Sent in by Marie-Louise
A Christian friend of mine was shocked and horrified when I recently told him that instead of "readying myself for the next spiritual level", as he is, I am rather calling in to question everything I have ever learnt and ever believed. His response was that it is not so much about the contradictions in the bible, or the fact that the biblegod of the OT and the biblegod of the NT don't match at all, but the relationship you have with Him that counts.
Apparently he uses the bible only as a reference book. He then advised me to "ask, and you shall receive". Guaranteed. No doubts. And I started thinking.
I have spent night after sleepless night asking for a confirmation that all of this is actually true. I would have been happy with a warm and fuzzy feeling if nothing else! I begged for God to convince me through the Holy Spirit that it was not just a myth. Nothing. Nada. Not a squeak. My deconversion did not come as a whim. I did not wake up one morning and decided that today was a good day to turn my entire life upside down. I have been agonising over these doubts for years now, only recently raking together enough courage to voice them.
How can I have a relationship with God or Jesus, if my only point of reference is the bible, written by man, contradicted in many places and not proven to be authentic at all?
How can I love a God who ordered murder, rape, genocide, slavery and human sacrifice, to name but a few. How can I respect a God who shows no respect to women and reduces them to be subservient to men?
How can I base my faith and who I am on stories of a talking snake, a boat that housed a pair of every species of every animal on the entire planet, a flood that covered the entire earth and all the mountains (Everest?), sorcerers, food falling out of heaven, magic staffs, dead people living again, a man being swallowed by a fish, only to be spat out after three days, etc, etc.?
How can I trust Jesus teachings if He won't even keep a simple promise of asking and receiving?
Sometimes I get gripped by fear for even having such blasphemous thoughts, but then I reason that if God in fact does exist, and the gospel of salvation is true, a) He would surely at some point show me the way, seeing that I am honestly seeking the truth, and b) He would be cruel and unfair to give me an enquiring mind, wire me so that I can do nothing other than ask "but why", and then punish me for it.
But then, I am not to concerned, seeing that there are times when I doubt the existence of God all together and I definitely do not believe in Hell.
I am not versed in the rebuttal of apologetics at all. Any good Christian could probably shred my arguments to pieces. However, I cannot go back. I cannot reconcile myself to a belief system that manipulates people, keeps them in check by using fear and tells them that using common sense instead of blind faith is wrong.
I have a theory that at the time of clay huts and flint weapons, religion was formed as a way to keep the community in check. People need something to follow, they need well-defined guidelines, and there will always be the crafty few who will exploit those needs.
I suspect early man looked at natural phenomena (an entire basin flooding for instance), came to the conclusion that God did it, and attached a moral lesson to the retelling of the event.
Right now I have no clue as to where I fit in. I would believe in God for the following reasons:
* The awesomeness of nature, the universe and the creation of life call for such a belief,
* It would be nice to know that someone has my back
Maybe I need to read Richard Dawkins. Both my stated reasons are based on emotions only.