I was raised in a devout Protestant family, went to a Catholic high school, attended church and bible studies as a college student, and dated a devout Christian girl for a few years after college and eventually married a Catholic. So my exposure to different aspects of Christianity has been going on most of my life. I feel that I have a fairly good grasp of the fundamentals of Christianity and a fundamentally intellectual understanding of Christ’s message to the Jews.
I fell out of grace with Christianity during the latter days of college during my mid-twenties. It was quite a struggle to break away from a faith that claimed that the one unforgivable sin is to deny God. If God did exist as I was taught then I was condemning myself to eternal damnation. So I had to convince myself that God and hell did not exist as I was taught which took about a year and a lot of reflection.
What brought me to this point was the fact that I had never, in all the years I had been a so called Christian, had a spiritual experience or anything even close. To understand this better I am unable to connect with people through body language or anything resembling telepathic connections. I cannot tell what the intentions of others are unless they are clearly spelled out. I cannot feel the presence of others. I also have learning disabilities. More recently I have been told I may have autism spectrum disorder and be high functioning though I have never been clinically diagnosed. So I am unable to sense from others what they sense about the divine.
Coming to terms with myself against all the teaching I had learned all my life was as much an act of faith as believing in God, which until then I did. I made a clean break with the risk of being damn to hell to believe in what? At the time I thought that it was more important that I be honest with myself than to believe in something that I couldn’t relate to. I also started realizing how Christians that I knew were quite judgmental about people they considered living in sin. By then I thought I had a pretty good understanding of Christ’s message of unconditional and universal love. It was all inclusive, not exclusionary as I observed some Christians were making it. This made it easier to make the break with organized Christianity.
I became an agnostic because I wasn’t wise enough to know the absolute truth about God. I had a second chance to reacquaint myself with Christianity when I was introduced to a very nice and open minded Christian girl in my late twenties. She was a devout Christian but was much more open to a less judgmental Christianity than my previous experiences. Again I went to different churches and studied the teachings of Frances Shaffer but though my understanding of Christianity broadened I could not feel the spirit of God. After three years we broke up because I could not reconcile with God.
I eventually married a devout Catholic who did not make it a condition that I be a Christian. Many decades have now transpired and in all that time I have reflected upon Christianity as well as other religions from Asia. As an active agnostic I continue to search for the truth of God or some kind of spiritual life if any exists. Now that I am aware that I may be autistic things make much more sense to me.
It is my opinion that people initially feel the presence of spiritual things such as God subconscious through connections with other people. For example people seem to have more spiritual experiences and awareness in church or at bible studies together where everyone is focused upon God then at other times. I believe that normal people connect with one another through some yet to be identified brain or thought waves or something. I believe these connections are physical rather than spiritual. Autistic people such as me are missing this physical connection so are not able to sense spiritual thoughts from others. It would be interesting to see if other high functioning autistics have the same lack of spiritual experiences as I. If so please state it in the Remarks. In a way this would in part prove that spiritual experiences are manifested by interactions between other people which may negate a personal type of God as taught by Christianity.
Since my liberation from religious constraints I have though more about what a personal God would be like. Of course there are other religions that don’t subscribe to a single deity but for this discussion I am focusing on a Christian deity. A big hint is the concept of Love. To me Love is the internal urge to share oneself with another or others. It is an internal feeling coming from the heart as a comforter, of caring for the well being of the loved one(s). The one(s) being loved need not feel the same in return. Love as taught by Christ is supposed to be unconditional. There are so many things said by Christ to indicate this: “Love thy enemy as thy self”, “Turn the other Cheek”, “Only if you are without sin can you cast the first stone”, “The Good Samaritan”, “Judge not lest you first be judged”, etc. The other thing is that Christ ministered almost exclusively to the poor, the lepers, the sick, the prostitutes, the poorest of the poor and the most outcast of the outcastes. His love was all inclusive. He did not preach that people were not good enough for him. He taught that his grace was big enough for everyone without exceptions. He taught that no one was above another and that even God was humble enough to wash the feet of his disciples, to suffer a crown of thorns, to suffer the indignity of a Roman trial and whipping, to carrying his own cross part way to execution, and to suffer the pains of crucifixion. Among his last words were to forgive a common criminal next to him.
Compare Christ to many Christians today and you can’t even recognize them as followers of Christ, especially fundamentalist. Of course there are many exceptions. They are among the first to cast that first stone. When slapped on the cheek they shoot back. They call gays the devils work. They judge people different from themselves as sinful. They want to cram their form of Christian morality down the throats of everyone else as if they speak the word of God. I don’t understand how the message of God got so convoluted. Such Christianity really turns me off as hateful and the antipathies of Love.
Another Christian concept that I have difficulty reconciling with is that one has to accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior in order to enter the kingdom of God. I cannot fathom a loving God who would refuse Mahatma Gandhi entry into the kingdom of heaven even if he were Hindu and did not believe in Jesus Christ as his only and personal savior even though he know about Christ when studying in England. Gandhi was more Christlike than any modern man I can think of.
So what have I learned thus far? The God of Christianity is unlikely the true God if there is one. One characteristic of Christianity is the emphasis on doing good works. I believe some of the Asian religions come closer to the truth. They emphasize being at peace with your inner self. Then you will naturally be a good person and do good works. I believe that people should work on coming to terms with themselves and finding peace and harmony within. Once this starts to take root they will reflect this inner peace and harmony as part of their outward lives and naturally do good works and be kind to others as consciously as breathing without any expectation of acknowledgment. It is almost impossible to outwardly manifest and sustain such qualities if you are conflicted in your heart. This introspection is a never ending process because it is so difficult to find peace in the conflicted environment in which we live. So my conclusion at this point is that you find Godness within yourself, not outside yourself. Of course I have just touched the surface of this subject. I’ll leave it until later to touch on more.
What do you think about my views of God and Christianity?