Profession of Faith
Depending upon who you ask, God could be either everything, meaning that this paper ought to be all-encompassing, or nothing, meaning that this paper is essentially pointless. Granted, those stances may be extreme, but everyone has to believe something. The points of view I just mentioned are very general. I would venture to say that there are as many different ways of looking at the world as there are people, and therefore mine, though it may bear similarities to others', is unique.
And the way I see it, what you think about God and religion and faith is basically the way you view the world. At the very least it makes up a significant portion of your worldview, your philosophy of life.
I believe in God, but perhaps not in the traditional sense. Even the word "God" bears some connotations of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" - one god, one religion, and so on. All I'm willing to commit to at present is belief in a higher power. Something must exist that is far beyond us – I refuse to believe that the human race, with all its flaws, is as good as it gets. The universe is an amazing place, and it would break my heart if it were all entirely random. I know, that sounds like my belief is merely something I hold on to in order to make myself feel better. But so what if it is? Assuming there is a higher power, I believe in it. If the truth is that there isn't, well, my belief will still have made me happier. I see nothing wrong with that.
This faith I have is admittedly quite unspecific. I've only been working on it for sixteen years, though, so that is to be expected. Sometimes I feel inclined to accept the Christian doctrines, to embrace Christ, angels, and the Bible, but I assume this is because they are the only things I've ever had instruction in. My family, composed mainly of agnostic/atheists, has given me no guidance in that area. My religious education has been courtesy of the Catholic school system. Had I attended a Buddhist school instead, for example, I would likely lean toward following the Eight-Fold Path and practicing Zen meditation.
So, though I believe in a God, I cannot ascribe to any one organized religion because I fail to see how any one group could possibly know the true nature of God. No one religion can have all the right answers. Religions often say the same basic things in different cultural contexts. Any God I would want to accept wouldn't choose to enlighten only one set of people. He would enlighten all of the different peoples in whatever way he deemed best to lead them towards their salvation. Then again, this God I'm putting my faith in might not be what I want him/her/it to be.
As for the Bible, I trust it about as much as I trust any scriptures – not very much. I respect these for what they are to so many people and for the wisdom that they contain, but they're not perfect. I can't blindly put faith in literal interpretations of the Bible. Divine inspiration seems more likely, but it would have been influenced by the authors' personal opinions and the social atmosphere of the day, which to me seems like it could only cause inaccuracies. Sure, it can be symbolic, but how do we know that anyone is interpreting it correctly? Some things in the Bible I agree with, others I don't. The Bible mentions the evils of homosexuality in numerous places, and I cannot accept that. On the other hand, treating your neighbor as you would like to be treated is a basic principle I think all people should live by. Just like with religions in general, I take what I like and leave the rest.
Lots of peoples' beliefs bring them to a religion. Mine, however, keep me away from all of them. Rather than dedicating myself fully to one faith and accepting even the things I disagree with, I choose to celebrate the parts that are true to me. Nobody is entirely right, and nobody is entirely wrong. Whatever I choose to believe will work for me, but I'm not going to condemn anyone who disagrees. It still confuses me, I won't pretend otherwise, but things are slowly becoming clearer. I used to think that figuring out my beliefs would be the answer to a question, but I have come to realize that it is looking for the answer, rather than the answer itself, that is the most important part.