Monday, May 9, 2011

Written Mar '10: Where I'm at

It's been over 1 year since I started to question Christianity. I wrote a list of my concerns with Christianity, to which I could have added much more by now. In fact, there seems to be no end to the concerns we could come up with. Every different angle of approaching Christianity produces new concerns, which is why I often try not to think about it.

While I’d much prefer Christianity to just be absolutely true, that claim would be a denial of my actual thoughts, and not an honest internal reflection. I’ll state my honest assessment of Christianity here.

Christian apologists speak of the hole in our hearts that needs to be filled. I think this hole is our basic question, “why are we here?” While most everybody has this hole, virtually nobody has the capacity to figure it out on their own, and relatively few have the capacity/energy to try to figure it out. To rephrase: everybody wants the answer, nobody is capable of determining the answer, and very few have the energy to try. So we have masses of people prone to accepting a sufficient answer. This is why the world is a petri dish of religions. When a person is presented with a popular idea that an all-powerful God has specifically placed them here for a purpose, their basic question is answered to a level of sufficiency which they’re not prone to compete with. While they’ll probably spend the rest of their life feeling a little confused and spiritually deficient, they’ll be able to insist they are here for a purpose when that basic question arises. Whether or not their answer is true, it suffices for them. But their answer, unless true, is actually just an escape from several issues: we may not be able to know the truth, there may be no cosmic purpose to our existence, there may be no cosmic moral authority upon which to base our choices, sometimes there may be no hope, and death may be the end. I currently view Christianity as the best form of escapism we have. This is not necessarily a bad thing, since we are escaping issues which we have no other solution to, issues which most of us understandably don’t wish to face.

Regarding the issue of cosmic moral authority, the masses generally need authoritative rules, as we often can’t otherwise muster the motivation to behave morally. Christianity provides a sufficient set of rules, and claims unquestionable authority from God. This provides moral motivation for many people who were unable to find it elsewhere, or who never really looked. Aside from demanding agreement to a list of doctrines such as the trinity and virgin birth, and the shattered hopes that can arise from thinking that Jesus literally exists today (albeit invisibly and silently) and wants to help, the general love-oriented moral teachings of Christianity present a good way to live.

Based on a better understanding of why Christianity is so important to many people I care about, and the realization that my whole life is intertwined in Christianity (wife, family, friends), I’ve decided that I shouldn’t leave Christianity. I have to stay with it in some form, else my life will be torn apart. The ramifications of not sharing Christianity with my wife and family are very dismal. I believe that differing worldviews accounts for much of the walls and hatred in the world. While leaving Christianity might tear down some walls between me and the world, it would create walls within my Christianity-soaked life. I’m much better off emphasizing areas of agreement between my worldview and that of my wife, family and friends. For example, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love the Lord, and the second is to love your neighbor. I completely agree with the second commandment, which presents a strong common ground.

One thing appears certain to me, Christianity (like all religions) might be false. Most Christians would naturally hesitate to agree with this, yet will likely concede that you cannot prove Christianity is true. Well if you can’t prove something’s true then there’s a possibility it’s false. But I’m not just talking about a remote possibility that Christianity is false, to me it appears there’s a fair likelihood. With the perspective that Christianity might be false, it’s difficult to be passionate about it, or honestly witness to people.

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