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Just recently, I was conversing with my friend Jacob, a devout and well educated Catholic, on the many topics regarding Christianity when an interjection by another friend of mine turned the conversation quite awkward. This friend, whom shall remain unnamed, had just informed us that he no longer held belief in the Catholic Church, nor any church for that matter. He went on to say that he no longer believed that the Bible was the inspired word of God as well. When inquired why, it became apparent, at least to me, that his initial thought was that he simply did not know why he believed what he did. Yet, he responded, after a moment, with, forgive my paraphrasing: I feel like it’s a scam. Jacob then inquired further on his beliefs, asking what God he believed in. The answer was simply, “I believe in what I understand God to be.” Further questioning did not lead to an expansion on this answer, however we were led to believe that his understanding was based on some distortion of the God of Abraham.
To make matters more interesting, a week or two after this happened, I was visiting that same friend when I took notice that he wore a bracelet adorned with images of Catholic Saints. Let’s examine his statements and beliefs, shall we?
Is the Holy Bible a scam?
Q: Is the Catholic Bible, using the Catholic understanding of the books, a scam, historically speaking?
A: We know for a fact Jesus and the Apostles existed, any historian, Christian or not, will tell you they did.
The Apostles made their way through the world telling people a Jewish man was God. No sane person, or in this case twelve persons, would lie about a man being resurrected from the dead when it would lead only to their persecution and execution. If we are to be honest with ourselves, the chances that all of the men were delusional, that all of them shared an identical delusion, and all the while managed to gain more followers and run the Catholic Church successfully under the constant threat of death is essentially nil.
As for the Old Testament, archeologists and historians have more than confirmed the existence of the places and items mentioned within it. The rest is, admittedly, entirely up to faith. However, these books predate Catholicism and therefore could not be a scam created and perpetuated by the Church. Some of these books were written as historical accounts by the Hebrews, others had always been purely religious. However, the fact of the matter is that these books were written for the Hebrews by the Hebrews. They had no need to convince each other of what was already accepted by all of them as true. The Old Testament serves no purpose as a scam.
Q: Is the Catholic Bible a scam spiritually speaking?
A: If the Bible was created in its current form for the purpose of the Catholic Church to be deliberately placed as the one true faith, the books within it would have been modified to the point that there would be no questioning the Church’s authority which would lead to the need for Protestants and the Orthodox to disregard it in it’s entirety.
Believing in what one understands God to be without examination.
Q: What does “I believe in what I understand God to be” really mean?
A: in most cases, as with this one, it boils down to this: the person in question is projecting their own moral limitations onto God. To put it simply, their God will always agree with their actions unless they personally decide against it. For example: Joe hangs his cat for fun. His god is okay with this because, just like Joe, he doesn’t care for the animal. This is why holding a belief such as this, which can not be set in stone, holds dangers to one’s morality.
Q: Can this belief in God exist in rational thought?
A: This belief unavoidably leads to one’s irrationality in thought. If God is whomever you want Him to be, He fits into any illogical understanding of Him you can muster. This is apparent in that my friend still chooses to honor the Catholic Saints. The Saints… Let that sink in for a moment. He holds the belief that the Catholic Church, its faith, and its Bible are all illegitimate, yet its Saints are legitimate. The same Saints who would waste no time informing him that Catholicism is true.
I can think of only one reason for this contradiction to exist: comfort. Despite the blatant irrationality in honoring the Saints while rejecting nearly all they believed in and stood for, he still honors them because he finds comfort in it. Whether this comfort is through prayer or simple acknowledgement is unknown and irrelevant toward it’s lack of rationality.
Examination of Origin
Now that we have thoroughly examined and discredited these statements and beliefs, I’ll attempt to uncover their origin. I’m thoroughly convinced that this belief stems from, the cliche holding true, sinful behavior. Earlier this summer, my friend expressed his distaste for his own actions, lust, pride, and negligence of mass attendance. He clearly knew his actions were wrong, and wanted to improve. However, by the middle of the summer, it became apparent the willingness to improve had all but disappeared entirely. I’ll not go into details on this, out of respect for my friends privacy. Simply put, the sins of lust and pride have taken prominence in his mind. His new found irrational beliefs stem from the wanting of justification for his actions.