This Atheist has been going to church! That is, twice a month out of devotion to a job where I accompany and assist a fellow with special needs. It truly doesn’t feel that out of place for me. Considering it has been about a year since religion officially lost its relevance in my life.
I came out of this fold.The fold of Evangelical Christianity. I would like to now analyze why people feel a need to worship. I think that in part it is driven by a disdain of centering our thoughts around ourselves. Now, this basic premise isn’t all that unbeneficial.
I find relevance in this by surveying the people around me and desiring good counsel and proper action toward human suffering and living a healthy life. So I totally empathize with the whole “good will toward men” bit. I would also include women and children. Wink and smile!
Now, where this begins to break down is when we have large groups of people singing and adoring an unseen, unconfirmed divine entity. An entity that presumably possesses all power and wisdom. In His wisdom it is said that the secrets of the kingdom of God are hidden from the wise and the prudent. This is apparently due to people having a proud and arrogant nature about them.
This judgment of course stems from a sweeping generalization about human nature, does it not? The only way that such a statement about human nature could be true would be to funnel all authority on the subject into one person. This person is said to be Jesus of Nazareth.
However, based on the actual textual evidence that we possess about Jesus, what we do know for certain is that the original manuscript autographs of the New Testament are no longer existent. This means that despite how well these texts appear to be preserved from their original form, it is still quite possible that the previous oral tradition that is said to stem from a prophet named Jesus has been altered from its original format.
It is entirely possible that the original words and thoughts that are said to stem from an actual human prophet named Jesus were greatly expanded upon by those who did eventually write the texts of the New Testament. So it is difficult to actually confirm or deny what the actual words of this Jesus were.
Secondly, we need more than just claims of divinity and appealing word pictures that would seem to demonstrate this in a previous obscure set of scenarios. Christianity exists within a genre of competing religious claims and dogmas. The appeal of belief is uncannily emotional. “Look here to the suffering Savior, the servant that never sinned.”
This ideology wants to plow forward with a notion of indebtedness. We are said to owe this God everything! The message, in other words, the gospel truth is said to have been made perfectly clear to all of humanity. The fact of the matter is that almost every major doctrine is subject to interpretive bias.
How well do we know our tradition? How well do we know the striking differences in doctrine that came out of Christianity from its earliest stages and often using the same set of texts? Good luck in laying a foundation that is said to be made of stone rather than the chaff that blows in the wind.