How I Came to Faith: Questioning Days

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Gentle Reader,

It was either Christianity or atheism.

I studied the other major religions of the world while in college. Polytheism (the belief in multiple gods, as in Hinduism, Shintoism and Mormonism) made no sense. How can one ever know which god to appease? What if appeasing that god angers another god? I was already an anxious person. I didn’t need that kind of pressure. Plus, these gods seemed far too human in their whims and warring. If I was going to believe, then I needed to believe in something wholly Other, something that transcended all flaws.

Islam was out, too. The extreme predestinationism of the religion made me wonder how Allah could hold anyone responsible for anything. I also hated how women were treated.  Judaism had some appealing aspects, but I couldn’t ignore Old Testament passages that quite explicitly pointed to Jesus fulfillment of the Messiah role.

I either had to fully embrace what I had been taught in my youth or reject it altogether.

After that logic and critical thinking class, I began to examine some of the statements my non-believing friends made. I wanted to know if their worldviews were internally consistent. Immediately I was confronted with a kind of moral relativism; you do what’s right for you, I’ll do what’s right for me and we’ll all get along.

What if, I asked my friends, it was right for someone to walk into the student union building where we all sat and start shooting people?

The quick consensus was that such an action would be wrong.

How could it be wrong?, I asked.

Because it hurts other people, and that’s wrong.

But why is it wrong?

My friends made a shift toward appealing to a higher, outside authority. It is wrong because the majority says it is wrong. But why is the majority right?, I pressed. What if the majority is wrong and this person who wants to kill people is right? Furthermore, who defines “right” and “wrong” in the first place? How do you have morality or ethics without using some religious code, usually a Judeo-Christian one? I really wanted to understand their position. I really wanted to see if this worked.

It didn’t. This moral relativism was just a thin cover for self-centeredness. I watched as one ran through a string of boyfriends and multiple abortions. She justified her cheating and the refusal to take responsibility for her actions – and then railed when she, in turn, was cheated on. My friends wanted to do what they wanted to do, whenever they wanted to do it, but they did not actually want others to have that same kind of freedom. This drew me back to the definitions of sin and selfishness.

In my science classes, I learned that we humans are, in a nutshell, nothing but a random collection of atoms. We are the result of chance mutations that happened to work. (Yet, in those same classes, we looked at case after case where mutations didn’t work. There wasn’t one positive example). There was nothing noble or unique about our existence. If this were true, I wondered, why then did humanity persist in trying to make our existence noble and unique? Why were we pressed to create art, to understand creation, to express our thoughts and feelings? Were we not at war with our own evolutionary makeup?

If we humans were nothing special, then why did school shootings matter? Why did anyone grieve at another’s passing? Moreover, if life really were about the survival of the fittest, why did we put forth so much effort in saving premature babies, to getting children with learning disabilities into special classes or providing care for the aging? Shouldn’t we let the process take its course?

Most interesting to me was the anger I saw in the atheists and agnostics I knew. I loved these people. We had great times together. Mention Jesus or God, however, and the fur flew. I wondered how they could be so mad at someone they didn’t believe existed.

Christianity is a force for evil, they said. Look at all the wars it has caused.

This got an incredulous look from me. I had been an avid lover of history for as long as I could remember and I could think of no war that was mandated by Christianity. Was God used as an excuse or as a rallying point in some wars? Yes. Did that mean that faith in God led directly to war? No.

There was a deeper consideration. If one does not believe that God exists, then faith is a moot point. Faith means nothing, for the Deity in which the faith has been placed is nothing. Therefore, the cause of war lay directly within humanity itself. Somehow, my friends did not agree with me. They wanted to blame some external “force,” mostly religion, sometimes politics. But was there anything actually external to humanity? Weren’t humans the ones behind, the ones making up, religion and politics?

I asked my friends if they thought that all the world’s problems would cease if nobody had faith in God. Many answered in the affirmative. Some were strangely quiet. You really think that nobody would ever be selfish, that no government would declare war on another, that everyone would be loving?, I asked.

Yes, the loud ones said. The others stayed quiet.

This was far too simplistic a view for me. Everything I knew of history, politics and psychology bore out the fundamentally flawed nature of man. Over and over again, I saw stories, myths, legends, even comic book themes of redemption. I saw humanity repeatedly crying out for something greater than itself to set the world to rights. The idea that we were progressing to some golden era where all evil would be eradicated seemed incredibly naive.

I noticed a fundamental arrogance in these interactions. Those who believed in God, particularly the God of Christianity, were stupid. If they would just open their eyes to reality, they would recant. They would stop being so weak. I wondered if my friends understood that they saw people they claimed to love as stupid. As idiots. As any number of insults.

I could not get past the lack of consistency. I began to interact with people online to see if, perhaps, I could find someone more “mature” in their atheism. The same level of anger and illogical circling became quickly apparent. One, however, surprised me in his honesty.

Politically, he was an anarchist, because his atheism led him to conclude that extreme individualism was correct. Nobody could define “right” and “wrong,” because “right” and “wrong” did not exist.

Philosophically, he was a nihilist, because his atheism had no room for giving life meaning. Meaning, he said, had to come from an outside source.

Most impressively, he told me that he did not want to believe in God. He told me that he would not worship God even if He were to appear in his room.

In one of our conversations, he asked me to provide evidence for God’s existence. I asked him to define what he meant by evidence. He couldn’t. Tentatively, I offered my thoughts on humanity’s consistent longing for meaning and redemption as fingerprints of the Divine upon our lives; perhaps we had these longings built into us as a way for God to call us back to Himself? He rejected that.

Back and forth we went. I offered him something. He rejected it. I noticed this pattern in other conversations and had to conclude that no evidence, not even God Himself appearing, would be good enough for anyone who had already determined not to believe. This didn’t make atheism intellectually superior, as many pronounced. This made  it an emotionally based viewpoint.

Again, I loved these people. I had great relationships with them.

But I could not get on board.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all posts in the How I Came to Faith series, go here

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12 thoughts on “How I Came to Faith: Questioning Days

  1. Marie, I have never read anyone express such an open and honest journey to Christ as you have done here. I love how you dissected religions, interacted with others and came up with the truth. There are so many people that I wish could read this. I am reblogging it!

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  2. So my dear friend, in all your studies did you ever; even one time come across Gods permission and approval of more than:

    One God
    The beliefs and teachings of that one God
    One chosen people [OT] one church [NT]

    There are more than 100 passages in the NT alone that support God desire/commnad/ and Will for only one church; only His One set of Faith beoefs as taught by the only church founded, guided and protected by that God: Mt. 16:15-19; Mt.28:16-20; Jn.14:16-17; Jn 17:15-19.

    These passages prove the CC is God’s Church and Faith and riase the necessary question: does, has, or even can God permit one to form there own set of beliefs; especially as they void and invalidate what the Bible actually says and teaches?

    God Bless and stry well,
    Love and prayers,
    Pat

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  3. A question I’d like to pose to people that blame God for so many wars and such. Suppose I painted the town red, I mean, literally, painted every building, street, car, street light, cat, dog, and unsuspecting homeless person with red paint. Suppose, as I put the finishing touches on my work, and someone catches me in the act and says, “What are you doing?!?” If I were to say, “I did all THIS to honor Prince Harry!” Would Prince Harry be at fault?

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  4. My reason for being an atheist is based on a rejection of an authority figure. I agree with the idea that even if god did exist, he still shouldn’t be worshipped. I’ve always felt that people looked unto religion as something to show them the way. People are so afraid to make their own decisions so religion provides a way out. And if its the wrong decisision at least you’ll never be alone. Religion attempts to simplify creation and thought and makes it so everyone is the same. I on the other hand choose to embrace individuality.
    Morality or Right and Wrong is basically relative. Some people enjoy cutting themselves and so, would want to share this fun cutting with those around them. But, cutting someone who does not want to be cut, against their will, is wrong. I honestly believe people should be allowed to do whatever they want. As long as they don’t hurt anyone or anything.
    The reason religion is responsible for war is that religion gives people the idea that they are somehow responsible for teaching other people the way. And makes people believe they are superior in mind. As an atheist, I don’t believe Christians are stupid, just misguided and afraid. There ARE several stupid Christians who only believe because it’s how they were brought up or because they’re afraid of being singled out. But there are also stupid people in every other religion. But saying all religious people are stupid is a hasty generalization. ive met stupid atheists too. Stupidity isn’t a reason to kill someone but its the most common reason people start fights. A more intelligent person would rationalize the issues and walk away from a fight or think twice before starting a war. The past is littered with primitive minds. Now that we’ve progressed we should use them.
    The world is full of irrational people. The last thing it needs is a hypocritical belief system based on irrational thought. The fact that these religion books are written by humans only proved they are flawed. These religions only seek to control the mind and tame the soul. Why would you want any part of that?
    The fact that you feel as though you HAD TO CHOOSE one means your religious at heart because you feel a need to belong. If you’d chosen atheism you’d be neglected by your family or at least alienated. The truth I’m getting in your words is that you seem to be a genuine person with honest questions who wants a basis for morals. But you feel as though you need to validate them through some outside source. I’m not sure why. If what you believe makes you feel happy then by all means believe in it. But don’t do it because its the “right thing to do” do it because you love it and living any other way would be torture.

    I apologize for the poor structure and grammar in this reply. I wrote it hastily.

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    1. People who CLAIM to deny God are amazing.

      How can it be that among the BILLIONS of created things in the Universe, that only one. ONLY man can know, love, serve and emulate God. Who by the way is SPIRIT & Truth?

      Of ALL created things only man can rationalize, can choose to love or choose to hate. Only man can make complex things like a Rocket to the moon and back again.

      EACH of these possible actions require absolutely:
      a mind
      A intellect
      A FREEWILL
      and a SOUL

      AND ONLY humanity has these things

      Further each of these attributes are PURELY-Spiritual THINGS as is God Himself.

      So Atheist and Agnostics how can man exist with being part physical and part spiritual if God does not exist? Huh?

      God Bless you,
      Patrick
      working4christ2

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    2. Lewis,

      There is a lot to your comment and there’s no way I can do justice to everything you wrote in one small reply.

      Up front, I commend your honesty in saying that you would not worship God even if you knew for certain He existed. There aren’t many I know who are than consistent in their beliefs (or lack thereof).

      To be perfectly frank, I think that atheism boils down to, as you said, a rejection of any other authority figure. And that is, simply, rebellion. That was definitely something that resonated with me when I was on my journey toward faith. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it. The trouble is, there is no such thing as a victimless action. Try as I might, I couldn’t make myself think otherwise.

      A large problem for me when considering atheism was that of epistemology. How can you know anything? Concerning morality, If you and you alone are the ultimate source, but your brother thinks that he is the ultimate source, who is right? If you want to eat a candy bar but he wants half of it, does he have the right to take half? Concerning existence, how can you know that your life is of any value at all? If you are just a random collection of atoms, how do you avoid the crushing heaviness that must come with such purposelessness?

      The questions that haunt us, the questions of meaning, played a large part in convincing me of the sure existence of God, which then led me to Christianity. Only a Creator can answer the screams bouncing around our souls. Only a Redeemer can save us from drowning in them.

      Again, I know I didn’t address everything you wrote. Your comment was thoughtful and I appreciate it. Hope you stop by again!

      Marie

      Like

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