It is not essential to believe in God or in the historical Jesus or in Christianity. What resonates for me is a deeper meaning than prayers or ritual or litanies can provide. It is an awareness and understanding of who I am, personally, and professionally. It is in being able to think and reason and pay attention to what is real and distinguish that which is superstition or tradition. It is being willing and able to think of others, including other people, creatures, life and the environment.
All I have to do to find meaning is walk through my garden and wonder at the processes that made the plants, animals, birds insects and bacteria that exist in this garden of eat’n, smell’n, hear’n and see’n. What exists for me there are not only the beauty of the flowers and plants or the tomatoes and herbs that grow there. There is the plant, itself, and there is so much more. Studying natural sciences, i.e. the kingdoms of Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia that deal with matter, energy, and their interrelationships that transform each other, or with their objectively measurable phenomena, that reveals the wonder of it all.
To me, religion is a kind of fakery one uses in order to arouse emotions without a sense of the wonder behind the science of existence. A cheap kind of religion at the most and a charlatan religiosity at its worst. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s referral to suspension of disbelief, as in an essential element for a magician in a circus sideshow. For example an audience is not expected to actually believe that a woman is cut in half in order to enjoy the performance. They suspend judgement for the duration of the show.
Did miracles happen? Did Jesus exist? Was there a crucifixion and a resurrection? Prove it with something other than hearsay evidence. There are those, such as Bart Ehrman and virtually all Christian scholars who believe there was a real historical person behind the Jesus of the Gospels. There are others who take the mythicist position that Jesus exists as a completely fictional character. These include Robert Price, Earl Doherty, and Frank Zindler. Is there life after death? Well, you have to have religion to think that.
Is it necessary to believe in the supernatural in order to have a sense of wonder and a sense of conscience? I think not. Everything we need for such attributes exists within each one of us. Those attributes can be trained out of us by the environment, however, the basic elements exist within us.
Is it necessary in a scientific, objective perspective to suspend a sense of wonder? Not at all. Just look at a newborn baby and try to escape the sense of wonderment that emerges. Or look upon the death of a beloved and not grieve. Both bring forth tears, one of joy and one of anguish. Both incorporate into the mind that thinks and reasons.
I admire skeptics and humanists who bunk superstition and fraudulent claims. In fact, religious cannot prove their claims objectively. They have to rely on religious books and on believers to support their assertions. That is evidence that would not stand up in a court of law.
Skeptics and humanists tend to be a little short on the aesthetic value of life. There exists a deep psychological importance of myth and ritual as Jung pointed out. He focused on establishing and fostering the relationship between conscious and unconscious processes. These processes can easily be learned and understood and put into practice within the scientific brain.
Dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the psyche enriches the person, and Jung believed that without this dialogue, unconscious processes can weaken and even jeopardize the personality. It is because of the unconscious process that we have no free will.
There is nothing supernatural about thinking, reasoning and feeling. In my opinion they repay involvement in taking the time and energy to learn about the processes of life and living and including a kind of poetic, dramatic aspect of life. If there is a god it is a verb, a process and not a noun.
For me this is a profound and fulfilling process.