Some of the Key Questions in Spirituality and Faith are answered below. The answers given use facts and logical arguments as you might expect. However, more than that they encourage you to seek out for yourself answers that really satisfy your curiousity. This is Your Spiritual Journey, make sure you explore it thoroughly!
|Question: Do all religions lead to the God (or destination) they claim? |
Answer: All religions do not lead to God. There are major contradictions between the teachings of the major religions and they cannot all be true. Jesus Christ is a historical figure about whom all the major religions have something to say. This is a good place to start in highlighting the contradictions between the religions. If we take the question, is Jesus the Son of God? Muslims and Jews would both categorically say no to this question, they believe that Jesus is not the Son of God. Hinduism takes the view that Jesus can be seen as a son of the Gods but not in any unique sense. On the other hand Christians believe that Jesus is the only and unique son of God. Another key question for major religions is what happens after death. Buddhism states that there is an endless cycle or rebirth and reincarnation which can only be escaped by achieving nirvana. This is essentially a state of non-existence which is an escape from the suffering and desire of the universe. On the other hand Muslims and Christians agree that reincarnation is not what happens after death but that people will face God at the final judgement.
Question: Is there a God?
Answer: Whether or not there is a God is a very important question that you need to address in your spiritual journey. Christians believe that there is a God that created you, knows everything about you, loves you even with all your faults and the things you don't love about yourself. They also believe that he has good plans for you and wants to fill you with his Spirit so that you can experience life in all the abundance he has to offer. Clearly if the claims of Christianity are true then this needs to be thoroughly investigated. In trying to decide whether there is a God there are two main approaches you could take. Firstly you could take the theoretical approach and think about for example how could the universe have come into being at the big bang from literally nothing? Is it more reasonable to suppose that the universe appeared out of nothing without a cause. Or is it better explained by saying that it was caused by something outside of space and time? These matters can be worth consideration but often can become deeply complex and remain somewhat abstract as to how they ultimately influence our spirituality. Another approach is to look at spiritual people and to learn from their life and teachings, to see what may be proved by them. Jesus Christ lived a life like no other in history. Even those who are fierce critics of Christianity are forced to admit that he lived a life of incredible purity and moral authority. Today if someone claims to be divine then we rightly assume that they are insane. However, Jesus is very different. He is revered the world over as a great moral teacher. It is also believed that he was a good man. These are not the characteristics of someone who is insane. Yet he claimed to be the Son of God. For many people a study of this claim and the implications it has for them has marked the key turning point in their spiritual journey.
Question: Did Jesus die on the cross?
Answer: Jesus was put to death by soldiers of the Roman empire. The Romans had devised a method of punishment in crucifixion that was extremely effective in killing people. The soldiers responsible for carrying out crucifixions knew that they were responsible for making sure that crucifed victims were really dead. If they crucified the wrong person and the convicted prisoner went free the soldiers knew that they themselves would be put to death for failing to carry out the execution orders. Thus the soldiers were both extremely experienced in; carrying out crucifixions and making sure that the prisoner did not escape. It was discipline that made the Roman empire reknowned for the law and order that it established and protected so viciously. So, the Romans had extremely good reasons for making sure that Jesus body was not taken down before he died. On top of this, the Jewish leaders who had been so determined to put Jesus to death would hardly have allowed him to escape at the last, but would have done everything necessary to assure themselves that Jesus really did die. Beyond this a dozen secular sources from that time plus the many reports in the New Testament all attest that Jesus really died. Serious historians, Christians and those strongly opposed to the Christian message overwhelmingly agree that Jesus really was put to death on the cross. Even beyond this most of Jesus closest followers were put to death because they claimed that Jesus really died and really rose from the dead. If Jesus did not even die on the cross then they could hardly have believed that he also rose from the dead. They would not have been willing to be put to death for those beliefs, if they were not certain that he both died and rose again.
Question: Did Jesus rise from the dead?
Answer: The historical evidence that Jesus rose from the dead is very strong and consists of many parts. Firstly, if Jesus was not raised from the dead then why was the tomb empty on the first Easter Sunday, and where was the body? Any claims that the disciples stole the body are quite frankly unbelievable. The Romans had made the tomb as secure as they knew how. The soldiers guarding Jesus knew that failure to obey their orders would result in very severe punishment for them. But even if the disciples, including tax-collectors and fishermen, and lacking means and motive, did somehow manage to overpower the highly-trained and heavily-armed Roman soldiers, many other things still need to be explained. Why was it that those former tax-collectors and fishermen were willing to go to their death simply for claiming that Jesus rose from the dead. As the Roman governor Pliny stated, true Christians never turned back from their beliefs. Disciples would hardly go to their death protecting a lie if they had taken the body. Only if they believed Jesus to be really risen would they have done this. The fact that the disciples saw Jesus after he rose is what gave them the confidence to die proclaiming that he had risen from the dead. The New Testament records how they talked with him, ate with him and saw the scars of the crucifixion on his risen body. Over 500 eyewitnesses are recorded as having met Jesus after the resurrection. The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead is overwhelmingly strong. The fact that he fulfilled so many prophecies or predictions made hundreds of years before provides compelling reason to believe that really is who he said he was. He really is the Son of God. This is totally amazing. The old saying goes "There is nothing certain in life but death and taxes." Death is one of the most concrete realities of the human experience. For someone to have overcome death makes that person truly remarkable. To understand why and how they overcame death, it makes sense to first of all ask who they really were. The Christian approach is to believe that Jesus is who he said he was when he was put on trial for his life. Jesus knew that by saying he was the Son of God, the Jewish religious authorities would attempt to put him to death. If Jesus did not truly believe he was the Son of God he would not have said that he was when he knew it would probably lead to his death. Someone might argue then that he was mad and that is why he made such a statement. But if that was true, then surely concerned relatives or friends would have told the High Priest about his condition and he would have been dismissed as insane. (King David once pretended to be insane to save his life when he thought it was in danger.) So that is not a convincing argument. What this means then is that the fact Jesus rose from the dead is the ultimate proof that he is who he said he was. He truly is the Son of God. It also confirms the message of salvation that he announced.
Question: To what extent do you agree that in light of modern science, spirituality and religion are disproved?
Answer: What can it mean for science to have disproved religion? Perhaps you feel that science may have disproved religion because certain beliefs held by religious people have been disproved over the years. For example scientists today do not believe that the earth was created in seven literal days. There is considerable scientific evidence to show that the earth is older than some religious people have argued. This is something which was widely believed in earlier centuries amongst Christians and people of other beliefs. Some still believe this today. But it is perfectly possible to be a Bible-believing Christian and not believe that the world was created in seven days. The book of Genesis from which this belief stems is over 3000 years old. No other text of that age is expected to contain modern science. If God had revealed modern science to people of that era it would have made no sense to them. The book of Genesis is not intended as a scientific textbook but merely to say that the world came into being at some finite point in the past and that it gradually developed. Many stages of that development are briefly mentioned in Genesis. The book however, is mainly interested in humanity and God's interaction with humanity. Even the word which is translated from Hebrew into the English word "day" could equally well be translated into English as "age" or "eon" which means an immeasurably long period of time. So anyone who argues that for example carbon dating disproves Christianity because it disproves the 7 literal days of creation is quite wrong. All it disproves is a certain way of translating an ancient Hebrew word into modern English. It is also very relevant to consider that many scientists alive today hold deep religious faith which they do not believe is undermined by their profession. Many of these people are leaders in their field and their scientific work is widely respected by other scientists, even those who are not themselves religious. What can it mean for science to have disproved religion? Another question to ask is could science ever disprove religion? Are they even asking the same kind of questions about life? Obviously this is a huge topic about which whole books are written so it is not possible to cover it completely here. However, for further reading the following are worth consideration: Dr Denis Alexander (Director of the Faraday Institute in Cambridge) Creation or Evolution: Do We Have to Choose? Professor Michael Ruse Can a Darwinian be a Christian?: The Relationship between Science and Religion Keith Ward: Why There Almost Certainly Is a God: Doubting Dawkins Anthony Flew: There is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind Keith Ward: The Big Questions in Science and Religion Bethinking Website: Science and Christianity Has Science Buried God? Preview the book here.