Ms. Dougherty is such a very good writer, I’m almost reluctant to say that I picked her piece to share only because it is a useful hook that gives me an excuse to answer a question no one has ever asked me: What do you think God is?
I have certainly stated that I believe in God many times. Having done so, it is striking to me that no one has ever asked what, exactly, I mean by saying it. I’d like to ‘splain.
God, it seems to me, is a feature of the natural world. God may be the natural world itself, for all I know, but when I use the word I have something specific in mind that is not so all encompassing (although, again, it might be).
Rather, the natural world has a certain quality or attribute for which God is the unique name. You can experience this particular quality or attribute directly in a number of ways. Perhaps the most accessible is one that the Bible mentions many, many times: walking.
That is, when you go for a walk at leisure on a fine day, you may have the sense, if you are paying attention, that you are immersed in a world that is something more than it seems. I think the Bible uses the phrase “walks with God” so often for the very reason that it is a clue to the nature of God, or of God’s physical reality.
I don’t know if God is person-like, having limbs and a heart and mind, but I can appreciate the metaphor. It seems apt.
I think, too, that science will eventually prove the existence of God by at last isolating those natural phenomena which underlie all of mankind’s many descriptions of God. We see outlines of this already emerging when scientists of different kinds suggest that reality itself appears to have the attribute of intelligence.
But as you can see, I am incompetent to give you my own description. I can only talk around the thing.
The one key that I can share, or so it seems to me, is that belief in God has nothing to do with faith. It is not a matter of believing something you cannot prove. It is, rather, a matter of experience, something you can prove to yourself as simply as going for a walk.
Or, if you are like my brother, by going fishing.