Religion and Reality

A few days ago someone wrote to me about their difficulty blending religion and reality. This person asked questions (rhetorically) that most thinking religious people do: If the gods made the universe, who made them? How did they create the universe? Etc.

I responded to this person very honestly, writing that I often wonder the same things myself. I come from a background heavy with math and science, and questions about the reality of my beliefs have often kept me thinking about how a rational person can believe in super beings who know and can do all. It sounds pretty silly to me when I put it that way, and yet, I still belive in them.

In all that thinking, though, I was forgetting something very important: feelings. We are all much more than our rational brain, even (especially) when pretend that we are not. Mathematical formulas and physics may rule the physical world, but they do not rule our hearts. Try finding a formula for love!

Religion is what is needed to tame our internal world. And just as that internal world is illogical, so is the system (religion) that we use to explain it. I don’t think our rational mind will ever be able to explain religious beliefs, nor do I think it should. The symbolism and allegories used are too far beyond its grasp, and I think it is best they stay there.

Religion brings both comfort and mystery to life, something that science and math cannot do. Trying to explain religion rationally takes away all that makes it special. I’m not saying that I never try to rationalize my religion anymore. Rather I understand that part of me needs everything to be neatly explained, and part of me needs mystery. Find the balance is difficult, but worth the effort.