Doubting The Faith, But Demanding A Purpose
For those of you who don’t know, I was raised as a Christian. In fact, I still retain many elements of a Christian worldview. However, it would be disingenuous to call myself one considering I am not practicing nor embracing key parts of the faith. I am still highly sympathetic to the overall Christian community
To be honest, I’m not completely sure what I believe. Most of those who leave the faith usually do for reasons of outright rebellion. It is fair to say that I am in a rebellion of sorts, but I still don’t see it as a enough of a reason to completely throw out my worldview.
My “deviation” from the faith has taken place within the last year or so and has been for mostly carnal reasons – engaging in pre-marital sex and a kind of enjoyable narcissism – yet I remain very conflicted. I enjoy my current life of sinful pleasure, to the point of willful rebellion, but I am fully aware of it.
My father raised me with a Christian worldview, specifically one that deals. heavily with presuppositional thinking – something that I filter every idea through. It has caused me to become somewhat of a philosopher at heart. I’ve looked for alternatives to the faith, but I have not found any viable ones. I know I am not alone in this predicament.
Most of my friends who became Atheists, Agnostics, or whatever else did so for the reason as to be absolved of responsibility to a specific moral authority. They are essentially advocates of a moral relativism that allows them to do whatever they wish at this particular time. I see why they do this and it is an easy route. I however feel that is shallow.
At my core, I am desperate for a worldview that isn’t dependent on human reason for it’s moral standards, its tenants, and its suggested purpose of life. Because of this, I find the concept of appealing to human reason through human reason to be circular logic and foolish.
The problem for me is that if I ditch religion, science can’t actually provide me with answers to the major questions of reality, not to mention that science is totally useless on moral questions. One person pointed this idea out on a comment thread:
“Science, properly defined and understood, explicitly refuses to even get involved in the most important questions. Life, the Universe, Everything. Science stops with a firm thud at the Big Bang, saying nothing at all about what came before or even if that question is even a meaningful one. Science can’t come to grips with Why.“
Currently I am at this odd crossroads of depressing philosophical thought: If there is no absolute truth of any kind – might makes right. Influence, power, and money make right. The implication is too scary for me to accept. Instead I suggest like the X-Files says, “The Truth Is Out There.” I really hope it is.
I have come to ponder upon the idea that life is short. I could die tomorrow. Any of us could.
I am not daft however.
What To Do?
I don’t want to live as a hedonistic narcissist because of this acknowledgment, but I also want to enjoy every last second I have – while still planning and anticipating the future. Yes, I feel as if I am consumed by cognitive dissonance.
In the Bible, the first chapter of Ecclesiastes covers the concept of vanity, something that has created in me a philosophical mood and outlook that is seriously and worryingly quite pessimistic.
16 I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” 17 And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind.
18 For in much wisdom is much vexation,
and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.
Hate the Bible or not, this is a valid and important point. The more “knowledge” we acquire, the more despondent and pessimistic we become. Getting that college degree, large house with a white picket fence, a family and children, ect seems almost useless and vain. What’s the point? Shouldn’t I just become a complete hedonist and live every moment like it’s my last?
We all die at some point. Nothing can go with us, and we have no idea if there is any kind of afterlife or not.
This disturbs me because the idea of an afterlife is often the only thing that inspires people to be “good” – and I shudder at how relative the idea of what is “good” has become in modern society. In the modern world, “good” is simply determined by who has the biggest megaphone on social media and who is driving the current accepted cultural narrative of “good.” That is comforting, and yes, anyone with a brain can see that the assertion I just made is correct.
People mention we are progressing in concern to humanity and what is “good”, but no one seems to have a destination in mind as to exactly where we are progressing. I.E. -” Like in art when a work is described as ‘significant’ – Significant of what?”
If good is as relative as everyone these days insist it is – because absolute truth is such a dangerous concept – then what is there to stop us from evil besides the threat of punishment from a government for whatever is accepted as “evil” in our current time?
Quintus Curtius from the manosphere brings up an important point about this:
Man cannot be exhorted to do good by words alone; he must be held in the grip of terror by a religion that promises damnation if he misbehaves. Religion provides the backing to a moral code that rises above man; the myths, fables , and stories of religion are there for a purpose, and that purpose is to impart a moral code that can keep man’s baser instincts in check.
– Curtius, Quintus (2014-09-05). Thirty Seven: Essays On Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity (p. 27).
“He also needs myths to sustain him, to console him in his bereavements, to provide a code to anchor his life, and to impart a sense of meaning to this mortal existence. Snatch away his mythos, rob him of his ideal, and you banish his spirit to a rudderless drifting in life’s drama. It is a cruel fate, and one that is far too common. But for some men, the myth is strong. And it is the last thing to die.”
– Curtius, Quintus (2014-09-05). Thirty Seven: Essays On Life, Wisdom, And Masculinity (p. 25).
As the great Christian thinker and philosopher Francis Schaeffer would say, “How then should we live?” Like Shaeffer, I desire an absolute of some kind – in his case the Bible – as to which I can conduct my life and evaluate society. There is an interesting point about Schaeffer’s interpretation of the moral quandary impacting modern society in his, “How Then Should We Live” series:
“When we base society on humanism, which he defines as “a value system rooted in the belief that man is his own measure, that man is autonomous, totally independent”, all values are relative and we have no way to distinguish right from wrong except for utilitarianism. Because we disagree on what is best for which group, this leads to fragmentation of thought, which has led us to the despair and alienation so prevalent in society today.“
I am feeling this despair. I don’t know honestly know how to solve it, but I fear that the longer I go without an answer, the more worried I become about my future. I want to retain the Christian faith that I had, but the “faith” part is lacking.
I am eagerly exploring “alternatives”, but there seems to be no worldview out there which doesn’t require a fundamental leap of faith at its core to begin it’s particular journey. Yes, science can give us facts, but it can’t answer metaphysical issues nor these two questions which pop into my head every day:
What is my purpose in this life? How should I live my life knowing that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed?
In fact, where do I go from here? What do I do? How should I live? Is there any conclusion whatsoever that isn’t fallible and based on the assumption of humanity? I have become stuck in a circular spacial vacuum of uncertainty and I don’t like it.