The Continuing Journey

Disclaimer: This post is from the archives, and may not represent the current views of the author. It also may not be at all interesting to read. Continue at your own peril!

I think that it’s safe to say that I have no idea what’s going on in my head anymore. The past few months have been a journey for me, and it has left me stranded in the middle of nowhere – a vast desert of confusion and questioning. In my efforts to perhaps sort it out in my head, as well as inform any readers I may have, I’m attempting to document it here. Maybe it will work. Maybe it won’t. But either way, here it is.

Back in March, I wrote an entry here that talked about my struggles with doubting God and depression, and then my eventual breakthrough from that state. It was a story filled with anxiety and doubts, and it was such a relief when the morning came and the light streamed back into my life for the first time in quite a while. But the truth is that the story has not ended there. Although this relief came for a couple of weeks, unfortunately the doubts still returned to me. Thankfully, they did so without the depression as well, but they still came back. The problem was, I guess, that during my time of searching in order to quell the doubts I had, I came across other information that caused more doubts to spring up, and those were never resolved. So despite a short two-week period of excitement and fresh air, eventually I returned back to earth and still had these doubts to deal with.

And therein lies the tale of my summer. This summer I have been at school with a full courseload, and while that kept me fairly busy, I had a separate courseload of my own as well. I started reading everything I could get my hands on. I read something like ten books this summer, and a slew of Internet websites on top of that. I’ve taken a whirlwind tour through everything from Biblical accuracy, archaeology, textual criticism (the study of analyzing ancient documents), apologetics, philosophy, and I suppose several other disciplines as well. I learned about arguments for the existence of God. I learned about the accuracies and inaccuracies of the Bible, the methods for determining the original text of Scripture, and the arguments for and against a literal resurrection. I listened to two 2 1/2-hour debates on the resurrection by leading apologists and historians – one with Michael Licona and Dan Barker, and the other with Licona and Richard Carrier. I read books Christians and atheists alike, such as “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, and “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. I would like to say that I’ve examined all the evidence, but that wouldn’t entirely be correct. I think I’ve covered the main issues, though.

The problem is that during this whole search, I’ve come up empty-handed. Each issue I’ve looked at has only left me sitting on the ground wondering where the heck the answers are. And, believe me, I know that every writer has their own bias. I’ve tried to examine authors of different biases to really look at the breadth of the whole discussion. I really thought, though, that I’d come up with something. I thought that a God who wishes to make Himself known would do so, and that by just examining the arguments for and against, the arguments against His existence would come up as foolish and petty. But what I’ve found is not that at all. Instead, all the evidence seems to be muddled about in the middle, not really doing much of anything. Most of the arguments for biblical Christianity have had holes poked in them, while most of the arguments against it stem from a lack of evidence in favour of it. On the whole, I don’t think that there’s one thing that I’ve been able to grab onto and say, “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been looking for!”

This leaves me absolutely nowhere. When we consider that the text of the Bible has been changed over the years to try to remove inconsistencies or refute “heresies”, we’re left with the conclusion that, while we may have some reasonable degree of certainty at what most of the original text said, there are key areas where we simply don’t know. That leaves Christians in a bit of a predicament. And when I look around for evidence of God today, I come up empty-handed as well. There are arguments, counter-arguments, and counter-counter-arguments for and against every piece of evidence for or against God’s existence, and the result leaves a brown, muddy mess, like all sorts of colours of paint mixed together. This, unfortunately, leaves me skeptical – is this sort of a result the work of a loving God who is trying to make Himself known to people? It doesn’t seem so. Somehow the muddy water seems to cloud every issue, so that any truth we may be able to discern is tainted by very reasonable uncertainty. Somehow, with a loving God working in today’s world, I thought that things would be just a little clearer. Especially when He tells us, “Seek, and ye shall find.” What I’ve found instead is doubt layered upon doubt.

I know that this world is far from perfect. I know that no human thought will ever be able to reach ultimate Truth. I know that whatever we see in this world is sensed, perceived, analyzed, subjected to bias and preconceptions, fit into theories and models about the world, twisted, thrown about, matched and re-matched, and ultimately left vague and unclear. But I still am a firm believer that Truth, in some limited form, can be found through reason. Through analysis of this world and what it shows us. I can handle mysteries, and I can handle uncertainty, but I can not handle throwing my arms in the air, saying, “Who knows? Who cares?” and giving up reason altogether. If God exists, then He has given us reason as a tool to help us find Him. If God does not exist, then reason is still our best tool for survival. Either way, it is essential to our very being.

So where has this journey brought me so far? As I said, the middle of nowhere. Right now I’m not sure whether God exists or not. I am leaning slightly toward the “not existing” side. Why? Simply because all the arguments that I used to use for Christianity have fallen short or been revealed to use circular logic. If I cannot see evidence of God, then why should I believe in one? But, well, time will tell, and perhaps new light can be shed on the matter. Perhaps the agony and anguish that comes with not knowing will fade as I slowly place my feet on whatever ground out there that may be solid. I just certainly wish that if God is up there, that He would just give in to my begging, pleading requests and just give me something to show me He’s there. I mean, Jesus wasn’t against showing Himself to His disciples, to Paul, etc. after He was resurrected, in order to help them believe. Surely the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can’t be opposed to that idea now…

But we shall see. The one thing that is safe for me to say is that I know that I do not know. As Socrates once said, “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” Wisest or most foolish, I think that he must at least have been the most honest. With that in mind, my journey continues…

2 responses to “The Continuing Journey”

Third Dan

Jeff, your comments remind me of a story of the fish that was swimming in the ocean who kept wondering what water was. He finally met another fish who made him aware that he was surrounded by water. St. Paul says that “… in him we live, and move, and have our being …” Acts 17:28. Every time you see love, order, harmony, beauty, honesty, inspiration, intelligence, you’re seeing God expressed. Simple.

Jeff

Thank you, third dan, for your comment. I wish that it was that simple. I really do. But unfortunately, all you have given me is an assertion with nothing to back it up. How do we know that the love, order, harmony, etc. are expressed by God and not something else? How do we know it’s not just us? Or Allah? Or Krishna? Or Satan?

In other words, how do you draw the connection between these traits and God, when all we see are the actual traits?

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