I will bet all the money in the world that this is a topic that anyone that knows me would have never thought I would ever write about. Truth be told, I'm not really sure why I'm even writing about his topic myself. Let me first say, that I have no issue with anyone and their faith. Whatever gets you out of bed everyday, and function in the world, is your business and I'm all for you doing, and believing, what you want.
As for me, I am a lapsed Christian, and by lapsed, I mean that I never really was a believer. I had three years of weekly religion instruction, and study, from 8th grade thru my sophomore year in high school. I was then confirmed in the Lutheran Church, and regularly attended services until the pastor started to spend more time on politics, than religion, around my senior year in high school.
Since then the only time I have attended church has been for weddings and funerals. I have never really missed it, nor have I spent any time thinking about it, until very recently. For the majority of my life I was so caught up in my career, that church, or religion, had no space in my hectic schedule. It just wasn't something that I ever thought about.
It has always been something that has caused me enormous confusion when I did think about it. Even when I attended confirmation classes, what was being taught to me made little sense. I think my primary issue is that I am a realist and a fact freak. I need proof of something in order for me to believe what I am hearing. Seeing it with my own eyes would be my preference, but that isn't always possible, so you better overwhelm me with facts to get me on board.
I know many of you are saying, whoa Dan, you write many things that aren't fact based and pass them off as truths. I will say to you that I consider that creative license and it is not the same thing. I will also say that many times in the past few years, my facts have differed from your facts, and that is a whole different issue.
Anyway back to faith and proof.
There are so many things written in the Bible that make me raise an eyebrow, that it is hard for me to take the book for anything except propaganda for Christianity. The Old Testament, in particular, is filled with stories so outrageous that if they were written in the Los Angeles Times, or Washington Post, people would be screaming for the papers to be shut down.
Stories about Jonah in the belly of a fish, Noah and his Ark, Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt, and the parting of the Red Sea, are just a few of the wildly unbelievable stories that are littered throughout the Old testament. The entire Jewish faith is based on this portion of the Bible only. Crazy.
The New Testament is only slightly better as it focuses on the life and death and teachings of one man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. The primary questions that run thru this whole section, for me, is did Jesus really exist, was he truly the son of God, and why were people so caught up in his preaching's?
According to some Biblical scholars and historians, there is no record of Jesus written anywhere in any Roman writings. For such an important figure in today's Christian faith it seems unusual that you will not find him mentioned. Now, others say that back in his day, to the Romans, he was a nobody, from an unimportant region, sentenced to death by a low level prosecutor. I'm not taking sides either way.
I guess that all of this is basically what faith is all about. Believing in your faith, and it's teachings, even when there are no facts to support much of it. Again, there are some things in the Bible that are proven facts, and I'm not knocking the great book at all. Another biblical scholar wrote, that, "the Bible wasn't meant to be a secular history book, but it is meant to show, and explain, God's interaction with man."
I can accept that. Like the Jewish faith, Christianity is primarily based on just one book in the Bible, the New Testament. This again causes me wonder as to why such an important book for organized religion only accepts the teachings of one book and not both? It would seem, logically, that if the Bible is so important to the religions that preach it's teachings, they would accept both portions as fact, right?
Jesus life and death, while pooh-pooed by Jews, is the cornerstone of Christianity. In fact other religions, including Islam and Buddhism, revere Jesus as an important figure in their beliefs too. This brings me to my next issue, and that is, why are there so many different religious practices? If everyone is believing in the same basic things, why does there need to be so many different practices teaching this?
It has led me to believe that organized religion is merely a vessel for a group to make money off its people. I'm not sure if this is still true, and I'm too lazy to look it up, but at one point the Catholic Church was the richest organization on earth. I have often wondered why you need to be labeled as Lutheran, Catholic, Christian, or whatever, and attend services to be a believer in God?
It would seem that, if he does exist, he would be more interested in how you live your life, than if you made it to Sunday service every week, and paid a significant portion of your earnings to the church. Frankly, I know many people who go to church every Sunday, and proclaim themselves as Christians, then spend the next six days pillaging, and ransacking, people and business, all in the name of the almighty dollar.
So when I'm told that unless I loudly, and publicly, proclaim Jesus as my savior, that I will never go to heaven, if there is one, while the person going to church, but doing nothing to help others, will, that troubles me deeply.
Some character flaws aside, along with a history of anger issues that are not going away, I think I've lived a pretty decent, dare I say, Christian like, life so far. I would not be opposed to being a believer, but I'm never going to be one of those shouters of my faith, or weekly church going charlatans.
If this past year plus has taught me anything it is that there has to be more to life than what we do each day. I have always believed that I have a greater purpose in life than earning a living to support my family. Is it finding my voice by writing this blog, or was I here to make sure our mom's have someone to take care of them, or maybe it is still something that I haven't discovered?
Do I believe in God?
There are so many terrible things that happen every day that it is hard to imagine that he would allow these things to happen. Why would he want his people to suffer like so many of them do each day? On the other hand there are so many incredible, and wonderful, things out there, that it is hard to imagine that God doesn't exist and he had to have created them.
It is all very confusing to me. I find myself more frustrated each day by not having the answers, especially since my time here is not going to last forever, no matter how much I want it to. I have talked, at length, to a few friends who are Christians about this, and I still have no answers. I can't get past the "seeing it for myself" part of my brain.
Like everything else that I write in this space, I appreciate you letting me get this off my chest. I put things out there, and am surprised when I see that, five or fifty-five, of you read them. As for this topic, I will ask that if any of you have recently spoken to God, and can give me some answers, or a place to get them, that isn't the Bible, I would appreciate you passing it along.