Many people (atheist and theist alike) see ‘having real faith in God’ as the complete and utter surrender to [its] omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence – to know in your deepest core that [it] exists and works its work in the world for you and through you. The epitome of this ‘real’ faith should allow us to leap off a cliff and if we have ‘enough’ faith, God will find a way to intervene – be it by bringing a gust of wind that will press us against the cliff face and slow our fall (we may break many bones in our body as we bounce off rocks etc. but at least we didn’t reach terminal velocity and splat on the ground. We’re still in a state where doctors can helps us recover), or cushion our landing (we may hit a very tall tree, and every branch on the way down, but again, at least we’re alive and can recover), or if we’re really faithful, even make us fly!
That’s not what faith should be. That’s not how it works. Jumping off a cliff and ‘having faith that it will all work out’ is stupid, and irresponsible. God will let you fall to your death – after all, you’re the one who jumped off a cliff ya dumbass!
I don’t know whether God exists or not but I deliberately choose to believe [it] doesn’t. Yet I am not faithless. Why? Let me tell you how I see it.
We all know the old saying “God helps those who help themselves”. Most people put the emphasis on God helps, while I think the forgotten key is help themselves.
That is a directive to “pretend” that God doesn’t exist, to not rely on God, and thus to have a “private assurace” that God exists and will intervene when you’ve genuinely ‘forgotten’ [it’s] there – i.e. once you properly help yourself and act responsibly. In fact Acting Responsibly is God’s way of helping – THAT is faith.
When you ‘don’t have faith’ in someone, it is when you cannot rely on them and you’re better served by doing it yourself. So you must Lose Faith in God in order to be helped by God.
When you act responsibly, you encourage opportunity – you are better prepared and have planned ahead, made reserves, and can handle the worst. THAT is ‘God helping you’.
So jumping blind into a situation unprepared – living a ‘come what may’ attitude – and living in ignorance of the facts of the world in which you live – is not only going against God but it’s dumb and irresponsible. And what applies to the individual applies to the species. We didn’t manage to live this long and evolve into our current civilisations by ignoring the wisdom of our peers and elders. Continuing to devour the Earth’s natural resources without restoring them (deforestation for example) is a stupid thing to do. Worse, to consume those resources and permanently damage the Earth (fracking and oil spills and other unnatural disasters) will radically accellerate our demise.
We are throwing ourselves headlong off the cliff by continuing to think that God exists and that ‘everything will work out’ and thereby continuing to destroy our only habitat.
If you chose to imagine a world without God, then you’d see it from the Atheist’s perspective: There’s no one else here to save us if we screw up this planet. Remembering that God helps us if we help ourselves, then even the Believers can ‘get behind the idea’ that we’re on our own here and that means we can’t fuck up anymore. This is exactly the same feeling as when we lose both our parents and have no choice but to ‘grow up’ because we realize we can’t allow ourselves to mess-around anymore. We no longer have the luxury of returning to our parents’ home when our own cuboards are bare, the fridge is empty, and we won’t see our salary for another two weeks. We have to be responsible, we have to be prepared – we got no choice. That means we can’t let things get so bad that we need to run to our parents, because they’re not there anymore. The same applies to our species. We have lost our ‘daddy-in-the-sky‘ and we’re responsible for our mess.
So in good faith, act responsibly, and faithlessly.