“Why do you believe in God?” The question came straight. It was one of those summer nights among friends, with no particular worries in mind, fuelled by beer and the enjoyment of each other’s company. It was quite common to end up talking about “philosophical questions”. I could see from my friend’s gaze that the question was serious, no ways to avoid it. “Why not?”, I replied dodgy. “This is not an answer”, he replied curt. “Well, I could say this is not the right question.”
“What do you mean?” I sipped my beer, and I replied: “Many times I was to be asked the same questions by people who tend to see religions, or faith in general, simply as an imposed cultural legacy that boils down to a set of rules that at the end have the only effect of reducing people’s freedom. The problem in this way of looking at it is that the individual perspective is completely lost.”
“I can’t follow you.” “Do you love your girlfriend?”, I asked swiftly. “Of course I do, you know me.” “Why?”, I asked again. The question floored him for a moment, and quickly he replied “There is not a single reason...it’s not even only a matter of thoughts, or just feelings either… it’s a combination of many factors, feelings, thoughts, memories… the whole myself is involved… it’s hard to convey it into words.” And after a short break, “But I don’t see the point, where are you aiming?”
“When you say you love your girlfriend and you can’t explain it, this does not make your love, your feelings, less true. Well, faith, or believing in God, is the same, it’s something you feel intensely, a voice within you that you can’t stop, you can’t ignore, even without any rationale for that. It’s an experience that engages you entirely, and the same time without making you feeling constrained, like in a love relationship.”
He looked at me with a mix of confusion, surprise, and amusement. A moment of silence. It was time for heading home, or another beer maybe. I don’t recall.
Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Knowledge Engineering