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.
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