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Entry 13 – A Purpose-Driven Life without God?

November 13, 2009

I was given Rick Warren’s 2002 New York Times Best Seller “The Purpose Driven Life” by a family member last year.  In the gift exchange, this family member asked me to read it, and, when I was done, feel free to discuss it with him/her (anonymity of family member respected).  Regrettably, after finishing the book, I didn’t quite feel comfortable discussing the book with this particular family member for reasons which really aren’t all that important here.  I think part of it, as you will see in this post, is my rather terse assessment of Warren’s thesis.  

As I read Warren’s book, it seemed to me that my whole meaning in this life revolves around a supernatural being (ie. ‘God’, ‘Jesus’, ‘Holy Spirit’), and that my daily activities, both my thoughts and actions, should be geared always toward the worship of this supernatural being.  And, if I follow this prescription of worshiping said deity, my life will be meaningful.

 While I do understand how people want this kind of God to be true; one who is intimately involved with their thought life, as well as what they actually do on a daily basis, it is hard for someone like me, who, if you’ve read any of the posts on this blog to date, believes such supernatural worlds with said supernatural beings existing in the first place highly unlikely.  But again, I must reiterate in all sincerity, it is not lost on me the tremendous and alluring appeal of a God who knows every hair on your head, every cell in your body, every thought in your brain.  

Believe me, I used to be one who constantly was encouraged by this line of thinking.  I spent the better part of the first half of my life on the planet banking on this reality assessment.  Of course it’s comforting to believe that an all powerful deity cares about you in a way that a mother or father might care about their child.  Of course it makes you feel safe.  Are their times when I wish I could go back to believing that there is a God looking after me?  Sure.  We all want that kind of security.  But, I have to go with what makes sense to me and the evidence, in my humble estimation, is just not there .   

I liken this ‘letting go of God’ (yes, a shameless borrow from the extremely wonderful Julia Sweeney and her recent book and movie) to my previous beliefs in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  Think about it…wouldn’t it just be the most incredible thing if these 3 mythical characters in all their globe galavanting glory were real?!  I mean, really, it would be just incredible wouldn’t it?!  An obese white bearded man riding on a reindeer sleigh that could in one 24 hour period deliver gifts to all the children of the world and somehow transmutate his large belly to wiggle into many of the tiny chimneys that still exist all over the world?  A large rabbit hopping at supersonic speeds complete with a never ending supply of gift baskets full of faux grass (not to be confused with the expensive duck dish foie gras)? A Tinker Bell like creature flying into your home late at night to gently swoop up your sleeping head, take your tooth, and leave a little bit of money to go buy baseball cards the next day?   I SO wish these three were true. 

But, alas and alack, reality sets in, and if I’m honest with myself, and evaluate the evidence of the world I see and experience around me, it becomes highly unlikely that such beings exist.  Let me just say though again, I can’t prove it!  There’s still a possibility that Old Saint Nick is just so clever as to evade all honing radar devices and modern detection systems year in and year out, and he’s holed up in a large cryic man-cave in much the same fashion we assume Bin Laden is holed up in the Pakistani mountains. 

Everybody, I think, if they’re completely honest with themselves, has this certain longing to be a kid again…to live in a fantasy world.  But, at the end of the day, and I realize this is going to ‘sting’ for some people, I have come to think that the concepts of “God”, “Jesus”, and the “Holy Spirit” are really just adult versions of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  The latter three just lack much in the way of supporting documentation (ie. Bibles) from adults who need the stories to be true.  Again, I wish sometimes I could turn my brain off and believe again in these ‘giants in the sky’ so to speak.  It would be so nice to have that celestial grandfather to depend on, seeking ‘His Will’ for all the answers in life.  It would help explain some things I’m sure like why I didn’t go into the Christian Mission field, or stay with a particular girlfriend. 

But, you know, other things though, like evil, bad things happening to ‘good’ people, the age of the Earth, natural disasters, and the like are actually better explained with science and reason.  And you know, actually, having spent the last 16 years slowing coming to a worldview based on science and reason, that journey is one I wouldn’t trade for anything or anyone. 

For now, I think I am finally seeing the world as it really is.  And you know, it’s not as ugly a place as some Christians I know would like to paint it at times; the ‘going to hell in a handbasket, don’t be of the world, Jesus is coming soon’ mantra.  The world we live in is actually quite beautiful, and quite explainable by natural laws, emphasis on NATURAL.  Are there horrible things that happen on this planet?  You bet.  Every day, every minute, every second.  But there are equally beautiful things happening as well in the same time frame.  The smile of a child, the discovery of a new pathway for an electron to take enabling alternative energy options to vie for market share, a kind word or deed between strangers.  My purpose is to seek out those beautiful moments, as well as to try and make them happen on a daily basis. 

For next time, I’d like to talk a little bit about the whole “Gosh, I am so sad that you’ve rejected God/Jesus/Holy Spirit, and won’t be saved” sentiment I often get from family and friends.  

Until next time, thanks for stopping by!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda permalink
    December 17, 2009 6:31 pm

    You articulate exactly how I feel and think… wow! I was also recommended to read the purpose driven life and I attempted it as the recommendation came from a good friend. I seriously couldn’t get beyond a page or two…

    • Anonymous permalink*
      December 18, 2009 4:56 am

      Thank you again, Linda, for your comments. I’m glad there’s someone else out there who had problems with Warren’s best seller. Another thing that bothered me about the book was how repetitive it was. Wondering if you agree. While I’m sure Warren’s a good speaker, in my humble opinion, there just were very few, if any, original ideas in his writing.

      Again, Linda, many thanks for your comments,


  1. Entry 21: Concluding comments on “the lunch” and why a naturalistic outlook for me works best « The Recovering Christian

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