“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.”
– Morpheus, The Matrix
In as much as I believe that the topic of faith should not be shielded from the crucible of human reason, I’ve intently avoided talking or arguing about faith or the lack of it, except with a few trusted friends. From experience, I know it only ignites a series of heated arguments that almost always leads to exchange of below-the-belt comments and holier-than-thou/superiority-inferiority attitudes. I suspect that if the participants of such debates will not agree to certain basic rules before it started, the discussion will go nowhere. I mean, how could a person who believes a holy book contains the truth (and nothing but the truth) use the bible to argue his case if the other person he’s debating with, who believes in logic and evidence, do not believe that it is credible source of evidence?
And so, imagine my surprise when, one day, a colleague whom I know to be a member of Iglesia ni Cristo asked me one day if I know Richard Dawkins.
I said I’ve read Richard Dawkins’ work, The God Delusion. At the same time, in my head, my thoughts were circling around the possible direction where the conversation was headed to. I know how some INC members could cling hard on their faith and would not suffer anyone questioning their beliefs. I’ve quietly debated within myself, if I’m going to strike fast and hard, or just let go.
I guess he wasn’t quite aware of that brief, inner turmoil going in within me because he kept on asking about Dawkins’ works, “The God Delusion”, and other atheist writers. I told him briefly about “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason” and “Letter To A Christian Nation” by Sam Harris, “God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens, and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand in any decent bookstore. Or I could lend it to him.
He ranted on how he have these “dangerous” ideas that he had been cradling for a very long time. He was brought up believing the principles of INC, because his parents are members of INC. But for a long while he had some questions on what he supposedly strongly believes in and the questions continue to grow and multiply as time passes.
Then he went on to ask what my religion is.
I’ve to admit it took me a moment to answer. “I’m a baptized Catholic,” I replied, after what seemed to be a long intake of breath.
“Ah, I see,” he said. “But what are your inclinations now?”
I think that was the moment when I’ve to decide to call myself something.
“I’m a Doubter,” I told him.
“I think I am, too”, he said. “A Doubter with many, many, many questions.”
“Well, then, don’t be afraid of those questions.” I promised him that next time we see each other, I’ll lend him my books. In a sense, he reminded me of myself before. Those questions, I thought, plagued me. But in time, and after much contemplation with open eyes and mind, I saw that it wasn’t a plague. Rather, it’s as basic as the fuel we feed our brains, if I accepted that what could be mundane can also be awesome and inspiring. I think that stage of doubt and thirst for knowledge was described beautifully by Morpheus, in the film, The Matrix.
He hasn’t returned the book up to now. But I hope he finds what he’s looking for in the book. Or even if not, at least, it can help him to free his mind.