I had barely cracked open Walter Isaacson's biography on Steve Jobs when I get to the part where Jobs discusses his religious thoughts. His opinion was shaped early on. Isaacson recounts a story in which Jobs, at just thirteen-years-old, tells his pastor that he didn't want to worship a God who allowed children to suffer from starvation like those he saw on a cover of Life magazine. Isaacson continues:
He never went back to church. He did, however, spend years studying and trying to practice the tenets of Zen Buddhism. Reflecting years later on his spiritual feelings, he said that religion was at its best when it emphasized spiritual experiences rather than received dogma. "The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it," he told me. "I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don't. It's the great mystery." (page 15)
I love this. Well said, Steve. When a religion focuses more on spewed theology that must be followed lockstep rather than trying to live humbly, it becomes (for me and Steve) unbelievable. It doesn't matter what you "believe" if that belief doesn't direct a way of living that is compassionate, kind, and caring.
And mysterious. Kudos to Steve for embracing the ultimate mystery. If we're honest (and Jesus says we should be honest), none of us truly know. We hope for a mystery at best. And that's what makes true belief well worth the journey.