Let's establish this at the outset:
I want to believe. I have always wanted to believe. . . .
In something . . .
This, in spite of being acutely aware that those who wish to believe become immediate candidates for the stupid stick and the caverns of credulity.
But perhaps I am no different from everybody else. Perhaps we all wish to believe. Perhaps we wish to believe that our course in life is correct or, at least, well directed. I don't mean to split hairs. Whatever you may call it, have we not all bound ourselves to a life course based on wanting to 'believe'?
I could be wrong about others, of course; but this is initially about my own search. Your comments are most welcome.
I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith but lost hold on it when I was about 14. We may muse about Crusades, Inquisitions, the Reichskonkordat and other excesses; but the short reason is it was not what I wished to believe. I had my own ideas of cosmos and conscience. And surely, I thought, they were of higher standard than what I had been taught.
For, after all, this God the preachers invoked had a great deal of explaining to do. 5000 years of human 'civilization' filled with war and sickness and every type of oppression. All the while, I kept hearing that a righteous life would gain a heavenly reward. Reward? You float around the universe? And you had to die first?
Then there was this idiocy about how a loving God could assign infinite torture as retribution for finite sin. It all seemed to make sense only if there were no God and priests had been using fraud to control the masses. Certainly, fraud had to be involved, for whenever political or commercial powers felt the need to wage war, they always seemed to rely on the clergy to provide cannon fodder.
I developed a humanistic approach to satisfy my conscience while allowing me to set standards of my own. It seemed to be working. But then I began to wonder about that stupid stick. Was I deceiving myself? What of those Bible thumpers who repeatedly knocked on my door? They must be dupes, I thought. Really, I should set them straight. And, it would help assure me that I had avoided the stick.
So, I challenged them on the human misery concept. How could a God of love allow war and crime and sickness and death? I knew I had them, because all one needed to do was look around to see a world out of control. Sure, the politicians and intellectuals had plans
, but . . .
They answered that the God who created our world is not the god who controls the world. . . . Now how would they explain that? What about God's power?
Of course, being Bible thumpers,they resorted to the Bible against my initial reluctance. However, I cut them some slack for the time being so I could get the message. They started in the Garden of Eden. (of course, where else?) I had never considered the direction given to the first human pair had assigned them to an indefinite life on earth. I also had not been aware that the consequence of their disobedience was not torture, but non existence, death.
So after this sunny beginning, what happened? Read over into Genesis chapter 3. Here, I know, many accuse God either of a flawed creation or an outright trap designed to cast humanity into degradation. I have a different understanding. If we were created with internal qualities of love and fairness, would it not be logical to assume love and fairness to exist abundantly in the heart of the creator? And what about power? Notice God's power never was questioned, only his truthfulness,
You certainly will not die.
and God's intentions for creating man:
For God knows that in the day of your eating it, you will be like God, knowing good and bad
So, both the entity controlling the serpent and our first human parents chose to rebel.
You may think it would have been justifiable for God to zap everyone on the spot and start over. But, God's power was not questioned, only his integrity. After pronouncing judgement on the rebels, God made a promise in verse 15, that a 'seed' would come to bruise the serpent in the head, namely to end his rebellion. The entire Bible describes how this is to come about.
I choose to believe this is not mere allegory, but a reliable account of our world. I have additional reasons, of course. I'll be happy to post them here. I will also try to entertain your comments and objections.