Choosing Your Religion
March 10, 2007 2:12pm CST
Has anyone here ever gotten into Christianity from a purely logical and rational standpoint? It seems that people get into Christianity through these avenues: 1) They were brought up with it, and their young, impressionable minds accepted what they were told. 2) They had some kind of crisis: an addiction, a sickness, a death in the family, or some other kind of intense emotionally vulnerable situation and they turned to Christianity to help them through it. 3) They were otherwise in a heavy emotional state, such as being influenced by a seminar or something similar. I've never heard of anyone who examined a great many belief systems, as well as available scientific knowledge, and then compared everything and came to a logical conclusion that Christianity is what made the most sense. Is there anyone here who came into Christianity purely through rational, logical means? If so, would you be willing to share how you came to your conclusion?
11 Mar 07
Have you ever heard of 'Darwin's Gamble'? We all know who Darwin was, his 'Theory of Evolution' is for many people a reason that they disregard God, and at the time it was certainly shocking to those in religion. However, Darwin stuck with his faith, under the notion that, if there is a God the sacrifice of living as a Christian and going to heaven, rather than hell, ...is better than if... there is no God and you do not live as a Christian. Put another way.. If there is no God and you live as a Christian - you don't lose as much as if there is a God and then you go to hell. So the gamble is just to live as a Christian in case there is a God. It's a small price to pay. HOWEVERThe main reason behind religion is faith. There is no way that anyone can reason their way to God. As St.Thomas Aquinas stated, "It is impossible to know the essence of God." If you could reason your way to God, (if you could think it out) - there would be no faith, no leap, no epistemic gap (gap in knowledge), that makes religion what it is all about, a commitment and trusting in God. So even though you may like to think your way to God, or use 'Darwin's Gamble' if God is omniscient (all knowing) then surely he would know that you did not really believe, and did not really have a true faith. In conclusion it is ok, to look at arguments for God, to study philospohy and to try to understand God, ourselves, and our world better, but utimately it will come down to faith and reason (together - not seperate). Ed.
• United States
11 Mar 07
omnithought: I think the important thing is that questioning be conducted in the ultimate service of truth, rather than questioning merely as a prideful attempt to attack and destroy truth. Your post reminded me of CS Lewis's "The Great Divorce," where characters are in heaven or hell based on their ability to be open and happy, not self-focused, angry or otherwise neurotic. In that book we don't necessarily find who we'd expect in each place. For example, in heaven is a murderer, living peacefully in the presence of the man he murdered, while in hell is a mother who loved her child "too much" - to the point that it was pathological, because (as Lewis explains) all those things which we believe to be virtues can be sinful if taken to crazy, self-serving extremes. On the bus between heaven and hell there is a professor who questioned philosophical truths during his life on earth, which wasn't in itself evil, but now that he has arrived at the foot of the mountain of heaven, he still is asking questions. He is told his questioning must soon end, as he is entering the place of answers, but he is so used to the idea that questioning is itself a Great Virtue that he is unable to receive answers, and so he decides (for himself) he must ride the bus on its return-trip back to hell, where he can forever ask questions and write scholarly papers, etc...
• United States
11 Mar 07
Omnithought: After posting, I reread this entire thread let me say, firstly, you have opened an interesing discussion here, so thank you. Now, I think I'd like to add something that just occurred to me, and I would enjoy hearing your response. (Remember, I do not "hate" atheists as I have been married to one for many many years, so I am not looking to tear into you, I just want to hear what you have to say). First, I noticed you are making certain assumptions about Christians - that they are brainwashed, or traumatized, or any case certainly not in possession of the adult faculty of critical, rational thought. To a Christian listening to you, this comes across quite strongly as prejudice - and nothing else, not superior intelligence, not expert knowledge - just your average low and dirty prejudice. Maybe you do not realize how it comes across, but we are generally not impressed with this kind of thing - as an dumb or uneducated person "should be" in the presence of a great IQ. It is a barrier to communication. Second, now let me expose a parallel prejudice of my own. One or more of the following is true of all atheists and agnostics: 1) They have a superiority complex - they need to feel smarter than other people. 2) They felt bullied by religious people in childhood (honestly, a shame!) and have developed the bully-victim's retaliatory response. 3) As children they were misfits. As adults they are slightly socially inept, and thus they seek to disparage the intelligence of others and control discourse. 3) They do not WANT there to be a God because this would compromise their feeling of control, so they have constructed a temple to the self, and called it a temple of reason. So there. Atheism is a pathology. This is based only on my own subjective observations of people I know. I'd be interested in hearing a response that doesn't include the letters "ROTFLMAO" or some such, as this response from you would only prove that my hunch is right.
• United States
11 Mar 07
Unfortunately, the internet often makes straightforward statements and questions look rude or uppity, as there are no facial expressions or body language to interpret. I'm actually quite silly most of the time and laugh a lot and am pretty laid back if you meet me in person, but I do have a burning interest in how and why people adopt various beliefs. I was honestly asking if anyone had come into Christianity because I had never met anyone who had. They'd only done it through the ways I mentioned. It's not meant to be a challenge or a statement that all Christians are a certain way. Again, that's internet communication for ya. I do take issue, however, with those who claim that their religion is the absolute truth no matter what, as opposed to those who simply say "this is what I believe". Nothing is more arrogant than a person who claims that they know the truth, but has no real evidence to back it up. I have no problem with people adopting a religion, but there's a pretty scary movement towards a theology by some rather insane and overzealous people, and too many "regular" or "moderate" Christians either dismiss it with "They're not real Christians" or they otherwise just allow it to happen. I think more Christians should examine their beliefs and also challenge those who spread intolerance and hate and make the whole religion look bad. Too many Christians are so bought into the other extreme: total passivity, that they allow other Christians to commit terrible atrocities in the name of the same god. I think it should be important to anyone who calls themselves Christian. I understand how you feel and you're welcome to your prejudice about atheists and agnostics.
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• United States
11 Mar 07
Well, I don't know if this will count... I was raised Christian but learned nothing about it from my parents or the nuns or anybody (it was the freewheeling 70s, when religious education was big on "good feelings" and a little skimpy on actual theology). So I left the Church in my teens, thinking I knew a lot about Christianity and it was all a lot of bunk, a device to control people, a lot of rehashing of old mythologies, etc..., then I went through an earthy-pagan stage, then married an atheist, then after 22 years, I learned for the first time what Christianity was all about. I was stunned by the beauty and truth of it all, and horrified at my former ignorance. I returned to the Church in my mid-30s, which shocked everyone, and 3 of my 4 children are now Christian also (the one who isn't Christian is the most ignorant on religious matters, but she is also stubborn and I will never convince her). My husband, incidentally, is still an atheist, and like all theists he thinks himself very clever, but I can see that he isn't. (Actually, I think he has begun to realize that he knows less that he thought, but he's self-identified as an atheist for so long that now it is a matter of pride for him to stay that way - too bad) So although I am sure you will disagree, I have to say, Yes, I "converted" to Christianity through knowledge and reason.
13 Mar 07
I may have been brought up in a Christian environment but it wasn't until I was about 18 when I totally and fully understand what I believe in. Now that I'm exposed to other religion like Hinduism and Buddhism I can say that I will still choose to be a Christian. Although it's a shame to admit that many Christians are not really living by their name and it breaks my heart. Anyway, I'm not basing my belief in them though. Why should I? I have my own mind and I make my own decision.
11 Mar 07
actually if you study Christianity Islam and Jewish religion you found they had many thing common discuss about same prophets and same incidents from past so they are actually new versions of each other because people change and add something from them in old religions for examples Christianity has above 30 scientific mistake and also in jewish religion islam is the latest and no mistake in it actually it tells about many scientific terms and facts which was new at that time and discover by man after many centuries late is you study it it appeals you lot