Christianity – Atheism – Agnosticism

What’s right? How do we know that the answers we hold closest to our hearts are the correct ones? I’ve been on a massive journey for the last few months and it’s become more and more obvious to me that we all, in any worldview, believe some mad things.

Christianity, at least as far as I can see right now, is based upon miraculous historical events that we can’t get near to. We can reason, probe and suggest, but we can’t say for certain that Jesus rose from the dead, yet some believe this to be fact over fiction.

I was reminded in a blog post by Bart Ehrman today that only 3% of society at the time of the gospels being written could read and write. The elite of the elite wrote the words in your New Testament. Words that have an agenda and a mission, to portray events and truth to the reader (or listener for 97% of the time) in a specific way. Now, we all do this. Even this blog post that you are reading at this moment has an agenda, tone, reason and purpose. But I do not claim these words are true, rather they are and have always been the musings of someone lost with the thought that the Christianity they were raised in is not correct or real.

The beliefs we hold have been tempered through time, and they find us today reflecting, thinking and being a certain way due to how they have been developed. Take the idea of heaven and hell in the Bible, it isn’t clear that Hell is a literal destination for most (arguably any) of the Bible, but we have placed it within the pages of the New Testament through how we interoperate the words. Hell seems to be a man-made phenomenon and it has affected the way that society has gone, how people write and design architecture (look at the architecture of certain cathedrals), what we teach our children and the reasons why people tend to believe in God.

Christianity proclaims truth on the basis of possibilities due to interpretation, which has been canonised and proclaimed as fact. I would love to know what the wandering prophet, Jesus, actually taught about the coming Kingdom of God and how it would outwork. But all we have are gospels that copy each other, written a long time after the event, in different countries to the events, in a different language from that in which the events took place, by people who didn’t see the events take place to start with.

Maybe they all got it right, but I am not so sure.

Other labels don’t do any better.

Naturalism suggests that all we have is the physical nature around us, nothing spiritual or none observable. I found that C.S Lewis’ book ‘Miracles’ did a very good job at explaining how Naturalism can’t be proven to be true, logical or rational in and of itself. There is no hope in naturalism, there is no point, there can’t be. Rationality isn’t rational, so how do we even know what we believe to be ‘true’, it crumbles under its own weight in a purely naturalistic world.

Humanism, as far as I can tell, is a secular form of Christianity. ‘Christ was a humanist’ is a term I hear a lot, I have no issue with this, but I think it’s time that none believers begin to honestly reflect upon it. The humanism that it is possible to follow, and advocate today is based upon a Christian framework that has given it the space to grow up, to begin with. It’s built upon borrowed morals from the ancient religion that it then goes on to reject. How long can that last? Society won’t remain without a unifying substructure, so when will it fall?

What do we have apart from nihilism and if nihilism is all there really is, can we even live as if this is true? Ultimately, if the universe is by chance, and our being here a product of this inexpressibly rare chance, then there is no point. Yet we, humanity and the rest of the natural world on earth, cannot live as such. We use reason, proclaim equality, demand justice and live as if this, *looks around*, won’t end.

When I hold my child’s hand, or walk through the leaves on an autumn morning, I do not think this is for nothing. I wonder if this is for everything, and I am somehow part of the most complicated, horrific, amazing adventure. Yet aware that at any moment it could all end, and then what? Nothing? Everything? What does it mean?

Agnosticism, this is where I land today. I don’t know what is true and real. I don’t know if I can know truth, but I want to explore this and see where the road leads. Uncertainty and admitting you don’t know isn’t weakness, it’s an honest reflection based on the evidence you have worked through to date. Yet I do not know if it is possible to stay in agnosticism. Sure, I can imagine that people stop caring, living as if there is meaning and purpose and push the end to the back of their minds. I don’t seem to be one of those who can do this. When I sit at the side of a coffin, I morn, not for what I have lost, but for what could have been, for tomorrow, because within me, tomorrow holds a promise that was never fulfilled in this life. There is a debt that heart calls ‘due’, when will it be paid?

I hope that in honesty it moves forwards. If there are enough accumulative pieces of evidence for God, then those must be sought. If there is ultimately nothing then I will explore why. Within my heart, I don’t think these words upon this page that you read right now are ultimately meaningless. If I remain agnostic until my dying day it will not be from a lack of searching, it will be because I was honest with both sides. Though I am not prophetic, so I will not pretend to know the end, as the journey moves on into tomorrow.

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As always, your support enables When Belief Dies to grow, so please consider hitting ‘support’ at the top of this page. You will also find links to the YouTube Channel, Podcast and social accounts up there. You can subscribe via email at the bottom of this post. This blog is roughly twelve to twenty-four months behind where I currently am in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting. –Sam

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Lots to contemplate here. I always enjoy your podcast and can relate to “the struggle” in many ways.

    You lost me at your paragraph on Humanism though. “[Humanism is] built upon borrowed morals from the ancient religion that it then goes on to reject.” How do you figure? It seems to me that Humanism is just one of many labels that is applied to a collection of values, morals, and ideas… ideas which have been discovered by many societies and their thinkers over the course of human history, and that seem to be universal. Humanists are not “borrowing” these any more than Christians (or Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or name your group) are. Christians certainly did not invent these morals and have no trademark on them. To say that is simply preposterous, but it is what Christians (and others) tend to do all too often. Is that what you are saying, or am I misinterpreting you somehow?

    Reply
  • whenbeliefdies
    January 31, 2022 6:57 pm

    Hey Greg!

    Firstly to note that this was written about two years ago now, and my thinking has changed.

    Secondly, the point I was trying to make at this point in my journey is that Humanism in the West is mainly derived from Judeo-Christian narratives that have become unlinked to the religious or supernatural stories that began their adoption to start with.

    I agree, Humanism has sprung up in many ways, but here in the West, Humanism’s dominant cause, to make it so widely followed, is down to our historic Christianity.

    This is very similar to the points raised by Tom Holland in the conversation I had with him for the podcast.

    Interestingly, I do think that Christianity borrowed from Stoicism and other greek/roman philosophies to start with, but more on that in the coming years on the blog 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Sam,
    I don’t think we can find the answer the way we normally attempt to determine truth. We are far too limited and there are too many pieces of the puzzle missing. I think this is something that’s intuitive…something we have to “feel”—but not in the sense of what makes us happy…best I can put it is “feeling truth.” Of course that means it’s individual and subjective and not scientifically verifiable. I would be interested in a conversation between you and someone like Christian authors Josh McDowell or Lee Strobel, atheists who set out to prove Christianity false and came to faith instead based on their investigations. Why did they find the information so convincing?

    Reply
    • whenbeliefdies
      February 3, 2022 8:55 am

      If truth is a feeling, then are you saying a psychopath, and their limited ability to experience feelings, are therefore not to blame if they are unable to find truth?

      The classic Christian message is ‘seek and you shall find’, or an all-knowing and all knowable God – this isn’t possible if truth is a feeling.

      I have done a lot of research on Josh McD, and Lee S – Paulogia has constantly pointed out where Lee Strobel makes assertions rather than honest investigations. I also have very little evidence that Josh McD was ever an atheist, other than his own words.

      In a conversation, I just had with Derek from MythVision (due out in a few weeks) he explains why Josh McD was never an atheist. It’s important to do your own research, but I am FAR more interested in people like Antony Flew.

      Reply
  • Ok. I know subjectivity is a problem. Here’s what I’m suggesting for your consideration…We have established criteria by which we determine truth. What we have done is make the rules which God/Mother Nature/the Universe (take your pick) must follow to present the case for truth. But G/MN/U is so vast, so complex, so powerful, and so established, and mankind is so fragile and limited, how can we presume to dictate terms? The answers could be there, but our methodology may not allow us to find them. Maybe the lesser (us) needs to find out how to learn and yield to the terms of the greater (G/MN/U). As for Josh McD and LS, regardless, in a search for truth, shouldn’t their perspectives be considered, and isn’t how they arrived at them relevant? Aren’t we interested not only in finding our answer, but also in understanding how others claim to have found theirs? By the way, I really appreciate your project—it’s refreshing and needed.

    Reply
    • whenbeliefdies
      February 4, 2022 11:44 am

      Thanks Michael!

      Yes how people come to their own answers are very important. The issue is the reasons given by Josh McD & LS don’t stand up to the tests thrown at them.

      This is why I mentioned Antony Flew – he’s got a reason for why he left Atheism and became a Deist.

      I appreciate what you are saying, and I agree that our sense making capabilities are very limited.

      Reply

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