If you are someone who believes in God simply because you were raised that way, my encouragement to you is to stop wasting your time. If you are someone who believes in God because you find the stories in your Bible or holy book to be pretty exciting and hopeful, my advice to you is to quit wasting your time. If you are someone who feels deeply emotionally connected to the message of your religion, I want to highly encourage you to tweak that sentiment into a vast hunger and passion to find out the truth, if it is the last thing you do!
You see, for whatever reason, one’s devotion and value that they attach to their faith is quite often not reflective of what they truly know in this world. I myself interacted and lived among a community of deeply devoted Christians for about ten years of my life and the thing that I find fascinating to this day is that I could discern that the vast majority of these people, probably all of them, did not have a viable knowledge that God does in fact exist. I met many people who were very much convinced by their own set of subjective experiences that God exists, at one time I was able to include myself in this group, but over time I came to realize that what I felt was the presence of God, and what many others feel is the presence of God, was a form of self-deception.
For a conservative Christian to read this, it probably sounds terribly insulting! After all, faith in God is a very personal thing to question. Why should I try to convince you otherwise? What is my agenda? Well, if you read enough of what I write on this blog you’ll see that I am highly concerned about how to talk about what is true. I want to know what is fact from fiction, and I approach this with a vast amount of seriousness and care.
When I say to not waste your time, what I mean is that in your own pursuit of the truth you really ought to strive to live by and only acknowledge what you know. So, what first needs to be done is an evaluation on your part that asks if there aren’t other viable explanations for what convinces you that your faith is real? For instance: What ought to take priority in evaluating whether God is real? Your own subjective feelings and sense of comfort that God is with you, or, clear evidences that can be acknowledged by anyone investigating the question?
I think anyone in their right mind is going to go with option number two. Option number one, after all, is quite risky. It is often a failure to recognize that sincere people that believe in a different God or religion also very much have this sense of certainty that Allah, or various gods within the Hindu religion are with them and affirming for them the sacred truths. Whatever this sense of divinity is, we need to make sure that it is not potentially a form of self-deception. So, in your search for what is true you would do well to stick with solid arguments and data that can be recognized by people across the board.
With that in place, whether you personally feel that you have a connection with God or not, you should now ask yourself honestly and sincerely: How can I know that I am correct? Ask yourself this for the sake of the context that you were raised in. Is belief in the existence of God valid simply because your family believes in such and such a religion? Simply because your church does? Or because in your region of the world Christianity, Islam, or some other religion is the primary belief system?
For the sake of getting at the root of what is true my hope is that many of you are seeing why it is important to begin this investigation? Ask yourself what reliable knowledge is? Is it selective and secretive, or is it plain and able to be grasped by all who sincerely want to know? What cannot be ignored here is that regardless of what religion we believe in, regardless of what region of the world we come from, we are all human beings that find ourselves in very different situations all throughout the world. We must take into account what humans have been experiencing and learning all throughout history as well as all over the world today. If we are not informed by the greater picture of what is going on, well, we will remain uninformed about how to discern what is fact from fiction.