I should say up front that I respect everyone who is a devout Christian, or any religion for that matter. In fact, I have many good friends who are devout Christians and we often have spirited debates on the subject. As such, if you are a Christian I do not share all of your beliefs, but I also won’t attempt to change your opinion of God or religion. My goal is to simply challenge some notions that you may already have, and perhaps cause you to have some questions of your own.
In the past I have been accused of questioning God and challenging the beliefs of others simply because I enjoy being difficult. I won’t deny that I don’t smile sometimes when I challenge others, but the real reasons behind it are twofold:
- I’m curious, and my curiosity sparks questions that challenge others. I don’t mean to try your patience.
- I believe that someone who calls themselves a Christian should be able to tell me why and back up their beliefs.
Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims such as whether or not God, the divine or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable.As such, I think that God (or whichever other entity created the universe) is simply beyond our understanding. We do not understand it, and we aren’t meant to. Furthermore, after the creation of the universe, I find it difficult to swallow the notion that God is constantly intervening in our lives and has an ultimate destiny planned for everyone.
I also believe that when I die, I’ll be dead. My soul will not live on, and I will not burn in hell or be welcomed by angels. I’ll just be gone. Not only do I find it incredibly difficult to believe in that which does not have any evidence, but also if there is a heaven of some kind, then doesn’t it make this life almost meaningless? Why are we going through this life when in 80 or so years after birth (which is nothing when compared to eternity), we go on to a place that offers total happiness? Why aren’t we there now? If God is all-powerful, then why not ensure that only good-hearted people arrive in heaven and forego earth altogether?
My skepticism on Christianity stems from my youth when I was told what to believe instead of being given the option to choose what I believed. Though I was very active in the Roman Catholic church in my youth, I still didn’t like attending masses. This, in addition to my reading of The Da Vinci Code, led me to question church’s purpose, which led to me questioning God’s purpose. That’s how it started, but over the years my reasons have changed and (hopefully) matured.
One of my foremost issues with Christians is that most seem to not be Christian by choice. They’re born into it, or guilted into it, or married into it, or possibly choose it for themselves but don’t fully understand why. I believe that if you’re a Christian you should be able to tell me why. Furthermore, I should see God in you. Your actions, your decisions, and your motivations should reflect God’s teachings. Otherwise, perhaps you’re more of a fan of the idea of God than a devout follower.
I have several concerns specifically about God as well. I don’t like the idea of someone else pulling my strings. Though I have free will, it is widely accepted that God ultimately controls our destinies. Each one of us is supposedly put here for a specific purpose, but I don’t believe this to be the case. I don’t think that I’m here for a reason, but rather I have to find a reason now that I’m here. I don’t think my role on this earth is predetermined, because where’s the fun in that
The fact that we are who we are, and what we are, does not prove that we were designed, nor does it prove divine intervention. It is much more likely that who and what we are today is the result of millions of years of adaptation. Note: not evolution. It may surprise you to learn that I’m not an evolutionist. I do think that humans (or a similar, primitive version of humans) were placed on this earth when it was created, and we have spent that last hundreds of thousands of years adapting to our various environments to develop into the species that we are today.
I once read an article that suggested that if there is no higher power, then how are we able to fathom a higher power? “I think, therefore I am.” is a famous quote by René Descartes, who was a French philosopher, mathematician, and writer. I use this quote to illustrate the fact that we are here, able to question our origin and our maker, only simply because we are. If the universe had turned out any other possible way, we would not be here to question the past or the future, so the fact that we are doesn’t prove that God exists.
All the good and bad things that have happened in my life, I can trace back to the quality of my decisions, the quality of my efforts, or those same qualities of others. In my particular case, I find it really difficult to relinquish responsibility of my life and its outcomes to God instead of to myself. Furthermore, if events in my life develop negatively, I’m supposed to trust that God knows best and that these events are for the best. That’s asking for a lot of trust on my part, when I haven’t seen any evidence of his influence previously.
God wants our undivided and unimpeded trust in him. But, as Benjamin Franklin said, “To follow with faith alone is to follow blindly”. We are supposed to question. When we were children we believed that our parents knew what was best for us. As we matured we learned that this was not necessarily the case. Should this not be the same with God?
For a long time I said to friends and family that I actually wanted to be a Christian. Christians seemed to be happy, well-adjusted, content with their beliefs, often because they were confident that their beliefs would mean happiness in life ever-after. They would say that they could feel God’s presence and influence in their lives, and this gave them hope during their trials and tribulations. After paying attention, however, I realize that I would prefer to be an deist and yet still practice some aspects of Christianity. Kindness, tolerance, patience, humility, and giving unto others are all aspects that I’d like to continue practicing, but for myself and not because God expects me to.
So I ask you… can I reject your God and substitute my own? Because in man’s recorded history, more wrongs have been committed in the name of a Christian God than for any other reason.