On losing my religion…

One of my best friends once told me that I am the person she calls when she wants to know whether she is being rational. Whenever I take a personality test, I am fifty/fifty on most traits – except one.  I have an incredibly judging personality.  That does not mean I am evil and judgmental.  It means that when a decision needs to be made I look at the pattern of facts and make a rational decision.

For the last five years of my life I have worked in a research-oriented role.  In my life, I have interviewed over 100 people, conducted over 100 surveys to approximately 10,000 people, and pulled Nielsen (look it up) panel data for the largest cereal producer in the world.  I have then used data from those experiences to help people make decisions.  I have helped companies decide what worker policies to implement, and I have helped a University decide whether to start a degree program.

On the other side of that – I am also a Christian.  Because I am Christian, it means that I believe in God and that God sent his only son to die so that my sins could be redeemed.

We live in a highly rational world.  I know this because – in every job I have ever had I am usually the most rational person in the room.  I seldom make purely emotional decisions.  So the fact that I have such a tremendous faith in God seems strange to many people.

The thing is, and I don’t know how else to say this, I think the idea that people put so much faith is science is completely idiotic.  Sorry to break hearts here, but science and the scientific process are incredibly flawed.  Of course, in a business setting I find the rational thought process better than the “I feel this way” process.  The thing is, I have never worked for a company that did not have data that was somehow flawed.  And I have never worked for a company that has not asked me to lie about my data.  And I have never worked for a company where I have handed someone honest data – only to find it was not used – or it was manipulated.

The scientific process – this rational thing – this thing that people think is SOOOO awesome is – in all of my experience – quite flawed.  This also exists in academia.  I have seen grad students and professors lie about their research in hopes of getting published so they could get jobs or higher positions.  This scientific process will always be flawed because it is run by humans, and human beings are always flawed.

Max Weber is one of my favorite philosophers.  Quite a few decades ago he wrote a lovely piece called “Science as a Vocation.”  The main point of this work was to discuss the ups and downs in life as an academic.  However, in that piece he also discusses two important concepts: rationalism and mysticism.

In society (and I won’t get into the whys –because that is a dissertation) we have come to value rationalizing everything.  By that, I mean we apply the scientific thought process to everything, and thereby try to break down everything in order to understand everything.  We no longer have to wonder “Why is the sky blue?” because science has broken that down.  We no longer have to ask “What causes cancer?” because we have answers to that.

The thing is, once you break down everything you are left with…. Nothing.  For years of my life I was only rational.  I broke down everything.  If you gave me a problem or question I could break it down to its core.  Trust me – I can break it down.  The tragedy of rationalism, is that once you break everything down and are left with nothing, that is what you feel.  You feel nothing inside.  You feel empty.

That emptiness, is where Weber enters in the concept of mysticism.  Weber argues that the only thing capable of filling the emptiness left by rationalism is the mysticism of religion.  Where the scientific thought process breaks down and leaves empty, the mystery of religion fills up and attempts to make whole.

The thing that I get angry about, that I rarely hear people mention, is that rationalism or the scientific thought process came around long after religion.  This means that Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity have been rocking around the block long before humans dreamed of this thing called science.  To me, the development of science does not invalidate religion – nor does the longer history of these religions invalidate the beauty of science (I mean – I am a scientist by training).  However, these things must be understood within their development.

The hardest thing I hear from people is the scientific method applied to a religion.  “Well, I just can’t believe in God because I can’t know.”

Well – guess what silly pants – I am in science all day – and if you knew how flawed it was you would not believe in that either.  Further, you are applying a new age thing (well, newer in comparison to most religions) to something mystical that was never meant to be broken down.  If you continue to break down what was meant to be mystical you will never get an answer.

That is where I find my faith.  My God exists at end of a scientific process that cannot be explained.  My God exists in a world where I see how flawed everything is, but how hard we all try.  My God lives and breathes at the end of a rope called the scientific process.  A rope which people tie to a religion, because they do not understand history, and process, and what happens when you lose everything.

For years I was an atheist.  By atheist, I mean I hated all religion.  I hated Christ, Christians, God, Buddha, and anyone who had a faith.  I had put all of my faith into other things.  But then – one day – I lost everything.  Everything I had put all of my faith into was gone.  I lost friends, felt like I’d lost family, felt like I’d lost everything.  Everything I had was gone.  Everything was broken down.  And when it all broke down, all that was left was God.  God was and will always be the one thing I can never explain.  As hard as people want to try, they will never be able to explain God either – and that is the entire point.

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