Nothing is so like God as Silence

It’s been years now since I could be considered a practicing Christian. So you can imagine my surprise when I was asked to contribute to zuntier.com. Admittedly, I had never heard of the website but I was impressed by both its presentation and the idea of dialogue it promotes. Having an insider and an outsider’s point of view of the Church, I accepted the invitation without hesitation. Hopefully, I will be able to offer an interesting perspective to the readers of zuntier.com.

Nowadays I rarely have the opportunity to talk about issues of faith in a public setting. But this has not always been so; I have spent all my youth teaching and preaching religion in the setting of the Muzew. The story of how from a profound believer, I ended up leaving religion, is besides the scope of this article. However, thankfully, the transition has been a smooth non-rebellious one.

Many people, including my parents, think that I have changed a lot. Ironically, though, I think I have not changed much – the same enthusiasm and yearning which immersed me body and soul (literally!) into Muzew and religion, has been the same force which brought me out of it. Maybe this is somewhat comparable to what happened to St Paul when he became a fervent Christian from being a zealous Jew – the intensity did not change; only its manifestation.

Yet, although I left religion, I do not think I lost the positive aspects of religion; I presume I still have healthy relationships, a healthy morality, and a healthy attitude towards life. I might say that the main difference is that I no longer have to cope with (what were for me) the burdens of struggling with the constant doubts of faith, sermons I found disturbing, a morality I found rigid, the interpretation of the Bible, rituals, etc.

Then comes the big question of whether or not I still believe in God. If we are talking about a personal God, then the answer is a plain no. Mind you, I wish I believed in such a God; it is really comforting to know there is a God watching over you! Recently, I was talking to someone from Youth Fellowship and when pressed on, he admitted that he was not really convinced, but that he held onto his faith because it gives him stability and strength in difficult times. And sure it does! Unfortunately, I do not accept these luxuries if I am not able to buy the underlying truths.

Whether or not I believe in a non-personal God is a much more complex question because it is impossible to define ‘God’ without robbing its meaning of its godliness! What I know for certain is that I try hard not to have any god in my life; to live with the questions; to live with the emptiness; to live with the silence. I think there is a lot of truth in the words of Meister Eckhart, “Nothing is so like God as silence.” So after all maybe I do believe in God…

4 thoughts on “Nothing is so like God as Silence

  • Reply johnpcauchi 18th February 2013 at 9:29 am

    My question here would be – what is the point in believing in a non-personal God? It wouldn’t care about you (using it here since I wouldn’t know what to refer to “it”), and frankly, neither should you.

    The ultimate question, from a scientific viewpoint is this: Why IS there something, rather than not? It is very clear that “nothingness”, a concept which took millenia to be accepted, exists in the form of a vacuum. Even most of the contents of an atom is empty space. Science, I believe, can explain the mechanisms of what is and what is not, and what might be. But the WHY cannot be answered by science.

    As Stephen Hawking himself said… it is useless to discuss what came before the Big Bang, or the initiation of the universe. It would be tantamount to asking “what is north of the north pole” – a nonsensical question.

    Now – spirituality and religion attempts to answer the “Why Is there something rather than nothing?”.

    How would you answer that question? I’m very curious.

    Final question – isn’t the construct of ANY philosophical system of belief tantamount to a personal ” religion”? Ultimately, Humanism in my opininon avoids one glaringly obvious thing – that Nihilism is the only true option to an atheist – anything other than that is just a “self-construct” that postpones the ultimate victory of nihilism. Atheism, de facto, is ultimately an acceptance of the triumph of death, of the universal “cold-death” as the ultimate fate of everything. … quite depressing no?

  • Reply Christian Colombo 23rd February 2013 at 1:26 pm

    What is the point in believing in a non-personal God?
    I think it depends on what kind of a non-personal God you believe in.

    Why IS there something, rather than not?
    I happily admit that I have no answer.

    As Stephen Hawking himself said… it is useless to discuss what came before the Big Bang.
    I do not really agree with this as I think the universe is cyclic, i.e. the big bang happens repeatedly… but I’m afraid I don’t know much on the subject.

    Isn’t the construct of ANY philosophical system of belief tantamount to a personal ”religion”?
    Yes, but without an institution, rituals, ready-made answers, static morality, etc.

    Atheism, is ultimately an acceptance of the triumph of death… quite depressing no?
    To begin with, I don’t believe that death is depressing; it’s part of nature’s cycle – it is the death of the leaves which makes the tree so beautiful. Secondly and more importantly, I think that the success of our spiritual journey is not to conquer death but to conquer our egocentricity. This, I believe, is the message of all religions; whether to feel at one with the universe or to love one’s neighbour as oneself – it is this leap out of our skins which gives us salvation. For me the biggest triumph of Jesus Christ wasn’t his resurrection from the dead, but his ability to keep responding to hatred with love till his death. I think that all this is still perfectly sensible for an atheist to believe in, and it is anything but depressing.

  • Reply johnpcauchi 23rd February 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Thanks for the reply!

    Regarding the Big Bang – it can be cyclic (though I cannot even begin to understand the physics behind that theory) but… ultimately there has to be an initiation… no? The “IS” moment. That is what I refer to by my “north of the north pole” comment…

    My problem with atheism is that yes – I totally understand why people can be atheists. But at the end of the day, anything that gives us a “Raison d’etre” in atheism is nothing but a construct, be it responding to hate with love, be it morality, etc. Yet another “delusion”.

    In effect, if morality is relative, then there is nothing except Amorality. Because if what is right for me isn’t right for you, and vice versa, then what is Truth?

    I think at the end of the day it reminds me of a very fascinating line in John’s Gospel, when Pilate asks Jesus “What is Truth”? And no answer is given. I always found that fascinating. That we need to question – to discover it for ourselves. But to say that each person can reach a different truth?… That, I fear, I cannot accept. Because then, everything can be allowed – even murder or rape can be justified ultimately under relative morality. And that is something I cannot accept.

    Then again, saying that the Catholic Church has a static morality is in my opinion a “Given” – it is very static. Some things cannot be changed (eg. murder = wrong). But some things definitely need to be changed (eg. views on contraception)… I totally understand you over there

    • Reply Christian Colombo 24th February 2013 at 9:37 am

      The way I see it, there a single truth but nobody has it, even though everyone might be striving towards it. The irony of it is that if you imagine we are all in a circle striving toward the truth in the centre, we might seem to have different truths and that we are going in opposite directions.

      I agree that relative morality is wrong, but I think morality should be based on evidence and reason, and not on traditions or quotes from books. Unfortunately, morality is sometimes anything but straightforward and what might be perceived as relative, might in fact be based on sound principles. For example a main principle of morality (endorsed by the Church) is that when faced with two evils, the lesser one should be chosen. So, yes, technically there is nothing which cannot be justified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *