Does my life have a purpose?
What and where is God?
Why can’t I be happy?
If you struggle with these questions, you are not alone. Throughout our world millions of others are asking themselves the same thing.
My name is Devin Venable and I’m a person just like you. Right up front let me tell you—I don’t have the answers. I don’t have a degree in philosophy or religion. I’m not a guru or a priest. God hasn’t appeared before me on Mount Sinai—at least not yet!
I don’t have any particular qualification to offer advice on meaning and purpose, other than my five decades living on this planet. I’m a seeker by nature, and have come to the conclusion that I’m supposed to be grappling with these questions. And I feel I have a strong obligation to help others who are struggling with the same.
So I’m here to try to help you, if I can.
The idea of being obligated to do something for someone else based upon a strong feeling is troublesome for a guy like me. Who or what is pressuring me? Is it…God?
The word GOD itself is such a loaded term. The sight of if on the screen alone may be making you feel joy—or making you cringe.
Some imagine God as a bearded old man, sitting on a throne in the sky, looking a lot like Zeus. Others see a benevolent mother. While others believe God is Energy or Nature.
It’s hard for me to shake the image of the God that I was raised to believe. My father is a preacher in the Christian Faith, as was my grandfather and a few of my uncles. I come from a very spiritual family.
This is the narrative I was taught, in short, the story of God:
God is a being that has existed since the dawn of time. Some time ago he created a class of companions called angels because he was lonely. (Some become demons in a later chapter.) The angels were not created with free will, and God decided on a do over, companions 2.0, mankind. He did this about 6000 years ago. He gave the upgraded creatures the ability to choose to love God. He also made a universe and a planet for Man to live on, an aquarium named Earth. It turns out that free-will Man decided to do evil, so since Adam and Even, we’ve all been made to suffer because of their choice to disobey God.
Then, around 2000 years ago, God gave Man a break. He decided we must still suffer due to our sinful nature, but through the introduction of his son, Jesus Christ, a child born on Earth through immaculate conception who was later killed by state government and rose again from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven, we are forgiven the Original Sin and can be rejoined with God after death.
But what about relief from suffering? God has powers to heal faithful followers (not in an Instagram sense) who pray and ask for relief. Some report that sickness or pain disappears based upon earnest prayer. It is said that a relationship with God also acts as a suave for the aching mind or soul.
And then there is the second coming. Christians hope Christ will return via physical manifestation in their lifetimes. It’s the big, promised event where Jesus appears in the sky and rides his horse into town, returning to rule over the Earth.
This gives Christians hope because the early return will end worldly suffering.
So there it is.
Does this narrative sound far fetched to you? It does to me, and it’s not just the flowery, mythological story telling that gives me pause.
In fact I’ve considered myself an atheist or an agnostic for years because I found this story difficult to literally believe, and belief is a prerequisite for the branch of Christianity in which I was raised.
I didn’t always feel this way. I believed it all as a kid. And even during my fits of staunch atheism, I still found myself praying to God from time to time.
But I struggled to talk or think about God because I wasn’t able to shake the implausibility of the story line.
How could I believe in God if I don’t believe in the Virgin Birth? (If God created the Universe as system of rules, why would he break them?)
Or that the planet is 6000 years old? (So much science…impossible)
Then there were the logical problems.
How could I believe in a God who would send a sinner to hell to burn in flames for all eternity, when I myself would never send a sinner to burn in flames, not even for a short time! How is it possible that I’m more compassionate than God?
If God is Omniscient, why create Angles and then later decide on a do-over. There are lots of do overs in the Bible. An omniscient being wouldn’t make mistakes as he/she/it would know the perfect plan and avoid the pitfalls.
So many questions like these prevented me from looking to better understand the nature of God for the last two-plus decades.
With this blog, I hope to open my mind a little—to expand my definition of God a bit in hopes of finding a unified theory, a way to find a God that can be reconciled with science.
I plan to shed my own bigotry toward religion and look a closer look at the historical teachings from many faiths. I now believe there are many useful lessons there, lessons long ignored by those of us who consider themselves to be modern or humanist.
I have developed insights while thinking about these things, and they are helping me. Maybe they’ll help you too.
Trying to understand God may help me better understand us. I think it already has, though I’ve got a long way to go.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my purpose is to to help others—to alleviate suffering. Take a moment to laugh about that statement for a minute. I mean—it looks corny to me too when I see my words on the screen.
But something tells me that I’m not wrong—that a lot of us, perhaps a majority, are unhappy. We’re connected like never before—but still feeling alone. Why is this?
In my future posts I’ll write about the great unhappiness that seems to be blanketing my nation, the United States of America. You don’t have to be a guru to see the causes, but we act as if we’re blind even if we do see. We don’t take needed steps to root out the source of our problems.
I’ll be digging deeper into this topic next post. I’ll ask you to look at your own life, to ask, am I a part of the disease or the cure?
If you are interested in these topics, come along with me. If you are hurting, skip the reading and reach out to me directly via email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through one of the many, many communication channels we have available today.