Why do I believe that belief in God is important?

My life has often been lonely, but it has been less lonely when I’ve believed in God, when I’ve believed that God listened to me and cared about me and judged me and intended to reward and punish me according to my deeds.

I reached out to God in 1989, my second year with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. All my efforts to get well were in vain. I was so sick that I couldn’t accomplish anything. I could just lie around and listen to classical music. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t enjoy much of life. So where would I find purpose? I reached out to God and decided to convert to Judaism. That gave me purpose, community, guidelines and wisdom.

When I partly recovered my health in 1994 and started doing more of what I wanted, I got lost in my emotional addictions, betraying my earlier commitments to God and Judaism, but no matter how lost I got, I never lost my faith in God, in Torah, in the Sabbath and other Jewish laws, and in regular synagogue attendance. So even when I left synagogue in the morning during the week to drive off to some profane movie set in the San Fernando Valley, I returned to synagogue the next morning for prayer and Talmud study. I kept reading books on Jewish themes and attending lectures on Torah. This gave me a compass.

Belief in God fills me with hope that there is life after death and that the good will be rewarded and the wicked punished.

God is an inspirational and yet practical entity I can surrender my life to. I can let Him take charge, or my understanding of Him, and this enables me to let go of addictions and personality disorders. I’m not relying solely on my own thinking anymore because my own thinking got me into this mess and it’s not going to get me out of it.

God is an infinitely rich resource and there are many paths to Him. Over the past two years, I’ve become entranced by the 12-step approach. I’ve been able to reconcile it with my Judaism.

Belief in God and religion is a great way to organize a community. It gives transcendence. There are values and ends that transcend you and your group. People will often make greater sacrifices for a group centered on God than for a secular group. God is a powerful way to gather people together. The Orthodox Jew believes that God commands Jewish men to gather three times a day to say prayers. This is a big incentive to gather with your fellows every day. I’ve never known an intensity of community like that which I’ve found in religion. People in a religious community tend to look after each other in a more devoted way than secular communities.

Belief in God tends to elevate people. They tend to behave better. There’s a different feel to their homes. They are less likely to be swayed by secular fads and to waste their lives in stupid obsessions such as with sports or video games or porn.

The greatest people I’ve known believed in God. Most of the best people I know are Orthodox Jews. That’s a big reason that I am an Orthodox Jew, so that I can associate with them.

Belief in God tends to create better art. It creates depth and transcendence and meaning not available without belief in God.

God is the one ends in life you can pursue without diminishing yourself. Every other ends is an idol, a dead thing, and pursuing it as the big goal reduces you. See the book by Erich Fromm, You Shall Be As Gods: A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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