of any kind?
My mind boggles at that concept!
I honestly can't seem to fully imagine a world where there is no form of Faith of any kind.
Steve Pavlina often suggests adopting a particular belief system for a month or so to "try it on for size" so to speak. Whilst this flexible approach to life is admirable and highly attractive, I find it extremely difficult to do.
My main reason is that I personally cannot see outside of my world view as determined by my own personal faith system. The faith that I have had since I was a child is as much a part of me as my skin. I literally live in my faith like I live in my skin.
So intrinsic to my sense of "self" is my faith system that imagining a "What if I didn't have it?" scenario is like trying to see the dark side of the moon! Mr Pavlina's construct for determining a personal belief system is entirely man-made. It requires a certain amount of skeptical indifference to be able to change beliefs like ones socks! For me, my Faith has been given TO me from beyond myself as a gift! And yes... this is entirely a subjective view despite my belief that my Faith comes from an objective source.
What IF I didn't have my faith? What might I have been like as a woman now?
This is pure conjecture of course but here goes...
I would be obsessed about material stuff! I LOVE tech and gizmo's and other such glittery things! My CD collection would probably be quadruple what it is now. I am totally passionate about my music. CD's (even now) are my achilles heel when it comes to retail therapy.
I would probably be constantly poor due to excessive expenditure on gambling too. I have a weakness for gambling and I KNOW I could easily become addicted to it if I indulged in it often enough. Without the boundaries to this kind of thing that my faith gives me... I'd most likely get out of control.
I would be way more inflexible and non-conciliatory in my relationships. I am a "Do unto others" kind of woman. I like being treated kindly, fairly, compassionately and considerately. I currently try to treat other people this way even when its not reciprocated. I actually believe all people deserve that kind of respect regardless of what they present to the world. Without any kind of Faith construct, into which I can place relationships for that bigger picture perspective, I think I would be a whole lot more selfish and determined to have my way no matter the cost. I'd be more ruthless and manipulative, inconsiderate and judgemental perhaps.
Emotionally, I'd be a lot more unstable! And that's saying something! I come across to most people in RL as generally pretty cool, calm and collected! I shall now put the record straight and tell the world that I am a total mushy, romantic, and hyper-sensitive softy with the ability to laugh raucously one minute and then be sobbing on someones shoulder the next (If I know them well enough that is).
Without the gift of Prayer in my life I would have literally NOWHERE to "debrief" my often very intense and strong emotions and that could get really ugly for everyone quite frankly! I have been depressed before and I know the black depths one can go in that fractured night of the soul! But... I always had hope even then. If I had no faith of any kind... where would my hope have been in those dark days? I cannot begin to fathom how it is that people can feel so alone in the world they believe no-one will notice if they take themselves out of it. Even in the depths of unutterable despair and loathing of my lot, I still KNEW that I was LOVED by Someone (whom I call Christ!).
No belief system of any kind huh? Well... I don't think that is actually possible for human beings really! I mean... I'd be the sort of person who would CREATE a faith of some kind if there were none around. I'm actually very mystical and am intensely curious about the spiritual realm. I also have a penchant for wanting to KNOW everything, including what the future might hold.
Its this wanting to KNOW in advance that I think is the basic thrust behind all man-made Faith systems (I do include some versions of christianity in that "man-made" mix too). Human beings KNOW and want to know even more. Through the spiritual depths we've been endowed with, we have been given insight into realms outside of this temporal, physical one we appropriate through our senses every day. But we want more and we will have more if we can. Faith is as intrinsic to human endeavour as eating, breathing, sleeping and sex. Even those who claim to have no faith of "any" kind believe whole-heartedly in the truth of their beliefs! :)
Is God an external force of impossible magnitude? Is God an internal force of unfathomable human spirit and endeavour? Is God real or imagined? Is God really "that" important to human society?
The answer to all the above is YES!
He (or She if you are that way inclined) is as he is. Without him, the world is a very different place. With him it's also a very different place. The only diffence between those two positions is indifference.
Perhaps if we had no god, no religion, no spiritual practise of any kind, all we might be left with is mere Indifference.
Thank God it's not like that huh?