I think it would be nice if I could believe. The thought of having a guardian angel is comforting. If I look at some of the circumstances that have unfolded in my life, I could go both ways as to whether or not I might have one. I’ve done incredibly stupid things and lived; I’ve had incredibly terrible things happen to me, and I suffered because of. But to believe in a benevolent angel who loves me unconditionally sounds intriguing. Even though I perceive a childlike essence to believing in such a deity, walking around a grocery store or sitting in a meeting thinking that my angel is somewhere near, looking out for my best interests, could be a great source of spiritual alleviation. So why don’t I believe for the pure purpose of making life a pinch easier mentally and psychologically?
This kind of philosophy is not new, and in a roundabout way has been coined by a famous man named Blaise Pascal. Utilizing the prospect of an actual spirit world in conjunction with the message of the Bible, Pascal suggested that one would be better off believing in God, abiding by the good book, and believing in Jesus, all for the sake of getting into heaven, as opposed to what the Bible proposes as an alternative.
The problem I have with this is that deep down, I can only “want” to believe. Like Fox Mulder from the X-Files, I do, I want to believe. And I really want a guardian angel to be in my life. However, I don’t understand the intense, self-contradictory issue of sitting in a church and pretending to believe for the sake of going to heaven, when in fact, what I’m really doing is lying to God by pretending to believe. Would God want this? Would he want me in church pretending to believe? Going through the motions could be rigorous and aggravating after a while, not to mention the fact that virtually every prayer I’ve ever prayed has never come true. I wouldn’t say my prayers were for greedy things, either, I had just kind of hoped for some things that just never materialized. If I should have been praying for “God’s will” the entire time, well then obviously, whether I prayed for it or not, God’s will got done regardless of the prayer.
While the notion of burning in hell for all eternity doesn’t sound pleasing, this threat by the Bible doesn’t exactly help my issue of believing. Catholics believe in Purgatory, a place where people don’t necessarily go to hell, but they’re not in heaven yet because they have to do jail time for the sins they’ve committed, because they’re not glistening enough to be in the presence of the Divine. Maybe that’s where I would go; that is, if I were Catholic. But since I’m not Catholic, the fates of the spirit world must have another plan for me.
Getting back to Pascal, I think the idea is a bit shaky. “I don’t believe, but since I’ve got nothing to lose, I may as well.” But how this works comes in handy for the person who needs a higher power, a person like me, to help alleviate the torture of the drab situation of life. The alternatives are mental doctors and mind altering substances, neither of which are very thrilling to embrace. But if I choose to believe in a guardian angel for the sake of acquiring a romantic and heavenly analgesic, exactly what is it that I have done? I’ve participated in the perpetuation of a societal mindset that has haunted the earth for centuries; I’ve gone and perpetuated the myth I have. Should I care? Freedom of religion allows me to believe in whatever I want, but the ultimate problem I have is the inner turmoil that ensues whenever the thought of believing in something intangible arises: since there is no way to ever know whether such a spirit world exist, how can I participate in the worst possible lie: the lie that is the one to thyself. Would I be lying to myself, or deceiving myself, or would I just being going out on a limb in deciding that whether or not guardian angels exist, it doesn’t really matter, as long as I’m helping myself to survive. Is the intellect more important than the spirit? Is the point of being correct about atheism more important than believing in the love of a guardian angel?
The human spirit possesses such a wide range of emotional texture that even the most hardened souls can be touched by the thought of being unloved. So maybe a discipline of thought can be employed to help one believe despite one’s disbelief. Where would that take us? Would it matter?
If one were gaining a healthier outlook on life and attaining a measure of peace, then I would say yes; and if, by believing, the institutions of man’s interpretation of the spirit world, a.k.a. the Bible, the Quran, etc., are perpetuated in the process, I would also say yes, it does matter.
In the meantime, I would love to meet my guardian angel.