Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Week's Theme is Religion

I’d like to try something new this week. It being a Sunday, I sat down to write a “My Thoughts on Religion” post, only to discover it was far too large a topic to encapsulate all my thoughts in one post. In fact, the depth of the topic, variety of subdivisions under the topic, and abundance of different opinions and viewpoints to dissect leads me to believe there is at least seven days worth of material here. So, we’re going to have our first ever themed week here at Underage Thinking!

Adding to the difficulty I faced in writing my post today was determining where to start. Today, I’d like to start off my giving a brief outline of my own beliefs. They are as follows.

  1. I am a devout Christian, specifically a Lutheran. Although I have studied the teachings, writings, beliefs and life of Martin Luther and understand Lutheranism very well, I am uneducated as to what distinguishes most of the different sects of protestant Christians. Even if I were to learn of those factors, I imagine I’d find such distinctions to be trivial.

  1. I am NOT a fundamentalist Christian, and I do NOT advocate a literal, word for word interpretation of the Bible. I feel the Bible, while a wonderful book and the written testament of God’s love and existence through Jesus Christ, was written by fallible humans, living thousands of years ago in a very different social context. The teachings, ideas, lessons, and examples the Bible presents are still God’s will and are still very much applicable to today’s world; the exact phrasing used by millennium old authors may not be.

  1. Due to this, I believe in evolution and all other scientific discoveries that some Christians have claimed go against the Bible. I see no area whatsoever in which science and religion contradict each other, because they deal with separate subjects. What I feel gets many people confused is the distinction between the two very different questions they seek to answer; science seeks to answer “How?”, whereas religion provides the “Why?”. Science explores how our earth works, the tangible nuts and bolts of how it functions. Religion is the understanding of why our world exists in the first place, why the processes described through science are set in place, and the study of God’s will to humanity. When each word of the Bible is interpreted as a science textbook instead of as a spiritual guidebook or a historical testament to Christ’s teachings, unfortunate and simply false conclusions may arise.

  1. Unlike some of my other beliefs, I do not claim to be any more informed than most other people, or to know better than anybody else. I am an 18 year old kid who has never seriously studied theology. I’ve served on my Church Council as a youth representative, and have read much of the Bible, but am certainly not a clergyman. Those who have devoted their lives to serving God as priests, pastors, reverends, or other Christian leaders may be much better able to explain certain concepts than I. If any read this blog, I invite them to comment with their insights! Humans have pondered religion and divinity since the beginning of civilization, and some of the greatest minds of all time have written scores of books on the subject. I have given much deep thought to my religious beliefs, and can articulate these thoughts rather eloquently, but please don’t mistake this for me trying to enlighten others to the way it is.

  1. As such, I am not attempting to “convert” any atheists or force my views on anyone throughout this week. Everyone must make a decision on their religious views on their own. I’m merely writing to defend my beliefs, respectfully share my ideas, and perhaps provide some food for thought for any who are still undecided about their own beliefs.

With that said, I’ll give the outline for the week. I’ve found religion is a subject that provokes a lot of questions, and also a subject that is easier to discuss when asked a question than to ramble about unprovoked (in my usual style!). So, I’ve searched a few atheist or Anti-Christian websites and identified 30 questions that were asked on that site, challenging the validity of Christianity or the existence of God in general. I will spend the next week answering these questions to the best of my ability, doing about five a day.

Naturally, due to the source of these questions, the discussion will focus on defending or justifying my belief in God to doubters or non-believers. While this may be valuable to some in my generation, it may not highlight the area of disagreement between my beliefs and those of more conservative Christians. So if any readers have different types of questions they’d like to ask, or underrepresented viewpoints they’d like to share, I encourage them to do so by leaving a comment.

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