In truth, I do not know the truth, of God that is.
That may seem an odd confession coming from one who, in search of truth, spends so much time researching, analysing, contemplating, and documenting his conclusions. Yes, I do believe that what I do believe is true, but belief and truth are not necessarily synonymous. I am confident that some of my beliefs and conclusions are substantiated by fact, but others are properly described as inference to best explanation. When it comes to God, I am convinced that this Jewish definition is accurate: Ein Sof – the Infinite and Unknowable God. Fortunately for me, although perhaps not for the reader, I delight in ambiguity, and am entirely comfortable with not knowing whilst earnestly seeking to know. I am content for some conclusions to be forever beyond my grasp: like the journey, it is the searching that I relish. That said, I have a number of thoughts and conclusions to offer, in regard to God and my views of God.
I do not claim that I right.
I do not claim that those following a religion are wrong.
My choice, an informed one I believe, is based on a detailed examination of multiple religions, resulting in my acceptance of none. So what is religiosity? According to one source:
“Religiosity is difficult to define, but different scholars have seen this concept as broadly about religious orientations and involvement. It includes experiential, ritualistic, ideological, intellectual, consequential, creedal, communal, doctrinal, moral, and cultural dimensions. Sociologists of religion have observed that the people's beliefs, sense of belonging, and behaviour often are not congruent with an individual's actual religious beliefs since there is much diversity in how one can be religious or not. Multiple problems exist in measuring religiosity. For instance, variables such as church attendance produce different results when different methods are used such as traditional surveys vs time use surveys.”
From my perspective, any philosophy or worldview which is difficult to define, is unworthy of adherence. Which brings us to religions: I am not confident that God even requires us to follow a particular religion, using the following definition cobbled together from various sources:
A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems of designated behaviours and practices, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. Religious practices may include rituals, sermons, commemoration or veneration (of deities), sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trances, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, prayer, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture. Religions have sacred histories and narratives, which may be preserved in sacred scriptures, and symbols and holy places, that aim mostly to give a meaning to life. Religions may contain symbolic stories, which are sometimes said by followers to be true, that have the side purpose of explaining the origin of life, the universe, and other things. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source of religious beliefs.
Here let me briefly explain the title and subtitle of this book: “Religion? Of God or Man? Does God Really Require Religiosity”. I shall explain in more detail later, but for now, consider that names are given to things to both identify and differentiate them. When there is only one of a thing, it being unique, we give it a name so as to be able to refer to it, but there is no need to differentiate, because there is nothing from which to differentiate it. This, I believe, is the case for how we should walk with God. The term “Judaism” did not arise until it became necessary in the minds of some, to identify the religion practised in Judea. The Children of Israel had no such need, and I can find no reference to them giving a name to the way they observed their covenant with God, other than their being Torah-observant. This is the underlying theme of this study: we have no need to differentiate a religion, as given in the above definition, because we should all be walking with God in one sense, in the same way, and in another sense, in individual ways. (Excuse the apparent paradox, but I will attempt to resolve it later in this study.) We could give that walk a name, perhaps as the early Nazarenes were identified, Followers of the Way, but only for the sake of reference. Otherwise, we would be left with the incoherence, so often heard today, “You know…”.
That said, I do not outright reject all aspects of any religion, for all contain much that is good. Putting my cards on the table, so to speak, I believe in one Sovereign God, best described by that Jewish term, Ein Sof – the Infinite and Unknowable God. I believe it to be axiomatic, that that if God is infinite, then He is unknowable by finite beings. We exist in a finite world, everything bounded by something in some way, and even the concept of infinity is beyond our understanding. Whilst we can know about what we believe God has done, and continues to do, we cannot know God as an entity. We can assume aspects of His nature, logically determining, for example, that being infinite, He is outside time and space as we understand them, and likely knows everything that ever has, or ever will happen in our finite existence. Thus, He is omniscient. Note that omniscience is not an intrinsic attribute of God, but derives from His omnipresence.
We can also assume that if God is the cause of our finite existence, then He must be very powerful indeed, perhaps even omnipotent, whatever that may mean for an infinite being. Parts 1-4 of this study document why I have reasoned my way into a belief in God. In that sense, I am an intellectually fulfilled theist, appropriating the sense of Richard Dawkins’ claim of being an intellectually fulfilled atheist. (Dawkins, Richard, The Greatest Show on Earth – the Evidence for Evolution, Bantam Press, London, 2009)