boiling it down: what i believe about the universe, and the person who made it (right now)

i’ve spent three years on a mission to decide about god.

i’m not done yet, but i’m a lot closer than i was when i started.

after thirty-two years on this rock, three of which i have been seriously, open-mindedly, truthfully searching for Truth (if there is such a thing) here’s what i have come up with as far as “what chris believes”:

god exists and created the universe(s)
of this i am fairly certain. i have studied enough physics to come to believe that someone made the rules, and makes sure that that which exists in the physical plane follows those rules.

this someone is “god”.

god is aware of my existence
i’m almost fully convinced of this. not 100%, but pushing eighty-eight maybe?

it seems unlikely to me that god is an non-person, a “thing”.

this does not mean i believe god is a super-human, or that god’s attributes are even approaching imaginability, but i do think it is very likely that what is possible to be known about god is made clear simply by watching the world around me and extrapolating.

having been doing this very carefully, i have come to believe that god does in fact know i exist.

god cares about me (and therefore, everyone else, too)
this one i’m less sure about. seventy-five percent or so.

it seems to me that god cares, because i care about god, and i care about people, and i think that reflects on (or reflects from) the person who created me.

this does not mean that god cares for me in the way i care for the people i love (but, admittedly, i don’t have kids, and i’m guessing that parent relationship comes closest to being analogous). rather, i think god cares for me and i have no idea what that really means.

in light of the above, i, then, also believe:

prayer works
since god exists, and cares about me (and others), prayers to god are heard and sometimes acted upon.

i have seen the evidence in my own life, and so have billions of people from all faiths that exist.

i ought to behave in a way that is god-pleasing
since i believe that i, and other humans, are god’s image-bearers, i believe it is important to behave in ways that seem like they would be pleasing to god.

there are thousands of years of religious thought put into deciding what exactly those sorts of behaviours are, but jesus seemed to hit the nail on the head: love god, love people.

when it comes to how one goes about loving god, and loving people, well, the jury is still very much out on that one, for me.

some people have gone to war over such minutiae, willing to kill to defend their (inherited, likely) ideas about these things.

as for me, i don’t claim to have a damn clue beyond this: i am pretty sure that it has nothing to do with how or what one eats, drinks, wears, or even believes.

rather, it seems, the idea is to be intentionally good to other people, as best as one can, and hope that god is pleased. this seems to fit in with what jesus taught, which pleases me, coming from a protestant background.

hey, speaking of jesus:

jesus’ teachings in the sermon on the mount are worthy of study in the attempt to work out what is god-pleasing
given my above statements, it is unlikely that i qualify as “a christian” anymore, at least to conservative evangelicals (who tend to claim, or at least believe, they’ve got the definition of “a christian” locked up), but i am still very much a fan (disciple?) of jesus and his teachings.

i spent eighteen months very seriously studying the sermon on the mount, and i still go back to it often for guidance on dealing with daily matters.

i suppose if a label must be applied to me, one could call me a “jesusist”.

what i do not believe
now, given the above, there are some things that are worth pointing out that i specifically do not, or no longer, believe in.

these would be things that i have abandoned in my quest for truth, as i find they are unworthy of believing in:

i do not believe hell exists
given my view of god, i believe the idea of eternally conscious torment for those to do not believe very specific things about the creator is, at the very least, extremely distasteful.

in fact, i believe the idea is evil. hell makes god into a monster, not a loving father. i think hell is a particularly nasty way to coerce people into falling into line, thought-wise, and it has had nasty consequences on religion and on how people behave.

if god hates, then i am one-hundred per-cent sure god hates that we humans invented the idea of hell.

i do not believe in the “authority of the bible”
i love the bible. i have memorized over half of the new testament. i am intimately familiar with lots of the old testament. i believe the bible (like all scripture) is useful for teaching, profitable for rebuking, and has lots of wisdom.

i do not believe the bible is “infallible”, “inerrant”, “authoritative”, nor “the word of god”.

as i’ve re-read the bible in the last three years (more than once) with an open mind, i have come to see it from an outsider’s perspective, and i now see it for what it is: a collection of myths, poetry, religious writings and “shared wisdom”.

i find it not at all internally self-consistent (which i had always been taught it was) nor particularly inspired, compared to some of the other religious texts i have bothered to study in the past few years.

it may well be “god-breathed” but, then, so is everyone who’s ever existed.

i do not believe the christian church is anywhere near what jesus had in mind
i think that many of the early “christians” got jesus message of love and peace all wrong, politicized it in order to throw off roman rule, and thus: jesus beautiful teachings ended up becoming romanized themselves.

i don’t think jesus had “an institution” in mind, and i think jesus would read the new testament the church has come up with and weep, saying, “no no no.. this is not at ALL what i meant.”

so, there we have it.

friends and family may wish to re-read the beginning, before freaking out.

go on, we have time…

done?, okay, so… now what?

how will i change in light of this?

guess what, you’ve already seen it.

the happier & healthier chris is a result of this thinking.

if you have seen a change in me, it is because of my beliefs about the above.

you will not see me go off the deep end and start murdering puppies, raping villages or pillaging women & children.

if my rejection of orthodox christianity was going to lead to such behavior, it would have done so already.

so, you’ll not see a change me, beyond the slow gradual one towards happiness that you’ve seen in the last six months.

don’t be scared: i’m not.

rejoice with me, cause i’m pretty sure i’m closer to “knowing” than i ever have been.

🙂

and, once again, i’ll say: friends and family may wish to re-read the beginning, before freaking out.

comments welcome, either below, or you can email chris at flickerbulb dawt com.

9 Replies to “boiling it down: what i believe about the universe, and the person who made it (right now)”

  1. bwa-ha-ha-ha! Welcome to the ‘dark’ side, my friend. Prudence, not dogma, is the way to a happy and healthy life, in my largely godless opinion. 🙂

  2. Hmmm
    Here are some interesting observations: after careful study and contemplation all that you say you believe (with the exception of hell and the inspiration of the Bible) is exactly what the Bible teaches–maybe that warrents a bit more study into the Bible itself?

    all you say about hell is a paraphrased version of what Brian McLaren says and he himself is not sure he believes it. Could it be we all have it wrong? Maybe its not all that important if its about love God and love People?

    You expect friends and family to “freak out” yet you have said very little that most of us have not been sorting through for the past years. ml

  3. reading mclaren’s third book was erie for me, because it echoed a lot of the things i had been arriving at, and discussing. with a friend anyway — so if i sound like i’m paraphrasing that book… well so be it. he may not be sure he’s right. i’m not sure i’m right.

    but i’m not scared to be wrong.

    as far as study goes, i admitted i wasn’t done — and the post itself is marked “right now”.

    i’m not done, and i don’t plan to be for a bit.

    but this seemed like a good milestone, and it seemed like the proper time to “announce” where i was at, because it felt like i was being less than honest otherwise.

    make any sense?

  4. You expect friends and family to “freak out” yet you have said very little that most of us have not been sorting through for the past years. ml

    i forgot to mention, that if “most of us” have been sorting through this stuff for the past years, i have heard precious little talk of the sorting going on — though i will admit that you are an exception (sort of) to this “rule”.

    but most of the christians i have grown up around never admit a peep of ever sorting through these kinds of issues.

    so, to be honest, the fact that “most of us” have such struggles is news to me.

  5. Chris et al,

    After knowing you for 17 years, there’s not much you can do or say that would make me “freak out”. I’ve built up quite the immunity.

    Now… you know I’m no McLaren expert, I probably know more about the car than the person or any of his “books”.

    It also won’t surprise you that, like you said, I am not “sorting through” all this “stuff” like you say you and some others are. Therefore, no, I don’t bring these topics up much, I’m resting on what I have decided to believe, and will leave it at that.

    I would like you to point out a couple of things, such as (1) the inconsistencies you have found in the bible, and (2) your definition of evil.

    That’s it. Interesting post. Have a good day.

  6. I’m glad. I’m glad you’re thinking, and trying to find truth. Heck, I’m glad that a lot of people I know are doing that. I’m glad it is (or at least appears to be) making you healthier and happier. And, yay for JC. No matter how you shake it, he seems to me to be the best role model I can find.

    BTW: I’ve been thinking a lot about these sorts of things too. Mostly because you challenged me to do so. Someday, I’m sending you new copies of those Brian McLaren books of yours that I still have.

  7. I’m not suprised. 🙂

    I plan on responding to you via email, as I think there are a lotta things going on here.

    Have you read any writings on the Early Church Fathers?

  8. I totally think, one day, you and I should go through and trade information. You know so much about things I wish I was more knowledgeable about.

    It’s funny. As I read your comment page, it looks a lot like mine when I made my list. Interesting. I think this honest examination is awesome. You rock.

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