Thursday, July 17, 2008

What about the children...

I was recently in a conversation about my faith with a devout christian. This christian is a good friend of mine and when we speak about the subject I have to be extra careful and take into account their perspective of the issue. As limiting as this sounds it actually makes me work harder at understanding what I believe. It would be easy to just say.. I think that Jesus was just a man.. Jesus may have been a messenger of god but he was not divine but I have to keep in account that I must give reasons why I currently think this.

One of the main reasons I believe this is a question I have about children and what is passed on to them by the parents. My parents encouraged me to attend church, bible school and Sunday school when I was a child. Religion was not a major force in my up bringing but it was there. I was told that Jesus was my savior and that is that. There was no debate. He was the only answer and it was not a question.

What I took away from that experience was exactly that, Jesus was god and there was no other choice, all other religion was wrong or of Satan and all followers of other religions was doomed to eternal damnation.

My question when I was a child was... what about all those people who believe in other gods and are told by their religious leaders that their religion was correct and their saviour was the only true saviour. The answer I got at the time was, missionaries working with Jesus and God were always working their way into the lives of everyone on this planet to shed the light of Christ across the globe. This seemed like a pretty good answer to me at the time and I stopped questioning it. I figured that God created a loophole of sorts, if you had not been told about Christ and you lived a good moral life you got a pass ( you may not make it to heaven but you would not end up in hell or something like that) the way I looked at it was god would take care of it, it was not my concern.

It was many years later, when I was questioning my faith that I realized how indoctrinated I was in Christianity. How ingrained it was in everything I was. If I stole that candy bar I was going to hell and Jesus would be mad at me and I would burn in hell for ever if I failed to please him with prayers of forgiveness. It ruled my actions with an iron fist (probably saved me from getting into all kinds of trouble).

Realizing that this religion was in control of my actions, I started to think back to my childhood question. What about all the people of different religions. What about them, were they controlled by the rules instilled upon them by their childhood religion? Were they indoctrinated early in life, were they taught to FEAR that breaking the rules of their religion would be punishable with eternal damnation? Were they taught that all other religions were wrong and all followers of other religions were going to be punished if they did not believe?

I think this question lead me to understand that while I believed there was a god, I questioned Christianity as the sole religion of the world. I just could not understand how a "loving god" would allow the people of his earth to be allowed to be taught (indoctrinated) with the wrong religion, only to be offered later in life the "correct" religion. It simply does not work for me. It is not possible in my mind that he would allow this. Especially because those that die not believing in Christ are doomed to hell. It is simply not fair and while I have no right to judge the decisions of god, I think this is a fundamental problem that I cannot overlook.

2 comments:

JoJo said...

Hi,

I stumbled into your blog and have read through some of your posts. You remind me of a good friend of mine who is atheist as well. He had a very similar story to yours (growing up in the church).

One thing I've learned to appreciate about him, though, is the kind of intellectual conversation we're able to carry. In fact, I've found it much more refreshing than a lot of the Christian friends I talk to.

That being said, I'm a Christian studying apologetics which you might know as our way of defending our faith through the reliability of Scripture, prophecies, and of course the bible.

Regarding the question you posed in your post, I've asked myself that same question many times too. The answer I've come to is first answering the question of justice. I believe if you're atheist, you have your views on how justice plays into the world, but I believe that God has to be just AND loving in order to be perfect in His attributes.

I believe that God is loving because none of us deserve mercy. But that He would pay a debt so that we can live and justice can still be served is just one way and perhaps a very surface explanation of why I believe what I believe.

"For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17

Anyways, I wasn't sure if I could post any longer than I already have. But I'd love to have a chance to talk to you and share our thoughts if you would like. I find I have very limited knowledge of what atheists believe. And I'd like to fix that.

Daniel
jojo657@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I stumbled into your blog and have read through some of your posts. You remind me of a good friend of mine who is atheist as well. He had a very similar story to yours (growing up in the church).

One thing I've learned to appreciate about him, though, is the kind of intellectual conversation we're able to carry. In fact, I've found it much more refreshing than a lot of the Christian friends I talk to.

That being said, I'm a Christian studying apologetics which you might know as our way of defending our faith through the reliability of Scripture, prophecies, and of course the bible.

Regarding the question you posed in your post, I've asked myself that same question many times too. The answer I've come to is first answering the question of justice. I believe if you're atheist, you have your views on how justice plays into the world, but I believe that God has to be just AND loving in order to be perfect in His attributes.

I believe that God is loving because none of us deserve mercy. But that He would pay a debt so that we can live and justice can still be served is just one way and perhaps a very surface explanation of why I believe what I believe.

"For God did not send His Son to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." John 3:17

Anyways, I wasn't sure if I could post any longer than I already have. But I'd love to have a chance to talk to you and share our thoughts if you would like. I find I have very limited knowledge of what atheists believe. And I'd like to fix that.

Daniel
jojo657@gmail.com