I realize now my error with religion. I wanted to believe.
I was talking with my best friend today at work about this subject and getting his opinion on it. In the course of the conversation it was brought to my attention that there have been many things in the past that we once thought were irrefutable facts or truth only to have them shattered at a later time. In fields of philosophy, biology, physics, medicine and the list goes on and on. What was once thought irrefutable was changed to a mere myth somewhat over night by the discovery of new methods of research or a new hypothesis put forth that challenged the core of our "beliefs".
So what are we to do in cases such as these? Do we cling to our old beliefs in the hopes that the news ideas will be proven false? Some have done so, for example. Some embraced it others did not. So to it is with religion.
Hundreds of religions have come and gone over the centuries. Some we have vast quantites of information concerning them and others only scant knowledge. What about when we "outgrow" a religious path or it no longer speaks to us? Do we abandon it simply because we haven't found the answers or do we stick with it because it has carried us this far and has been a source of comfort to us?
It's somewhat like science. Ever growing, ever changing with the advent of new discoveries and ideas. The discovery of an ancient manuscript can cause us to question the foundations of our faith, just like the the CERN project in Switzerland has recently caused people to rethink Einstein's special theory on relativity. Some scientists are embracing these new findings whereas others aren't.
So what is a believer to do when evidence comes to light that seems to refute their long held ideas about God and the nature of the universe?
Should we immediately embrace these new ideas or do we stick with what has carried us through to this point, even though we may be vilified for it?
It's quite the conundrum.
As far as belief goes I have found many scholars on both sides of the issue stating that their ideas are the correct one and the others are false. As a non-scholar/scientist how can I possibly refute any of what they say? Should I even try? What is the basis of my belief? So far it's been based not upon scripture but my own experiences. To be sure I don't know why bad things happen to good people or why wicked people seem to enjoy such good lives while the humble live in poverty. There have been many reasons put forth in the Bible for why this is. There have been many philosophers who have tried to answer the question up to and including the idea that there is no God and that we're all just dust in the wind.
A believer could just trust in the word of the scholars. However as an exJW this goes against what I have learned about trusting those in authority whom I have never met and have no personal knowledge of. Unless I cant test it for myself and get a satisfactory result the ideas of others should be as hearsay simply for the reason that the other person might have an agenda which conflicts with what is actually true. The WTS is a prime example of this. The old addage "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" seems applicable here.
So while I do not know why bad things happen to good people or why the wicked seem to prosper. Nor do I know if Jesus actually existed as a historical person. What I do know is the personage I've interacted with spiritually over the past decade and who identifies himself as Christ has never led me astray nor told me an untruth (unlike some scholars or would be prophets). So what do I trust? Words on a page that I cannot read and whose context has been changed countless times or my own experiences? We do know from the Bible that some things have been altered. Jeremiah and Jesus both spoke of these things. So how do we know for a fact that the things Jehovah supposedly did to his own people actually occurred? We don't.
The measurement of what is real to me and what is not can only be measured by myself and not someone else. It was once said "We are walking by faith not by sight." I now think what this means is the things outside a person can fool them, whereas the spiritual things inside a person don't even try. But we are encouraged to "test the inspired expression to see whether it originates with God" which I have also done. My conclusion is that yes, my relationship is with God and Christ and it's a dependable one. Could I be in error? Of course. But until new data comes along that refutes what I currently hold to be true, I will just stick with what I "know" rather than what others "think."
So far my relationship with Christ has gotten me through some very tough times that I don't think I could have handled on my own. Does this make me delusional to have trust in someone I cannot see or touch? As far as modern psychiatry in concerned, yes it probably does. Then again we have Psychiatrists who are Christians themselves, so how do they come to grips with this belief in the face of their own profession? I guess I should ask them.
So I stated before that my belief in religion is what caused me problems. But as I have also said elsewhere on these forums, I don't follow a religion. I follow Christ. Religion to me is a set standard of traditions, rituals, and dogma (ideas which cannot be changed). My relationship with Christ is just that, a relationship. I don't feel I need the trappings of a religion to enable me to come to know someone I already consider to be family. It would be akin to introducing myself to my brother every time we meet so that He would know who's speaking to him. Kinda irrelevant really.
So I said in my initial post that "a lie becomes a truth if you want to believe it" which still holds true. But who's lying to whom? Are we lying to ourselves and believing the lie? Or are we allowing others to lie to us and beleiving them?
I'm reminded of the phrase "To thine own self be true" which seems to indicate we should not allow ourselves to be over influenced by the ideas of others. In the final text of Revelation we are reminded that we will each have to answer for ourselves. We cannot be like Adam who tried to blame his sin upon God or his wife. God knew better but He wanted to hear it from Adam's own lips, just as He also knew what Adam and Eve had done, but wanted them to admit it openly. So it is with ourselves. Do we try to put the blame upon others (scholars) for certain beliefs? Or will we closely examine what he hold to be true and give an accurate and thorough witness about ourselves to God if asked?
I know my answer.