I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to the question do I believe in God? is probably ‘no.’ Or at least, let’s put it another way: it’s not about ‘belief’. It’s not about a series of credos which are ‘out there’ or ‘up there’ and which I support in some way: it’s not about a set of tenets which I’ve signed up to. What it is, is like this:
Supposing you were to ask me if I believe in love. Go on, ask me:
‘Do you believe in love?’
I would answer yes. And you might then ask why. Go on!
‘Because I’ve experienced it. I’ve known it and felt it and lived it – and because what I experience seems to be similar to what other people mean when they talk about love – so I call it love.’
Now ask me about God.
‘What about God?’
‘Same answer. I believe in God because I’ve known and lived and felt and experienced something which seems to be the same as what other people mean when they talk about God – and so I call it God.’
Of course you might then object, as many people do, that terrible acts are committed in the name of God. This is undeniably true. But terrible acts are also committed in the name of love. People kill or abuse or stalk or threaten each other and call it love, but just as I do not recognise that as love, so I do not recognise the other as God.
It boils down to what George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, said: (I’m paraphrasing a little) ‘The Bible says this and men say that and the preacher says so-and-so – but what can’st thou say?’ In other words, what matters is your experience; the experience of the individual not standing alone, but within the group.
And that’s where I stand.