Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing.
~ Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 ~

Friday, November 27, 2015

How do you know someone is listening?

There was a time when I realised that I could not tell the difference between praying and merely talking to myself. I realised that the world looked and worked exactly the same even if there was no one listening. Of course, I still looked for answers and convinced myself that events in my life were "providence".

Then I realised that I was the one choosing which events were "answers from God". I was the one choosing what God was apparently telling me through scripture. I was doing the whole thing. I couldn't tell the difference between God really working in my life, and me just selectively interpreting events and messages as "God working in my life". Perhaps there was no difference.

If I was the one who ultimately decided which bits were "God speaking to me" and if I was the one who ultimately interpreted "what God was trying to tell me", then how could I know I wasn't just fooling myself?

The answer: I couldn't.

Every time I prayed after that, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was just talking to myself. Over time, I came to see that that was very likely all that was going on. Then I began to see that all of the things in the world that I had previously attributed to God made just as much sense (sometimes even more sense) without a god. The attribution was again just me making assumptions about the world.

People told me, "That's why you need faith", and they quoted Heb 11:6 to me.

But then I wondered, "What is faith and why is it so important?". If there was no evidence, and if there was no way to know, then how was this faith distinguishable from self-deception?

It wasn't long before I discovered the answer.

It isn't.