Can you prove that God exists? Or that God doesn’t exist?
Soren Kierkegaard, who argued that life is only worth living if you have total faith in God, also claimed that faith is reserved for things that lack evidence.
In other words, we can neither know nor prove that God exists. And yet it is also true that we humans long for God, long to be in relationship with something greater than ourselves.
This week’s Torah portion shows just how far people will go to know that God is present.
First, the Children of Israel ask Aaron to make an idol for them to worship, and he creates the Golden Calf. Although we often think of the calf as a replacement god, the Torah might actually be telling us that they simply wanted to see God. Because as soon as Aaron showed it to them, they exclaimed, “This is your God, Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 32:4)
Not long afterwards, Moses himself asks God directly, “Let me behold your presence.” (Exodus 33:18). God complies, but not in the way Moses wanted – he gets to experience God, but not actually see the Divine Being.
I have long thought that we humans are hard-wired for religion, although I have a dear friend who argues that religion was created by the people in charge to control everyone else. I understand her cynicism, but I can’t share it.
Because I have chosen to believe. Despite myself, despite my rational mind, despite the fact that it makes no sense whatsoever, I have chosen to believe that there is something greater than me, something that I can never understand, never prove, never explain to you or to myself. And that’s OK. The challenge – and the beauty – of belief is knowing and accepting that it is completely irrational.