Do you ever feeling uneasy in the middle of the night questioning things that doesn’t really have any answer? I guess everyone went through the same experience at least once in their lifetime.
Let’s think about it together, shall we?
Humans, what are we? are we a mere thoughtful primate? or just a bunch of lifeless atoms that somehow gain consciousness?
Well, science decided that humans is in the group of primates and had proven that human is also just a bunch of atoms. But more of those questions goes much deeper than that.
What makes us human?
To put it simply, what makes us human is the fact that we have a highly developed brain that enables us to imagine things.
Based on Aristotle’s definition of human as the rational animal, our ability to be rational lead us to think about great ideas that eventually become great inventions. As far as I know, almost every branch of science was started by imagining things. Take Democritus for example, he lived around 460 BC and back then he theoritized that every matter in existence were created by the same tiny components. This means, he was the first human who thought about atoms as the component of everything without any way to prove it.
And to believe the theory of evolution was pretty weird back then, some of us believe that we were created by the God(s), and some others believe that we were a product of evolution itself. These thoughts were strictly connected by our ability to rationalize almost anything, except something we can’t really imagine something beyond our logic can grasp. Our ancestors believed a higher power or beings that we simply call God already existed long before humans exist, and this belief stand outside our understanding which being limited by our rationality as a human being itself.
What is God?
Many religions in the world depict God as some kind of being or power which create and rule every aspect of the universe, also perfect in wisdom and knowledge who is worshipped. We’ll never get any proof about the existence or the absence of God, also the concept of “A Perfect Being” can barely be grasped by human limited rationality. Descartes for example, he gave us some arguments about God’s existence and one of them is that simply the idea of God’s existence is the proof that God itself exists. But also, the famous Nietzsche stated “the Death of God” which means the enlightenment of humanity might eventually eliminated the possibility of God(s) existence.
But the real question is, do we really need to believe in the existence of a higher being? Let me try to answer it based on my personal view.
Believing in some sort of beliefs provide such an existential comfort for some people. We already know there are a lot of questions we’ll never know the answer to. How did the universe came into existence? Why are there sufferings in this world? What’ll happen after we die? The answers to those questions can differ in a variety of ways—offering a delightful comfort or eliciting anxiety, fostering meaning or prompting despair, offering evidence or merely wishful thinking.
For me, personally, I was always interested in the debate of religious and the non-religious version of answers to such questions and the ways both sides offers human with an existential comfort.
Religious views provides human with such comfort when the believer itself believe what their beliefs had promised, the reward for good or evil deeds, the whole imagery of the beautiful and full of joy heaven and hell.
While on the other hand, non-religious version provides existential comfort for humans with evidence for things that we already know and what we don’t know is simply because we’re unable to understand it yet.
But, then again, does believing in the existence of higher power really matter for someone’s life?
There is a unique case when I personally learned about Buddhism. Believing in higher power isn’t really that important for Buddhist, Buddhist’s goals is to acknowledge the existence of suffering in this world and to make peace with everything, eventually reaching enlightenment. There is a symbol in buddhism belief called the samsara or the endless knot, that represents the dependance of religious and non-religious affair in attempt to reach the peace of enlightenment and also representing the cycle of life, death and being reborn in Buddhist tradition.
There are also some arguments that stated the importance of believing in the higher power, some of it is to channel the thoughts and keeping the mind to stay in it’s rightful way of morality. But there are also some arguments stated that it was never that important in the first place, because some thinkers said that morality has no connections to the higher power. Morality, or the ability to judge between good and evil is basically learned as human grow, which makes it an abstract concept of humanity. In nature on the other hand, there are simply no morality nor good and evil, everything works the way it is. Just like when a tiger hunt a deer, it doesn’t mean that the tiger was an evil being, it’s just the way nature works. By that imagery, some people said morality is just a human concepts to prevent others from doing harm to other human being.
The importance of believing on the higher power goes back to everyone’s personal decision. Even this isn’t how things always work out, but to believe on the higher power should keep the believer to do good in exchange of the promised paradise or the damnation if the otherwise is done. but there are also the non-believer perspective about this, people who did good will always be remembered to be a good person and also otherwise wether there will be any some sort of afterlife or even there is none. this statement is commonly known as the Pascal’s Wager and the Atheist Wager.
In the end, for those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God's existence, the big answers don’t remain unanswered. We adjust to new discoveries. We are pliable, humans are indeed adaptive. Good people will do good and also the other way around wether there will be an afterlife or not. We are our own god. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. We are here simply to live our lives so well that even Death will tremble to take us.