“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” Einstein, physicist
“She was under no pressure from either parent to attend church or not attend.”
Bach has been in Canada for over fifteen years. He brought his wife, Babette, and their three-year-old daughter with him. Now, Babette is studying at the university and his daughter, Banu, was in grade eleven and also thinking of going to college.
Bach is now a successful, forty-five year old architect. Both he and Babette had been raised as Catholics. Babette had held onto her religious beliefs and practices. However, Bach had let go of many of the ones he had learned in their childhoods in Lebanon.
This has not been a problem in their marriage because each was willing to respect the other’s form of spirituality. Regarding their daughter, Banu, she would periodically go to church with her mother, and the rest of the time, stay at home with her father. She was under no pressure from either parent to attend church or not attend.
“Banu, you just have to have faith that it’s true!”
Banu was a teen with lots of questions. Babette and Bach had agreed to let her figure out on her own what was best for her to believe. But, she was continually asking them what they believed… specifically…and why they believed it.
When Banu was younger, it was kind of cute as her questions were child like, rather innocent, and not hard to deal with. But as she aged, she asked more challenging questions which both parents struggled to answer.
And, since their daughter was thinking about and planning the focus of her future studies, it seemed to be really pressing on her lately. Bach, was being challenged now to be clearer about his own belief system which was stressing him out in ways he had not expected.
According to Bach, his wife, Babette seemed to be handling it OK. Bach said, Babette’s standard response to Banu’s tough questions was, “Banu, you just have to have faith that it’s true!”
Bach said his daughter did not seem to find her mother’s response very useful. And so, she would come to him for a clearer, more satisfactory answer…which he noted, he rarely had at his disposal.
So, Bach, in his paternal role and spiritual confusion sought out other perspectives on human spirituality, so he could be the father he wanted to be.
A close friend who has accessed my services, told him the focus on my work was in all seven areas of life. And so, he booked a consultation with my Institute.
“Dad, why are there so many gods…”
Bach was a friendly, soft spoken man with an easy smile. He had big, warm, brown eyes and his hairline was receding a bit. He wore modern, rimless glasses, was well groomed and a sharp dresser.
After he had explained his situation, I asked him what was the toughest question his daughter Banu had asked him so far?
He paused only briefly before he responded with,
“Ken, a couple of weeks ago, she asked, ‘Dad, why are there so many gods..Jesus, Mohammed, Yahweh, Vishnu, Manitou and many others?’”
“How did you respond, Bach?”
“I told her they were all the same god…just with a different name.” he said, sheepishly.
“And, do you believe that?”
“I don’t really know, Ken! It is how I have tried to make sense of it myself…but I’m really not sure!”
“Why aren’t you sure, Bach?”
“…I really have so much uncertainty and Banu’s questions magnify it!”
“I guess because I love learning. And so, I am continually reading and researching the latest developments in my field and in the world in general.”
Then he continued,
“And, I see all the empty churches of all religions going up for sale. And, I see the exploitation and abuse of power, that occur in the news by religious leaders around the world. It keeps me wondering if we really do understand why we are here and what is next for us.”
“So, you’re not sure either about some fundamental things about your own existence…is that what you mean?”
“Yes! I really have so much uncertainty and Banu’s questions magnify it!”
“It has been said that parenting is a two-way street, we learn as much from our children as they learn from us. Would you like some other perspective to consider, Bach?”
“That’s why I’m here Ken. I need some other angles on where we come from…where we are going…who we are,… and why are we here?” he replied, clear at least about the basic questions of life.
“…humans for the most rarely even notice these laws, yet they follow them…”
“OK! Let’s start with a big macro perspective and then move down to a more micro perspective. And, Bach, please stop me with any questions at any time, OK?”
He nodded agreement and so I continued.
“The latest research in cosmology strongly suggests our universe is at least 30+ billion years old. There is a prediction a new satellite going up this year will push this number back even further.”
“So, our universe is older than the Big Bang which was about 13 billion years ago?”
“That’s what some researchers are predicting. Time will tell, eh? But we already know certain laws govern our universe and operate at all time and place!”
“What kind of laws, Ken?” he asked.
“The laws of gravity, light, sound, friction, energy conservation, equilibrium, homeostasis, and many others. And, humans for the most part rarely even notice these laws, yet they follow them in every aspect of their lives.”
“Can you give me some examples of that Ken…I want to be sure I understand this stuff?” he asked.
“…all medical interventions are striving for…a biological balance!”
“Sure! You took the stairs to my office because the law of gravity wouldn’t enable you to jump up to the the second floor of the building. And you will take the stairs when you leave for the same reason.” I offered.
Then I added,
“In a similar way, we each follow the laws of light, sound, friction and the others without even noticing. Even our own body, our sports and our family relationships follow these laws.” I suggested to him.
“Sports….tell me more, Ken.”
“Hockey players follow the laws of energy conservation while chasing the puck which is following the laws of friction. Our body adheres to the homeostasis law and married relationships follow the law of equilibrium. There are numerous examples of this everywhere around us, Bach. We need only to look for them.”
“Now you got me really curious. Our body follows the law of homeostasis? What is that?”
“Homeostasis is the law of equilibrium displayed within the human body. Genetically and biologically our body’s survival systems strive for a balanced state to optimize our well being. This is what all medical interventions are striving for…a biological balance!”
“It’s not only natural, healthy…it is necessary for the future of all concerned!”
“OK! That makes sense. Now, tell me about family relationships. You said there was a natural law there as well, right?”
“Yes, there is Bach. Every healthy relationship is a balanced relationship with one partner preferring a positive perspective and the other preferring a negative one.
Then I added,
“An optimist and a pessimist create a stable relationship because it creates vital learning, and therefore, well being, for each partner.”
Bach paused momentarily before responding,
“Ken, I see that in my own marriage. Babette is the pessimist, what she calls the ‘realist’, and I’m the optimist. Now that’s very interesting! And, you are telling me it is natural and healthy?”
“It’s not only natural, healthy…it is necessary for the future of all concerned!”
“But, Ken we argue regularly…and you are saying that’s healthy? How?”
“Human conflicts magnify and promote essential learning for the well being of all. It is a natural process. I would guess, about half the time, you and Babette have some form of conflict going on between you about something?”
“That sounds about right. And, you’re saying it is OK…and healthy?”
“But, today we know it is caused by changes in our environment based on temperature, wind and other aspects…”
“Yes, I am! We can come back to that later. I think it is important to focus today on your current challenge. So, let’s talk about our ancestors.”
“Our ancestors?” he replied surprised.
“Yes. They had to survive a lot of challenges like fire, floods, famines, earthquakes, lighting, predators, and lots of other parts of nature that would eliminate us.”
“That hasn’t really changed, Ken. Look at those fires in Australia recently.” Bach replied.
“Exactly. But, today we know it is caused by changes in our environment based on temperature, wind and other aspects of our planetary system.”
He nodded so I continued,
“Our ancestors didn’t know that, didn’t have that information..yet! So, they assumed it was caused by fire itself! With me so far?”
“…with their level of understanding of cause and effect, they assumed a very powerful person, a god, was causing it.”
“You’re saying our ancestors blamed fire for the devastation it caused. Whereas, we can look at the underlying causes like climate change. Is that what you mean, Ken?”
“Yes! And, to cope, to manage their situation with their level of understanding of cause and effect, they assumed a very powerful person, a god, was causing it.”
“And then what…?” he asked, digesting this idea slowly.
“Then they tried to negotiate, as they would have done with any other powerful person, like family members, neighbours, other clans or tribes.”
“How can you negotiate with fire?”
“You give it gifts hoping to please it, to respect it and get it to return the favour. This developed into rituals which seem to placate their god for a time.
“I do that sometimes with Babette and Banu to get them to watch basketball games with me.” he said, noticing the similarity.
“This is why the first gods in history were the sun, fire, thunder & lighting, specific animals, and eventually certain humans.”
“…we are each continuing that learning journey even today, with each person on their individual path of awareness.”
“Do you mean we created our gods to help us survive a hostile environment and we have never fully stopped doing it?”
“Truthfully, it has served us pretty well so far. We are probably the most successful species on our planet to date, are we not?”
“Yes, I suppose we are, but some days, when I watch the news, I wonder about us…! But, that would explain all the various religions and gods that we have today, wouldn’t it?” he volunteered.
“And, we are each continuing that learning journey even today, with each person on their individual path of awareness.”
“So, that would mean each person defines their own god based on whatever has happened to them in the past…almost like how many fires they have survived, or how many floods they endured and so on.”
“You got it. We really are a product of our past experiences. And, our past experiences determine our version or vision of god. It is not to disrespect other people’s path, it is only to see, we each have our own!”
“…so whoever helps us feel safe will attract our attention.”
“So, since we build our perception of a god, that would mean we are not born believing in a god, are we?”
“We are born with a will to survive and to thrive. But, we usually don’t personify it until much later. In a way, our first god-like personification is our mother or father or whoever was our primary caregiver. This is why they have such a powerful influence on us throughout our life.”
“That makes a lot of sense! So, then why do so many people struggle with their religion today? Why is it such a trauma for so many people?”
“Remember, we are hardwired to survive and so whoever helps us feel safe will attract our attention. As children it is our parents or caregivers. And, we often will unconsciously model their coping strategies, their beliefs.”
“That makes sense too because both, Babette and I, grew up in a Catholic family, a Catholic neighbourhood and we both attended the same Catholic church. I can see that now!”
“The greatest challenge of all religious thinking systems is learning and education.”
“But, remember, you each had your own unique past, which provided each of you with a distinct set of experiences, to create your current perception of a god. And, this uniqueness is why you have different perceptions today.”
“So, you are saying, it is not that either of us is right or wrong, rather, we are just on different paths to our spirituality? Correct?”
“Does that make sense to you, Bach? And, isn’t that how you and Babette have been treating your daughter, Banu?”
“Yes, that’s it exactly, isn’t it? Thank you for reminding me, Ken.
“The greatest challenge of all religious thinking systems is learning and education.” I said.
“How do you mean?”
“Humanity keeps learning more and more laws of our universe like the ones we discussed earlier. And, we demonstrate them scientifically in communications, medicine, space exploration, and so on. This puts more pressure on these systems to evolve and accommodate these new laws.”
“…if you put all the versions of god, across time and cultures into one system, I would call it ‘nature’ or maybe, ‘Mother Nature’!”
“Are you saying the laws that run are cell phones are the same as the ones that run everything else?”
“You got it Bach…zeros and ones, optimists and pessimists, high and low pressure systems, and so on! But, getting back to what brought you here today, can this be useful for Banu’s questions?” I asked, wondering about his level of integration of our discussion.
“That’s an interesting question, Ken. I guess if you put all the versions of god, across time and cultures into one system, I would call it ‘nature’ or maybe, ‘Mother Nature’!”
“And, how does that thought work out for you and Banu?”
“I think I have clarified not just the form of my god, but of other people’s as well, including Babette and Banu.”
“Which means what, Bach?”
“I feel more comfortable telling Banu how everyone comes to believe in some form of an overriding system, or god, which runs this planet and universe!”
“These ideas are not really new, Bach. Some of the Ancients seem to have figured this out already. Perhaps, this is why the word “god” is often used as an acronym for the “grandly organized design” of our universe.”
“Yes, I have heard of that. And, some, because of their unique life experiences, like Babette, add an ‘er’ to design, so it becomes, the ‘grandly organized design(er).”
“Thanks, Ken! This makes things so much clearer and shows me my path forward for myself and Banu.”
I appreciate your thoughts and comments.
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller, author