Sunday, December 25, 2005

Why I bother

Since I lost my faith about four years ago, I’ve been fascinated in debates around the existence of God, faith versus reason, and creationism versus evolution. I have spent countless hours reading through hundreds of articles on the internet, and working through books that cover arguments for both theism and atheism. In quieter moments, when my brain isn’t grappling with some new idea, I wonder if all this effort is really worth it. I mean, the majority of people out there might not care about any of this stuff at all. Why do I bother?

I gave this some thought, and I think that I take all this effort because of three primary reasons:

First, I have a deep desire to understand where I’ve come from. I used to be a Christian, and part of all this research and debate is to make sense of what I used to be, and what I left behind. Seeing Christianity through different eyes has been an incredibly refreshing experience. Moreover, and more importantly, I have a deep desire to know why I believe certain things. As human beings, we automatically adopt a whole plethora of beliefs, attitudes, and paradigms from our culture, society, personal experiences, upbringing and education. Many of these beliefs are untested - we have adopted them without asking: “Why do I believe as I do?” I want to identify and think over certain beliefs that I’ve automatically adopted through my life. I want to have solid and sound reasons why I believe certain things.

Second, I want to be able to defend my beliefs, if any such opportunity should arise. If a person has adopted a belief without thinking why they believe as they do, then they will not be able to defend that specific belief. If one has battled and struggled with a belief, then it can be said that one truly owns that belief, and thus one is much better prepared, and much more willing, to defend it.

Third, I want to stay open minded on certain issues. This ultimately means that I will sometimes change my mind, or go through paradigm shifts, when new information comes along. When a person scrutinizes and thinks about unquestioned beliefs, they sometimes end up rejecting some of those beliefs. This can happen when a former racist becomes culturally sensitive, or when an atheist becomes a Christian.

So I will keep on with my philosophical journey. It is worth it, after all.

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