My Current Beliefs
What do you do when you're a confused Christian who's trying to live and work with other Christians? If you're me, you try to sort out your confusion by writing about it, and then you foolishly post it on your website for reference, without regard for consequences. The consequence you do care about is that at least you'll know where you stand, and then you can strategize about how to interact with other people about belief.
For convenience, I'm organizing this discussion by the traditional categories of systematic theology. But systematic theology covers a lot of topics under those categories, and I'll only be addressing the topics that are important to me.
In systematic theology, the prolegomena covers general issues you should take care of before getting into the details of specific theological topics.
A central issue for me is faith and reason--how they relate, which of them "wins" (if either), what our obligations are to each.
I have a growing skeptical side when it comes to religion, alongside my skepticism about everything else. My basic problem with belief is that the more I learn about how people think, the clearer I see how shaky and vulnerable human thought processes are. We get confused easily, except that a lot of the time we confuse our confusion for clarity, and we're confidently wrong.
On top of this, I see that everything we think about God and the spiritual realm comes through human beings, whether they're religious authorities or our own minds. So I end up with the fundamental question, what makes us think we're not confused or even deceived about spiritual things?
Yet I grew up in Christianity, and I'm not ready to toss it all out the window. So I've ended up with two basic mindsets on each religious topic, a believing one and a skeptical one, and I switch between them based on the situation. So in this article I'll talk about both points of view I have for each issue. Really I'll sometimes have a range of perspectives, some more believing and some more skeptical.
Some believers get offended when you question their beliefs. From a rational perspective this doesn't make much sense. Shouldn't people who value truth want to follow the pursuit of truth wherever it leads? Even if you think you've found the truth, it might be irritating to realize you still have more thinking to do, but should you object to it in principle? It seems like you should get over your irritation and get on with the pursuit.
The one objection I can come up with that makes sense to me comes down to a question of loyalty. The objection is that the believer who's veering towards apostasy hasn't given their initial beliefs enough of a chance. How dare they jump ship at the first opportunity?
It seems to me there's always some threshold to accepting or rejecting an idea, and the person who's asking a doubter to hang onto their first beliefs is asking them to move their rejection threshold further away, maybe an infinite distance away. This idea of a movable threshold seems helpful as I think through all the issues I'll be discussing in this essay.