I don’t know.
If you’d asked me a couple of years before now, I probably would’ve had a different answer. As it stands, now, I have no idea, and have just barely started a journey of exploration about that.
The question itself, as asked of me, refers specifically to religion, and has been a focus of my pastor’s sermons for the last few weeks. I was raised as a Christian and still attend a Christian church, but within the last couple of years or so I’ve stepped away from that faith and have become skeptical. I have questions, but I’m not even really sure what they are; I guess all I do know is that I don’t believe in or accept Christianity the way I used to.
Christianity is based on the Bible. Okay. That calls forth one question I know that I’ve had lately: How am I supposed to just accept that the Bible is as true as it’s said to be? How do I know that those stories really happened, when it was all at least a couple thousand years ago and many of them are pretty fantastical and hard to believe—who comes back from the dead? Who just turns into a pillar of salt? How in the world can a sea just part to create a pathway for people—this kind of stuff does not happen! Not scientifically, not logically, and definitely not today. And how do I know that the Bible, supposed to be the Word of God, and essentially marketed as such, was not influenced by the humans who wrote tit all down?
Christianity also teaches that it is the only true religion—the only way to a life after death (another rather fantastical concept, if you give it some thought). How do I know that’s true? Why not Islam, which seems to have some similarities to Christianity? What about Hinduism? What about Native American religions, Mother Earth, everything that’s been around for a lot longer? What proof do I have that Christianity is true, and everything else isn’t?
I asked my mom that question once when I was about 13 or so, and the answer she gave me was satisfactory at the time: “Because Jesus died and was resurrected, and this is the only religion that claims such a thing.” Or something along those lines. But today, that brings me back to the first question I just posed: “How do I know that that really happened?”
I don’t. I don’t know.
So I want to find out. My church just started this weekly course called Alpha which is intended to address questions about Christianity, and serve as something of an introduction to the faith. I’ve done a little Bible study recently with one of my friends, and she said that she’s had similar questions that I have, and that she studied other religions just enough to figure out why she believes what she does about Christianity. That’s something that I want to do: sit down and examine some other religions, too, and decide for myself.
Maybe some will crucify me for this (no pun intended) but I’m actually interested in Buddhism. I haven’t really studied it that much, but just enough to understand that it’s not really a religion per se; Buddhists do not worship the Buddha as a god, but rather see him as a Teacher, and try to incorporate his teachings into their daily lives and to build upon them. They practice mindfulness, meditation, and try to overcome negative states of mind, which lead to suffering.
I also know just a tiny bit about Islam—probably not enough to pass any judgment on it for myself, but I see similarities between it and Christianity, and I don’t think I believe that Muslims cannot go to Heaven just because they view Jesus as a prophet rather than as the Son of God.
I’m not an atheist. I’m not an agnostic—yet. But I’m currently in no position to call myself a Christian, so I won’t do that, either. But I want to know. What is my truth? What is yours?