As I've said a billion (well - at least ten, lol) times here before, I consider myself an atheist that wouldn't mind believing in a God if sufficient grounds to do so were presented to me.
As such, I have been toying with the idea of going on a spiritual journey, to see what I could find.
I was for a time thinking of making a thread here - in all seriousness and sincerity - where I would let you take part in several (possibly, unless I found what I was looking for right away) such steps, in which I would first 'test' the episcopalian (and some other Christians') approach and sincerely ask Jesus to enter my heart as my Saviour and so on. And that if I indeed experienced something from it, so be it - I would have to accept it and live by it. Almost a 'dare' to myself.
I have likewise - on the other end of the spectrum of ideas, or steps to take - toyed with the idea of buying or making an Ouija board, and - in all sincerity - see if I could make it "work".
I have done neither so far.
-Because a thought came to me - - a rather obvious thought I'll admit, at least with my background, and one I should have come to right away and long ago, but I guess I had to form the above line of thought before I could think of it(!):
The idea of Pascal's wager, and the retorts against it, pose a few problems to the above spiritual journey scenario:
-When I was a JW, I would have thought that praying to Jesus directly and asking him to enter my heart would be the same as inviting demons into my life. It would also be 'idol worship'; worshiping a false god.
Obviously also - in the other end of the spectrum - using an Ouija board would be the same. Satan would be behind any and all 'forces' I may encounter using these - and many other - methods.
Now - according to many Christians, praying to Jesus in the manner above would be the right thing to do, and I would in fact come in contact with Him. And - they would all agree that the Ouija board on the other hand would be inviting demons into my life.
So already we have two opposing views on the first concept, but at least agreement on the other. Of course, the JW view wouldn't be given much credence on this forum. Nevertheless, it was what most of us once firmly believed to be true.
But it obviously doesn't stop there. I haven't asked, but I would hazard a guess that if I asked Muslims if I should pray directly to Jesus and invite him into my heart as my Saviour, they would tell me it would be worshiping a false god. They would however agree with Christians that the Ouija board would be a very bad idea.
If I were to ask certain mysticists on the other hand, the Ouija board - when used correctly - would be a good idea, and good or bad experiences from using it would depend on my knowledge of how to use it and on my state of mind. They would perhaps say that praying to Jesus would be a bad thing, or at least non-productive.
A tribe in Africa or India would most likely dismiss all of the above. And so on.
You're starting to see my problem?
-How would I be able to know if I was indeed contacting good or bad spirits (or simply confusing my own brain), regardless of what path I would take? Could an experience be said to be positive; could it be said to be guided by God, simply because it would feel good / right? Most religions I know of would actually say no to that, and they'd have different reasons for saying it, but Christians would probably say that Satan and his demons can make themselves seem like good spirits in order to deceive people.
-Of course - if I followed their specific directions, then they'd believe I would be guaranteed to come in contact with God, and that it would indeedfeel good / right. As would all of the other religions.
For each and every spiritual path I could decide to walk down, there would be someone saying it is the wrong one, even a dangerous one. And they would all say that 'feeling good' about a certain path would not be proof that it was the right one (even though following their specific path would certainly make you 'feel good' according to them).
So how does one resolve this problem if one wishes to find the 'true path'? Where should I start out, and why? Why not the others? If starting out at the 'wrong' place, could it damage me beyond redemption? Or at least make it difficult to go on to the next place to find out if that was valid? If I find a path that feels right to me, should I then stop my search? What if what I found to be right was the opposite of what youknow is true? What if I found the same path as you? Should I then continue my search?