This may be a little long and disjointed, hopefully not too much so.
On a recent loooonnng series of responses to a blog entry of mine (Twofer Tuesday, below), the question was raised about the logic of believing in Christianity or the Bible. You can make the case that, since God is not “provable,” that why would you believe something on faith alone. And, some said, answering, “Because the Bible says so,” can just lead to a round of circular thinking.
True on both counts, I’d say.
And yet I do believe. I believe in God and I believe in the teachings of Jesus.
Well, like most others, I reckon I believe because it makes sense to me.
While I think the idea of ID (intelligent design) as a science is a crock, as a logical notion, it makes sense to me. I look around and see a beautiful and complex world and it seems reasonable to me that it took a creator and some planning to create it.
Can I test that in a lab? No, not really. But neither can scientific folk create something out of nothing in a lab.
As I said, it makes sense to me, poor simple mind that I have. Don’t want to believe? That’s okay with me.
But if you accept the notion that a creation took a creator, then that only gets us as far as a Creator God, not Christianity. So why would I believe Christianity specifically?
And I’d answer again, because it makes sense to me.
Oh sure, at one point in my life when I believed in a fire and brimstone hell and that I had to do something to get saved from it, I believed in Christianity because it had been taught to me and I knew naught else.
But I know more now. I know about the failures of The Church and about other teachers and their failures. And Jesus’ teachings still make sense to me.
Jesus – along with many others – taught us the Golden Rule, to “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” and the logic and glory of that astounds me (again, keeping in mind my poor feeble brain and limited logic).
I think I appreciate it because it’s a consistent logic. In other words, if everyone lived that way, it would work just fine (more on the reality that everyone doesn’t live that way in a minute).
Other reasoning suggests that “Might makes Right,” or “Do unto others before they do unto you…” and the problem with that sort of philosophy is that, if everyone lived by it, the world would be a hellish place. To the degree that the world is a hellish place, I’d suggest it’s because many people do live by that sort of logic.
A logic that can’t be consistently applied seems to me to be a faulty logic. “It’s okay for us to bomb their civilians because we must do so to save lives, but it’s terrorism if they bomb our civilians for whatever reason!”
But Jesus, it seems to me, teaches us another way. A consistent way.
Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love your enemies.
It makes a certain elegant sense to me.
But, what of the fact that we don’t live in a world where everyone follows the Golden Rule? Well, it still seems to me that the logic is consistent and to abandon that logic would be to abandon logic.
I’ll love my enemies even if they don’t treat me well. As Paul followed up on Jesus teachings by saying, “By so doing, you will be pouring burning coals upon their heads,” indicating to me not vengeance (“Ha! You’re mean to me, well…take this! I’ll be nice to you and then you’ll suffer!”) but the workable reality of fallen human nature.
“A soft answer turns away wrath,” the book of Proverbs teaches us. It’s hard to be hateful to someone who only treats you with kindness my own life teaches me. Again, there’s a certain elegant logic to the thinking.
So, maybe I’ve turned away the wrath of some mean-spirited people, but what about the really evil people who are determined to hurt you no matter what?
The Bible doesn’t teach us – nor does my reality teach me – that there are two types of people: Really evil people and regular people. There’s just people.
All of our poor fallen selves who sometimes, God help us, do mean stuff and sometimes even commit evil actions. I’m not denying the reality of evil – dropping bombs on children is evil, running an airplane in to a building is evil – I’m saying that there aren’t monsters in the world. Only people.
That’s what I learn from the Jesus of the Bible on at least one topic (albeit The Big One). That, and that it still makes sense to return evil with good nonetheless. Because if not, then what do we have? A dog-eat-dog world, the strongest meanest dude wins? That makes no sense.
At least to me. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m fallible and it’s quite possible.
But we all believe something, don’t we? We have our logic and reasoning and sometimes that logic is consistent and sometimes it isn’t and we just do the best we can with our own poor minds and sometimes mean-as-a-hornet attitudes.
And so, I believe because it makes sense. At least to me.