Fear is a very strong emotion; fear of the dark, fear of pain, or fear of death. Going through life, we will inevitably experience all manner of fear, and often enough, we will allow this fear to control our actions. Philosophically speaking, I am inclined to assume that fear is not real. In the same way that good, evil, suffering, and morality exist only due to human consciousness, fear exists only as a result of human physical and psychological responses to external stimuli. Fear is ultimately a reaction to what we do not know. Fear of the unknown can be of death, pain, or any number of other things which we have not experienced before, and it is powerful.
Fear of the unknown has proven to be one of the most dangerous factors in events throughout human history. It causes people to become irrational in their reaction to that which is often quite mundane. In the middle ages, those who didn’t understand Jewish culture and traditions most often reacted to Jews with fear. This fear led many to persecute and murder the Jews, purely out of a lack of knowledge of their own neighbors. Fear of the unknown sets us on paths which we, as reasonable, sentient beings, would not otherwise walk. When people don’t know about something, we naturally form hypotheses about it, and generally we would observe and test our environment to determine the truth. Fear clouds our judgment, and causes us to make the assumption that out hypotheses are truth.
People who are trying to find their place in the universe, and who are attempting to understand life and death, will often make the assumption of the existence of a spiritual realm or being. This has led to the formation of religious and spiritual traditions through history. Those of us for whom death is a constant companion or fear will often make the assumption of an afterlife. There is, of course, no logical basis for this concept. There is no reason that I have to exist beyond the span of my life. It is a comforting thought to believe that I will live forever, but it flies in the face of reason to assume that it is true. This, of course, does not refute the truth of the statement, but to assume the truth is equally as bad as assuming its falsehood.
Belief in God as more than the Absolute, the essence of knowledge, and as all existence, is something I used as a child to explain death. Fear of the unknown outcome of death led me to the ungrounded assumption that there is a creator-deity who is conscious in a human sense and accepts those who die back into his realm. This is, as I stated before, an illogical assumption. It has no foundation in objective experience, but it helped me as a child to grasp the enormous concept of death. The pantheistic, semi-deistic, and transcendent “God” that I have today does not serve to explain anything. I have accepted that I can’t know much of anything about God, the afterlife, or about spirituality. To come to this semi-agnostic state of religiosity means making the jump from the fear of the unknown, namely death and that which comes after, to a love of the known. Whether you want to have the same spiritual experience as I have had, or you believe in all the things I don’t, I recommend leaving behind fears and assumptions and embracing what you do know and what you can still learn. If you try to think about the universe as a whole and all the the knowledge there is to gain, you may just be able to see the face of God, something I try to do every day.