The God Conundrum: What We Know Vs. What We Believe
After many years of discussion with my wife, and after reading numerous books on the topic of faith, and after many stimulating discussions with clergymen and women who have devoted their lives to the study of scripture and indeed of all the world's religions -- and finally, after hearing me express my doubts about things one more time -- she neatly summarized my main stumbling block in seven words: "You want proof, and there isn't any."
Most of the time, I am grateful for the training I got at the University of Wisconsin's journalism school, and in seven years in newsrooms as a reporter and editor. It was there I learned to always get both sides of the story, and to report the facts as objectively and without bias as you possibly can. But when it comes to the "God question," standard journalistic methods fall short of getting you the concrete answers you seek. There are times I wish it were as simple and straightforward as so many around me believe it is: If it were, we could have avoided so many wars, witch burnings, and countless other atrocities that continue today in the name of religious belief.
And that's the key word: "Belief." Because of what they were told as they were growing up, and possibly because of some profound personal experience, or maybe because they simply have known no other way to think about it, people who consider themselves religious have faith that their belief is correct. But ultimately, after all the study and discussion and prayer, that's what it remains: Faith.
It's interesting that one of Merriam-Webster's definitions of faith is: "The firm belief in something for which there is no proof." In my life's journey so far, I have seen and talked with faithful, devout people of many different religions who live exemplary, giving, loving lives because they believe this is what their religion calls them to do. I also have read about and witnessed some unspeakably grotesque acts committed against humanity by people of many different religions who hate, or ostracize others not like them, or seek revenge because they believe this is what their religion calls them to do. As a journalist, I step back and observe ... and I ask myself how to write this story in a factual, unbiased and evidenced-based way ... the way I was trained to do.
This faith journey will continue. I look forward to many more rich discussions.