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Why does the vast majority of humanity believe in a Supreme Being, a Creator? Perhaps a godless universe does not offer an appealing view of life because it’s not consonant with our lived experience.
After all, human life naturally feels ordered, meaningful, purposeful and positive. It pulls us forward through time, calling to us, maturing us, teaching us how to respond and thrive. We are not alone; we are guided by all that is – and that feels like being loved by a loving God.
So belief in God is better than non-belief, if for no other reason than that it feels better – but an even more compelling reason to believe does exist, the Baha’i teachings say.
Before we get to that reason, though, there is nothing inherently evil or improper in finding it difficult to accept the idea of a caring Creator. Indeed, this consideration keeps us honest and thinking. Atheists and agnostics often ponder God even more than so-called “religious” people do, after all. There is also nothing wrong with changing views, either way, as our power of observation and insight naturally rises and falls as we go through life.
So it is not the idea that there may be no God that feels dangerous – it’s the consequence of humanity acting like no God exists. We have the free will to go either way:
Certain matters are subject to the free will of man, such as acting with justice and fairness, or injustice and inequity – in other words, the choice of good or evil actions. It is clear and evident that the will of man figures greatly in these actions. … he is free in the choice of good and evil actions, and it is of his own accord that he performs them.
For example, should he so wish, he can pass his days in praise of God, and should he so desire, he can occupy himself with that which is other than Him. He can light the candle of his heart with the flame of the love of God and become a well-wisher of the world, or he can become an enemy of all mankind and set his affections on worldly things; he can choose to be just or iniquitous. – Abdu’l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, newly revised edition, pp. 287-288.
In a world without God, we attempt to become gods. We act as we please. Finding no restraining inborn rule, no consciousness of a compelling divine plan, no higher moral standard, we have no prescribed way. We have no obligations to God or to anyone else.
Accepting no divine law, we make up our own – often defined by momentary self-interests and the rule of what is possible, not what is right. We live irresponsibly for the moment, tending to our own pleasure and leaving others to suffer and our descendants to pay our long-term debts. This is one reason we need belief in God and His plan.
In the end, the idea that there is no God and no plan is both dysfunctional and a poor representation of reality.
A world without the knowledge of God’s plan is a world where religious values are cast aside, where the obliged relations between all things are often ignored, where the great law of karma is undervalued, where the all-encompassing unity of creation held together by a divine purpose is gainsaid, and where responsibility and sober thought is denied if it hinders self-centered progress. This godless world is a world we could easily be (and are being) led to create, a world into which eventually we will no longer fit. It’s also a world where purpose itself becomes relative and ephemeral.
The reality that believers know is greater than this. Held together by strong moral connections, it comprises an ever-continuing, evolving story. The plan of God that I know is designed for our long-term interests, which makes it the most direct path to a reasonable future. Knowing it is better than not knowing, so I encourage you to read on – even if I may not have won you over yet.
Still don’t believe a Creator exists? That’s fine – all I need right now is for you to temporarily suspend disbelief. It won’t hurt. Consider for a while the possibility that there may be a God, and that God may have a plan that is being executed right now on a grand scale. With that thought held in mind, let’s see if we can discover, in the Baha’i teachings, the particulars of that plan.