I believe in unbelief.
I am no longer content believing that this world is simply a test that determines where I go after death. If I did, where would the cycle end? What test awaits in the next lifetime to further decide my eternity? At some point for me, eternity ceased to be a destination and began to exist here, in the present; in the only lifetime I can be absolutely certain of.
I still travel loosely in circles that fully embrace my old evangelical Christian roots. There is still the small matter of my family. Literally every member, immediate or extended still prescribe to a different outlook on the place of belief itself. Learning to reconcile my path with theirs is the greatest challenge I have faced, yet we are still a family despite these differences, and from time-to-time I am forced to grin and bear the repressive sting of their ideology.
My family has had a direct role in shaping my “unbelief system,” but in ways that I am certain they did not anticipate, nor did they intend. My family cannot fathom, for example, that anyone could look at the human body itself in all its complexity and come to any conclusion of origin that does not point to a single, intelligent designer. I believe that the human body is quite possibly the most arguable evidence of evolution. My family cannot entertain the notion that more than one theory could exist for the creation of the universe itself, let alone for the wondrous gifts we find daily our own planet’s sacred beauty. Phrases like, “How can anyone look at ___ (fill-in-the-blank with your favorite tree, coral reef, exotic bird, majestic body of water, or sunset) and deny the existence of God?” are all-too common, and are often filled with bitter indignation at the audacity of others who dare call these cornerstones into question. When I look at these same pristine examples of nature, I am left with a profound sense of my smallness and insignificance in the search to give such beauty any meaning at all.
I want to raise my hand in these situations – slowly – with great regard, and yes, sometimes envy of their assurances, and let it be known that I cannot imagine returning to living in such a way where these most precious forms of life and beauty are so easily resolved. Such an explanation remains too simple in a world rich with bold dichotomies between what we know to be good and what we call evil, between those life-changing experiences that make us fully alive, and then later repress in the name of righteousness. As a human being I am full of these same complexities, those which echo in nature harmoniously all around me, and do not find it bearable to submit to a calculation which reduces my search as a means by which I will ultimately return to a rejected God. I believe in unrest between perceived laws and theories of human behavior, and I believe that lines of demarcation blur with each new relationship and personal encounter. I believe in unbelief like I believe in people to be the most perfect dimension of the unknown, and the unsolved. I believe that religion closes the heart and mind to the possibility of a more complex world than even our own stars allow us to dream of when it tries to answer the question, “Why?”
I believe in doubt, in the act of questioning, wrestling with uncertainty, fear, and in living life in the tension that comes without having absolutes to rely on. Some days I wish for the security these inherent truths used to provide me, ache for the purpose these answers used to befriend, but now reject the certainty of any real answers. Perhaps, ultimately, it will one day mean rejecting my own unbelief.