Paradise Lost: Life without God
Imagine No Religion, imagine walking with God. Literally... It's evening in your garden world. The warmth of the afternoon lingers in the meadow in front of you, but behind you a cool, fragrant breeze stirs the darkening woods. The sun, riding low in the sky, floods the landscape with gold. Soon it will paint a masterpiece over the western hills. Your senses take in the beauty, and your heart appreciates it, yet these wonders cannot explain the joyful expectancy that wells up like a song in your soul. There is another reason for it. He is coming. Soon! The Person who created you has promised to meet you here. He often comes during the evening, because He knows it is your favorite time for a walk. As you walk together, He shows you many things—canyons, mountains, oceans, fields, and all the creatures that call these wild regions home. Each moment with your Friend is tinged with discovery and wonder. But the greatest marvel of all is always simply Him. He is deeper than any canyon, grander than any mountain, mightier than any ocean, gentler and more inviting than any meadow, yet wilder than any of His creatures. He is your delight, and you are His. You call Him Father, and He calls you His child. He is not like you. Yet somehow—amazingly—you are a bit like Him. He speaks to you often of your role in this Paradise. You, together with the mate that He has given you, are to nurture and rule it as His representatives.
It is a staggering responsibility, yet you are unafraid, for He will always be there to teach and guide you. You are totally dependent on Him, yet content. He is all you need. It has never occurred to you to feel frightened or guilty about meeting with Him. You certainly never find Him dull or boring! You never feel "religious." In fact, it is doubtful that anyone could ever really explain the concept of a religion to you, even if they tried. You have never "said a prayer," let alone "chanted," though you often speak with Him. You have never organized a choir, though you often sing to Him—just as He often sings to you. You have never given a speech about Him, though you often speak lovingly of Him to the helper that He made for you and even to the beasts of the field when you encounter them.
He is the central fact of your existence. You quite literally couldn't live without Him. It has never even crossed your mind to try. Your life is already rich with meaning and bursting with adventure. No wonder you are waiting so expectantly for Him now! Does that picture of life sound good to you? It should. You were created for it.
Anatomy of the Fall
We all know how the tragedy played out: Adam and Eve sinned and lost Paradise. In its place they received—in a sense, they created—a fallen world cursed with hard labor, painful childbirth, difficult relationships, and in the end, death. You may have been created for Paradise, but you certainly weren't born into it. Sin is the reason. But why on earth did Adam and Eve do it? How could they have been so foolish? They had it so good—perfect, in fact. How could the devil deceive them? The answer to that question sums up the sad history of our fallen species. Let's read the account. You've heard it many times before, no doubt, but have you ever really noticed the devil's strategy? He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:2-6) What, then, was the bait on the devil's hook? The prospect of an independent existence without a moment-by-moment need for God. "God's holding out on you. He knows that your eyes will be opened if you pursue the knowledge of good and evil. You won't need Him to tell you what to do. You'll be wise enough to decide things for yourself. In fact, you can be your own gods!" Independence was the intoxicating bait. Unfortunately, independence is exactly what humanity got out of the bargain. And it was certainly not much of a bargain! Within a few decades of going it alone and deciding for themselves what seemed good, the first human parents had raised themselves a murderer. Within a few centuries, starvation, war, cruelty, hatred, deceit, and exploitation had appeared on the scene—everything humanity has strived so unsuccessfully to eliminate from their civilizations as the millennia pass by. Independence wasn't supposed to turn out that way, at least according to the snake. Somehow when he spoke of it, it sounded exciting. intelligent. Important. Sophisticated. But he had "forgotten" to mention a crucial fact: independence always means separation. And separation from God is neither exciting nor intelligent. Ever since that first temptation, our species has absolutely craved independence from God and has paid the price of separation from Him to get it. We still like the looks of that forbidden fruit, despite the heartache it has brought us. Like the subjects in Jesus' parable of the ten minas, we consider the prospects of submitting to God and cry, "We do not want Him to be our King" (Luke 19:14). Most humans, it seems, want a god, but they want one who will be satisfied with token religious observances and then leave them alone so that they can lead their own lives their own way.
excerpt from a teaching I am reading.