“There are no atheists in foxholes” is an assumption by the faithful who feel in times of stress all people will turn to God. When I’m sick I want to talk to God too. The older I get the stronger my atheism gets, the more I feel like I’m just talking. I don’t expect a reply. When we’re alone, fearful or in pain, we realize how powerless we are. So it’s quite natural to think, “God, get me out of this!”
Who are we talking to? Ourselves, of course. But we’d like to think that someone is listening. That’s why people believe in a personal God – to have a listener, to not be alone. Lonely kids make up imaginary friends, well adults make up God. We don’t like to be alone in the universe. Nor do we like to be helpless. The desire for an all-powerful, caring, father figure is completely understandable. Even if he’s going to let us suffer and die, we want someone to talk to.
On the other hand, are we really alone in our heads? We tend to think of our thoughts as ourselves, but if you observe closely, they aren’t. Descartes, “Cogito ergo sum” or “I think therefore I am” is another illusion. Pay close attention to your thoughts and you’ll realize the quality you feel as Me is actually listening to your thoughts. The Me observer is so close to the thoughts that it thinks its doing the thinking. Stare at something and not think, and then watch when a thought arises. There is a separation. In other words, you aren’t alone. It’s you and your thoughts. The observer and thinker.
Animals are observers like us, but without thoughts, or a thinker.
Now here’s the kicker. It’s the thinker that needs to talk. It’s the thinker that needs to communicate with God. If you just BE and turn off your thoughts you’re just an observer, there is no God, or even desire. It’s the thinker that wants, that desires, that creates God, and all the other stuff, like mathematics, history, philosophy, justice, love, etc. It’s the observer who is aware, who is conscious, and who dies.
So, why does the thinker want to create God? Why does the thinker need this imaginary friend? Before awareness in animals there was no observers of reality. Hydrogen became stars without notice. Animals perceive reality through an infinity of senses. Animals can feel the warmth of the sun without knowing what it is, because they don’t have language to think.
Then we came along and started thinking. Thoughts see things that don’t exist in reality. Thoughts see other thoughts.
Our thinking minds are quite creative. It’s my thinking mind writing this now. And my Me-ness observes that.
Children create imaginary beings to have someone to talk to. We create God to have someone to talk to.
What we really want is another thinker to talk to.
JWH – 1/21/12