Why should I believe in Jesus?
Peter Farley has been giving some consideration to the claims of Richard Dawkins, and explains to us the results of his own analysis.
“There is no God, so believing in him (‘It’ or a ‘Not’) is a delusion.” That’s what Richard Dawkins is saying. This is mega serious!
If this is right, then it’s not just me facing a personal apocalypse. Having been a god-botherer for over seventy years, this has massive implications and repercussions not just for me but for everyone. It is shocking and rocking!
Dawkins claims he has scientifically researched this theory and found proof that there is no evidence to support the existence of ‘a super-human, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it, including us.’ Consequently, he thinks that religion is a delusion, ‘a persistent false belief held in the face of contradictory evidence’.
There must be some truth in what he says, because (it is claimed) he is a pre-eminent scientist and one of the world’s great thinkers. His book, ‘The God Delusion’ was number 3 in the Amazon bestseller list and number 8 in the New York Times list. Wow!
So, clearly, I need to take him seriously and carry out my own ‘scientific’ research. This is justified on the basis that, I believe, all scientific investigation involving the metaphysical can only be proven to the satisfaction of the individual undertaking it.
My chosen mode of research – Cost Benefit Analysis. I will be using it to help me decide the costs, as against the benefits of believing in the God of Jesus Christ.
Cost Benefit Analysis (for any not familiar with the system) is, according to Wikipedia, a systematic approach to estimating the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives used to determine options which provide’ a means …. ‘to compare completed or potential courses of actions, or to estimate (or evaluate) the value against the cost of a decision, project, or policy’ or in this case a belief or opinion.
Let me say that there are, sadly, aspects of what Dawkins says with which I am in total agreement. For instance, I likewise deplore the way in which religion has fuelled wars, divided communities (even nations), fomented bigotry, incited prejudice, fostered oppression and injustice, fuelled genocide, and been the covert cover for abusing children and others. Jesus would be driving those engaged in such practices from the temple.
But that is religion, as a particular system for structuring the corporate spiritual practices of its adherents. What is wrong with a group is the sum total of what is wrong with its members, so all faith groups need to avoid being religious. Instead, they need to be encouraging and nurturing the health of the individual spiritual beliefs of its members.
To do this, a faith group needs to encourage its members, of all ages, as individuals, appropriately, with open minds, to test, examine and analyse their own beliefs. Nothing which impinges on the spiritual, philosophical, transcendental, transpersonal, even religious should ever be taught exclusively in schools or elsewhere.
So, a cost benefit analysis for me, as a Christian, of suffering from a lifetime delusion that there is a god:
Benefits (or blessings)
Believing that there is a God who is compassionate, gracious, tender, merciful, righteous, victorious, just, holy, almighty, all-knowing, wise, worthy, faithful and perfect in all His ways;
Believing that He loves me, forgives my shortcomings and failures, gives me substantive hope, protects me from lasting harm, provides for all my needs, inspires me, encourages me, wants me to grow in grace and knowledge of Him, works all things together for my good;
Believing that I have a Heavenly Father whom I want to get to know better, want to love more, want to serve more faithfully, want to trust implicitly, be thankful to consistently, hear more clearly, obey always, please constantly, worship at all times and forever;
Knowing His peace, His healing of body, soul and spirit, His guidance, His teaching, His enabling, His challenging, His chastening;
Discovering that He welcomes, cherishes and answers my prayers, that He desires to be with me at all times (whatever my circumstances and state), has plans and purposes for my life, makes me feel secure, significant and special, understands and makes allowances for my failings, is patience and longsuffering, slow to anger, swift to bless;
Sensing there is so much more to learn of Him, and that holds no threat but promise;
Having family and friends who love me and tolerate me. Having no fear of death but having eternal hope.
Costs (or condemnations)
Living a life of despondency and disillusion, believing in the notion that the life I live with its attendant suffering is all there is;
Not believing that there is a god who cares about man’s inhumanity to man, that grieves the way we treat creation and all that we share it with;
Lacking comfort, consolation, and eternal hope.
I conclude that the benefits, the blessings, far outweigh the costs and condemnations.
How about you? Do feel free to share how you feel. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.com
A would-be Word-Weaver, Peter Farley (founder of The Matthew Project) is a father of five and grandfather of thirteen. He lives and worships in Sheringham. He is a Sheringham Town Councillor and one of the founders of Sheringham Shed - a local community meeting place.
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