A Flimsy Bet.
August 23, 2010 § Leave a comment
I recently had a very heartbreaking conversation. It was between my father and myself. It was hard to hear what he had to say, but this time I didn’t buckle under the verbal beating I took. It has been a big step for me; sticking up for myself even if it meant breaking my father’s heart. It’s understandable though, why he has been so upset. He’s a pastor after all, a Southern Baptist one at that, and he’s also been a missionary of 13 years in one of the hardest to evangelize places on planet earth: Tokyo, Japan. I have just conceded the fact to him that I really can’t in good conscience say that I believe in Christianity any more.
The conversation all started over a completely separate matter in which is now paling in consideration between my mom and myself. We too had just had a rather inhospitable conversation over some entirely different issue. She has never really been that found of my wife and was badmouthing her to me and thinking that this behavior was somehow okay. She was trying to justify telling me that she “didn’t care how I feel” and how “she didn’t care if she offends me” about the things that she was saying and how she would always tell you the ‘Truth’ because, well, she loves me just so darn much. I responded by warning her not confuse her wanting to tell me whatever she wanted regardless of my feelings, or anyone else’s, with virtue. Then she hung up on me. Now my father is telling how I am becoming a hateful and bitter person, that he is ashamed of my behavior, and that my doubts must be the result of some sin in my life. He says I’m bitter and he is telling me that my unbelief can only be the result of sin, and cannot be because of anything else. He is telling me that I am just bitter because of certain hardships my wife and I have undergone during the past two years and how I need to press through to be “better” and have more faith. He says I am turning my back in God because of this.
He’s not entirely wrong. On an emotional level, I really doubt that God (or at least the God of Christianity) really cares about what happens to me or anyone at all. At least no more than he cares if a lion kills a baby gazelle, or as much as a he cares about the rampant flooding in pakistan that is killing thousands of children right now. I’d like to believe in this idea of God that is there, and would die for my sins and take a personal interest in my life. It certainly would make things quite a bit more reassuring, but I can’t buy it. I’ve weighed the evidence and counted the cost and I am certainly not betting on it anymore.
What he’s wrong about is about me being bitter, I’m not bitter. It would be completely pointless to be bitter about something or towards something that is apparently ambivalent towards me. He’s not entirely right either, obviously, because the real reason that I don’t buy into Christianity is the Bible. The Bible doesn’t add up. More to the point, it doesn’t add up at the most crucial and important point for Christianity: the resurrection. It’s not that the accounts don’t just not add up, they outright contradict each other. The women who were there, (sometimes just Mary Magdalene, sometimes Mary mother of James, other times Salome) the men at the tomb are inconsistent (or angels it says, though mark calls him a single young man in white and not an angel but in Luke it says two men) the order of events telling the disciples about what they had seen, (in Luke they leave having spoken to angels first and then the women tell Peter and the disciples, but in John they leave not having talked to anyone and only see Jesus and the angels after Peter runs to the tomb and leaves), the women hold on the Jesus seems acceptable to Jesus in Matthew being that he doesn’t rebuke them for it, but is strictly prohibits it in John (because of Jesus saying that he hadn’t returned to the father yet). The Bible even admits in most translations that the ending to Mark has been tampered with and inserts a small disclaimer in its resurrection chapter) In short, they can’t be reconciled; not by any stretch of the imagination. The gospel of Luke says that the accounts are historical eyewitness accounts and should be treated like court testimonials, unfortunately they are different stories, wither want to admit it or not, the evidence is there and it is incontrovertible.
I would be fine with this whole ordeal if my father was saying that he understood why I had my doubts, that it all boiled down to faith and would encourage me and tell me how to seek God in fellowship or worship or something like that. Instead however it feels like I am being shamed and outed because of my honest admission that the Bible doesn’t make sense. You would hope that Christianity would create more secure, less easily threatened believers if it were true. Christian apologists like Norman Geisler and Ravi Zacharias who are largely considered the forefront apologists will back me up in saying that Christianity stands and falls on the resurrection. So why am I being considered bitter for my disbelief? I think this is quite telling about the true nature of what faith means for those who are so easily threatened by the opinions of those who disagree. I love my parents but their reaction in disappointing to me. I’m not bitter towards them, I just can’t assign myself to something and bet everything in my life on such a flimsy bet anymore.