So with my last post, I talked mostly about my questions regarding the nature of the deity that a religion worshiped. I want to be clear that at the time I developed these questions I personally did not accept the existence of such a being. Those questions were just things that arose when others tried to explain their idea of deity. I cannot accept or worship a deity that is described by most religions out there, and those questions helped me determine if their deity met a standard of rationality. But I was on a quest to discover if there was a God. If there was not, my problems would be easy to solve, so if I had a bias, it was to the non-existence. That would certainly be the easiest path to follow. However, it felt intellectually dishonest and altogether too convenient to assume that I knew enough to definitively determine that God did not exist.
I am well aware that it is impossible to prove the non-existence of just about anything, but in particular, the non-existence of God. One who makes such a claim is either intellectually lazy, or deluding oneself. My goal in asking the questions I was developing was to be s rigorous as I could in asking the questions that would make me feel that I had not taken the easy way out in saying that I was an atheist or an agnostic.
There were many other categories questions I had as I was searching. Toward the resolution of my quest, I learned to ask those in the first group first, because if they were not satisfactory, there was really no need to ask any farther. Early in my efforts, however, I had many other questions that I asked that also helped me to weed out religions or philosophies that were problematic.
4) From whence do people come? (addendum) I did miss a part of my category 4 questions in my last post, and that was a final point that since most of the belief systems I encountered taught a continual creation, I was left troubled that such a creation could be undone. A being that creates a life at whatever point could also snuff it out. That power would be a lot more merciful than the suffering of unbelievers who never had a chance to believe. And yet, few of the Christian religions taught such doctrine. Of course, for my purposes, such a snuffing out was tantamount to there not being a God. So, a logical conclusion has to be that if one have an eternal soul, that eternity must continue in both of the directions in time of which I can conceive. So for me, the only rational situation is that of me somehow always existing in some form and destined to always exist in perpetuity. No Abrahamic religion I knew of carried that concept. Some of the ancient and eastern religions almost have it with their concepts of reincarnation, but s I posted before, those religions really only amounted to philosophies to my understanding.
6) Organization of a religion. One of my concerns about religions is the form and function of the religion itself. Many of the preachers I talked to belonged to no formal denomination. Many other people will protest that we don't need organized religion. Again, to me this is just lazy thinking. Organization is necessary to get anything done. If God exists, He will want to be known, and it is necessary that a God worthy of worship would care that His Truth were taught correctly. That mandates some sort of formal organization. That formal organization additionally has to have some means, consistent within the belief system to ensure that the Truth is taught. I had first-hand exposure to the inconsistencies in the teaching of Catholic dogma. But at least they did have a Pope, cardinals, and organizations for maintaining some consistency. Too bad their doctrines were completely unacceptable. As I met with the professors at LA Baptist College, I found that they didn't have the consistency they thought they did. Different professors had different interpretations of some of the biblical scriptures I asked about. And my girlfriend's dad (a Baptist pastor) had ideas different from them all. I also developed a huge dislike for the idea of people who make it a career to be a minister. I saw too many examples of pastors who bent the doctrines they taught to placate their board of elders. When a person's livelihood is on the line, one cannot trust that they will make the calls to repentance that the influential members of the congregation need to hear. I had one preacher, upon my challenging a softened teaching of his, that he knew that saying the truth would lose him his position.
7) Role of faith versus knowledge. Many churches teach that God can only be known by faith. I can accept that, but I have to know why? This gets back to why people exist. If God creates people to worship Him, what is the purpose of faith? Why is it that He doesn't just reveal Himself to everyone? Once again, the answer I got from most leaders was that it was too hard for us to understand. Or that it was a mystery. The God being taught is omnipotent, and our creation is to have worshipers. If the only reason we exist is to provide a source of worship, why not just skip the painful rigmarole of this living by faith? Once again, for most religions, there is no good explanation of this.
With these question categories, I am full-blown into ontology and epistemology, which I may decide to post on later.
8) Role of commandments. It always seemed clear to me that if there were a God, He would have a set of requirements. I don't understand why some people want a good explanation of why God would have a particular commandment, but I did see a need to understand the purpose of commandments in general. Some religions, like Judaism and Islam taught that it was just a duty, others that it makes society better. Both of these explanations leave me wanting. A better society is a good thing, but that's hardly a great motivator for most people. Are the commandments a set of tablets to bash us over the head with? That's what I got from most of the pastors and preachers with whom I talked. It seemed to get back to "trying to appease an angry God". As far as motivators, fear and guilt are pretty poor.
9) Role of ordinances. As stated before, the Bible seems clear that certain ordinances are required. The question is why? What purpose do they serve? I just did not get meaningful responses to this question. In fact, most protestant religions downplay ordinances. That caused me to immediately dismiss them, since I felt it was inconsistent to say "sola scriptura" and ignore the ordinances that were clearly required in the New Testament. Even the Catholics fell into this trap by trying to answer the problem of so many unbelievers in hell by their made-up doctrines of "baptism of desire" and baptism by fire".
This captures most of my question categories, perhaps I shall go into the answers that I found at a later time.
8 years ago