This is my attempt to bridge the gap between the faithful church goer and the frustrated skeptic of religion who is able to see past its illusions and dogmatism. This is my attempt to acknowledge both sides of the spectrum as intelligible and reasonable, while holding both to the standard of human limitations and ignorance.
But first, a bit of information about myself. I grew up in church and was taught all of the stories at a young age. My beliefs were firm throughout my middle school years even though I constantly sinned and rarely read the bible. Nothing else was able to penetrate the fortresses of religious information and belief that was put in me at a young age. In reality, these fortresses were mere sand castles built with a shaky foundation reinforced with water and seaweed. But as a child, I was proud of my mound of sand. I was quite an architect. My castle stood higher and withheld the gentle waves of the ocean better than the others. I would create buttresses and dig deep moats to show how impregnable my castle was.
As I grew up, I realized how far away I built my religious castle from the waters. I was ignorant of the great ocean of information that scoffs at my creation. When I realized how little water actually touched my castle, I was humbled and wanted to see if it could withstand more water. So I gently scooped up the castle I made as a child and moved it closer to the waves. This time, the waters filled my moat and flooded my kingdom. But surprisingly my castle didn’t collapse. The buttresses kept it stable, but not for long. A few more invasions of water and it would have surely collapsed.
This happened in high school where my faith was challenged. The challenge wasn’t from people who questioned my faith, rather it was through an introspection of the things I’ve experienced and saw in life. I stopped feeling “spiritual or retreat highs”, God seemed absent in my prayers, and the veil of ignorance was lifted as I was able to see good and evil in the world. In college, I started asking questions that demanded more than “Jesus” as the answer. I read books by Dawkins and Hitchen’s, but also balanced it out with books by C.S Lewis and Tim Keller. In my fifth year of college I was drowning in an ocean of information that I really didn’t know what to do with. I had replaced my sand castle with refined brick and mortar, but it still broke under the interminable crashes of the waves.
I was tired. The cloud of depression that followed me ever since middle school started to grow and darken my vision of my castle and the waters. I could hear the waves and feel the castle, but the darkness left me cold to both of them. I wanted to give up and just live a life of ignorance. Ignorance of the frailty of my castle. Ignorance of the unfathomable depths of the ocean. But life wouldn’t allow such a thing! It pushed me full force into the waters and I had to learn how to swim. In my 5th-6th year in college, I got involved in a campus Christian fellowship, eventually becoming President. During that time, due to unforeseen circumstances, I was forced to change my major. So for some reason I decided to change my major from psychology to philosophy.
In this moment of my life, I was in-between faith and reason. I was involved in a club that relied heavily on faith and trust that God would provide. As a leader I had to promote the teachings of Christ and faith in a God that we cannot physically see. In this club, I was able to see people come to Christ and devote their time and energy for the sake of love and community. I was able to see faith come into fruition, but also see the frailty of my own faith in God.
On the other side, I fell in love with my new major. Philosophy taught me to reason through arguments, to think more deeply, and allowed me to see past fallacies that I held onto in the past. I entered a whole new world of thinking that seemed to align with my life’s desires. Within it, I was able to delve deep into philosophers who have been refining and building up their intellectual and religious castles far longer than I have. I would enter into these brilliant mansions and be in awe of the beauty of its architecture and vastness of its interior. However, there are times when other philosophers revealed to me the water damage, the cracks in the wall, and that under the facade of the grandiose architecture are shaky grounds.
At this moment in life philosophy and faith did not contradict. Even though a lot of my deeply held arguments for Christianity were being challenged such as Aquinas’ Watchmaker example, C.S Lewis’ Liar, Lunatic, and Lord argument, and the much less convincing proof of the existence of God by Descartes, I used this to refine and strengthen my knowledge of reason and faith.
So I write this blog from my two points of view. The faithful church goer and the frustrated intellectual skeptic of Christianity. To Christians, having doubts, questions, concerns, confusions and frustrations about your faith is not a bad thing. It does not make you a bad Christian. Addressing these things makes you an informed, wise, humble, and reasonable Christian. It allows you to see into the problems that atheists and non-Christians clearly see about the church. It removes the plank from our eyes about the world we live in.
To skeptics and atheists, I acknowledge and feel your frustrations with religion. Religion has been used to brainwash, manipulate, control, and kill people all across the world. It has stifled thinking, justice and humanity in so many ways. History and current events related to religion cannot be ignored. But know that religion isn’t void of reason and validity. Some of the greatest thinkers have found merit and truth within their beliefs in God.
One of the goals I have for these blogs is to widen our understanding of two different points of view. To acknowledge each others beliefs and concerns rather than automatically dismissing it. It’s one thing to disagree with someone, but it’s another to disagree with them without understanding their reasons and concerns. I think this is an extremely important thing that needs to be done, especially in a world downing in opinions, emotions, closed mindedness, and fallacious information constantly shoved down our throats by the media. We take in information without discussing or analyzing it. I think it’s about time for a change.