I was raised in a Mormon family. My grandparents were strongly "religious" from the standpoint that they went to church every Sunday and attended many meetings and gatherings outside of the Sunday mass. In my teen years I went to a few Baptist mass' as well. The older I grew the more repulsed I was about religion. To be honest I am still repulsed by many institutions of religions. A -lot of people do not know why they believe what they do. They don't stand on any ground with what they believe. A common religious folk song talks of the foolish man building his house upon the sand and the wise man building his house upon the rock. This is a symbolic lyric. Blind faith is I am sorry to say ignorance. Faith is a thing I do believe in, but I need a reason to have the faith. Otherwise it is equivocal to placing my beliefs in almost anything. Just because I grew up in a religion is not a reason to believe it. My beliefs must stand up to criticism, and I must not be afraid to be the one doing the criticizing. I struggled for years with what was right to believe when it comes to life after death. The problem is that growing up in a religion doesn't make it right. A fellow human saying "this is the right way...." doesn't make him right. There is just over twenty major religions in the world. Christianity is one of the few that is mutually exclusive, and is also one of the newest (You goto hell if you don't believe it.) Every religion has its devout followers willing to die for their beliefs. Every religion has books and works from long ago in history. So how can I know what is right? I pained over this for a long time. My heart just told me to do my best and carry things as far as I could being as objective in my research and evaluation of religions as possible. I prayed, I agonized and thought about it for long periods of time. Introspection into myself actually carried me the closest to God, rather than an external source. The fact is the world is a complex place and if you have to make a mutually exclusive decision in your choice of religion your odds of the right one are low. I was then given a book from a friend at the college who I had some religious discussion with. "The Case for Christ" was a like a wave washing away all my unanswered questions about Christianity's "inconsistencies" and authenticity. The book initially showed me that the bible had authentic origins and also pointed out some very key things like the medical descriptions of Jesus death and that Christianity unlike the second largest religion Muslim had 12 sources verifying the story, with no motive and risk of persecution. There was much much more and I won't go into detail but it basically laid my questions about the inconsistencies of the religion to rest. However, this was short lived. After reading the book, I immediately checked criticisms and reviews of the book. Apologetics were very supportive of it. Scholarly criticisms unfortunately tore the case the book built apart. After reading the cross examination - the book actually pushed me away from God; for I had all my questions at rest, but now there were more fundamental problems. I was forced to contemplate that there may be no God. I pained trying to come up with something to believe in one way over another. The book did make a good point about Islam's Origins being on one founder (Muhammad), which makes it possible to founded on some questionable origins. Christianity did have independent 12 stories going for it, however arguably these can be consolidated down depending on who you listen to on who wrote the accounts with information from whom (The accounts were not written at the time of Jesus but many years later, and possibly with influences from on another making multiple sources one source.) Christianity is the largest religion. It does have alot going for it. It is also one of the few with exclusion (non-believers are treated worse). I still wasn't sure what to believe. I just didn't know. The answer actually came coincidently one day from a great philosopher by the name of Immanuel Kant.
"Kant asserted that, because of the limitations of argumentation in the absence of irrefutable evidence, no one could really know whether there is a God and an afterlife or not, and, conversely, that no one could really know that there is no God and no afterlife. For the sake of society and morality, Kant asserted, people are reasonably justified in believing in them, even though they could never know for sure whether they are real or not. He explained:
All the preparations of reason, therefore, in what may be called pure philosophy, are in reality directed to those three problems only [God, the soul, and freedom]. However, these three elements in themselves still hold independent, proportional, objective weight individually. Moreover, in a collective relational context; namely, to know what ought to be done: if the will is free, if there is a God, and if there is a future world. As this concerns our actions with reference to the highest aims of life, we see that the ultimate intention of nature in her wise provision was really, in the constitution of our reason, directed to moral interests only.
The sense of an enlightened approach and the critical method required that "If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real." The presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was then a practical concern, for "Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must consider as future life, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams… ."
Pasted from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant>
The key part lies in:
"If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real."["
I can't prove that Jesus is, and I can't prove that he is not what Christianity claims. So i have not succeeded in proving one way or another. It is definitely in my interest to accept him. With Christianity being one of the only major religions that is mutually exclusive to a large extent. It is in my interest to accept it over the others. I am giving credibility to the fact of Christianity being the largest religion, in my conclusion. I was worried about this being insincere belief. However, a little introspection revealed to me that I really can choose what I want to believe. For the information I have this was the best I can do. I choose to believe in Jesus. I also have reasonable ground to stand on, to believe this and I believe my core reasons for belief stands to criticism. Alot of people would cite religious experiences, feelings, or aid in times of need as reasons for belief. This is better than completely blind faith but it is also flawed. A-lot of religious followers of every religion share the same experiences, so you can apply those reasons to any following if that happens to be the thing you would have been following at the time.
I don't believe going to church every Sunday secures you a spot with God. I also get a little sad when I see followers of Christ pushing others away with their religious zealotry and pride. I have my reasons for belief and the rest is on faith.
I don' t want to preach. I don't care if you join a religion or not. I don't like religious zealots and I would not like to become one. This post is not to convince you. Though I hope it does aid you in your journey to whatever end you do decide to choose. I think a lot of followers today are blinded by themselves, and i think they need to go back to the foundations of their beliefs and evaluate what exists if anything and make sure it stands to their own criticisms, and make sure they actually believe the teachings they have attended as part of the beliefs they follow.
Please leave comment with suggested corrections if there is any error in my statement(s.) This is something I hold on a high priority when it comes to ensuring integrity, and is also the first time I've posted this. Peace.