Wednesday, 25 February 2015

It might be true for you, but ...

So if you're still around and I haven't already turned you off, I would like to share some of the foundation on which I'm now living my life. These values and ideas are the underpinnings of everything I do, and although I fail often in living out my faith, these core beliefs give me pause for thought every day.  Probably still crazy for those who know me well and have never heard me breathe a word of this, hey?  I'm not that great a liar, I swear.  I have just kept these cards close to my heart up until now.

We live in a very secular,  relativistic society (this is especially true if Canada and Europe although some feel that the US is following suit).  Relativism is, put simply, the idea that no ideas or views have absolute truth or are ultimately valid.  The only value something has is understood through the perceptions and ideals of the person who holds that view.  This is the idea that everyone simply decides what is true for them.  I didn't notice it until I started looking for it.  Then it was all around me.

I tend to think we often see relativism parading around under the guise of being polite or "politically correct". Especially here in Canada, we are almost afraid to say anything resolute (especially on matters of philosophy, religion or metaphysics) for fear of being politically incorrect or offending someone.  Truth becomes very subjective when you are hesitant to state anything with certainty for fear of being labelled as judgemental, prejudiced or even a bigot.

Before I go any further, I was going to give you my own run down on the types of truth and self refuting statements but instead I shall just direct you to this fabulous and easy to understand you tube video.  It is by a Christian apologist named Brett Kunkle (of Stand to Reason ministries.  Check them out... a great organization for non-Christians with questions, Christians looking for accurate and intelligent ways to defend the faith, and for budding apologists!).

*(For those of you who don't know, as I didn't until about a year ago, an apologist is simply someone who gives a defense (or an 'apologia') of something ... It is NOT someone who apologizes for something!  So, a Christian apologist is not apologizing for being Christian but  giving a defense of the Christian faith and Christian doctrine).

Anyways, the video clearly outlines the difference between objective truths (understood as relating to the truth statement itself) and subjective truths (understood through the lens/ perspectives of the holder of the truth, as opposed to the truth itself).  He outlines nicely the way in which objective truths can be discovered and shared by anyone.  In contrast,  there are no mechanisms or processes by which subjective truths can be projected onto (or made wholly applicable) to another person (since their interpretation is based on personal perspective). 

He makes a strong case for the reasons why the existence of God falls into the former category and I choose to operate from this same understanding.  Whether his argument is solid or not could certainly be a fair topic for debate (if someone were to have sufficient cause to find error in his premises) but that argument is a separate one altogether. 

Thus,  I believe that God's existence is a truth that is objective. I believe that God cannot be just true for some people and not for others.  If the statement "God exists" is an objective truth, we cannot claim non-belief by simply prescribing the truth to those who it "suits" and omit those who choose the opposite.  Instead the non-believer bears a burdern to disprove or dismantle the defense of God's existence or prove His non-existence  (much more tricky I'd say).  

I am going to (probably many times) quote CS Lewis, one of the most insightful and genuine Christian apologists I've ever read.  I think his quote relating to this topic of truth is so applicable here. 

 "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

We (especially here in Canada, under this relativistic and often apathetic culture) tend to make the grave mistake of placing belief in God in that third category.

My own personal journey to find out the truth about God's existence  was certainly more an internal than external struggle (remember I was firmly rooted in the ideology that it was fine for others to believe in a Christian God,  but I didn't need to).   I think this is an appropriate time to address an important distinction that I've noticed in my own journey.

There was definitely a time when I would've called myself an atheist or a non-believer, but its not until recently that I had an epiphany and realized I was never really convinced about God's non-existence (at least at a deep level, and without having had any real exposure to anything Christian). Even when I was the most in doubt, anger or hopelessness, I would think (and say) things like, "See God, I knew you didn't exist" (who did I think I was talking to?), or "If there is a God, he sure makes some terrible decisions" (again, completely entertaining the idea of there being a "God", whom I of course knew better than). On the flip side, when things were good, I was perfectly happy to take the credit, or feel more or less neutral about God's involvement, but I never actually dismissed God as non-existent (at least not for any length of time). Again I think a Lewis quote applies so perfectly to my state of mind while wrestling with these things:

“Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.”

I am sure it is different for everyone and I do not doubt that some who claim to be atheists/non-believers genuinely feel that God is a completely fabricated idea but I will be very honest and speak to my experience.  I would say that very near to 100% of the time when I felt that I was doubting Gods existence, I was really doubting (or misunderstanding) God's nature. 

I felt that a God who would allow the things that I was witnessing and experiencing, or a God who would withhold goodness and love in the way I perceived, must be a pretty rotten God.  It was (as I've now learned) a standard case of the argument against God based on the "problem of evil" in the world.  I'd like to talk about this more later but I guess my point is that I would just feel so angry, so abandoned, so hopeless and sometimes so punished, that I would wonder how good (and useful) this "God" character could really be, thus making me question his existence.  But when I look back (and I still struggle A LOT with this issue) my real doubt was in His character, not in His existence. I needed to find the truth about God, but since everyone's truth was just their own as they perceived it, how could they help me? I was left to only rely on my own senses and experiences.

That turned out to be an entirely unfulfilling and empty search. 

I started looking outside myself.  When I was in grade 11 I really started "soul searching".  I didn't really know any Christians but a family friend turned me on to the book series "Conversations with God" by Neale Donald Walsch.  He wasn't a Christian but claimed to hear directly from God (and I use this word claimed intentionally as I now believe the reliability of this claim to be flawed, but that's another issue).  Nonetheless, it opened me up to the idea of a God whose character (and thus, existence) I could stomach and more importantly opened me to the idea of defining myself as someone who might be able to believe in God. It would be another few years before I met Brendan (now my husband) and was introduced to the Christian God.

I guess this was the beginning of my "truth" discovery. My  life growing up was really good. My parents were amazing, I had many wonderful opportunities, and their encouraging of us (my sister and I) to discover our own truths was done with honest and  "liberating" intentions.  Unfortunately, for someone who was seeking for solid answers to deep questions about life's greatest uncertainties surrounding origin, meaning, morality, and destiny (as coined by Ravi Zacharias of RZIM ministries), I didn't need liberation or the loose and relativistic ideals that our culture was providing me.  I wasn't finding clear cut answers, and the analytic and scientific side of me was desperate.  My doubts about "religion" were fed because the paradigm I was operating under was telling me that the answers that were out there were just relative to the beliefs of the people who held them. I found myself miserable, confused and anxious. 

It is only now, almost 16 years later, that I've come to realize (and in the future I will share this process) that there is objective truth. 

The truth.

That may be offensive to some people.  I still cringe a little when I say it, and it doesn't yet feel completely comfortable rolling off my tongue.   I know that saying things like this might make me appear to some to be intolerant and narrow- minded. If that is you, take heart.  I judged others so often in this way that I can completely understand (and in a strange way, still sympathize) with that perspective.  But I cannot deny that something inside my head and my heart has changed. 

I know these things I am learning to be true.  I know them in my head (because I have disovered there is a logical, reasonable and intelligent defense for their validity) and in my heart (because I have experienced God in a relational and relevant way).  I know that although I have avoided it for so long, I must share my understanding of these truths.  It makes no difference if we accept an objective truth or not.  It's validity is based in the truth itself, not in the fact that we buy into it.  An objective truth would still be true even if no one decided to believe it. Here's the thing, it actually makes no difference to me if I share it or not.  So why would I?

Because it could make all the difference to you.

So, with all of this in mind, I unveil my new ideology...

I believe that God exists and that this is an objective truth. It is true for me, because it is the truth.  For me.  And for you. 

I know that this won't be universally well-received but I implore you ... this is not something to feel offended about, for truly my friends, this is SUCH exciting news and I am hoping that as I continue to unpack my journey for you, you may just find yourself as excited about this news as I am ♡

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