I believe in the intrinsic value of goodness, not connecting or dissociating because of what the reward or punishment may be. I believe that knowing God is forgetting the question of God altogether, and seeing the independent value in genuine human connection, selflessness, and forgiveness. All the Western philosophers have agreed, it is irrational to be unethical and immoral, for no other reason than it will leave you miserable and isolated, a rebarbative sycophant.
Too often the justification for acting in good character seems to be that we are commanded by an almighty creator whose laws are perfect regardless of what form they take; that we may suffer eternal hellfire if we cannot manage to begrudgingly treat one another with respect.
What does this teach our children? It teaches them that life is a game, with categorical rules that are immovable to the nuances of life. It teaches them that people are not by their nature good and reasonable, but brutish and incapable of seeing any real value in compassion and empathy.
You will only truly know God when you forget the word, his name, those alleged rules, and the concept of goodness as anything but a natural law that we find value in every day.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.