Have you ever had your beliefs seriously challenged or changed? If you haven’t, you’re not growing or living. And if you haven’t allowed yourself to be seriously challenged at least once in your life, you’re missing out. There is a certain skill to allowing yourself to seriously hear different viewpoints, while still keeping your faith and beliefs. I’m beginning to think many people don’t know how to do it.
I am not wiser than most. And I am still very young. At almost 29 years old, I have learned a few things, while still realizing I have a LONG way to go to being truly wise and understanding. I’ve been in a couple big discussions/mental sparring matches with Fundamentalist Christians over the last couple days, and they have definitely given me something to chew on.
When you hear the words “Fundamentalist Christian” what do you think of? For me, it carries an overwhelmingly negative connotation. I think of people who are aggressive and hostile, preach fire and brimstone sermons, and who condemn those who do not take every aspect of the Bible literally.
For the most part, I avoid these people. But every now and again, I get bugged by something and have to speak out. Or as Pop likes to say, I get a burr up my ass. In this case, I was bothered by a friend who is an EXTREMELY outspoken Fundamentalist Christian posting about how he preached to two Muslim women about how Jesus is God. I respect my friend, but I have also seen how he preaches. Any way other than his way does not register with him. He doesn’t seem like an angry person, but he could rub a lot of people the wrong way. Apparently he did that with these two Muslim women so much, that they became angry with him and told him to fuck off. He reacted to this hostility by thinking they hated the truth. When I clearly saw it as they were probably upset with him for how he approached them. Plus they were probably defensive of their own faith, too.
I do not know Islam as well as Christianity. But Muslims do not see Jesus as the Son of God. They view Him as Isa (His name in Arabic), the second greatest prophet and messenger in their faith behind Muhammad. They also do not believe Jesus was crucified. They believe he was taken up to Heaven without suffering because, according to them, God would not allow a beloved servant to suffer such a horrible death.
But I digress. Everyone gets defensive when their faith/beliefs are challenged. I certainly have. It doesn’t feel good. But I believe people should recognize that being challenged is good. After all, if someone seriously challenging your faith completely destroys it, was it a real faith to begin with? Dogmatic faith to me is not faith at all. It’s rigid and dead. It is simply parroting what we’ve been taught or learned without truly examining it, which requires questioning. Living faith is going through these periods of questioning, and figuring out what makes sense and what doesn’t, and coming out stronger afterward and knowing what you believe in and why. Why are so many people afraid of questioning their beliefs? I don’t get it. I think it’s because so many are deathly afraid to be wrong on ANYTHING.
My belief on creation
Another thing I am interested in either changing or reaffirming for myself is my belief in how the world came to be. I find myself neither on the purely scientific side where the atheists are, nor do I find myself completely on the side of Fundamentalist Christians who follow young earth creationism. I find myself in the middle. I don’t know where I picked up my belief on this, but I believe a few things about the creation of the world:
- The universe and the world was indeed created by God. Everything did not just come out of nothing. God is the only being or thing of any kind who never had a beginning, and who never has an end.
- The seven day creation story isn’t meant to be taken literally. Science has proven that the Big Bang led to the creation of our universe. But here’s where I differ from both the atheists and Fundamentalist Christians: Perhaps we can look at big scientific events as pieces of the creation story. For example, God said “Let there be light.” That could’ve been the Big Bang, since it was an unimaginably HUGE explosion that no doubt generated untold amounts of light and other things that led to our creation. Or when Genesis says that God created the heavens and the earth and the seas, one could look at the creation of the stars, asteroid bombardment of the very early Earth, and comets helping to form oceans as pieces of the creation story. And intelligent design does not disprove creation. On the contrary, intelligent provides proof of God’s handiwork. I am a big believer in this theory. Everything on earth is all made in a certain way, and for a certain purpose. From the smallest cell or atom, to the blue whale. Who do you suppose did that? This is no accident. After all, it would take more faith to take the atheist stance that things “just happened” as a happy accident, than to take the stance that some higher power created everything.
- The seven days of creation in the Bible could mean billions of years. Could God have created the earth in seven 24-hour days? Sure. Nothing is impossible for God. But I still don’t know how to reconcile that with what I learned growing up in science class. Plus time to God is nothing, while to us, our lives flash by in a blink. 75-80 years if we’re lucky.
- Science and faith support one another in the creation story. They’re not at odds. The illusion that they are is unfortunately a byproduct of arrogant atheists and arrogant Christians having to be right over the years, because they’re afraid to be wrong. Science and faith work together. God instills faith in us to turn to Him when we don’t understand something. But he also gives us a mind and brain to figure things out that He reveals to us. Purely believing on blind faith without questioning is a form of arrogance, and a disguise for fear. Some are scared of being wrong if they question themselves. Just as purely believing in human reason is absurd and just as arrogant. We are extremely flawed, and nowhere near close to perfect. Plus perhaps some in the atheist community are scared to concede anything to the opposing side for the exact same reason: They’re afraid to be wrong about anything. And they’ll look foolish. Or so they believe. After all, they can’t have those who believe in the “invisible man in the sky” proving them wrong, can they? 😉
Do we resist God?
During my search, I also attended my first Bible study in a long while. I initially did it to just get out of my apartment, so I didn’t go crazy. But after studying Matthew 3 in the Bible (Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist), we somehow worked our way to beliefs in creationism.
While I don’t necessarily know if I completely agree with Jake, the guy who led the Bible study on this next point, I do see where he comes from. He believes that so many aren’t willing to believe in a literal creation story, because they do not want to obey or follow God. His line of thinking goes like this: If there is a God -> there is a Divine will for how things are supposed to be -> if God wills things to be a certain way, He wills a plan for us to follow -> if He wills a plan for us to follow, then it is in our best interest to follow Him and that will, and not our own way. And we resist this because we don’t want to take any accountability for our actions and answer to God. He definitely has a valid point. But at the same time, who is to say God’s will isn’t for us to question things to learn more and grow closer to Him, or grow deeper in knowledge and faith this way? After all, we can’t contain God or box him in anywhere. He is too big for even the smartest person alive to come close to even remotely comprehending Him. We do not have all the answers.
Genesis: Paradise Lost
I am very interested in a fairly recent documentary/movie called Genesis: Paradise Lost. It was released in late 2017, and basically aims to prove how evolution is a lie, and how the young earth creationist theory is correct, which states that the Earth is not 4.6 billion years old, but rather only 6,000 years old.
While I do not believe the Earth is 6,000 years old, I have never really allowed myself to listen to that theory. I didn’t feel I needed to. But I pride myself in listening to all kinds of different viewpoints and trying to find some common ground in all of them or most of them. So I rented this movie and am going to watch it soon. While a movie will not completely reshape or reaffirm what I know, it will definitely allow me to find out where I am in the whole creation debate. I’ll just be happy to explain my beliefs better, defend them with reason, and back them with Scripture and faith when need be.
Always challenge yourselves, folks. There is nothing wrong with doing so. After all, if we don’t challenge ourselves in any way, we don’t grow.