Questioning the Faith
By David G. McAfee
Frequently, the e-mails I receive from religious people are not peaceful in nature; that is to be expected with the nature of my work. But occasionally, I receive a message from a religious person with an open mind who wants to learn more about the problems with their canon specifically, or even with religious affiliation in the general sense. These people are often those who have been raised with religion or live among those with similar ideologies, but they can still question the doctrine upon which they base their lives. In hopes of reaching more people in similar situations, I’ve obtained permission to post a correspondence with a long-time Christian who came to me seeking advice— You will see my response posted below.
I have a question but first let me explain myself. I am very involved in my church and currently working in ministry. The problem is that lately I have begun to question a lot of things. Sadly my questioning has been sparked by my need or desire to justify “sin” in my life and in the lives of others I dearly love. I want to justify it because I don’t want any of us to burn in hell. Really, the extremely negative experiences of guilt is what got me to questioning how mentally healthy my beliefs are. I say sadly because from everything I’ve been taught, this is a terrible thing for me to be doing (guilt). I was nearly an atheist 10 years ago and then I experienced the whole rock bottom thing and got in church. The life application I learned from the bible teachings changed my life radically and over the last 10 years I have experienced all of the great things that come with hope, joy, peace etc. Before that I was cynical, critical, miserable, angry and just not a very nice person in general. No one would ever believe that of me now. Maybe all of those positives outweigh the guilt negative where mental health is concerned. If through all of this questioning I were to become an atheist I really don’t know how to explain that whole transformation experience. I’m also very concerned about losing my salvation “if salt loses its saltiness, it is no longer good for anything”. Okay now for my question. Through your I found a YouTube video with stick figures in a game show about bible discrepancies. I can’t find it now. If you know what I’m talking about I would appreciate it if you would let me know the name of it. Also, if you have any thoughts on my dilemma feel free to share.
I hope your weekend is going well. On my website, I have various articles about biblical discrepancies and I am actually in the process of publishing a book on the topic- I would be more than glad to help you in that regard. I can e-mail you some of the most powerful contradictions and problems with the Holy Scriptures that give you KJV passages so that you may follow along.
Questioning things is never a bad thing and you should not be feeling guilt, the fact that you are only reaffirms my point that religion (including Christianity) is largely based on guilt and fear of the unknown. The best way I can recommend for you to overcome this, is to simply become well-informed; knowledge cannot be bad for your faith, and if it is, that might say something about the belief system itself.
The transformation that you experienced is not uncommon, and it generally comes with a sense of purpose. Certain people, after accepting a religious tradition, feel as if they have the biggest question in life answered- and you have a set of rules that you “know” to be right and justified by your god- it is completely understandable. My main thesis, however, is simply that it is possible for people to be moral, good, intelligent, productive, humble, and all-around good people without the crutch of religion. Once you have accomplished that, it will be a true testament to your personal will power and intellect.
Most of what I would tell you would be quotes from specific passages of the bible- the archaic document is filled with problems so it is easily refuted. I never argue that you should not follow some of the principles taught in the bible, but some of them are absurd and outrageous. It would be much easier to be a morally good person and not have to worry about conforming your every thought to fit the paradigm of the religious and supernatural.
Just remember, when you find yourself doubting your faith, this quote from Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (26 April 121 – 17 March 180): ““Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”
Here are a couple of references for you from my site that may help with your questions, but I am always more than happy to share my knowledge on the topic of religion, and Christianity is my specialty. Please check out these links, I think they’ll really help:
Morality vs. Worship-
David G. McAfee