As I pointed out in my last post, it is an altogether fascinating thing in my mind as to what brings people in and out of belief in a supernatural God. Ultimately, I think I agree with the simple statement from many Christians that, “faith is a choice.” It is a choice that bears the weight of one’s eternal destiny in the mind of a believer. However, I think there is something very subtle that underpins this belief. The issue is not so much about one’s eternal destiny as it is actually about what someone desires both for themselves and for others.This is why I believe faith is a choice.
After all, there are many positives about choosing faith in Evangelical Christianity. I am narrowing in on this brand of religion because it is the one I embraced seriously for many years. Prior to this I was raised Catholic, but the only thing I gathered from that was general belief in Jesus and God. Many of the positives that I saw starting up was a God that initiates a personal relationship, a loving community of believers to support me, and the excitement about being part of a worldwide movement of positive change.
Christianity seemed to accomplish two great things in my mind, it made the present world a better place and it promised an even better one to come! Eternal life is a genius appeal to that part of every one of us that doesn’t want to simply suffer and cease to exist. Yet, could it also have the potential to cheapen what can be accomplished in the present? I’ll admit that I actually took the Sovereignty of God very much for granted by simply passing the buck to my unseen friend to alleviate suffering in the world.This is not to dampen the fire of any Christians that are doing a phenomenal job at feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, but my contention is that faith doesn’t seem to play a large role in getting droves of people involved. Faith just isn’t the only motivator to make a difference.
All of that said, we shouldn’t just believe what we want to believe, should we? This of course doesn’t negate the freedom that each of us has to believe and practice whatever we want, but I am appealing to everyone’s deepest desire to know the truth. If we desire to know the truth then where is there room for faith? Faith as I have described in my first post is not substantiated by evidence. How does an assumption establish truth? How does it establish God?
If the reality of the supernatural God of Christianity is so apparent then why the vast number of religions and philosophies throughout the world? There is seemingly no end to the number of ways human beings try to come to answers about what caused our universe and what place we have in it. I believe it is because we do not know. Yet in the desire to know we make up stories to fill in these gaps. If there is one thing that plagues us it is not having a concrete answer about the meaning and purpose to our existence.
It is science and reason that helps us to begin to understand how the world and our minds actually work. Apart from this kind of objectivity we are left in the dark to wonder. Obviously people have spent thousands and thousands of years doing this. For instance: I think in large part that the concept of sin within religion can be explained because of God’s absence and utter silence in the world. Religion’s answer for God’s silence is that our sins separate us from God. We need only to repent and be restored, however even many believers are plagued by the silence of God still. I know I was.
Do you know what the common answer was by my Pastors and leaders? “You just need to pray and read your Bible more.” It is actually precisely this admonition that has dissuaded many people, including myself, out of religion. The reality for so many people in the world is that when they pray there is only silent indifference. The more often prayer is sought, the more often this silence is compounded in a persons mind. It ends up being a rather odd picture of a relationship doesn’t it? Isn’t the whole idea of being in relationship to another person the reality of a meaningful exchange that serves to only strengthen that bond? A relationship entails having shared experiences with another person, correct? This is why Evangelical Christianity ought to stop using this concept, it just doesn’t exist for those who believe.
There are of course many people who actually think that they are speaking to God and that God is speaking to them. For that we need to beg the question, on what grounds do you know that God is communicating with you? For the vast majority of Christians it is because they think that God has answered their prayers in everyday circumstances. “Dear Lord, please help my son get accepted into such and such a college.” The son has a great grade point average and did a phenomenal job filling out his application for acceptance. He gets accepted and this is seen as a wonderful answer to prayer. Thank God, to him be the glory right?
Do we even need to mention folks who believe that they talk to God everyday? How do you know you are talking to God? “I just know in the deepest part of my soul, you can too!” Really? These folks see the doubt in my face and say, “Oh my, God is telling me that you have a very hard heart, you refuse to hear his voice.” God really said that, did he? No, it’s not the fact that I am being honest about the reality that never have I heard or sensed anything even remotely spoken to me from the heavens.
The silence of God altogether is in itself a very strong evidence of His nonexistence. Some folks will say, “wait a minute, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Maybe during the process of a criminal investigation, sure, but in a system that claims to work but really doesn’t, yes. What I mean is that within Evangelical Christianity one is taught that their sins have separated them from God and that repentance and faith will bring forgiveness. This forgiveness gives birth to a relationship with God.
As I was saying earlier, a relationship is shared between two people who have regular meaningful exchanges between each other. This is not the case of any Christian that I know of. The praying, talking, reading and devotion is only going one way. The best answer that Christianity can give is once again, “you just need to believe, God is there and He hears you.”
Faith is not a form of knowledge. It is a lack of knowledge that stakes a claim on someone or something being there on the other side. God is not someone or something that even a professing believer can know. This is precisely why I no longer believe.