Beginning this journey to discover faith has its low points. Moments of elation and understanding a quickly followed by deep pits of disappointment and feelings of temporary delusion. The best I can describe what is happening is the beliefs that I hold are currently in flux. I have chosen to list the things that for me make it difficult to open my mind to the divinity of Christ. It should be noted that whilst I am not yet sure about Jesus being the Messiah or even the existence God, I absolutely do believe that Jesus was a true historical figure.
Previous belief in science
Anyone who has read my earlier blog posts will know that I have a science background. I did a biology-related degree during my studies at university. This involved taking courses around the subject of evolution. As this is the case, my understanding of evolution is far deeper than most people. To me, evolution is not only simple, but true. This immediately causes a cognitive conflict when I read the bible. Although for the moment I am studying the New Testament, I have read Genesis previously. My belief in science is not compatible with the creation account given in the first book of the Old Testament. At least, it is not compatible with a literal interpretation of the scripture. Perhaps my understanding of evolution is compatible with an allegorical interpretation rather than a literal one. I have yet to make a true analysis if these two seemingly opposing world views can coexist in my head. I am assured by others that they can, and I know that religious scientist do indeed exist in the modern day. However, I would like to figure this one out for myself. If what I hold to be scientific fact refutes the very start of the Old Testament, what does that mean when it comes to the divinity of Christ in the New Testament? In time I will formulate an answer to this. For now I think it is important that I put that question out into the ether.
This is a stumbling block I have more with some denominations of Christianity rather than Christ himself. To be more specific, whilst I feel a certain attraction towards it, the Catholic Church exhibits some behaviour that I struggle to understand. I disagree with some of the teachings of the catholic church as I cannot find enough (reasonable) evidence for them. For example, the existence of purgatory. I would be very happy to be corrected, but I don’t believe purgatory is mentioned in the New Testament. If we are to hold what Jesus says to be true, then accepting Jesus as the lord and saviour should be enough to get to heaven because of Gods grace, because of the great sacrifice that Jesus made for us. If he made this sacrifice, why then is it necessary for us to suffer in purgatory before being united with our father? Furthermore, the existence of indulgences was a step further in non-biblical teaching around the bible which makes the Catholic Church seem a little untrustworthy. My understanding is that the sale of indulgences no longer happens (thankfully). Whilst this is a good thing, the fact that the Catholic Church believes it has the authority to teach practices that are not necessarily encouraged by scripture (I could go on – the veneration of the Virgin Mary, confession and the priests ability to absolve you of sin, the fact that the pope almost acts as a God on earth) seems to cast a little doubt on the truth of biblical stories altogether.
Existence of other gods/prophets
This may be the biggest arguments I need to get over in my own head. It will be one that Christians will have heard a great many times (feel free to comment your own counter-argument. Remember, I want to be proved wrong!). When so many Gods exist across so many cultures throughout the world, why should we believe that Jesus is the true way? This is not meant to sound blasphemous. Consider the following thought experiment. What if Odin was the true Father, and his sons Thor and Floki existed too. However, due to the power of Christianity in the ancient world, we forgot about them, and now we don’t worship them at all. To all cultures pre-Christ that didn’t follow Abrahamic religion, how do we know that their prophets didn’t speak truth? Furthermore, let us look at the landscape as it is today. Islam is the worlds fastest growing religion. Christians reject that Mohammed was a prophet of God (or Allah), and deny the Islamic claim that Jesus was not divine but just a prophet. As everyone born today is so far removed from these ancient people, how are we to truly know the truth? Finally, if you believed in the wrong God but led a holy and good life, is it justice that you burn in eternal hellfire for not accepting Christ? The same can be said of atheists that led exemplary lives when compared to priests (of no denomination) that were involved in child sex abuse scandals. Is it right that the atheist is cast into darkness whilst the grovelling priest is forgiven his sins and given eternal life?
A final point
If you’re reading this, none of this is meant to be inflammatory. This is a journey that I am on and would like to share with the world, the good and the bad. I fail to see the point in sharing high points I encounter if I do not share the doubt that I have. To do so would be a false representation of myself and would not serve to help others in my position.
Please do get in contact and comment if you would like to discuss any of the points I’ve made. The next post will likely be discussing the Gospel of Matthew as I am close to finishing reading it. I hope to hear from you, and I hope your words put me closer to finding faith.