When talking about God or angels and related topics, the discussion usually revolves around belief. One’s statements are categorized as Theist (believer), Agnostic (dubious), and Atheist (Non-believer).
Militant atheists like Dawkins go so far as to consider believers deluded, as in his book The God Delusion. They fail to recognize that not everyone experiences the world as they do. Other academics have concluded ancient descriptions of divinity were induced by hallucinogenic drugs.
But the entire point is lost in a debate about belief. In other words, it’s all in the head. Because the Atheist does not believe in the possibility and the Agnostic is not sure God can be known, there can be no discussion of direct experience. It’s not possible in this context. They don’t even recognize their own beliefs are self-confirming.
But what of the Gnostic? (I don’t mean Gnosticism specifically) Those who have experienced directly?
If you ask someone who has tasted a strawberry if they believe in strawberries, they’d think the question odd. Why would you have to believe in the self-evident? Same with ‘Do you believe in God?‘ If God is a lived reality in day-to-day life, it’s a meaningless question.
And therein lies the vast gap between the camps.
Throughout history and all around the world, there have been non-believers and believers and direct experiencers. Even in the present day. While one can certainly conclude that a large portion of the world has been and is delusional, it makes a lot more sense if we research what they describe rather than seeing it as an illness. Why is this so common?
Not to mention the obvious facts of the world. It is contrary to some basic physical laws, like thermodynamics, that order and intelligence would develop “accidentally” out of a cosmic soup. For complex systems to develop, there has to be a constant input of order, greater than entropy. Yet scientists feel evolution has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years.
This has led many famous scientists to come to believe in an impersonal God, a fundamental intelligence underlying the universe. And indeed, some other sages have experienced this directly. But this is only one mode. If we come to the same reality from the heart, we’ll bring a personalized perspective. Then, we experience God in form, a form that depends on our background, culture, expectations and so forth. I explored that more here. This is why the diversity of names and forms. Yet the fundamental reality remains the same.
To deny the full range of human experience is to miss a major part of why we’re here and indeed what is here. This is not an empty mechanical universe, without purpose or vision. It is a vast play of astonishing diversity, all in the name of nuancing out unique perspectives of the whole. We all have a role and are an interdependent part of a web of life astonishing in its grandeur.
This to me is something to celebrate, not write off as a lost cause. I certainly don’t recommend you believe any of this. But I heartily suggest you have a look for yourself. God can be known, and more intimately than you know yourself.