I joined the “Free Believers Network” page on Facebook a while ago and have found some interesting and thought-provoking posts and comments and articles there. Today a quote someone posted caught my attention:
“…an error made on your own is safer than ten truths accepted on faith, because the first leaves you the means to correct it, but the second destroys your capacity to distinguish truth from error.” -Ayn Rand
I think she makes an interesting point. I have mostly not been an experientially-focused person. Even from a young age I have lived (or have tried to live) by the saying “learn from the mistakes of others.” I still see a lot of merit in that. After all, life IS rather short to go making all the mistakes myself….but I have found that I’ve gone to the other extreme and am now often afraid of making my own mistakes. And having to live with the consequences.
For most of my life I have accepted the “ten truths on faith”, not having the wisdom of experience to evaluate the validity or merit of those “truths”, and now I find myself having to re-evaluate. But what standard am I to use to distinguish truth from error? Experience, apparently. Which means I need to actually experience something. Will I survive?
Actually, this is something that keeps coming up in the things I read, the stuff I’ve been listening to, and many of the conversations I’ve had with people lately. That is, the idea of relaxing and letting myself make mistakes. Allowing myself the freedom to live life, make decisions, and learn from the “bad” or “foolish” decisions I make without condemning myself.
It’s almost as though the universe is trying to shake me awake and say “Hey! Get up and go live your life!”
When I was a kid, sometimes I would lay in bed and think about what 5 things I would try to save from a house fire. My favourite doll? My scrap-book? My piggy bank full of nickels and dimes? One constant one from when I was about 7 or 8 until…well…until just over a year ago was my Bible. I loved my Bible. I would read it almost every day hoping God would “speak” to me (which meant that I would read something that made me feel guilty or “convicted”, then I would pray about it and try to fix whatever seemed wrong in my life that didn’t line up with what I had just read). I believed every word in it was true and perfect and right and straight from the mouth of God himself. I believed in absolute truth and that absolute truth was revealed in the Bible.
Now I can no longer believe those things. Every time I even THINK of pulling out my Bible, I start to wonder “Who actually wrote these books? What was their purpose in writing them? Who decided they were to be considered scripture? What was the agenda of the people who made that decision? Why these 66 books and not 66 others? Why does my Bible not contain books that other people’s Bibles have?” That’s not even going into the translation side of things that brings up MORE questions for me.
I’ve done a little research about how the canon of scripture that I grew up with came to be. Not enough to give me any illusions of my being an expert or anything–not even enough to answer my questions to my satisfaction–but just enough to let me relax a little. From what I have read, my understanding is that the canon of scripture that is “my” Bible (that is, the standard Protestant Bible) was not compiled of writings the church leaders of the time considered to be irrefutable, but was, instead, made up of writings that supported the church’s generally accepted belief system.
Perhaps this may not sound like much, but it is a big deal to me and provides a sense of freedom. Because I had always believed the Bible was absolute truth, I had believed it applied to everyone. Once I realized it was collected writings that agree with church doctrine I then saw it as only applying to people who also follow that doctrine. The Qur’an for Muslims, the Book of Mormon for Mormons….and the Bible for Christians.
I am by no means done asking questions about how the Bible was compiled, nor am I done searching for answers, but for now I am comfortable being here. And at this time (assuming my family got out safe) I would save my iPod, computer, journals, violin and wallet from a house fire.
One of the scariest things a person can do is question the belief system they always took for granted. The world seems a more uncertain place. More chaotic. The frame that used to contain it and hold all its colours in is now no longer solid. The colours and shapes in the picture threaten to jump out and take over the universe, spreading chaos, confusion and instability wherever they go.
At least, that’s how I feel sometimes.
I grew up in church, proudly conservative with definite fundamentalist leanings. There was very little room for grey in my black-and-white world view, let alone colour. Then, one day, a very innocent-looking question lodged itself in my mind and left a hint of colour in my picture. Why do Catholic Bibles have more books than Protestant Bibles? About seven years later I have more questions than I know what to do with and, at last count, a total of zero answers.
My purpose in creating this blog is to share some of my questions and the intriguing ideas I encounter as I search for answers. I hope people who find my writings can identify with my search and find some kind of encouragement or sense of companionship as they search for their own answers.