I want to talk to you about the reality that you and I experience in our lives. As humans, both of us have a set of five senses to help us determine reality…sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. But the reality that I sense is not the same as yours. You sense the presence of a supernatural spirit that you call God.
When I tell you that I don’t detect that presence, you are sad, and maybe a little condescending. You assure me that if I try, I will find God. I am a little put off by your superior attitude, and I suggest that this supernatural spirit may exist only in your imagination. But you are certain that God is there, watching over us…yes, even watching over me, a nonbeliever, monitoring everything we think and do.
If you are right, then I am deficient somehow. Do you have some extra dimension in your consciousness that I lack? A sixth sense that enables you to detect this supernatural presence? You say you are “spiritual.” What does that mean? Some people say they are “spiritual but not religious.” It seems to me that spirituality, a belief in “spirits,” is inextricably linked to religious faith. (but not necessarily to an organized religion.) For you, a Christian, spirits include God and the coterie of lesser spirits that accompany Him: Satan, angels, demons and, of course, all the eternal human spirit/souls in every person who has ever lived. That’s a lot of spirits!
I am not spiritual. I have no inkling of any spirit…good, evil or anything in-between. I can understand why you like the idea of the human soul, a spirit that will live on after you die. That is a comforting thought that allays the fear of the nothingness that death would otherwise promise…the Big Sleep that lasts forever. I suspect that you are deluded, but you are reassured by it now, and when you die, it won’t matter.
I am unable to delude myself with any such belief, so I must face my inevitable extinction. The clock is ticking, as it has been since the moment I was born. Time is short, and I must make the best possible use of it, enjoying family and friends, arts and books, learning new things, and contributing what I can to making a better world for those who will follow.
Whether I am deficient or you are deluded, I hope that you will do the same.
I wish you well.
Bert Bigelow graduated from the University of Michigan engineering school, and then pursued a career in software design. He has always enjoyed writing, and since retirement, has produced short essays on many subjects. His main interests are in the areas of politics and religion, and the intersection of the two. Many of his writings are posted on his web site, bigelowbert.com. You can contact him at email@example.com.