I maintain that I am a theist. I believe in the supernatural realm as well as the the existence of a higher power. I believe that all honest religions are an attempt to understand that higher power and that most likely, given the nature of the divine, none of them have it correct. Because of this I see it as a bit of folly to follow the guidelines of any one particular religion as, pardon the reference, gospel.
Ben Franklin wrote “God helps those who help themselves”. I use this as a bit of a mantra in my life as well. Whether or not we actually have free will or if it is merely an illusion of determinism or a deity we have the perception of free will and must act accordingly. In my mind this means we must take all available information, understand as best we can what we are seeing, and operate from this knowledge.
In my life regardless of the existence of a deity I do not see them acting in my everyday life. What instead I see is the consequences of the decisions of myself and those around me shaping our reality. Given this information the best inference I can make is that the higher power wants us to make decisions and act.
Every version of religion I know has passages that can be interpreted as something akin to humanity are not drones. This seems to back up the idea that we are meant to live our life to the fullest and this to me means make our own decisions.
Does this mean that praying or meditating on a decision and seeking counsel from a spiritual leader is wrong? No. Like I said understanding comes from information. Consulting with a spiritual leader or meditating to try and connect with the divine is a way of gathering more data. If the atheists are right and all that does is get another opinion or gives you time to process what you already know then you still have done something that likely will benefit the process.
I do think I need to express a bit of a caveat though. Be careful who you get your information from and how highly you hold it in regard. No person, authority, or even higher power should desire or have complete control over your life or decisions. Take in what you find and weigh it against what you already know.
You can follow this quick process as a guide:
- What do I already know?
- What new information did I get from this experience?
- How trustworthy is the source of the new knowledge?
- How knowledgeable is the source?
- How much should this sway my current opinion?
The idea being that the right information from the right source on a particular subject will hold more weight. If you got a priest and ask about how best to meditate on the Bible then they are likely both knowledgeable and trustworthy in this regard and will likely give you a lot of new information. This should sway your opinion more. If however you went to the same priest, with no background in finance, and ask about stock market tips then while they may still be trustworthy their knowledge in the subject is likely lacking and the new information they give you may pale in comparison to what you already know. This should mean that you are less swayed by the new information.
So continue to trust your advisors, as much as they are worthy of it, and continue to take in information, but remember to evaluate that information. No one and nothing is above scrutiny. No one and nothing is absolute in their correctness. Even God made mistakes and had regrets in the Bible. (Gen. 6:6-7)