About ten years ago or so I decided to try to write a book (the first one I had ever written.) It was going to be a philosophy book... Although I am not a philosopher, I had a purpose for the book.
I wanted it to be a large-scale thought examination; A mental Science experiment. I wanted to chart out whether it was possible to be convinced that God exists based on only observation of nature. I decided that I would not read other philosophy books, and I would do my best to not consider any scripture, holy writings, or gurus as I did this project.
So I started writing. I would sit by the lake near my apartment. It was right on the edge of a nice patch of woods. I would spend long hours staring at the sky, or at bugs, or whatever. I think in all, that book wound up being about 150 pages. I never pursued getting it published, or even read by others. It was mostly just for me.
Here's what I learned from the process. It's possible to be convinced that there is a creator (this we already discussed I know).
But a second thing emerged that I didn't expect. I hadn't considered the limitations of this approach until I tried it.
I'd illustrate what I discovered in this way. It was as if I had been walking along this path. The path was fairly easy to follow. It got thin at times. Other times it was wide and obvious. However, at some point, that path leads to a huge cliff. The path terminated in this big drop-off. I was mentally left standing at this cliff, looking over the edge. I felt a little disappointed, in some ways, but excited to make the discovery in other ways.
The ledge was basically the question you asked me. How do I make the leap from Intelligent Design, to Christianity? What I realized (and I hadn't thought about it before that point) is that I couldn't make the leap without some outside source. I had followed the evidence where it lead (as far as I was able) and I hadn't arrived at Jesus. I had arrived at a much less personal Deity. It was possibly the God of the Bible, but it could have easily been Brahma, Allah, Zeus, or the flying spaghetti monster. I had to admit at that point, that my search had not taken me where I intended to go. The path, as far as I could see it, had not brought me to Jesus.
So the book project basically ended there. I felt like I had gone as far as I could on my original premise and hypothesis. Admittedly I had hoped to have some kind of new approach that would bypass ones need for accepting Christianity, and allow them to meet Jesus through nature, or some other means.
Although that was the end of that writing project it wasn't the end of the story. I continued to think about this cliff. I imagined people throughout history who have arrived at the cliff and wondered what was out beyond it's rocky edge. I began to wonder if there was some kind of serendipity in it. I wondered if this was the purpose of nature: To bring us to a foundational understanding of Power, Order, Design, etc. etc. Only to leave us wanting to know more.
Slowly I began to reintroduce what I knew of World Religions into this philosophy trying to find something that made since with what I had learned.
My basic premise that came out in the book was called "Point Source Theory"
The idea was that IF there is a creator, then his creation (us) could only know him/her if the creator chose to intersect in some observable way with his creation. (Think Carl Sagan's Dimensional intersection illustration).
Another way to put it would be this: I’m a sci-fi writer. My characters in my books don’t know me… unless I choose to interject myself into the story. (something I’ve never done.) A creation can fulfill it’s purpose without ever being aware of it’s creator, or even that it is created at all. It’s no fault of Ernst, Truss, or Symone (characters in my books) that they don’t know me. I created their world in such a way that they would not even be aware that I exist. Is it so inconceivable that God would do the same? If I could do it, couldn’t he? So if that’s the case, how would we find out about him? We only could if he chose to interject himself into the story.
I extrapolated that to mean that, If a higher dimensional being, wanted to interact with lower dimensional beings, he would have to create points of intersection. Theses points would have to be intentional.
So I began to consider this. What would an intersection point, with a higher dimensional being look like?
I considered a number of religious stories under these criteria. It made sense to me that if a religious narrative was truly an intersection point, then it should follow a few rules. It should fit into what we learn about this Creator from our observation of nature.
So these intersection points would need to fit into some of these categories:
Observable: Not everything in nature is visible, but observability is tantamount to science.
Falsifiable: Nature works in a specific way, if claims are made about nature, they can be tested and are falsifiable.
Understandable: We can study and understand (sometimes only with effort) what we see in nature.
Orderly: Natural processes follow a pattern and abide by logic.
Purposeful: Everything in nature plays a role, that fits into a larger eco system.
Explainable: knowledge of nature can be taught to others, they can be explained and retold by those who observe.
So these are the primary things I would expect if the creator decided to intersect with his creation. Obviously it’s possible that a Creator could play it however he or she wants, but it would be illogical for an intersection point to stand opposed to the things we already know about the world from Science.
Now, running religions through this test I’d have to admit something. No religion in the world stands up to these criteria. Not Islam, not Buddhism, not Judaism, not Christianity. No religion is able to claim that it is fully, Observable, Falsifiable, Understandable, Orderly, Purposeful, and Explainable. Some may do better than others, but no religion fits these criteria completely.
So obviously this leave us with a dilemma. If no religion fits what we know about nature why should we be involved in any religion?
Many have claimed that we shouldn’t be involved in any religion. Many, especially online have seen this dilemma and have called foul. They see that there is a disconnect between the mind, and faith. To accept any religion completely is to abandon some aspect of intellectual veracity.
So, I still haven’t answered your question, but I’m almost there.
It occurred to me as I thought through this that Religion isn’t the intersection point. Religion is the organization that is formed around an alleged intersection point. Some guru claims he has had a spiritual experience, and other people begin to circle around that idea/event. So in this model, the event is the intersection point, not the resulting religion.
So, it’s then important to examine the central truth claim of each religion in its original form. If Religion is not the intersection point between Creation and its Creator then maybe one of these events is.
So then it’s a matter of checking a list of claimed “supernatural events” So I did. I studied religion in college, and much of what I had learned I ran through this test quickly. For other religions that I was less familiar with, I had to buy some books (something I’m fond of). My bookshelf is littered with the remains of this process. I just can’t seem to get rid of books I’m no longer using… I think it’s a psychological disorder.
As you can imagine most claims to which religions are centered around do not fulfill even one of the above criteria (Observable, Falsifiable, Orderly, Purposeful, and Explainable). Many “spiritual events” are esoteric, convoluted, cryptic, or illogical. It seems that most religious events are used to control, manipulate, or confuse.
So for me, through this type of investigation, one set of truth claims fulfill these criteria.
The man Jesus (not necessarily the religion that has surrounded him) is the one narrative that could be called, Observable, Falsifiable, Understandable, Orderly, Purposeful, and Explainable. Note that I’m not saying Christianity is wrong for trying to codify the events, and organize around it, it’s just that humans have a tendency to be imperfect from time to time.
However, the story of Jesus is the center piece and it’s that which must be looked to first. Those who join the religion of Christianity, can do so without ever really encountering the story of Jesus. That’s a big problem.
When I’m asked “why do you believe in Jesus.” I feel like the real question for me is, “considering what happened, how could I not believe in Jesus.”
Everyone is free to look at the available evidence and determine for themselves whether they think Jesus was truly an intersection point of the divine, or a hoax, or nonexistent. I’ve considered each aspect as carefully as I can, and this is what I’m convinced of.
I can’t ignore Jesus. After long consideration, I am convinced that the New Testament is a reliable collection of historical documents that were written by eye witnesses, during the lifetime of other eye witnesses. This makes them falsifiable. I believe that they were collected and protected by the early believers in such a way that they would be preserved for future generations. That makes the story, explainable. I’m convinced that Jesus is the answer to many of the cosmic questions of origin, and purpose. The account of Jesus is orderly, understandable, and coherent. It’s not esoteric or cryptic, although time passage and culture change has added a layer of study required.
IF there is a creator, it is reasonable to me that he would intersect with his creation in a way that we can understand. I’m convinced that that intersection point is the man Jesus.
Notice that I didn’t arrive at this conclusion by emotion, feelings, or a voice from God. If I based my faith on any type of expectation of feelings, I’d be disappointed. Even in scripture, God rarely (if ever) speaks to his prophets through feelings. Feelings may have accompanied God’s voice, but the feelings are a byproduct not the product itself.
He speaks through knowledge and revelation. To be disappointed that God does not speak to me would be understandable. Though, if I felt disappointed I would feel the need to ask: Why would I expect him to speak to me personally in the first place? The Jesus event is a much greater intersection point by far. Why would I need him to tell me more than Jesus? Leaving the faith because God did not speak to me personally is the equivalent to saying, “Jesus’ story isn’t enough for me. I want more. God, If you don’t give me more than Jesus, then I’m out.”
I’ve had very few emotional experiences involving faith. Don’t get me wrong, I love God, and I love Jesus. I have fond feelings for my faith. However, I believe in Jesus with my mind first. My emotions follow my mind, not the other way around.
I’m part of Christianity, because it’s an organization that (although possibly flawed) I believe is the religion that is closest to The man Jesus. It’s Jesus, and his story that I care about most. I’m a gambler whose put all his chips on one number. I’m a man who has decided to cross the desert without water because of a promised oasis. I am convinced, and I have staked my life on it.
If I’m wrong, then I’ve made a flawed bet. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, then I’m a fool. But even then, I’m a fool whose considered all of the information I have available and made a leap.
This leap is the best I can do with what I’m given. What’s crazy is that I’m thrilled to make this leap. No one made this decision for me. We are all born atheists. We must come to the cliff on our own. I came to the cliff, got a running start, and I’m flying through the air. I’m convinced that I will land on something solid because I’m convinced that Jesus is the intersection point of God and Man.
I, nor anyone, could ever make that leap for you. In fact, I can’t even lead you to the cliff. I can only tell you what I ( a crazy dare devil ) have done. And I’m loving every second of it.