I happen to belong to an organization that requires a “belief in deity” to apply for membership. Now very carefully read this: I didn’t say “a belief in God,” or any other specifically named deity, religious icon, etc. I said, it requires a belief in deity. I know people who have expressed a desire to join this organization but those same people say, “But I don’t believe in God.” What god? Whose god? God by what name? Do you not believe in any deity at all?
Dictionary.com defines deity as:
- A god or goddess;
- Divine character or nature, especially that of the Supreme Being; divinity.
- The estate or rank of a god;
- A person or thing revered as a god or goddess;
- The Deity: God; Supreme Being.
Now, I can’t help but think that if someone’s thinking allows them to consider the Christian God the only deity… ever… at all… then they have a challenge with their thinking. I know this thought will aggravate some folks and a LOT of people will disagree with me, but the largest religions in the world can’t agree on “God” but name, structure and worship practices. Christians, Muslims, Jews… Heck, there are different sects and “flavors” of Christianity and Islam (and Judaism too if I’m not mistaken). My question then becomes, if there are so many varied definitions of and outlooks toward the proper worship of “deity,” then why should anyone restrict their own thinking in an even more strict fashion?
Consider that a moment. Set aside any discussion about whether or not there’s a “right” religious faith or only one true god… whatever. The question you need to answer is: what do YOU believe in? If ANY part of it is spiritual or even other-than-the-measurable-and-quantifiable-physical-plain of existence… then you believe in SOMETHING. Is that something “deity”? That’s a different question.
Now, to finish this I will reveal (confess?) a bit about my own religious faith. I was raised Christian… Episcopalian to be specific. For those of you who don’t know the difference between Catholic, Episcopalian, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist… it’s more than I can explain here. However, unlike Catholics, Episcopalians don’t go to confession and we don’t use incense in our Sunday ceremonies. Last time I was at church (Episcopalian) we DID use real wine for communion (as compared to grape juice a lot of other faiths use). As I was raised Episcopalian I was also sent to a Baptist school for three years and a Catholic school for three years. One of my best friends growing up was Jewish and I dated a girl (almost married her) who belonged to a faith most of us have never heard of. They believed that the second coming of Jesus Christ had already occurred and this current life was the paradise Christians were promised.
For all that, I’m not a fan of going to church. I was an acolyte when I was younger and in high school I actually considered going into the priesthood (y’all quit laughing!). Again I say… I’m not a fan of going to church. I can’t honestly tell you when the last time was that I went. However, that’s not to say that I don’t believe in God. Maybe I shouldn’t put that that way… that’s not to say that I don’t believe in a god.
In general, I worship God as most Christians are taught about “him.” But I’m not real good at doing it in church. I do it better when I’m out in nature… or simply living my life trying to do the right thing in all situations. Isn’t the best way we can worship/honor God is to live by his teachings? His commandments?
Let me step back a sentence or so and repeat something: I do it better when I’m out in nature. In fact, from my perspective, nature is as much a part of God as anything else. When I make that statement I inevitably get asked, “So you believe in creation and that God made everything?” Not so much.. but let me put it this way: I look at nature and see something so eloquent in its form and function that I have a hard time believing only pure random chance brought it into being.
So what did it? I’d love to give you an answer… a name… but the closest I can get is that concept of a “supreme being” that I often refer to as the Universal Architect. That power… being… deity… that gave guidance to our world… to the universe as it formed and bloomed. Can you imagine such a power? I don’t care what classification you put to it. Can you imagine… something… that affected control or even the smallest of nudges in a given direction to our universe and all that’s in it as it developed?
I’m not asking you to believe in creation. I’m not asking you to believe in evolution. I’m asking if you think everything around us, in us, impacting us… all of it. Do you believe that it’s all just 100% pure random chance? For eons? If you can’t say, without hesitation, “Yep. It’s 100% pure random chance,” then you believe in something. That something is a form of deity in my mind.
Therefore, when asked if you believe in deity, is your answer yes or no? I’m not asking if you practice one of the major religious faiths or even if you believe in God. I’m asking if you believe the whole of existence is based on pure random chance or if you think SOMETHING… anything offered some guidance. It’s such a little thing to admit… such a small statement of faith. It’s not a religious declaration. It’s an acknowledgment of the potential existence of something greater than oneself. While we, each and every one of us, is entitled to believe in whatever and however we want, I have a hard time thinking that there are folks out there who simply don’t believe in anything greater than themselves; nothing greater than humanity; nothing of a higher power in any way, shape or form.