One fish said to another, “I don’t believe in water!”
I once had a dream in Latin. It said: Cogito ergo sum ergo scivio deus est. The first part is Descartes’ famous saying I think therefore I am, but then it continues, therefore I [can] know God is!
I woke my dear husband up and he wrote it down on a scrap of paper. This message gave me sympathy for those who are agnostics or atheists. Having been both in my younger years it gave me a new way of countering the dilemma. There is a ‘Catch-22’ in their argument. Here it goes: the skeptic argues that since science cannot prove the existence of God, and evolution is provable, the conclusion must be that the cosmos came into being by chance.
This is a somewhat specious argument because – granted that he is right – he, himself, must also be the product of chance. In which case, of what possible value is his opinion!
I like the quote of an Indian physicist: “The greatest discovery of science in the 20th century is of its own limitations.”
I became an atheist in Portugal at the age of 11, having been overdosed with Christianity in European boarding schools. I solemnly announced this to my mother, who asked me why. I replied that no one was going to convince me that any old snake hung on a tree and spoke English. “Probably Hebrew,” my mother smiled and murmured, but then she paused and said, “Well, if you want to be an atheist, be a good one!” She told me there were other religions that might appeal to me more and encouraged my looking into them.
I followed that advice and started a systematic program forthwith of reading the holy scriptures of one religion after another, night after night, starting with the Old Testament and making notes in the margins of my red leather Bible. Unfortunately, this relic was destroyed ten years later by my daughter’s red setter who chewed it up to Leviticus! Alas, by the age of 20, I knew a lot about religion but had experienced nothing!
I went into an empty church in New York and wept. Three days later, my father suggested that I see this astrologer Hermes who had just helped him. My opinion at the time was that astrology was the superstitious twaddle of nincompoops, but as a lark, I went. Hermes, a most attractive man, lived in Little Italy within walking distance of the Hotel Holley on Washington Square. He drew up my chart by hand, looked at me, and said, “You have been looking for God all of your life.” Everything he said to me was accurate, and I was intrigued to say the least. He summoned me to return the next morning to meet his teacher, and my life changed forever.
Since then I have spent seven more decades studying the matter. For me, one of the most valuable lessons I have learned from this is the dangers of literalism, and that the truth is revealed to us through understanding symbolic language and perceiving that what we presume to call God is not a noun but a verb, the very process of ongoing creation. Language, by its own nature, tricks us by turning verbs into nouns. “Swimming” is fun or “to swim” is fun, both as gerund or infinitive, become subject or object of a sentence acting as nouns, and still we are not even wet!
Obviously, I am no longer an atheist but I have deep sympathy for them – atheists have rejected the definition of God at the level beneath them. We all need to keep searching until we can move from believing there is no answer to the vast certainty that there is one, only we can’t apprehend it! Today I realize that the mind is ipso facto disqualified by its functioning through duality. It is the wrong instrument! The Tao that can be defined is not the Tao.
So what is the solution? To quote Carl Jung, “The longest journey most of us have to take is from the head to the heart.”
As a wonderful old Hindu teacher said to me, chuckling, “Why, God is making love to you in every heartbeat of your life!”