Saturday, March 2, 2013
Atheist or Christian - Matters Not, Just Think.
"All thinking men are atheists." (Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms)
At first glance, the idea of religion appears immensely foolish. It seems ridiculous to believe in an imaginary friend in the clouds, ready to help you with your worldly struggles - is it not? Would not every "thinking man" agree that the idea of a "savior" is so clearly and laughably false?
I like to think of myself as a thinking man (in this case, woman). Contrary to Hemingway's conclusion, it is not an atheist outlook that contributes to my ability to think. Rather, the fact that I am a Christian directly proves that I am constantly thinking and constantly seeking truth each moment of my existence.
Yet how could I - one who indeed believes in that so-called "imaginary friend in the clouds ready to help [me] with [my] worldly struggles" - be considered one who thinks?
However, the more I think about Hemingway's argument, the more I see the invalidity of his conclusion. I do not believe that all thinking men are atheists. Yet at the same time, I do not believe that all thinking men are Christians. The definition of a "thinking man" is not an atheist or a Christian, but it is one who has taken the time to reflect on what he or she believes to be true.
Those last words are crucial: what he or she believes to be true. When it comes down to it, I do not care if you are atheist; I do not care if you are Christian. All I ask is that you take the time to think.
Once I was speaking with my friend about his atheism. Out of curiosity, I asked him if he could pinpoint the cause of his lack of religion. It amazed me to hear that he was atheist just because - just because it made sense to him. It seemed to me that he had taken very little time to actually reflect on his decision to become atheist, and instead had simply chosen this route because his father was atheist.
Now before any atheists reading this get too fired up, allow me to offer further commentary. An atheist who does not take the time to think about why he believes as he does is equally as ignorant as a Christian who does not take the time to think about why he believes as he does.
You cannot simply say that you are atheist or you are Christian because your parents are or your friends are. Few things on this planet are more frustrating to me than the individual who so easily believes what others tell him or her to believe. Do not be that frustrating individual. Take time to reflect, to wonder, to reason, to imagine, to question, to argue.
At first glance, I am positive that many of you see me as such a "frustrating individual," one who believes in the goodness of God simply because that is what she has been told all her life. Yet those of you who have been reading my blog each Sunday or who know me on a deeper level would (I hope) declare that I am indeed a thinking woman.
Here's the deal: I neither believe nor agree with everything the Church tells me to. I am the kind of person who questions everything. I am extremely analytical. Even when it comes to Scripture, my favorite kind of passages are not the rather simple and fluffy ones, like John's words that "God is love." Rather, my favorites are those that truly require me to think, urging me to discover what I believe (not what someone else tells me to believe) to be true. I reflect; I wonder; I reason; I imagine; I argue. I am a Christian, and I am a thinking woman.
And when I truly take a moment to think about this life, the single conclusion I continually reach at the end of each exhausting day is the conclusion that God must exist. Because when I look at this world, I see Jesus. No, I do not believe that the world was created in seven days, that the world began with two humans Adam and Eve, or that Noah lead animals two-by-two into an ark that saved them from a disastrous flood. I have done my thinking, and simply because the Bible tells me to believe these things does not mean I believe them. Yes, I do believe in evolution. I have thought, and thought, and realized that this is true - that clearly we evolved from bacteria and clearly our time as human beings is unbelievably trivial in the big scheme of the history of life. But how can I believe in the existence of God if nature seems to have so naturally developed on its own? How can I believe in the need for a Divine Developer if nature serves as its own master?
Yet the more I think, the more I realize God must be real.
Enough of my ranting. I am not going to sit here and explain to you why I believe God is real. I believe God is real because I have thought, because I am constantly thinking. And the reason I believe God is real may be quite different than the reason as to why you believe He is real. Further, the reason I believe in His existence may be the exact reason you fail to accept His existence.
If you take away anything from this post, take this ~ To me, it is more important to analyze and argue and ultimately reject what someone tells you to believe than to not analyze nor argue and accept without hesitation what someone tells you to believe. We have all been given a beautiful brain to reflect, to wonder, to reason, to imagine, to argue. Use it wisely. I would much rather you be an atheist who knows what he believes and why he believes it than a Christian who only believes in Jesus because everyone else around him wants him to. Make your religion your own. Make your life your own. Read every book you can. Listen to every wise man you encounter. Search for what you believe to be true.
And never, ever stop questioning.
Song of the Week:
One of my favorite songs - a completely instrumental song that always makes me think.