So on a humorous note….this video made me laugh. Notice the book Lucy is reading. 😉
I started reading Evolving in Monkey Town the other day and was excited this afternoon to discover that Evans asks many of the same questions as I do. I’m not quite half-way through the book so I don’t know if she gives any answers, but there is something affirming about finding someone else who wonders/wondered about the same things.
“Isn’t it a little suspicious that the only true religion is the one with which we happen to grow up?” -Rachel Held Evans
One of the first questions I began asking over a year ago when I finally allowed myself TO question things was “How can we Christians be so sure that we are right and everyone else is wrong? How can we be absolutely positive that all the people around the world who don’t believe the same as us will spend eternity in hell for their mistakenness?” I’ve wondered this for the last 10 years or so but, because I blindly accepted the things I grew up hearing from my parents and sunday school teachers and pastors, I kept shoving that question to the back of my mind hoping it would eventually go away. But it hasn’t.
Why was I a Christian? Really, I almost didn’t have a choice. I was born in Canada in the 80’s to a young Christian couple whose parents and grandparents were also Christians. I was raised in the church and grew up hearing all the Bible stories both at home and at Sunday School. When I was about 3 I remember waking up in the middle of the night. It was dark and I was alone and a little scared. I don’t remember WHY I thought to do this (perhaps the bits about “Jesus is always with you and will protect you” popped into my mind. I don’t know.) but I remember sitting up in bed and asking Jesus into my heart.
Evans talks in her book about how a person’s religion is at least influenced if not determined by when they are born and where they are raised. Of course anyone can change their beliefs at any time, but many if not most people don’t. And for the majority of the world past, present, and future who do not believe or have not heard that the creator of the universe came to earth in a human body, died on our behalf to save us from sin, rose from the dead three days later and now demands that we “believe in” him or else spend eternity in torment, the “gospel” (aka “good news”) is about the worst news they could ever receive.
I honestly find it incredibly difficult to believe that God can both love every human he has created AND condemn the majority of those loved creations to an eternity of torture. I can’t think of any situation in which I could send someone I love to a place of torture for a month, let alone eternity. And I can’t think of anyone I could in good conscience sentence to an eternity in hell. Does that make me more loving than the God of the Bible? Because seriously, if the Bible is telling the truth about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, most of the world’s people are going to hell simply because they were born in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time. If he really truly loves them, he could do something about that. He SHOULD do something about it.
When I was a kid, I loved reading the Old Testament. It had more stories. More action. The book of Judges in particular was one of my favourites because of its collection of short stories about bloody battles, daring escapes, and intrigue. As much as I loved my Bible and loved my god–that is, to the point of constantly trying to change myself into someone more “pleasing” to both–some of the things God commanded (particularly in the Old Testament) never sat well with me. For example, he told the Jews, who were in the process of invading their “promised land” according to God’s instructions, to kill all the men, women, and children of a particular nation. When giving Moses the law, many infractions were punishable by death. Somehow this same violent God inspires the prophet Jonah to describe him as being “slow to anger and abounding in love.”
Can this truly be the same God? Is he schizophrenic? Undecided? Experimenting? Misrepresented?
Darin Hufford suggests he is misunderstood. I suppose with the vast number of denominations and religions that are out there, one really must assume that if God DOES exist, he is grossly misunderstood. But who is right about him? Or the closest to right? I imagine each religious group out there would raise their hand and claim THEY are the closest to the truth. Surprise surprise. After all, that’s why they believe what they believe, is it not? I doubt anyone goes searching for a lie to believe in.
How can we find out if God exists? And if he does, how can we go about finding the real him/her instead of the version on display in the windows of all the world’s religions? How can we find out what he says about himself? “Maybe the actual God…doesn’t endorse The God-Of-The-Bible.” –Frank Schaeffer
I plead busyness with school as my excuse for not having written here sooner. Excuses are a bad habit though. It IS one of the main reasons I haven’t written, and the other would be that I just haven’t been thinking about anything I felt was blog-worthy. Nothing deep-ish, that is.
Today I realized that my thinking has been taking a decidedly agnostic turn. I still pray on occasion, although that has become increasingly difficult in the last year, but more and more often I catch fleeting thoughts to the effect of “how can anyone really know if there is a god?” I know some people require irrefutable proof of the existence of a deity before they will believe one exists. Others believe that god is something or someone who, by nature, can never be proven to exist or not exist, and that one must choose (rather blindly, it seems to me) to believe or disbelieve in his/her/its existence. I, for one, cannot bring myself to confidently believe either way. I wonder sometimes if I ever will and envy those who do.
I would like to believe there is a god. A god who takes an interest in life here on earth and who is approachable and relatable. But if there is, then what is he like? All sorts of religions claim different things about her or them (gods plural) that it gets confusing trying to sort through it all to find out who is right. Life would be simpler if god didn’t exist and everyone knew it. Would there be meaning to life? I was lead to believe that without the Christian version of god life was meaningless. But is that really true? Probably not. Maybe there is not a universal meaning that is applied to everyone’s life, but instead an individual one chosen by each person. And maybe that’s the case even if there IS a god? That seems more likely to me. After all, everyone seems to have different values and find meaning in different things. Why shouldn’t it be individual?