These days I find it hard to “believe” in things that are patently absurd.
I could probably believe in a limited amount of absurdity if there was good reason or some evidence to do so. I might be able to believe that a virgin conceived a child if there was reliable evidence recorded at the time of the event by credible witnesses. I can also think of many strange, hypothetical circumstances that would lend evidence to such a “miracle.”
There are some things that I can believe.
I can believe a man named Jesus was born in the first century who had a close and special relationship with God (assuming arguendo there is a god). I can believe this man traveled, evangelized, started a movement and was sentenced to death. I don’t have any problem with that per se. I can believe there have been many peaceable, wise, spiritual people to walk this earth. Assuming the existence of a supreme God, I could believe such a God started the process of creation.
However, to believe that God made a mud pie in the shape of a human and then blew magic breath into it and the figure came to life?
This pushes my rational mind too far. I cannot permanently suspend my disbelief on this one. I just can’t do it, as I can’t believe that somewhere an Italian boy named Pinocchio began his life as a wooden puppet or that near Hansel and Gretel’s home there really was a cottage made of gingerbread and candy.
Even if I could believe the following: that a virgin gave birth to Jesus, whose father was the Holy Spirit, and Jesus was half-God, caused miracles, explained the wisdom of God to us, was crucified, rose again and then ascended into heaven in front of his disciples; there is no contemporaneous evidence that any of these things actually happened.
Couldn’t God in his wisdom have had his son born into a literate family so Jesus could provide a record for us? Surely, even if Jesus’ family was poor, couldn’t God have allowed him to be accepted into some sort of school so he could write down the wisdom of God for us? If Jesus was God’s one and only son and the best representative that God could send to earth, perhaps even being half-god or god incarnated into flesh, wouldn’t it be nice if he could have written something to us himself? God came once to earth in human form to be an example for billions of people and God didn’t see fit to have Jesus write anything down?
Even if Jesus himself couldn’t write (or chose not to write), couldn’t one of the original disciples be a writer? His followers included prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen, and some Pharisees, like Nicodemus. None of them could write or chose not to write contemporaneously with the events? There were women that followed Jesus. Couldn’t there have been just one historian, reporter, or writer to tag along? Jesus allegedly traveled many places, healed and fed many, and spoke to many people. However, nowhere did he meet any historian, writer or reporter who contemporaneously recorded some account of Jesus that survives? No portrait artists came to see him as he taught? The gospels say that crowds of people followed him and he healed many. Surely, this should have attracted some attention from someone somewhere to generate some contemporaneous account.
For me there are numerous facts that make biblical Christianity hard to believe. Further compounding the problem is that the evidence for these “facts” is almost nonexistent and extremely unreliable. Furthermore, is the sheer number of “facts,” “beliefs” and “statements” a biblical Christian is expected to believe, many which lack evidence, foundation and\or are plainly absurd.
Also, when one thinks, hypothetically, of alternate ways God COULD have created the world and revealed himself to humanity, there are so many ways he could have done things that would have made the case for his existence more convincing to us humans and made it easier for us to know him.
One example of how God could have done things differently was my earlier example of how Jesus could have written his own account of God’s message to us or allowed other writers to contemporaneously document or corroborate Jesus’ acts or existence.
For me, my most basic question for God is this:
GOD, IF YOU ARE REAL AND CREATED HUMANS TO KNOW YOU, WHY WOULD YOU BE INVISIBLE?
Why be a God that we cannot see, hear or touch? Why be an invisible God with no material presence that we can only approach by “believing” and “having faith” in a god that we cannot see, hear, or touch and have no proof that he/she/it exists?
God, you must admit that from our human perspective it could look like the church is pulling the wool over our eyes when they give us your story:
Trust us; we have a very old compilation of religious stories. Many people wrote them and they say many contradictory things about everything. These stories reflect the times, superstitions, and knowledge base of the eras in which they were written. There is little corroborating evidence to all the claims and promises attested to in this big book. Please ignore all other creation myths and religious fables in the world even if there are strong similarities and parallels because the ones in OUR book our true and the others are false. Out of all the other religious folks that have lived or will live, you are the chosen few that were born at the right time and in the right place in order to receive the correct religious beliefs and holy book. All other religions are fakes or impostors.
Our stories are true and are about THE ONE TRUE God, whom you cannot see, taste, feel, touch, or hear. You will have to believe in this God based on our word (other believers) and based on this old special book that the one true God is Yahweh who you (probably) won’t get the opportunity to meet personally nor hear, touch or see. You just have to trust other believers and this big storybook that explains everything.
Well you CAN speak and commune with God in your soul or spirit, which is a part of a human that we cannot prove exists and won’t be found in any autopsy but you will have to take that on faith alone as well. Just trust us. In the place of your “spirit” or “soul”, which we say exists, and using your “eyes of faith” or “spiritual ears” you can hear from God in your “spirit,” which again exists, BY FAITH. There, located in your SPIRIT, you will sense God communicating with you by his Holy Spirit, which the book says is part of God which will fill us and lead us, but you can only sense this through having faith or believing that this process exists and is happening to you. I.e., we can’t prove these things and don’t have to because they can only be apprehended by believing they exist and then by believing you will receive them.
Is it just me or does this religious story sound a little fishy?
Am I beating a dead horse here? Perhaps. Yet this system of thought made sense to me and I tried to do this for almost all of my life! The amount of mind-bending, suspension of disbelief, and absurdity expected of the average Christian is mind-boggling. Living this way seems too absurd and ridiculous to me. I can’t do it anymore.