This is one conversation I have had numerous times. Talking about belief, faith, blindness, rationality and “ what is god? ”. My wife and I have a very different perspective, and I think my son will hear both opinions (and probably some more), and make up his own mind one day.
What is god?
The definition of god is pretty wide. There are plenty of religions and beliefs, from all places and colors. Some believe in a single god. Some religions believe in many gods (Hindu, Pagans, and even some Greeks who believe Zeus is making a comeback). There are religions who believe in an Ethiopian Caesar to be the one to bring redemption (Rastafarians). There are religions who believe in creatures (like the “pink invisible unicorn church”), religions who believe in characters from movies (“Church of the Jedi”. May the force be with you!) And even religions that use a fictitious god to reject the dogma of religions (such as the “church of the flying spaghetti monster”).
So if there are so many definitions, how do you even define god? How can you explain to your child, what is god? If there is a choice between so many religions, and I believe in free choice, how can he even consider which religions is right for him? In my experience, most people will believe what they were brought up to believe by their family. So maybe the explanation of what is god will be a reasoning of our (me and my wife’s) beliefs?
What is god to me?
I am a rational person. A very logical person, examining everything and always looking for cause and effect. And still, sometimes it is easier to believe that somethings “are just meant to be that way”, “act of god” or any other saying you may use relating to a device force. As a logical person, how can there be a god if no one proved it exists? What rational am I explaining, when I prove something simply because it can’t be refuted?
For years I changed my beliefs from atheist to true believer. I could never bring my inner dissonance to rest between being the rational & logical person that I am, and the fact that I come from a family of semi orthodox relatives. On occasions, I even thought being orthodox is the best resort. Not because I started believing in god, but mainly because keeping the Shabbat sounded great (25 hours of silence!), the routine of prayers (everybody needs some routine in their life, right?) and at the end of it all – because sometimes having some faith in the god above can make life a lot easier.
Sometimes, I even considered converting to a different religion (Buddhism sounds awesome). I thought about being an orthodox again. I thought of ending it all with atheism, because who needs a god? After many changes, discussions and changes of mind, I concluded one thing – there is a divine force in charge of this world. You can call it god, unicorn, the divine particle or even my wife. It doesn’t matter. Even evolution is a divine force for me (otherwise, we would have understood it by now).
What is god for god? (Or in its second name – my wife)
My wife is a lot simpler than me. there is no god! How simple, it’s that complicated. She doesn’t believe in god. Not even in a force majeure. She believes we control everything, there is no one to pray to and that nothing has control of our world in any matter. On the other hand, she asked me to install a Mezuzah in every door (because we should), we had a Brit Milah for our son (she didn’t agree, but I asked), and I am pretty certain that when we reach the Bar Mitzvah she’ll be all emotional in synagogue. So what is god for her? Whatever feels comfortable at that time.
So what for god’s sake is god?
When my son comes and asks “what is god?”, I won’t have a single answer. I’ll have many different answers – each logical in its own way and each made for the specific situation. I will explain that there is a higher power, and he can call it whatever he likes. I will explain how easy it is to be a believer, and how hard it can be without faith, and eventually – how right it is to believe what he feels right.
I will teach Idan that every person has the option to choose his belief, and he can even change his mind several times. But, most importantly, I will teach him that no matter which religion he chooses, never disrespect anyone’s belief. God or no god, having respect for yourself and other people is more important to me.
There are many religions, and every one can choose to believe a lot, a little bit or none at all. It doesn’t matter what choice you have made, never disrespect another person’s choice. When their god comes in wrath, you will pay for it!