On this blog I call myself a skeptical believer. That is, I am a believer but I tend to habitually question everything. I don’t go for pat answers or religious cliches. For me this way of thinking is mostly a blessing as it makes me confident that the things I believe in are real, but it doesn’t come without cost. There are many times I’ve wished for a simple uncomplicated faith where I didn’t have to wrestle and debate every single point of every single belief like two countries hammering out a peace negotiation line by line.
“Daddy, do you love me?”
“Of course I do sweetheart. Higher than the moon is high.”
“Why do you love me?”
“Well my little angel…I..I don’t really have a choice.
You see, my biology forces me to. My love is really a trick of evolution to make sure my genes survive.”
I finally wrote up the rough draft of a post on atheism (by which I mean the active belief that there is no Ultimate Creator) that I promised months ago. Hopefully that will be out in a few days. Before I post that one, though, I wanted to lay a little groundwork with an aside on what people believe and how we tend to react to others who believe something different than us.
Here’s my thesis:
No matter what your spiritual or atheistic beliefs are, you believe something ludicrous and crazy.
What’s so Good about Good Friday?
There are those out there who believe Jesus’ crucifixion was in fact the crushing, final defeat it appeared to be.
“My god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” (Eli eli lema sabachtani?)Matthew 27:46
Evidence, they say, that Jesus realized in the last few minutes of life that his naive belief in a loving Father was no match for the powers and systems of the world. They believe that Jesus was experiencing the abject horror of one who realizes he is about to die in vain.
I say these people couldn’t be more wrong.
Seems like there’s a lot of talk on American news these days about The War On Christmas. I don’t know if regular people actually believe in this or whether it’s just something that the cable news channels drum up to manufacture ratings, but certain news personalities seem to have confused the changing cultural landscape of our society with an active assault against God Almighty.
My view is that if your god is weakened or threatened by the changing cultural standards of the country you live in, he’s a pretty puny, tribalistic god. A god you believe in for much the same reasons you root for your favorite sports team—because you live close to it (this is a red-blooded Angels fan writing, so I know all about tribalistic loyalties). Anyway, a weak god. Not the living God of the universe whose immense power spoke all things into existence. No, the real God is not worried on His throne, His plans are not threatened, and His will is not thwarted by any so-called “war on Christmas”.
This can be one of the most troubling and serious questions that you may ever wrestle with, whether you’re still considering following Jesus or have been a disciple of His for 50 years. The very notion of hell is unsettling and, quite frankly, disturbing.
This is exactly how it is supposed to be.
Hell is an aberration, an abomination, a place that was never meant to be. Hell was not a part of the original creation. In fact, hell is not even meant for humankind.
Freedom is the ability to do what you want and define life on your own terms. Christianity takes both of those away.
This is a very American (and modern) objection to Christianity. After all, the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is in the Declaration of Independence. It’s in the very DNA of our country (I’m not going to get off track here and delve into politics and all that, but it’s my belief that this phrase is widely misinterpreted today and has become a selfish and superficial attitude rather than the ground-breaking statement of political freedom it was meant to be).
So when a person becomes a Christian, do they have to give up their freedom? Don’t you become a slave to one group’s view of morality? Do you have to give up your voice and become just another sheep in the crowd?
As Christians (and especially Protestants) we rely on the Bible as the primary source of our information about God. Indeed, we believe that the Bible is the ONLY fully complete and accurate revelation from God to His people.
It would behoove us then to understand why we believe that, don’t you think?
***continued from Part One***
2. “Jesus is just another in a long line of mythical dying and resurrecting gods like Horus and Mithra.”
I’ve never heard this argument coming from people I actually meet, but it is very prevalent amongst the intelligentsia and ‘professional’ skeptics. And I’ll admit, the very first time I heard it I was taken aback and had to do a bit of study in order to find out about it. It’s part-truth and part-bunk.
At the urging of a few friends, I finally got around to watching the film Religulous. In it, comedian Bill Maher, who is known for his dry, cynical wit, sets off on a jaunt around the world to expose the hypocrisy and ignorance of religious folk. His thesis is that religion is a force for evil in the world and we would be better off if it were eradicated. The film shows Maher interviewing Christians, Muslims, Jews, and a couple Mormons as well (he also takes a quick potshot at Scientologists).
Maher is a very intelligent man and a gifted comic. It’s a shame that he’s used his talents to become bitter, jaded and cynical. And for all his intellect, he does an incredibly poor job at researching his chosen subject matter, as he uses outdated and puerile arguments to defend his position.