Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Why I am not religious

For convenience, or simplicity, I call my self an atheist, but acknowledging that it is not possible to disprove the existence of a God, I suppose that I am technically an agnostic. And there are things which our limited human perception will never comprehend. But that does not mean that I need to have faith in things which are not proven.

Let me get to my point. I have been brought up by my parents who have provided for my upbringing. My father has been my closest council and he is one of the most spiritual persons I have met in my life. And he helps and councils many people of different religious viewpoints. He is atheist. My mother is the one that has helped finance my business and shown me her love in many other ways. She is atheist. I have never had a divine intervention or communication in my life.

To accept Christ or any other exclusive 'God', I would then implicitly acknowledge that the most supportive and spiritual people in my life, my parents, will go to hell in the after life. I would have to acknowledge that my Chinese ancestors, who were unfortunate enough not to have heard the word of God, have all gone to hell. To that we will have to add the American Indians, the eskimos, the Africans, the aboriginals in Australia, the Maoris. My wonderful friends who may believe in Ancestor worship, Buddhist enlightenment or the Hindu gods, will go to hell. And even if I did accept that Christ is the savior, I would need to decide if it is a Catholic, Protestant, Lutherian, Anglican, Charismatic, Mormon God which will save me. The choice of the wrong denomination will also damn me to hell.

So many Christians have told me that we do not have the right to judge other people. And some claim that theirs is the only truth. But believers of other religions claim that theirs is the true religion. And like I said, which Christian truth amongst all the different denominations is the actual truth? So, I am not making a judgment. I cannot believe that we are all born sinners and only an arbitrary belief in a specific God of a specific denomination will bring salvation.

And so even as I am open to the possibility of God and I personally am striving to grow spiritually, I am not religious. For those of you who do know me personally, does it seem that my rejection of religion has made me a sinner? Do I steal, rape, kill, lie or am I even mean spirited? Yes, I make mistakes and I have lost my temper at times, but to be damned to eternal fire and brimstone? For what? I am concerned for the people around me. I care for their well being. I love other people. Is my love and concern for other people a lie. Is my good will empty without the endorsement of a specific God? And exactly, which God?

If there is a God, I believe he would judge all of us on how we lived our lives. Or if he is truly the God of love, he would accept us in spite of how we lived our lives. With the Babel of religions on offer and the huge influence of different communities, to believe that only faith in a specific God of a specific religion is the truth, is too terrible an idea to comprehend. For that would mean that, God, in his infinite wisdom, created a world in which he knew that the majority of the people, would go to hell.

6 comments:

Yiren said...

Hi Ngiap Heng, I don't usually comment on your blog, I just read. However, I think any christian reading your post will feel the need to clarify certain misconceptions and leave the believing/unbelieving part to you.

Maybe an easier way for me to do this is by quoting your entry.

"I have never had a divine intervention or communication in my life." - you don't seek for one so even if you do encounter them, you probably never noticed.

"To accept Christ or any other exclusive 'God', I would then implicitly acknowledge that the most supportive ...will go to hell." - this probably stems from the fact that you "cannot believe that we are all born sinners". Yet I am sure that you agree with me that no man is perfectly righteous so won't you then agree with me that if there is a true God, he will judge the world by his standard and if he is indeed the true God, his standard of righteousness will be absolute and infinitely high? Since all man fall short of that standard, won't we have to pay the wages of sin that is death? How can we then claim that we do not deserve to die?

"The choice of the wrong denomination will also damn me to hell." - I don't recall reading about denomination in the bible. Nobody can say that the anglican practices are right nor can anyone proclaims that Lutherianism is the way to go. Salvation has always been by faith in Christ and has never been preached on the practice/works.

"does it seem that my rejection of religion has made me a sinner?" - religion is something that man came up with. Having faith is not equivalent to having a religion depending on how you define the latter. Even if you do believe in Christ, you are still a sinner, the difference being that you admit that you are a sinner and that you need him for your salvation.

"Yes, I make mistakes and I have lost my temper at times, but to be damned to eternal fire and brimstone? For what?" - as I mentioned above, for falling short of God's standard.

"If there is a God, I believe he would judge all of us on how we lived our lives." - By this i think you admit that there is a God but you are not ready to believe in Him. He will indeed judge us by how we lived our lives and sadly, none will pass that judgement.

"Or if he is truly the God of love, he would accept us in spite of how we lived our lives." - I think you are quite well versed with the bible because He is indeed the God of love because despite the way we lead our lives, he provided us a way out. Isn't that great? Loving the creation that has gone astray.

"God, in his infinite wisdom, created a world in which he knew that the majority of the people, would go to hell." - He also created man with free will and the ability to do the right things. We cannot claim that we know not what we did because he wrote the laws in our hearts; our conscience. If we chose to sin, we deserve the judgement. God did not create to condemn, he create to display his glory. Man was suppose to be the ruler of the world he created but we chose not to. And here he provides us a way out, we being creatures with free will ought to do better with this second chance.

Hope you are not too offended by my comment. Sorry for the lengthy reply. =)

april said...

Hi Yiren,

I read your comments. the only issue i have is with this paragraph,

'Yet I am sure that you agree with me that no man is perfectly righteous so won't you then agree with me that if there is a true God, he will judge the world by his standard and if he is indeed the true God, his standard of righteousness will be absolute and infinitely high? Since all man fall short of that standard, won't we have to pay the wages of sin that is death? How can we then claim that we do not deserve to die? '

the way i read this is that, 'if you are not as good as God, u deserve to go to hell'

sorry if this sounds offensive, but i find it very elitist. its like saying, 'u will never be as smart as Albert Einstein, so its only right that u live a lesser life, so accept that'

Heng said...

Hi Yiren,

Thank you for your comments. No offense taken. I know you write what you believe.

I simply don't believe that I and my parents and all my non Christian friends are born sinners and can only go to heaven by the belief in Christ. I simply cannot see how a just and loving God would give such a specific life line and not make it clear that it is the life line. We have to take it on faith amongst all the other religions preached. And furthermore, there are people who were just plain unlucky not to have heard of this life line.

The logic fails me and I do not have the faith, in any religion so far.

What I do have faith in is the human spirit and human kindness.

yiren said...

Hi April, I guess it really means "God's way or the highway", but since he is the one creating the heaven and the world, could it be fair that he is the one setting the rules? I think it is but again, it's subjective. No offense taken. =)

Ngiap Heng, as a photographer, you made many photos and there are so many that you have trashed. Those that you have kept, some you chose to enter exhibition, some you chose to give it to friends as gifts but none of the photos could protest to you about their fate as a highly rated photo or as a lowly appreciated one. You are the creator and you have the sovereign will over their use. Similarly, we cannot complain that some who never got to hear the word are being injusticed against as we are the created and in the first place do not deserve anything (this part is what I believe). Anyway, I am glad that you put your thoughts through this well and I sincerely hope that one day you will be moved. =) I love your work btw and I look forward to your continual evolution of style.

CK said...

Have you considered you might be a Unitarian rather than an Agnostic? I have a feeling you might be since you don't seem to totally reject the idea of a higher being.

Heng said...

Hi Kuang,

I don't reject the idea of a higher being, but I really don't know if there is a higher being. So I guess that makes me agnostic.