. I seek truth and most importantly I long for wisdom in my soul. For me, this is where the light within either grows or fades in any human. Leo Tolstoy, a true scholar who loved God said "the problem is that to obtain wisdom, you must take an independent, serious effort of your own." I agree. Plus, once again, I do not believe in a sexist God, that would be cruel. If God is love, love whom he defines as being always kind, then he cannot be cruel. 1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is patient, love is kind." If God is love, then it logically follows that he cannot be a cruel God who is sexist. And this is just common sense, a common sense God bestowed upon me.
My friend finally understood where I stand. It was a beautiful time, he smiled, I smiled and we both had mutual respect for each other. It was as God would have wanted it. In the end, an atheist and a believer had coffee and tea and nobody was angry, mad, rude, or disrespectful. And this is the way it should be. I think if we could learn to allow others to express themselves, we would get to better understand where they come from. If we allow this in a respectful manner, our relationships with each other would be way better off. Lastly, assumptions are dangerous and rude. Love and kindness, these are always better. So, my friend and I decided we wanted to embrace each other's differences with love and kindness. So, we took our liberty, and practiced this love and kindness towards each other. A man whose many works I read, Leo Tolstoy, once said "improve your own soul, and be confident that only in so doing can you contribute to the improvement of the larger society of which you are part." I ultimately agree with Leo on both accounts, wisdom and the improvement of my soul are important. These are my religion. God, however, is not my religion. He is my God who is above religion or anything man-made. God is love; therefore, God can only be good. And I never have the authority to reduce him to something else. This is my faith and the faith I choose to stick to as a woman of God. It is also my personal freedom to choose to believe that God is love; therefore, God can only be good because this love is true love. And true love is really good love, the only kind of love we should all strive to give and receive.
Wisdom and the improvement of my soul are important. These are my religion. God, however, is not my religion. He is my God who is above religion or anything man-made. God is love; therefore, God can only be good. And I never have the authority to reduce him to something else.
Carmen A. Cisnadean
Written With Honesty
The Only Way Writers Should Write Anything Carmen A. Cisnadean
Author, Artist, Poetess
Woman of God