Do you believe in God?
Are you offended by my asking? Am I snooping into your personal life?
Am I being inappropriately aggressive and punishing in my inquiry? Why
should it matter to me what you believe?
I think being made uncomfortable by that question in a public forum is
a perfectly human response.
Are you allowed, by the will of society and the foundation of your childhood indoctrinations, to not answer or to answer in the negative?
I’m not big on The God Thang, but the USA is a Christian Nation where your fundamental belief in God is presumed.
However, many of us are still tested by the True Believers: “Do you believe in God?”
I usually reformulate that question in my mind — as previously defended in my Translating God
article — but today I argue most people do a similar sort of
translation when asked about believing in God.
I believe most people take that question to really mean if they are a
“good and moral person.” Answer in the affirmative and you’re “good” —
answer in the negative and you’re in public trouble.
Folks generally don’t want to say they don’t believe in God — even if
they do or are uncertain — because we have been trained by society to
affirm the goodness, not in others, but in our selves to others, and if
we don’t quickly confirm our belief, the asker will think we are
immoral and in need of condemnation or public correcting.
The easy answer — “Yes, I believe in God!” — is the infrequent believer’s socially accepted — “You do not look fat in that dress!” — fast-twitch response cry
that, while coded to create a nodding head and smiling face in the
asker, actually covers the core of an uncertain truth in many
responders who resent having their values, faith, and morality put to
the test in the public square.