This past year has been a year of total re-evaluation of everything I believe. I am actually still in the middle of this process. Several of my comfortable paradigms have been rocked in recent years. Things I once took for granted I now wonder if they are true at all.
This re-evaluation is brutal. It is thorough. You might be surprised to know how deep it has gone for me. On the other hand, maybe you have had similar times of questioning. Maybe you will relate.
I have even been willing to re-evaluate my belief in God. On a day not too long ago, I sat in a Border’s bookstore café devouring pages from recent bestselling books about atheism.
My favorite of the ones I skimmed, and one I wound up reading about half-way through with an eagerness that surprised me, was Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great. The blasphemy suggested by the title turned me off, but the quality of the writing drew me in. Hitchens is nothing if not an elegant story-teller. I found his arguments rather compelling. Instead of dismissing them or trying in my head to refute them, I let them stand. I forced myself to hear what he was saying and give it credence.
That night, as I lay in bed thinking before going to sleep, a process that can go on for some time in my case, I tried to be an atheist. For about twenty minutes I attempted to think and breathe like someone who denies God’s very existence.
I said, “God, I do not believe in you.” Then I thought, “That’s ironic. I’m talking to someone and telling them they do not exist!”
I didn’t make a good atheist. My first instinct as an atheist was to pray about whether to be an atheist or not!
Still, I tried. Bertrand Russell said that belief in God is nothing more than a response to fear. It is a response to the fear of death, the fear of hell, and the fear that the universe might be meaningless (Reppert, Victor. C.S. Lewis’s Dangerous Idea. p.31). Fine, Bertrand Russell. Tell me you were not afraid of those very things. We all are. Especially meaninglessness.
I would be a bad atheist because I cannot accept that beauty is merely a hormonal response randomly programmed into me by evolution. I cannot accept that my sense of right and wrong is meaningless and, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis, no more important than a preference for pancakes over spam!
I’ve re-evaluated many other beliefs this year and will continue to do so. I’ve considered abandoning Yeshua and becoming Orthodox. I’ve considered abandoning Yeshua and becoming like the liberal professors I studied under.
I am asking questions.
I am optimistic that I will find resolution to some of my questions. I am a critical realist, not a logical positivist. I do not limit myself to what can be falsified. I believe in love and beauty.
It is my hope that, on this blog, in the upcoming year, I will publish some answers to these kinds of questions. I don’t mean by answer some sort of proof that all reasonable people will accept. Reasonable is relative and how many people are really reasonable anyway?
Here are some of the questions that plague me. I have strong beliefs about many of them. Yet I am not content to rest on old answers. I want new light. In short, here are my questions:
Why did you abandon the world to so much senseless tragedy, God?
How can you expect us to endure this present meaninglessness with primarily nothing but a hope in future redemption?
Who do you save and who do you not save?
What will happen to those who are not saved?
How does a person include themselves, or alternately, how does someone become included, in your salvation?
Why do we need saving and what are we saved from?
What do you want us to believe about Yeshua?
Why did he come, specifically, and what did he accomplish?
Are miracles, such as resurrection and incarnation, possible?
Is there truly a right and wrong?
Is right right because you say so or is our sense of right true and the basis of all your actions?
Are we free or do we only do what you predetermined or is it both?
There are more questions. I am primarily a biblical theologian, an interpreter of texts. I am not a philosopher, though I wish I had time.
I’m just saying that I have questions. Maybe you do too.