I’ve found it extremely difficult to express my thoughts on religion. One of my youth pastors defined his journey with Christianity as wrestling with God, much like Jacob in Genesis. For me, it is not as close as wrestling; it is more of a long-distance battle with bows and arrows. The most annoying thing is that every time I think I have found my mark, found my reason to say that this is nonsense and I can’t believe in something like this, He finds a way to shatter my arrow before it is even bowed.
The thing that frustrates me about the Bible is that is it incredibly complicated and difficult to understand. There is so much societal context and tone of voice that is missed due to written words that the messages behind them and the messages received become horribly skewed. One only has to glance at history to understand that. However, when something is explained to me that make verses seem logical and sound, I realize that I only have the interpreter’s word to trust and even if their word is genuine, how can I know if it is truth?
After hearing that globalization was planned by the governments during WWII in order to help prevent a third from breaking out, part of me wonders if Christianity was an old government’s way of controlling the people so they wouldn’t rebel. Another part of me doesn’t care because even if that is true, many of the values that it instills can lead you to be a good person.
I have heard many stories of strange and impossible things; many things that have too much precision to be coincidence, yet seemingly too farfetched to be true. Some of these stories have been described to me as divine moments.
I have never had a divine moment. That is not my truth or my reality. I can’t verify the validity of others’ stories beyond stating that I value their words and do not believe they sought to deceive me. The closest thing I have encountered was an incredible gust of wind upon the mention of God being like the wind during a meeting of prayer and discussion with a fellow Christian camp counselor. You can speculate all you like because I don’t know if it was a coincidence of not either, but it was rather neat.
I think the hardest thing for me to grasp with Christianity is condemnation. I personally believe that people are good creatures and well-meaning. Yes, I am aware that we are selfish beings and everything we do is for our own benefit, but regardless, we feel so much joy from the deliverance of joy to others and that has to count for something. So, when I heard that Jesus is the only way to salvation and all other people fall away into Hell, I was utterly appalled. How could I believe in something that condemned people I considered heroes, my friends of other religions, and my family to Hell?
My father is a brilliant man and I am fully aware that I owe the majority of who I am to my parents and believe I have some sort of grasp on how fortunate I am. The reason I put emphasis on my father is because he laughs in the face of religion whereas my mother is more of a Christian. However, my father said something that sticks with me to this day, he said, “I am very sympathetic to the Christian values, but I cannot deal with the church.”
I brought this concern to my youth pastor one day and I will attempt to give you the summary. He said that he believes that God is a very loving and forgiving God and that the only one true unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. No, Youtube community, this does not mean swearing your head off at the Holy Spirit. Instead, he believes that you are given a final choice at death. You come face to face with the creator and are given a chance to acknowledge him as Lord. The only unforgivable sin is to, at the moment of confrontation, walk away. He also believes that the only people who will do this are the ones that in life were so corrupted by sin that, in His presence, they cannot handle the truth and walk away to purgatory.
This eased my mind and coincided with my views of people being fundamentally good, but of course there is no proof and never will be until I die.
Science and religion have never really been friends. They both hate to admit that the other could be right and reject each others’ findings. The unfortunate thing about this is that some of the least educated people about either subject are the ones who become the strongest advocates and spew out nonsensical garbage vaguely disguised as “facts.”
Yes, I agree that Christianity has “changed the rules” over the years and not just once. My own opinion of the reason is that we’re slowly realising old ways are wrong or slightly off and through research and discussion we’re slowly developing the modern understanding of the Bible. If you replace the word, ‘Bible’ in the last sentence with the word, ‘world,’ what am I describing? Science.
I love science and I think it is absolutely incredible the things we can do with it. C.K. Lewis put it brilliantly when he said that, “everybody on every plane should just be constantly going, “OH MY GOD! WOW!” You’re flying! You’re… You’re sitting in a chair… In the sky.” The discoveries we have made in the past few decades are astounding and I still haven’t the faintest idea how the internet works, let alone the universe or string theory. Nor do I understand God.
The similarities between religion and science are numerous yet they are viewed as polar opposites. They are both attempts to give meaning and enlightenment to our world, what is it about, and why we are here. They both ask tough questions and give complicated and confusing answers. They have dark pasts, have been used to deceive and harm, and have had people do stupid and irrational things in their names. But, boy, can they both do some miraculous things.
While there are many people I know who will spend their lives arguing over who is right and who has done the most “evil,” I’m doing to do my best to learn the most I can about both. Ignorance pains me and I’m sure this entry will seem ignorant to some, but I hope they take comfort in the fact that I’m doing my best to understand.
I hope you have noticed that I have not given a final answer to what I believe. I do not think my answer is worthy of any merit yet as I am merely 19. There are people far older and wiser than me who might be able to give you a definitive answer and even then who knows?
When I die, if I rot in the ground and that’s the end of me, I’m content knowing that my body will be used to feed the absolute gorgeousness and awe that this world creates. But, if I instead find myself face to face with God, He is going to get a big hi-five for creating a wonderfully crazy world for us to explore, share, and learn on. After that, He can send me where I belong.