So I figured I’d give blogging a try with the topic that is always on my mind – the big questions of life. Things like “what is morality?”, “can naturalism really describe everything?”, “what is consciousness?”, “is there a supernatural realm to reality that exists?”, “do gods exist?”, “is there any consciousness after death?”, “is there any meaning to all of this?”, “does Elvis still live?”, yada yada yada (ok, yeah I really don’t give too much thought to the Elvis question). And perhaps a bigger question that would help in answering all of those is “what rules or ‘methods’ are best used to help us gain confidence in our solutions to these kind of questions?” – this last question goes under the category of epistemology – a big word for the boring philosophical field of talking about and describing how we humans can truly know anything at all.
But wait a second, I am getting way ahead of myself. Here’s a quick summary of the “big-question” arena of my life: I was raised in a Jewish family and believed at a very young age that there was a God and he wanted people to follow the laws of Moses. As I grew older my beliefs took on much more of an agnostic flavor (I’ll post in the future with clearer definitions of words like agnostic/atheist). During high school I was introduced to Christianity and in September of 1990 became pretty convinced that it described reality so I prayed the Lord’s prayer. In the first few months I still had some doubts of its veracity but in that first year as I read and listened to as much apologetics as I could get ahold of I became thoroughly convinced that the Christian message and the bible were true. I attended churches which were labelled “non-denominational”, and also attended Messianic Jewish congregations, and all of these had very similar doctrine to American Baptists. After that first year however, my belief took a slow downhill path as I came across more and more difficulties within the bible, and also continued to experience the hiddenness of the God which I had previously believed was there. Late in 1995 I no longer felt that I was being honest with people by saying that I believed that the Christian message and the bible were true, so I informed my pastor and stopped attending church. Since then I have never abandoned reading about and thinking about the bigger questions of life. My pastor at the time (and still a very good friend) was kind enough to read books on the subject with me for about 3 years and met for lunch once a week to discuss them. There are very few people who would do something like that, and I’ll never forget it.
Labels never tell the whole story because words mean different things to different people, but I think agnostic is probably the closest thing to label me given what I believe has become the colloquial use of that term. I recently came across the term possibilian which is probably much closer to a good description of what I believe and how I think about the big questions of life. Again, more on definitions later.
So why blog about this in the first place? Here are my reasons:
- It will help me organize the millions of thoughts that go on inside my head, and will give me a place to come back to for reference.
- To learn something from others.
- Back at one of those lunches I mentioned before I joked with my friend “everyone’s got their theories”, and his response was that I should write mine down. I thought he was just returning a joke, but he was serious and I always thought about doing just that. But I’ve always put it off because I am such a perfectionist and was hoping to thoroughly understand all the issues before penning my thoughts all down. If I wait for that day though, the ink will never be dropped (virtual ink that is).
- Help others who might have similar questions or thoughts.
- Spread as many facts as I can and clear up falsehoods that I see as well. I hope to do this no matter what “camp” is being corrected, even if my own conclusions might line up more with that group. Here is one small example – I’ve seen several atheists online state that Nazareth didn’t exist in the first century, but from what I have read there seems to be enough evidence to conclude that it did. – There are falsehoods spread on every side of every argument and I like to dig to try and find where reality lies and spread just that (assuming I have enough time of course).