Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why do I believe... part 1 (morality, eternal life)

In this "mini-series", I share the reasons behind why I believe the basics of my faith.  Previously, I confided that my faith, what I believe about the nature of God and things of God, does not quite fall in line with the official teachings of Christianity.  That is not to say that I am content in plateauing in my faith.  Rather,  as the father of the boy suffering from convulsions since childhood answering Jesus, I say: "I do believe; help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). So here I simply share what I believe and why, and - for better or for worse - no reason is "because the church says so". 

Why do I believe I ought to do the right thing?

How do people know to do the right thing?  Is it because they were raised right?  If so, how did they decide what is right and what is wrong?  Or is it because they are members of a religion that outlines it for them?  If so, how do we then account for the agnostic, atheist, and otherwise secular people who place no value on any holy book or tradition?

Yet even without proper instruction, sometimes in spite of improper instruction, people do manage to tap into their conscience and do the right thing.  Not all people.  Some people fail to do right even in spite of a religious upbringing.  But let’s focus on those who do the right thing.  How indeed do they know this?

Some may argue that it has to do with evolution.  It serves us to do the right thing, because by so doing, we liken to ourselves others, who may assist us in the future.  Yet if this were true, then we wouldn’t have so many people choosing to do evil, for evolution would have long weeded that out.

I believe there is more to a person’s conscience than the science.  Conscience is an awareness of universal, eternal truths, truths that necessarily come from a source, a source that I and many others call God.

The existence of nonreligious but morally good people, to me, points to the existence of God.  Regardless if they choose to believe or not, there is something at their very core that they cannot part with – their conscience is their link to God, whether they know it or like it or not.

Many religious people do good out of fear of punishment, either in this life or the next.  But nonreligious do-gooders do not operate based on such fears.  Therefore, in a way, their good works are a better witness of the existence of God than are those of believers.
Why do I believe in eternal life?

Speaking of the next life, I believe that death is nothing more than a milestone, turning point, like any other.  We experience a tiny death every night when we fall asleep.  We cease to be aware for the night.  We enter into a realm of dreams that cannot find a correlation in our waking life.  We are at the mercy of the powers that be, trusting that the next morning we shall rise again.

I believe that sleep exists to prepare us for death, to help ease our anxieties, and to let us be familiar with it as much as possible, so that when the time comes, we can welcome it.

Most people do not dread going to sleep, but rather welcome it, especially after a difficult day.  We long for the rest, for the forgetting of our cares, for the escape provided by dreams.  Death is all of these things, but on a larger scale.

When we die, we fall asleep to this life, and are born to the life of dreams, where anything is possible, where we are not limited by the confines of time, space, or circumstance.  There are different beliefs regarding the exact nature of this life-after-death, but I don’t really think the details matter.  Personally, my religion teaches the resurrection of the body, but I don’t think this belief is necessarily crucial to pleasing God. All I know is that now that God has created me, I will live forever one way or another, so I might as well try to please my Maker in hopes of spending eternity with Him.

1 Peter 3:15
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

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