Well, I’m going to have to say I disagree with you about Christ being the only way to be fully happy for the rest of your life. I’ll try to explain this as short and sweet as I can, since when I tell this I tend to rant and give more details that I should. :P Since I was born, I was raised in a chrisitan home, I was always involved in religious stuff, I went to church all the time, I was homeschooled, so all my schooling and textbooks were made by christians that incorporated god into their ciriculum, and all my extraciricular activities were always either at the church, or some place that I would always be able to hear about god and stuff. Anyway, for the first 17 years of my life, I followed the teaching about god, because, well obviously because that’s what my parents had taught me. I had never really thought about my beliefs and why they were my beliefs or anything.
Now, I can honestly say, that being a christian, I went through some of the worst time in my life. I’m not saying I’m not going to experience anything worse, or that it was the worst that could ever happen to anyone, but I haven’t lived an awful long time, so I don’t have that much experience in the world to be able to say I’ve been devastated by anything, so at the moment, being a christian stays at the top. Anyway, I constantly felt like a crappy person when I was a christian. Obviously you know that the bible teaches people that they are worthless and don’t deserve anything except hell, but that’s where Jesus comes in and he forgives you and allows for you, by his sacrifice, to have the opportunity to enter heaven. Because of the bible and what it taught me, I was in a repetitive existence of feeling like complete garbage. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t be as good of a christian as all my friends from church were. I didn’t understand why god would tell me to be and act a certain way, and then wire people [especially me] with desires and a natural lust [I use that in a non sexual manner] for anything opposite of what he teaches. I was told by my mother that it was morally right to read the bible, however I’ve never had a good attention span, and so reading books is really not my thing, unless I am really interested in it. The bible…I was hardly interested in reading it. Yes, I loved learning about god, I was active in a small bible study with all my friends from church, but I never read the bible. There were times when I tried, and times when I was depressed or having a difficult time in life that I searched it for answers. However in my bible study, time and time again I felt ashamed showing up because the leaders of our bible group [our dad’s, though, not mine] would ask us how well we did at staying in the word of god that week. I would usually lie about how much I read because my friends always talked about how they did 3 hour sessions of just reading the bible and taking notes, every day that week. I had at maximum, read the bible for an our over the span of the entire week, or less. I felt like I would be looked down upon and discriminated against if I told them, because we were always strongly encouraged to read the bible.
This is getting a tad longer than I expected so I’ll try to wrap this story up. As I was saying, the bible study stuff, among other things, made me feel horrible all the time. I felt like I wanted to be a good christian, and I wanted to do what god wanted me to do, and I wanted to please him in every way that I could…but when I tried to apply that to my life, it was incredibly difficult to be able to live that way. Time and time again I found myself [from a biblical perspective] making the wrong decisions, and then I’d reprimand myself mentally and I felt like I was constantly disappointing god. Just like Paul said, I do what I don’t want to do, and I don’t do what I desire to do. It even got so bad that there were many times I considered, and got close to killing myself because I was so deep in my depression that I didn’t want to live anymore because I couldn’t live the life that got wanted me to live. I couldn’t do anything right and I didn’t feel worth anything. I felt like I was too fucked up to be a good christian.
This is the part where I would tell you how I stopped believing in god, but I have an entire seperate note containing the abridged version on that, so for that information, read this note of mine. - http://gingyninjy.tumblr.com/post/6824013966/the-end-of-my-faith-in-god
So, when you say that christ is the only way someone can be fully happy, and it’s the only thing that can keep someone happy their entire life, I must respectfully disagree with you. I’m not denying that what you said may be true for you, but it’s definately different for me. After I became an atheist, my life got brighter, and I became a more positive person. Not only that, but through my entire depressive state I went through when I was dealing with christianity, the girl I’m with now, who I’ve been with for 2 years, she kept me sane that entire time. The only reason I didn’t kill myself, was her. She gave me a purpose to live, that purpose being to love her and to make her happy. After I discovered I didn’t believe in god…I can’t think of a better metaphor other than I felt like I had been released from a cage. I felt like all my old worries about everything I used to have, vanished. I’m not saying I don’t have any more worries and that I live a perfect existence, but I am saying that I have been more happy in these past 2 years of being an atheist than I had ever been at any moment being a christian. I don’t feel empty in any way, I don’t feel like my girlfriend doesn’t fill the “void” in my life that you refer to. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life and I know I don’t need god to make me happy.
Now I don’t want you to think I’m telling you this because I’m trying to tell you that [specifically] you don’t need god to be happy, I’m just saying that I don’t. You talked a lot about how your personal experiences are a huge driving force behind why you believe, well, for me, they were for why I don’t believe. Don’t get me wrong though, when I say I’m an atheist, a common misconception is that atheists say “God does not exist.”, I don’t say that. I’m saying I don’t believe in god. It’s possible that Jesus and all the bible stuff could be true and god exists, I just don’t believe in it. The evidence presented is not sufficient for me.
Where you say that you doubt your faith all the time, in my opinion, I honestly think that whatever a person may believe, doubt of it is extremely healthy for you. You doubting your faith is a wonderful thing for you to do. Doubt will make you search for answers, and will yield for you, a better understanding of what you believe for yourself and give you a deeper connection with it.
I’m going to address your outline in your post in the same way as it was presented to me, meaning, 1. my response 2. my response 3. my response. Anyway, before I get on with that, I want you to know something I should have stated at the beginning of this discussion. You may know this but I just want to clarify. I’m not trying to convince you of anything and I’m not trying to convert you. I’m not having this discussion in any sort of a hostile manner, I see this as two people with separate beliefs simply talking about their different perspectives on things, so I don’t want you to feel like I’m telling you how things are. I’m merely just telling you my side and listening to yours, I have no intention of expecting you to become and atheist, at all.
1. I can’t exactly touch too much on this one because this is outside my area of expertise. I don’t much about what the biblical and the scientific community say about the supposed historical evidence for christianity, so I’m not going to attempt to talk about this as if I do. Though I must disagree with your last comment that god is consistent. I know it’s typical of an atheist to say, but I don’t see god being consistent in the bible.
2. Well I’m curious as to what you mean by creation. You didn’t allude to anything in this post about how you think god created the world. I’m assuming you mean god just speaking everything into existence. However I have to ask you how much you know about evolution. Don’t get me wrong though, I really think you can believe in god and still believe in evolution, it’s not completely improbable that if god exists, that he used evolution to bring about life on earth. However I do think that us ranting back and forth to eachother about creationism vs evolution is a rehashed and over used argument to have and I think our time could be better spent discussing other things. :P
3. Yeah, exactly like I said before in this post, you spoke a lot of personal experience. There is nothing wrong with that whatsoever, and I’m not against anything that happens that bolsters your faith. If you see things or things happen to you that help you gain a deeper understanding of what you believe, then I’m all for it. When you say that you’re not going to stop sharing christ’s love with people, I have nothing against that, as long as you don’t tell anyone that they are wrong. Even if you think you’re right and christianity is the only way the live, [I’m not saying you don’t already] just have the respect to not force your belief on other people. Asking about other peoples’ beliefs and discussion them is perfectly fine, but attempting to convert someone is where I have a problem with believers. Not everyone wants to listen to it, so I think that believers should give people that respect and space, since they are given it themselves. Again, I’m not saying you force your belief on anyone, I’m speaking in general about religious people.
You say that life is meaningless, but I think otherwise. It may start out as meaningless, but as I’ve said before, I think each person creates their own meaning and reason for living.
Okay, well here’s where things seem to get… gritty. Because when I say that Christ is the only thing that can satisfy, I mean it! Not only have I personally experienced satisfaction in Christ time and time again, but I’ve seen so many broken lives being fulfilled by Christ. Even more than that, God Himself promises that although we will try to fill our voids with toy after toy, girl after boy, that wasn’t meant to be eternity’s life story. (to borrow words from Jimmy Needham’s “Benediction.” Check it out!)
People are just that… people. We have so many emotions and feelings and longings and human functions. We can feel satisfied by a lot of things, but I stand on the claim that nothing in this world can bring true satisfaction in the long run. And when I say the long run, I also include Forever. Because dying and spending eternity with Jesus will Truly be satisfying.
The truth is, I doubt my faith all the time. Of course I’ve thought about other religions, and thought, “What if I’m wrong? What if this is all just a theory that some dude invented and all these Christians are running around believing it, staking their lives on it like they’re the only ones who know what’s up?” But you know what? Those doubts don’t stick around for long. In fact, the more I question my faith, the more I’m convinced. And believe me, this isn’t some ignorant brain-washed convincing… I’m wholeheartedly convinced.
Let’s see… I’m not keen on writing an entire sermon, but of course I’ll give you an outline. :)
1. I believe the Bible is the true and living word of God. It has been proven historically correct by tons of historians, archeologists and scientists, etc. As I am none of those, I won’t try to sound like I am. What convinced me the most that the Bible truly comes from God was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Written over two thousand years ago, these passages of Scripture are exactly identical to the Bibles we have today. With 2 thousand years of rewriting and passing down, I simply cannot believe that no mistake was made, that nothing changed. The fact that it didn’t proves to me that God maintains the inerrancy of His Word. I believe and follow the Word of God because the life it offers, compared to other lifestyles and worldviews, seems the most logical. God doesn’t contradict Himself; He’s consistent.
2. Creation gets me every time. I’m not eloquent at scientifically proving that God created the world, but the complexity and beauty of nature… coming from nothing? I mean, really? It just makes no sense to me!! Think about it, if God is real, and He’s all-powerful and all-knowing… it would bring him so much glory to plan and form an entire world! It’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around, because humans have tried to explain so many things through science alone, but to me I look around the world, and I can’t help but see God.
3. A lot of why I believe in God and claim to be a Christian is based on my personal experience. When I was a little kid, accepting what the adults said around me, I believed things without questioning them. In high school, when I realized I needed to discover belief for myself, I searched but couldn’t find an inconsistency in Christianity. Looking back over my life, I saw so many qualities of God that I had experienced. I saw so many truths of the Bible being fleshed out in the world around me. I realized that the only reasons that kept me from embracing Christianity were selfish. I didn’t want to accept the idea that I was born a sinner and deserved death. I didn’t want to be held to strict standards, to be limited in what I can and can’t do because it’s wrong or right. I didn’t want to have to go to Church on Sundays and listen to pastors drone on about prophets in the Old Testament.
But I couldn’t ignore God. He kept coming back to me, no matter how much I tried to live my own way and find what made me happy. God had a hold on my heart, and He wasn’t gonna let go. I can’t even explain what it’s like to know with certainty that God is real and that Christianity (not “religion”) IS what it’s all about.
I can’t pretend that there aren’t things that I don’t understand, or that I live like a genuine Christian every second of every day, but I also can’t pretend that there’s room for more than one Truth. I’m not going to turn my nose at those who don’t believe, and I’m not going to judge and hate and condemn. I see no reason why we can’t treat each other with respect and live alongside each other in this crazy world. :P
But I’m not going to stop trying to share the love of Christ with those around me, because I’m convinced through and through that God is the Truth, and that without Him, life is meaningless.
Oh don’t worry about that at all. I easily can see how one could see my post in that light, and it’s completely understandable that you responded in the manner that you did.
I have a couple questions about what you said in your elaboration. I’m wondering if when you say things like: “Even the deepest love for another person doesn’t truly satisfy.” or “- is the most satisfying thing a person could ever do.”, do you mean those as things for yourself, or for everybody? I think you meant it for yourself, but you didn’t use any words that make those point specifically to you, so I have to ask.
I do want you to know though, that I completely understand why you choose to believe in and follow god. I mean, I was a devout christian for 17 years, but that’s beside the point. What I’m getting at, is that I know everyone is different. Some people can get along just fine without believing in a purpose or reasons or a god, and some people…not that they can’t, it just more their cup of tea. I utterly understand “to each his own” and I fully respect that. If believing in and praising the biblical god is what keeps you going and provides light and a smile to your life, then that’s wonderful and I encourage you to keep on keeping on with that groove. Always do what makes you happy.
I think it’s great that you were able to find a purpose for your life! It’s good to hear that you’re doing what makes you happy and you’ve made the decision on what you want to do in life. I personally think that there is no inherent reason for living, and so a person creates their own reason. The best way to fulfill yourself in creating your own purpose is to choose to do something you enjoy doing, and you obviously really enjoy following Christ. You also don’t come off as arrogant or ignorant as the majority of christians I’ve had discussions with, and I must compliment you on how refreshing it is to see that. It’s also good to hear you say that you don’t claim to have the answers. Although it does lead me to a question on this matter. Do you think that, regarding your faith, that you could be wrong? That there is a possibility that the god you believe in could not exist? Even if you don’t think you are, do you think it’s possible? Or do you think that there is no way you’re wrong and you’re way is the only correct worldview to uphold?
Don’t sweat it, I don’t see you coming off as judgmental or confrontational. I’m glad you gave me your two cents on my note. I really do immensely enjoy conversations regarding things like this. Especially when it can be done in a respectful manner, and double especially when the person I’m having the discussion with is intelligent on the matter.
I’m sorry I misinterpreted your post; I honestly had no intentions of doing so. I just felt that you made some generalizations that have definitely been contradicted in my experience… what little experience I have in the grand scheme of things.
Now to elaborate a bit :)
When I say my life sucks without Christ, what I mean is that I believe my life was extraordinarily empty before I met Christ, and that living for Him, through Him and with Him is the most satisfying thing a person could ever do. My life is actually pretty fantastic, in comparison with a lot of people… I have a family who really loves me, I’m receiving an excellent education, I’ve always had great friends, I make good money, and there’s really not much I have to worry about on a day-to-day basis. But that’s all just life. I mean, I go along every day and I work, I hang out with people, I sleep and I eat…. but there’s always this self-orientation about things that simply doesn’t satisfy. Even the deepest love for another person doesn’t truly satisfy. That’s part of what I mean by my life sucking without Christ; I mean that it’s devoid of meaning, sort of wandering and self-seeking all the time, which gets… dry, exhausting and boring. And I can never seem to fix my own troubles, you know? They just hit me like a freight train and I’m swept along the bumpy road of life.
So that’s where Rescue comes in. I stand on the Truth that Christ has redeemed my life, so that my purpose is so much greater than making myself happy, pleasing other people, or even making a good difference in the world. Living and breathing for Christ, my Savior, is an utterly breathtaking experience… and I just want to share it with everybody! I don’t claim to have all the answers or understand all the questions and complexities, but I stand on Grace.
And about the speck thing, I guess I phrased it kind of strangely… haha but what I intended to portray was that I am one in a million people that bustle about in life every day. I mean, when you think about it from an arial view, or from God’s view, I’m just another wrinkle in time. I don’t think of myself as some insignificant being who can’t make a ripple in the world, but I guess it’s humbling to realize how much more there is than me and my “big” life.
Anyway, I’d love to continue this conversation and I hope I don’t come across uber confrontational or judgmental. :P I just tumbled across your post and decided to share my thoughts!
If that’s the way you wish to perceive my post [inaccurate], then that’s entirely your prerogative. I speak only from what I knew growing up in a christian home and from what I’ve seen from my friends in their homes. I wasn’t speaking for the majority of christian’s homes, I was speaking in a generalization. I didn’t include or exclude the idea of the circumstances that you presented in your response, so they are no exempt from being possible.
I think it’s wonderful that you were taught that. There is nothing I like more in a religious person than the qualities of curiosity, doubt, and the guts to question. Even if you still believe, more power to you. Questioning is a very useful tool to help you learn more about what you’re own beliefs are and grow and mature in them, whatever they may be. I don’t have to agree with your beliefs to tell you that either. Your life sucks without Christ? I’m sorry to hear that…you’ve found Christ? Then I can genuinely say, I’m happy for you. :] I’m not against people believing or doing whatever they want to [provided it doesn’t effect anyone else negatively - it’s also a bonus if they can be smart regarding it, and you sound reasonably intelligent], it doesn’t bother me. So I say that if believing in Christ and following his teaching provides you with meaning for life and provides you with happiness, then go you! That’s great! I would honestly hate for you to force yourself to live an unhappy existence. Christianity is perfectly fine by me.
Yes, we may differ on our spiritual beliefs and the such, but I see that as no reason to treat you any differently than I would of any other walk of life. As well, I see a person’s belief system as something that is not a bases to look down on them for. I may say that I have a slightly different opinion on myself being a speck on earth and my existence in my perceivable empty universe, but to me, that is not reason to come between us as individuals. I sincerely do appreciate your response to my message, and I enjoyed the opportunity to respond to you.
Hey guess what, gingyninjy?
I grew up in a Christian home, but I was taught from day one to question. To question what I heard from pastors, teachers, friends, parents, everyone. To go straight to the source and seek the Truth for what it is. I was taught to think critically, and to speak up, to ask questions and not to hide behind religion. I was curious. I questioned. I doubted every second of every day, but then it all changed. It changed when I met Christ, met the God of the universe. For real. I’m done with speculations, done with vague ideas and strict principles. But I’m not done with change. Every day something changes… a new idea, a new fear, a new realization. But you know what doesn’t change? Jesus Christ, and what he did for me. He died so that I might have LIFE. Life eternal, despite my worthlessness. Because seriously, without Christ my life SUCKS. All I am is another speck of person, walking this earth, living for what I feel and what I think I know. But what do I really know, when there’s so much more outside of time? I guess I’m just saying that your post is remarkably inaccurate when it comes to living a life that’s really rescued by the love of God.
Humankind yearns for more than what life really is, which explains part of the origin of religions. It’s nice to imagine something like a god watching over you and you getting all this nice shit when you die. So your parents follow that religion, well, so will you. Because you’re then taught it,…