The answer to my questions about God came in the form of the most wonderful boy I had ever met, and the most loving and accepting set of in-laws that I could ever hope for. I had no reason not to, so I started going to Mass every Saturday, and I loved it! I think that the saints are so cool, and the ceremonies are so inspiring (although I think the Methodists have better hymns).
When we decided to get married, I even started down the road to becoming Catholic. In the end, I couldn’t fool myself, and I had too much respect and affection for both my in-laws and the priest to fake it.
In the end, this is what it comes down to for me: I just can’t believe that there really is a God, no matter how hard I try. I know a lot of social scientists who don’t, and studying extraordinary beliefs (even though we can’t study believing in God, because God is outside of science) might be the reason, I think most of us had doubts before graduate school.
I’ve never been able to believe in things that don’t have tangible effects, and for me, there are no effects enacted by God that can’t be explained by human factors. But, as any good scientist will tell you, God is outside of science, and I fully acknowledge that my non-belief is exactly that: a matter of belief. I would never presume to think that people who do believe in God are stupid or naïve.
I still enjoy going to church, even though I’m not a believer (I hope no one is offended by my presence). I have always liked the singing, which was always the part I enjoyed the most as a child. I like the feeling of community that suffuses the church; I like the quietness and the peace and the light streaming through old stain glass windows. I like the messages of hope and love and compassion and goodness delivered in the sermon. I like holding hands with my husband, and smiling at my family, and wishing them peace.
I like the sentiment, and I appreciate it. I just approach it from a different direction. Similarly, I look forward to the baptisms of my nieces and nephews as celebrations of their new lives; I marvel at how mature they’ve become, and how amazing it is that they’re old enough to receive first communion or confirmation.
In other words, I love my family and respect their beliefs, even though I have not come to hold the exact same ones.
Next week, Brittany will discuss “coming out” as an atheist.