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This I Believe

Sunday, March 9th, 2008 at 20:46 ET

There is a series on NPR called This I Believe that I like. I’ve wanted to contribute but have never found the right words. This Sunday I feel like I should have something positive to say. It’s not that I’m feeling down, exactly, just more introspective. Hopefully there is a way to turn my contemplative thoughts into something both interesting and useful?

I think people who don’t know me well would find it curious that the thing I believe in most is spiritual in nature. Sure, I like to break the rules and talk about politics and religion in mixed company as often as I can get away with it, but I think even people that only know me casually understand that I usually take on taboo topics just because they’re taboo. In those conversations I’m almost always the Devil’s advocate, despite my true views and feelings. I know for a fact that, because I’m always playing the flip-side, some of my acquaintances don’t have the faintest clue what I really believe.

Most of the time I think God, too, would find it curious that the thing I believe in most is spiritual in nature. I’m far from the epitome of the stereotypical American Christian. I don’t actually go to church (little c), I don’t read the bible often (with a little b, although it is admittedly one of the many books sitting on a stack for me to read), and I’m a progressive liberal (yes, actually lots of progressive liberals are also Christian.)

I believe, with all of my heart and all of my mind, that there is a reason. I know this is a pretty common thing to think, but not believe, and I know from experience that there are a lot of people who don’t agree and might even say I’m deluding myself. Yet, this is my most important belief and it is at the core of what makes me a religious person despite the fact that I don’t go to church, I don’t read the bible often, and I’m a progressive liberal.

Some days it’s easier than others to believe that there is a reason — we all have good and bad days, I suppose. Some days I see a blue sky, filled with clouds during a sunset that paints the heavens orange and red and pink and purple. Some days I’m surrounded by the love of my friends or my family and we know how wonderful it is to be with each other just by a look across the dinner table. Other days I feel lonely, spending an evening at home. Those days occasionally make me think about sadder times.

Either way, I have a policy I learned from my friend the turtle: slow but steady wins the race. The important part of that moral is “steady.” We have to be steadfast in our journey and remember that the road thus far has brought us to where we are. We must move steadily forward or we are surely doomed to fail in our quest. My friend the turtle didn’t slow, he didn’t falter, and he didn’t look back. I’ve had many a grand daydream imagining what I might do with a time machine, knowing all along that should one be made available I would walk away. The journey is the point — the path behind us is only important in that it brought us here and presented us with the choices we have today. The things on that path had a purpose and are all sacred.

The nay-sayers will tell you that “believing” there is a reason is simply the rationalization of a mythological system to explain those parts of the universe that are either random or that science hasn’t seen fit to explain (yet). I even understand where they were coming from. I think they’re wrong. I actually think that it’s a rationalization to call it a mythological system. Some of the people who don’t believe as I do say this because they think that believing is a choice. I’m a scientist, but that’s the big lie of science, the assertion that it’s a choice to believe; it’s not.

I believe because I have to. I believe because each and every day, the universe conspires to tell me that there is a reason. Sunsets, friends, family, loneliness — the path is set and there’s no going back. The only choice is not to believe. That’s not a choice furnished by science, it’s the one that God gives us and I believe there’s an important reason for that, too.

Filed under: Spirituality and Faith

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