Travels of a Generic Christian

A Christian shares the joy of his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Full Circle

It seems to me that one of the big problems that atheists have with religion is that most, if not all of the world’s major religions claim that you have to know and accept the right things about God in order to be “saved”. And as we all know, each religion offers its own set of beliefs about God, tacking onto the end of them (in one form or another) that warning that if you don’t exclusively accept their set of beliefs, you will be condemned by God. I think religious outsiders looking in have a legitimate gripe with this scenario: if there is a God, how are they ever supposed to choose the right set of beliefs ‘from the outside’? It isn’t fair: if they happen to end up adopting the wrong set of beliefs, God will say to them, “Oopsy… wrong choice—you’re toast.”

Atheists therefore make the assertion that even if God does exist, he certainly isn’t a good God, worthy of worship; if he were, he wouldn’t condemn someone who was honestly seeking the truth, but just happened to get it wrong.

I agree with the atheists in this assertion, but I recently discovered something that is overlooked in the argument: We are simply incapable of utter honesty. (Until just a few days ago, I didn’t recognize this and felt that utter honesty was the ultimate thing that God asks of everyone. But, for a Christian, that’s the wrong answer—one I couldn’t get around.) Even hardened, atheist-scientists fully recognize our incapability of utter honesty as evidenced by their affinity for double-blind experiments. The design eliminates (to the greatest extent possible) any subtle, even unrealized, bias in the human experimenters.

So where does this leave our atheist friends once they realize that they can’t even be honest in their assessment and digestion of the evidence regarding the ultimate nature of reality? I suggest that if they really are open minded and are willing to consider that there is an ultimate, conscious Truth (albeit a Truth/God different than all the caricatures painted by the world’s religions—including, sadly, Christianity), then the only thing left for them to do in order to have a chance of being right with this Deity is to realize that they have no other options and simply throw themselves out into the emptiness of metaphysical space, trusting that the Truth, whatever or whoever it may be, will eventually draw them into Itself.

But wait! That’s the Gospel of Jesus! He said, “I AM the Truth”! Once we realize that we are utterly incapable of knowing, finding, achieving, or acquiring the Truth ourselves and finally, in philosophical desperation, fling ourselves into the insanely unsafe abyss--that which is anything and everything EXCEPT ourselves--trusting the Truth to draw us into Itself, then we have accepted the Christian Gospel. No wonder Jesus said that there were those who were not of “this fold” who would see the Kingdom of Heaven.


At 10:19 PM, Blogger Lori said...

Chad, that was such a great post. You really sorta nailed down the human conundrum of understanding God. You have such a way of simplifying things that are so hard to say. Thanks.

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Iron Soul said...

I really respect your reasoning. Obviously everyone has bias, that is impossible to escape. I think I'm aware of some of my biases (when I'm being honest with my self), but I'm also sure that I have more and subtler ones that I'm not aware of.

I say I want evidence, you are saying that if I had it I couldn't objectively evaluate it. I believe in a materialistic universe because I see no compelling reason to think otherwise. I also admit I could be wrong.

Still it seems like a stretch to say that seeking truth is the Christian gospel. buddah and others have also made the statement "I am the truth". You may claim that these statement are all just different facets of the same "oversoul/ ultimate truth", but I don't think that you can try to fit all of that under the Christianity umbrella.

I know you take issue with the way Christianity is traditionally practiced, but if you are following the Bible don't you have to have more than "I am the Truth" to your Christianity?

Sorry I have to be so contrary.


At 6:31 PM, Blogger Chad Borges said...

Hey Iron Soul,

I think I failed to fully clarify the point I was trying to get across. What I was trying to say is that I (personally) finally got beyond saying that honestly seeking the truth was the core of the Christian gospel. I finally made a series of logical steps to take me from saying that "honestly seeking the truth" must be the core of a correct belief system to saying that "trusting the Truth to draw us to itself" must be the core of a correct belief system. (Thus, it goes without saying that, in my opinion, all works-based religions belong in the trash heap.)

What I was trying to say was that as flawed beings (e.g., as demonstrated by our incapacity to be completely honest) we are incapable of getting ourselves to an absolute living* "Truth", and that if such a thing exists, the only hope we have of attaining to It is to trust that It will draw us to itself. I suppose you could think of the post as a first attempt at a rudimentary proof that if God ( i.e., absolute, ultimate, living* Truth) does exist, the only way for us to get to Him would be via Trust--precisely the kind of Trust outlined as the only way to get to God by the Christian Gospel. If this "trusting the Truth to draw us to itself" is the core of other religions as well (none that I know of, but I'm ignorant on this), then I must admit that perhaps multiple religions are calling the same bird by different names.

You are right in implying that just because a man (Jesus) said, "I am the Truth", doesn't make it so. I quoted Jesus to link up the (I believe) logical conclusion that "the only choice we have with regard to knowing an absolute living* Truth is to trust It to draw us to itself" idea with the Christian Gospel. This was perhaps more for my own personal benefit than anything else--(I think that's why I entitled the post "Full Circle"). I wasn't trying to prove that because Jesus said, "I am the Truth" that that makes Christianity the one "right" religion. I know I can't do that! I was simply asserting that Christianity (not necessarily to the exclusion of other religions) nicely fits the (I believe) logical conclusion that "the only choice we have is to trust a living* Truth to draw us to itself".

So, to reiterate: You are right in saying that, "if you are following the Bible don't you have to have more than "I am the Truth" to your Christianity?" Yes, of course I do. But all I was trying to show in this post was the logic (applicable even to atheists) behind the statement, "the only choice we have to get to the absolute [living*] Truth (if such a thing exists) is to trust this Truth to draw us to itself". For me it works out very well that this conclusion fits in nicely with Christianity--in fact, if one accepts Jesus' "I am the Truth" statement, it is the Christian gospel! But, of course, this in no way proves the truth or validity of Christianity; it just shows that a conclusion that an atheist might reach about the ultimate way of getting to the living* "Truth" (if such a thing exists), matches up nicely with the Christian gospel (and perhaps other religions' "gospels" as well).

*If the "Truth" is not living, then science is our only option of getting as close as possible to it. Of course, lack of a living Truth makes us as living, self-aware entities potentially greater than (... I know, define 'greater than'!) a non-living, absolute Truth.... but that opens up a whole other can of worms...



At 11:11 PM, Blogger Iron Soul said...

Okay. That is clearer to me now. I can see the logical steps to a potential living truth with the Christian gospel.

For myself I haven't felt (or seen a reason to be) compelled to postulate the "Living Truth". I am lacking the experience that you and Lori talk about. If you are right, though, I'll just have to trust that in all my flawed intellectual flailing The Living Truth is drawing me in from where ever I am. However, lacking that divine experience I'm still more comfortable with the naturalistic world view.

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Lori said...

I wonder if some people simply lack the ability to sense the divine. I mean, could spirituality be a sense that is inherent and then developed like other senses? Or could it be, Jeff, that your intellectual senses are so much more powerful that you miss the tiny nuances of the spirituality that are woven into your life? I know, it all sounds like a little "woo", but I wonder if you have to train your senses to seek what is most often felt and understood with the soul.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Chad Borges said...

I think there may be some sense of spirituality that is felt more strongly by some than others. But I think in practice it is difficult to know (even for the person him/herself) whether it is a raw lack of spiritual sensitivity or if it is a scientific bent in them that refuses to accept what intuition tells them without having some sort of additional hard evidence to substantiate it--and thereby cause them to act upon it.

As discussed in the movie Flock of Dodos (thanks for that recommendation, btw, Lori!), Intelligent Design (ID) may make intuitive sense even to its scientific opponents; but the reason they reject it as a scientific theory is that it cannot be tested--and therefore can never graduate beyond intuition to scientific fact--i.e., ID is actually outside the realm of science. Interestingly enough, some physicists seem to feel similarly about string theory since it has traditionally not been testable by experiment. However, string theory is substantially different from ID in this regard because, as I understand it, new string-related theories are being developed that may soon be testable by the latest high(est) energy particle accelerators.

...sorry to digress so much.


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