Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 2 - Bible and philosophy

I began my philosophy class with a friendly discussion among students. We had a good amount of time before our professor showed up, so we turned to each other to get the philosophical ball rolling.

I can not recall the exact question. The religious studies major first voiced his position through the lenses of his field, turned to the business major for his interpretation, and then to myself as the "theologian." It was fascinating to be in such a mutual learning environment! All I remember about the topic was what I shared, I think it was surrounding the Atheist and how he can believing in an incomprehensible universe. Something like that. My response, again, as the theologian, was that "doesn't the theologian (notice my objectivity! I craftily avoid proclaiming my stance..) believe in an incomprehensible God?"

So class begun shortly thereafter. We delved into all the problems with religion. From the problem of evil, to the problem with Arminianism and the fact that if God is omniscient, we have no free will.

After this, in facing all the problems with God head on, our professor clarified and said "now we cannot take off our glasses." In other words, we look at all this through Christian lenses and do not remove them. So although we realize none of this makes sense, we still believe in our God.

So I asked myself. Is it that simple? Is faith really just a matter of wearing glasses? What about me, have I taken the glasses off? If so, can the glasses be put back on? Would I see God clearer through these lenses? The ultimate question: Can I face the fact that none of it makes sense, and still believe?

Certainly, if we destroy all of our doctrines, we simply strip God of human definitions, do we not? We do not actually destroy the possibility of his/its existence.

But then what would I be believing in? If it is devoid of the capacity to define it, can I still call myself a Christian? Although, naturally, the Christian believes in more than God, the Chrsitian believes in the Bible and in Jesus, which is embeded in those glasses.

Which leads to the next class, and next thought process:

If the Bible can be found to be true, does Atheism fall apart?

I have though long and hard (*giggle* long and hard...) about this and have not come to a consensus.

For one, can the Bible be proven to be true? I recall lists that can easily be found on the internet of "problems with the Bible." But every time I go to my classes, the Bible makes more and more sense. The questions are explained, it it suddenly makes contextual sense. So what if all those problems can be answered with reasonable, contextual, critical analysis? Would it be true? Just what does it take to prove something like the Bible as true?

Furthermore, if I can find the Bible to be true, can I again accept Jesus? Can I make that step? Can I intellectually grab a hold of the concept that I am a sinner although I find such a doctrine as absolutely repulsive? Can I wrap my arms around the fact that I must accept this man, Jesus, who lived 2000 years ago as my "savior" (from what, I don't know) from whom I am granted access into the afterlife?

Even further, do I have to? Well, the Bible says that if I do not, I burn. So I have no choice if I find it to be true. But I wonder if I have the capacity? It makes no sense to me, but many things don't make sense and are true. I look at the platypus for example and think... well that's just odd! It doesn't make sense to me and is, to me, the strangest creature to be found. But it is real.

Then again, my use of "sense" is not congruent with logic!

So can the Bible make logical sense? I wonder!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Week 1.3 - Hallway oddities classrom absurdities

Walking through the hallways today in college, I came across three separate occasions of group prayers. As a christian, seeing such interactions were heart-warming. Objectively? They're comparable to an insane asylum, honestly.

Two in particular stood out to me and made me walk quicker to my classroom. The third was quiet in nature between two people just holding hands and murmuring with their eyes closed.

The first two consisting of people screaming, mostly in what evangelicals call "tongues" (a christian language that even they do not understand but the spirit of God utters through them). It was passionate, and kind of frightening in a sense.

The second encounter was one man, in the hallway, standing in a corner crying and screaming "Help me Jesus!" and someone or another, some specific request to Jesus to help him understand something.

Now I'm not one to objectify people's personal experiences. But this was in public, and Christian college or not... odd and strange, and raised eyebrows from me at least.

Classroom absurdities? I have two words: Pat Robertson.

This Haitian man, whose working as the Teacher's Assistant, uttered the fatal words "pact with devil." I lost it. Asked him his sources, informed him that no, 90% of Haiti does not practice voodoo, but is actually Catholic. He insisted it was "history" (this vacuous title) and then did what every Christian does: make jabs at Catholicism as idolatrous in nature and having actually "synchronized" with voodoo. In other words, claim they are Catholic but actually practice voodoo.


But I have much else to share. Philosophy of Religion class: Excellent. Will reflect on that in a soon to follow post. I have "The Bible as Literature" in 10 minutes which is actually being held in the Teacher's lounge!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week 1.1 - First day of class

I had a moment where I seriously got a nauseating "what the fuck have I done?" reaction. I seriously almost broke down back into faith. I mean... I saw all my friends, liberal and conservative and just... felt sick having to save face and hide my disbeliefs.

And then class was just... it was awesome. It reminded me of my former passion for the Bible. It brought up those deep brainwashed ideas that "The Bible is canon! The Bible is canon! It's God breathed!" etc etc.

So when I asked the usual Atheist's problem with Luke 1-

"How do you respond to those who say "virgin" in the Greek is a complete mistranslation of the Hebrew "almah" in Isaiah from which the gospel writers are supposedly writing to say Jesus fulfilled this verse?"

...and actually got an answer I did not expect? An answer that showed there was former Jewish tradition of Melchizedek being born of a virgin? That this MAY have actually been a real Jewish expectation and not a mistranslation?

I almost lost it. I felt sick.

I still feel kinda sick. I've been schooled, man. Which is maybe why I knew, deep down I just new that I had to go back to this college.

But I'm trying to hold my own. I sat on the bus really thinking and had to ask myself "why should the Bible be the only true account of God?" "What makes you think God, if he exists, would fit this mold?" "What of your other problems with the bible (infanticide, genocide)?"

And I still know I'm going to stay in my disbeliefs. I can by no means just jump back! That's for certain. It's be taking on a butt-load of doctrines I can't accept.

Maybe I have to start reconstructing? Maybe I'm at the last stage, like Descartes was, when all he could say is "I think, therefore I am" and then reconstructed his faith from scratch? I dunno if I'm there yet... but I have a feeling this semester is going to deeply impact me. (Atheists out there, help my shock!)

For anyone interested:

I didn't find the source yet, but apparently the myth of Melchizedek says that his mother came to his father with news of a miraculous pregnancy. The father accused her of infidelity and had her stoned (or whatever, killed). As she dropped to the floor, out popped Melchizedek.... prophesying!! His father picked him up, and raised him.

Hence why Hebrews says "he was born without a mother, nor father." He had no father due to miraculous birth, and his mother was dead. Ever question why Hebrews said this when the Bible said nothing of it? Now you know.

Also with John the Baptist being Elijah, someone questioned if the Jews expected a physical return of Elijah himself. The answer was no. To seal the deal, he gave the example of how to this day, Jewish fathers place their just circumcised sons on the "seat of Elijah" with the hope that "this one will be he!"

4 classes to go, including philosophy of religion which will probably jolt me back to my senses.