Bart Och - Travel Journalist

Isn’t being religious fundamentally in opposition to science? I am a thoughtful and sceptical person, and I am not a person who believes blindly in anything. So, how is it that I believe in God, and what does that belief look like? Maybe it is easier to start with what I don’t believe God is. I don’t believe God is an old man with a beard who sits upon a cloud and grants you magic wishes if you recite the right words or feel guilty enough. I don’t believe that God can award you a parking space if you pray hard enough. And I don’t believe that God has set up some code of behaviour, and if I don’t live by it, I won’t be given my place in heaven among angels.

The God I believe in is the force in the universe that drives all of the phenomena that we experience as human beings. God is gravity, and God is centrifugal force, and God is the answer to why everything is the way it is in the natural world. You might be thinking that is just science. I guess you are right. But, over the years, I have grown a tremendous sense of gratitude and humility for my place in the natural and scientific world. Understanding equations that describe gravity and pressure and force and torque is science, and that is amazing. But having a spiritual connection with that information so much so that it brings you to your knees because it is so unbelievable is what it means to have a relationship with God. I also ascribe our ability to think, to reason, to love, to build, to create as divine. Because it is amazing that we exist.

Closeness with a notion of God gives me the opportunity to experience myself as a spiritual being and not just a physical one. Having a relationship with God gives me a chance to understand my inner world in a way that can’t be measured by inches, scores, and ratios, or by diplomas hung on the wall. It can be measured by the way it feels when you read a poem or a good book and you feel like someone out there understands you and there is a purpose to continuing your existence. It can be measured by the sacrifices and foolish things you do just to see the people you care about smile. It can be measured by the way your stomach flip flops over and drops to the ground when you stare into the eyes of someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. It can be measured by the enormity of emotions you feel when you look at the stars in the sky or when you hold hands and kiss for the first time. It can be measured by the depths of despair that you feel when someone breaks your heart, and it can also be measured by the hope you feel when you know that you will love again.

We may not be always happy with how religion looks, or how religious people act. But there is a force in the universe that underlines all of this beautiful chaos. And understanding the relationship between Science and God, I think, makes me a complete person.

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