Picking sides – A tale of confusion, and rationality

I’ve decided to weigh in on my beliefs and contribute to the religious dialogue on this site

I’ve been raised a christian but my enthusiasm for it has dwindled throughout the years. To me, it seems like the fact its unfalsifiable (or you can’t prove it to be false or the other way around) is just too much of a hurdle to get around. That is to say that its one of those things that believers will always find some reason around any evidence you provide to the contrary. Faith is a strange concept for me, and I think its too vaguely defined between what that faith is actually based on, and where growing and seeking ends and faith begins. Overall, its just not in my character to be able to make that kinda jump.

Now this isn’t to say that I believe god or some higher power doesn’t exist. My beliefs seem to have an agnostic theme regarding this issue, and the general intangibles of life. In this way, I think that any religious debates for me are really just a waste of time given that religious people will always base their arguments on a spiritual unknown and I’ll always base mine on an intellectual unknown.

What I think the religious clincher for most people is actual religious experience or feeling the presence of god. This sort of experience I feel is a completely legitimate basis for religious faith, and its also the major gap for me. I find it difficult to imagine that I could ever trust any sort of spiritual experience in the same way that I use my instincts and feelings to make general judgements about other intangibles (such as “I love this person” or “it feels like there is tension between us”). Its probably just the scope of the judgement in that I’d have to believe that my internal decision applied to the entire universe, or maybe its just that other experiences are at least based in a physical tangible world. Is this difference substantial enough to make a distinction between judgements on things like emotions and judgement on my religious beliefs? Eh, maybe not.

But I think overall, what i’ve realized is that I might really be missing the point. The one part of christianity thats clung on to me the most is the concept of a hell and eternal damnation. Given some lifestyle choices, I’ve encountered a few moments in my life where I seriously believed I was going to die, and significantly more moments when I’ve felt intense guilt, which led me to think about eternity in hell. I think that these are almost exclusively now the moments that I will turn to god in prayer. Cowardly or not, I might never let go of christianity because of the concept of hell. BUT, in this same way, if your picking a religion based on fear of the afterlife, you at least owe it to yourself to figure out which damnation is the worst right? So heres my list of damnation of major religions (please feel free to correct my quick and dirty research, i’m sorry if I offend). I list religions where I would not receive eternal damnation for not believing as “safe”.

Islam – Seems to be pretty similar in that nonbelievers and those who lived immorally are destined to hellfire BBQ. Whats interesting is that apparently Jesus comes back at the Last Judgment to clarify that he isn’t god. Seems like it’d be an awkward moment for christians huh? There also seems to be some sort of good and evil point system as judged by Allah. Finally, there apparently is some flexibility at the last judgement, with allah allowing certain people to be fetched from hell and showing mercy on others. However, worshipping false gods calls for eternal damnation so I can’t put this on a safety list by any means.

Buddhism – Rebirth & Karma are central themes here as far as I can tell. Basically what you do is gonna catch up to you in this life or the next. So while this is definitely an incentive for good deeds, I doubt i’ll ever do anything to warrant an eternity of suffering. So lets turn away from this one and put it on the safe.

Hinduism – I can’t really figure out whats going on here given that hinduism is apparently a composite term which a variety of dramatically different sects fall under (not that christian sects aren’t different but they all believe in basically the same heaven & hell) In general there is rebirth and gradual realization of god or enlightenment. There is some concept of heaven and hell but it seems to be an actual place for some sect while others treat it as a place you go for a while if you think you’re going to go there. I’m in general confused, but it seems it gives a good amount of flexibility and second chances type of thing, so I’m listing it as a safe.

Judaism – Now this is surprising because I was under the impression that it Judaism had the same basic heaven and hell concepts as christianity. However, apparently the wicked just go through a period where their souls are purified (whether this is a process of learning or punishment varies by source), at which point they enter the world to come. Some sources say that the especially wicked, and evil leaders are punished for eternity, but I’m pretty sure i’m safe from that. So for the most part, lets put this as another safe.

Okay, so after looking at the big 5, I feel like actually christianity seems like the most logical pick at this point. I do realize the flaws in this sort of rating system. 1. Is belief out of fear actually belief? 2. Couldn’t someone just create a religion with like a “double hell” and then you’d believe that? Don’t really have a good answer for you on either one of those, this is really more of a way for myself to reconcile fear of hell and my agnostic beliefs. These religions all seem to be enduring so we’ll cut it at that for now and hope that someone doesn’t figure out a “double hell” or “hell marathon” concept. Its a mockery right? But I can’t seem to find an exit…

Final Note: I’m sure that this post contains plenty of self-contradictions and inaccuracies so I hope that you keep in mind that its stream of consciousness musings with maybe a total of 30 minutes of research (and a lifetime of church) behind it. Definitely open to corrections, just trying to avoid hostile responses (particularly from fellow bloggers).

– WindowSilk (1120 Words? Really? Noone will ever see this!)

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~ by sometimelove on August 13, 2008.

2 Responses to “Picking sides – A tale of confusion, and rationality”

  1. hahah, “particularly from fellow bloggers”? did you think I was going to cuss you out on that?

    well, i fully appreciate you originality on reasoning. This is the first time I encounter such reasoning regarding faith. i have to say, it was very refreshing. and i liked the way you laid things out. nice strand of thoughts.

    as a believer though….I have to say, you are totally right on the faith part and the major reason why many intellectuals cannot accept christ. i am actually really thankful that i got to feel God’s presence. i understand that different people was designed to discover God through different path….but for me, it definitely reaffirmed everything i was looking for. of course, i don’t want to lose you as a brother in Christ, so i will try to convince you that He does exit. but ultimately it’s up to Him and up to you. The only suggestion I have is that if you want to know Him more, the best way would be to pray to Him to point you in the right directions and let your friends and families pray for this. be patient, don’t look for things that you expect, but rather let Him show you things that you might have not expected but still just as convincing, if not more.

  2. […] >> rationality Some british chaps discussing rationality Saved by bjbishop on Fri 31-10-2008 Picking sides – A tale of confusion, and rationality Saved by davinwp on Fri 31-10-2008 Reliable Evidence Saved by Melita on Wed 29-10-2008 […]

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