Love is real. The sensation I’m feeling when I think of you, the complete and utter dedication to you, is love. I believe you are the perfect person, and as long as your behavior roughly fits my image of a perfect person, my love for you continues to exist; in my mind. Love is real, as long as I believe it is. Loving God is no different, no matter the name you give him or her. And God will never disappoint – you’ve created God in the image of what you consider perfect.
Fear is just as real. And I’m not talking about fear of tigers, snakes or – Lucifer forbid – spiders. Fear of the devil or a harsh God is real. As long as you truly believe an (almost) all powerful being is pulling the strings, you will find evidence of that everywhere you look. Who could possibly have created all of this? What is the purpose of all our suffering?
Seeing purpose in our suffering makes misery bearable. Life is hard now, but staying put, enduring the pain thrust upon us, will allow us to get into heaven; weathering the pain of the present will bring us eternal bliss by His side. Becoming a martyr for our faith gives reason to the pain this life entails. Discovering such purpose gives us direction in life. It gives our stubborn brain reason to stay the course. To justify this course, we tend to look for confirmation of what we believe in. All random occurrences are seamlessly incorporated into our image of the world – and they get added to the list of reasons why God is real. For this to fit – there needs to be purpose behind every non-orchestrated occurrence.
The Koran, so I’ve been told by devote Muslims, says that when the Euphrat dries, the world will come to an end. Climate change or political action is doing just that. Also the Bible considers this river to be the sprung in paradise – and there are more religions who consider the Tigris and Ephrat to be sacred. At the time these religions were created, the catchment areas of these rivers were the center of the world. It would, of course, be perfectly reasonable to consider that, if the source of water for the center of known civilization dries up, the world would come to an end. However, these rivers are no longer the center of civilization. Therefore, I consider the rivers drying up to be a change in the world’s ecology and not necessarily a sign that all life on earth is under threat. Sidenote: all life on earth may very well be under threat due to climate change, and climate action is urgent – but rivers come and go, it’s not due to the drying of an individual river that we should gear up.
The above is but one example of circumstance being incorporated into purpose. Said purpose is also often put to the test in love relationships; how often hasn’t it felt like you two were meant to meet? The comparison between love and religion isn’t mine; and perhaps not even Ilja Pfeijffer’s. This great Dutch author posed the link convincingly in his romance Peachez. As long as you believe, love is real; and so is God. This does not mean there is purpose behind all action, however much we would love to think so.
I realized early this century (and Karl Popper in 1945) that humans apparently have the need for seeing purpose behind random occurrences. I think this is, because a reason for all our suffering makes life bearable. Purposeful suffering requires an entity that causes this suffering. The entity humanity has been relying upon to fill this purpose has been God – for eons. God, in many forms: from Zeus through Zarathustra to Allah and back through the alphabet. But now, especially in Western Europe, people are turning their backs on religion – because God is, obviously, not all powerful.
And to me – that’s it. The world is chaos. Everybody is pulling their weight to minimize their own suffering – even though, usually, shit hits the fan real hard; there is no entity trying to inflict pain, for their gain. There is no grand purpose; no grand plan, and definitely no eternal bliss after death.
However, this seems really hard for many people to accept. For brevity, I steer clear of what I consider the genetics and evolution behind this desire for purpose; me being a widower has to have purpose, right? There has to be a better world somewhere, a reward for living with all this pain? There has to be an entity that benefits from my suffering – and that will continue to inflict pain upon me in order to remain untouchable?
Having secularized, ever fewer people consider the answer to these questions to be God (or Lucifer). Many people do, however, are sensitive to an answer to these questions. And thankfully there are always those who are ready to provide the answer. And the latest, most encompassing answer is Lizards. Shape-shifting lizards rule us in secret, and inflict suffering upon us – especially the non-believers get hit hard, not for being heretics, but for being naive; and said naivety helps the lizards gain power.
Welcome to the world – the latest and at this time still somewhat disorganized religion: Conspiratism; the consequence of secularization is the rise of conspiracy theories (see also the aforementioned work of Karl Popper). Not because its true, but because humans need random occurrences to be put into a purposeful narrative. Something happens – like the Euphrat drying out – and we make up a story that this is the sign of the world ending. Something happens – like mandatory face masks – and we make up a story that this is because the lizards are exerting their tyranny.
God is real. No matter where you look, what happens, can always be written into the purposeful narrative. Your suffering is for a greater good – sometimes someone else’s good, depending on your religion. But as long as you believe hard enough: God is real.