Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Faith of a Skeptic

The First thing I would like to do with this post is to thank all of you who have left comments. I really appreciate it. It helps to know that people are actually reading what I write!

This being said I would like to respond to one of the comments written about the haunted house post. Michelle wrote "So as skeptical a person as you are, it’s pretty interesting that you were able to come to a point where you could accept Christianity." This is a very important subject to me, I feel I must address it.

Yes, I am a skeptical, and cynical person. I question everything (ask any of my ex-professors) and everyone, I am constantly looking for ulterior motives in people (although you wouldn’t know it from my happy-go-lucky disposition), and doubt much that others accept as fact. So how could a person such as myself find faith?

Everyone has faith in some things. I have faith that the chair I’m sitting in will hold me, I plop down on it without giving it a second thought. Should I? Isn’t it possible that it’ll break next time I sit down and send me sprawling? Sure, but I know it’s in good shape so I trust that it will hold me. Many times the problem isn’t in our ability to have faith, it’s in the fact that someone presents us with a rickety old chair held together with bubble gum and bailing wire and asks us to have enough faith to sit. In other words, it seems that Christianity, for some, is just too big a pill to swallow. I agree! Especially when looking at the brands being peddled by modern western society (I don’t see much love in their political agendas).

The dogma spewed by many well-meaning, but often times misguided people is sometimes more detrimental to the message of Jesus than helpful. I am not a Christian out of fear of Hell or hope for Heaven (although it is comforting to have my bases covered). In fact, true to my skeptical nature, I don’t really know for sure if there is a Heaven or Hell, as I have no personal experience. Neither have I experienced God "speaking" to me personally. It seems that most of the reasons given for being a Christian are pretty shallow and unexplored. I would hope that mine are not.

I have experienced these things to hold true. People act according to their belief system (the one they actually believe, not the one they give lip service to), there are many systems of belief in the world that most people don’t even realize they're indoctrinated in(i.e. capitalism, consumerism, the idea of justice, hedonism), and most people never even question the ideology that they were born into. Considering that the world is shaped by the actions of people, and those actions are directed by their beliefs, isn’t it important to discover truth? This is what the greatest of men have sought.

The question is who has found it? Alexander the Great certainly found the true way to build an empire, but "should" we conquer and kill to acquire power. His empire (as all have or eventually will) fell. Donald Trump knows money, just as Einstein and Newton knew science. But "should" life be about hoarding possessions, and where do you think pure science would lead if not tempered by morality.

Three men come to mind that took steps beyond the typical views of the world and sought higher truths. They changed the world by changing peoples minds. Interestingly they all shared the same fate. The three of whom I speak are those that I portrayed in one of my drawings. Dr. Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Jesus (actually the shroud of Turin in the picture). They each sacrificed their lives for the greater good of mankind. King was instrumental in bringing about civil rights, not by changing laws, but by changing minds. Gandhi freed the country of India without raising a single weapon, he instead freed the minds of his countrymen. Jesus set the example that the other two men followed. His teachings, when truly grasped, lead to freedom, his example leads to true power. The "kingdom" Jesus brought about on this earth consists of 33% of the worlds population (the population of China is only 20%, and the U.S. is a minuscule 5%) . He forged this kingdom without lifting a sword. His influence has fed more hungry, and healed more sick than any other person in history, yet this is just the tip of the iceberg when speaking of his accomplishments.

I am a reasonably well read man, but I have never come across anyone that, when examined with the critical eye of history, comes close to garnishing the respect deserved by Jesus. Even before getting into the supernatural quandaries that most people immediately jump in when discussing him.

So what about the miracles, what about God, what about Heaven? I told you before I don’t know, but I have hope that the man I’ve found to hold the truth about so much I can examine, also spoke the truth about those things I can’t.

Even without that assurance I will follow Jesus.

Tanner Noguess


mrsmrrichardson said...

Thank you for responding, Tanner.

A huge bit of background on me:

1. Born to a Catholic mother and an athiest (possibly agnostic--he wouldn't say one way or the other) father.
2. Started CCD ("Catholic Christian Doctrine" aka Sunday School) at the age of 4 and became jaded 4 year old ("But mommy, I don't wanna go!")
3. Baptised as a Catholic (father finally allowed it) at age of 7 - had no idea what was going on, but mom wanted it, so it was done
4. "1st Holy Communion" at age of 8--this is also the 1st time you get to confess your sins and have the priest magically get God to forgive you
5. Spend the next 5 years being sent out into the hall at CCD for asking too many questions ("too distracting")
6. Stop attending church at 13 when mom decides maybe the Catholic church isn't so great anymore--sigh of relief is heard 'round the world
7. Wavering between agonizing over a lack of understanding of God and the Bible and just not really giving a damn until about age 18
8. Meet Ken and revise my conclusions--not all deeply religious people are nutbars.
9. Mother becomes a religious nutbar (ask Ken).
10. I grow further jaded with religion due to my experiences with my mother and her ilk.
11. Lots of bad stuff happens due to crappy judgments and actions on my part--feeling of oneness with my creator begins to diminish even further.
12. Father becomes religious nutbar-lite when he joins mom's church ("Not you too, Dad!"). Later blames his hasty jump on nearly dying from cancer complications and feeling a need to make Mom happy.

All of this leads up to today. All things considered, I've got a good life going right now. I'm in a wonderful marriage with a man who I love dearly. There is seldom any drama of my own creation anymore (and when there is, it's financial). I rarely drink, and when I do it's a glass of wine or so. I don't smoke. I *gasp* don't smoke the other smokable anymore (it's been over 2 years as a matter of fact). I've got a good job as a Legal Assistant. I'm going to school to become a nurse and my grades are good (3.05...awesome considering the fact that at 18 I had a GPA of .40).

So life sounds pretty stable and good by all accounts--except for the fact that I feel there is something missing. Something vital. I feel as if I've been on the cusp of belief so many times, only to question myself out of it. I've felt this way for years. And every time I get frustrated with myself for being too much of a skeptic, I begin to ask myself "Why is it even that important to you to begin with?"

I think the truth of it is that I need some guidance. Life may be good and enjoyable at the moment, but there are so many aspects of myself that are lacking. I am a negative and judgmental person. I can't tell you how many times in a day when I'm driving or am reading the news I say "What a moron!"--as if somehow I am immune to idiocy and can do no wrong. I complain about my boss without giving thought to the fact that his existence helps provide the roof over my head. I'm lazy and I'm overweight. I constantly feel the need to interject opinion where it isn't asked and I correct people when perhaps I should just let it go. And, as you told me so long ago, I am brash. I am foulmouthed and unladylike.

I could go on with that but sometimes too much introspection can be a bad thing. :P The point of it all is that I see little of these ailments plaguing the people I know who are true believers. Mind you, we all have bouts of lethargy and negativity from time to time, but probably not as a usual course of events. And perhaps I'm just meeting the wrong faithless folk. :P I feel certain there are those out there in the world who are athiest and living absolutely wonderful lives--haven't met 'em though.

I believe in God but have a hard time swallowing the whole "Jesus is His Son" thing. Main reason: proof. How can I allow myself to be convinced of something so very unbelievable without even the slightest bit of proof? *sigh* It kills me.

I envy your wife's ability to believe in the existence of the supernatural as much as I envy all Christians. I envy all who can put their whole heart and being into the belief in something they cannot see, touch, hear, smell, or taste. It's almost as if I am faith-impaired. :P ("Congenital Faithlessness-Level 3")

Having said all of that, I do have faith that I will one day have faith. (teehee) So that's a start I suppose. It's just a matter of time and willingness to open my mind and soften my heart.

Thanks again for the response and sorry for the novel. :)


mrsmrrichardson said...


Belief in God to me = a belief in a creator of all of this stuff--the macroverse and the microverse--neither male nor female--could very well be some big blob. Who knows. :)