I have spent entirely too much time recently discussing Christianity with Catholics in an online religion forum. The last several entries in this blog are excerpts from that involvement. There are so many other things I should have been doing, including posting new entries in this blog, which I didn’t because I was too busy discussing abortion, homosexuality, hell, faith, moral absolutes, and other controversial issues online. Yet, I would like to think that it wasn’t a complete waste of my time. For I felt so much passion and pleasure doing it that I realized how important it is to me to understand and discuss Christianity. Seldom do I feel more engaged and alive than when I am doing this, despite the fact that I believe that Christianity is essentially a hopelessly flawed religion. Nevertheless, it is time for me to get out of that forum and do other things. And so I posted the following there to announce my departure and my plans.
I want to thank everyone who discussed Christianity with me these past several weeks. I enjoyed it very much. I also learned more about your beliefs and my own than I knew before. Perhaps you also learned more about mine. Non-Christians sometimes think Christians are gullible and stupid. I don’t agree with them, and our discussions here have reinforced this for me. On the other hand, Christians often think non-Christians are sinfully proud rejecters of God’s will and grace. I believe that both Christians and non-Christians can earnestly and intelligently hold the positions they do. This doesn’t mean that all do so earnestly and intelligently, but some do.
I believe that I will never be Christian. I do plan to study the faith more, but I suspect that I will always disagree with too many of its fundamental tenets to embrace it. In fact, I intend to write a book someday titled “Why I Am Not a Christian.” Some of you may know that the famous philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote a book with this same title decades ago.
Yet, I also intend to write a book that summarizes my ideal of a new religion that links humankind with Ultimate Reality in a way that more people of this age can find credible and inspiring. And like most new things of value, my hypothetical new religion will borrow from the best of what has come before, including Christianity, and integrate it with the best of our new scientific, philosophical, theological, and spiritual understandings of the Kosmos.
I believe that the best of Christianity is to be found in the writings of its great mystics and in the Sermon on the Mount. I believe that these writings and their insights compare favorably with the best in all of the world’s religions. I believe that if more Christians embodied the wisdom and spirit of these writings, the world would be a happier and better place, and people would flock to the faith who are now unimpressed or even repulsed by how few people who call themselves Christian consistently try to live up to its ideals and manifest its spirit.
But I believe that this shortcoming stems more from inadequacies in Christianity itself than in those who profess to be Christian. I believe that Christianity’s understanding of God and humankind is unrealistic, and that it preaches and moralizes too much and strives too little to open people’s minds and hearts to direct and transfiguring apprehension of God’s loving and unifying presence.
I know that many of you will shake your heads and say that I’ve really gone off the deep end. Not only do I turn my back on the one true faith, but I also presume to offer the world something better, something truer and more fulfilling. What megalomania! What sinful arrogance! “Place your faith in the divine authority of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and in that of God’s revelations through Holy Scripture and Mother Church,” you will want to tell me. But my faith does not cling blindly to the authority of texts and institutions that claim to speak for what Alan Watts called “the which than which there is no whicher.” My faith lies in my capacity to discern spiritual fact from religious fancy, divine truth from human fiction. You may call this egotistical. But my faith lies not in myself or in anything uniquely mine, but in a natural, though often underutilized, capacity that lies in each of us as a glorious reflection of the divine.
Thank you all for your time and trouble, and I wish you all profound peace and happiness.