Skepticism

Not a great day of faith for me today. Only one word really sums it up, skepticism. I tend to be a bit of a skeptic as it is, but today I was even more so then normal. I think it all started with reading a normal of emails from a group of church friends who have been spearheading getting a “Walk to Emmaus” community and retreat going in the Appleton area. The “Walk to Emmaus” is a three day retreat, although people who have attended one tend not to like to call it that, in which the participants typically have a very profound jolt to their faith. The “Walk” is based on the Catholic Cursillo which is very similar but the "Walk" is open to all Christians, not just members of the Catholic faith. Marion and I attended a “Walk to Emmaus” and a Cursillo, respectively last year. Both definitely lived up to the hype, and were very meaningful to the both of us. We are both involved, Marion more then I, in our respective communities and it has been a positive for the both of us. I really do enjoy getting back together with others who have also made similar retreats and hearing what each is doing in their daily lives to grow closer to Christ. It is also comforting to hear their struggles as well, because I can definitely relate - Today being one of those days.

Well, back to the email. The group has heard that they have been approved to lead a “Walk” here in the Fox Valley. Just a week ago there were only five men who signed up and they needed to have at least twenty couples by this weekend to make it happen. Well earlier this week they got some final commitments to meet the twenty person mark, so the good news is that the “Walk” is on. Many in the group think this to be nothing short of a miracle based on the timeline they had. I am not doubting that God had his hand in this, I most certainly think that he did, but to instantly chalk it up as a miracle – that is where my skepticism comes in. I guess I tend to think that people attribute too many things to miracles that we have really watered down the word.

So I have that going on in my mind, as well as just simply getting sick and tired of getting so many emails on the status of “Walk” over the last several months. Then in some down time at work, I decided to do a little online reading to help foster ideas for some material I have been thinking about putting together on the family website. This material includes, for lack of a better title, a series of “elevator speeches” to questions that I repeatedly hear about why to be a Christian, and often times more specifically questions regarding the Catholic faith. I liked the term elevator speech, because I don’t intend for them to be long and drawn out (like this blog entry), but rather an answer that you could give to somebody in the time it takes to ride an elevator. I know there is gobs of material already on the web that probably achieves this same purpose, but to be quite honest this is more an exercise and learning experience for me to deepen and question my belief system.

One of the first elevator speeches that I thought about creating was why one should even believe in God. Yes, this probably is way to deep a topic to discuss then the what an average elevator ride would allow for, but it is a start. I thought it might be a good idea to first gather some common objections to the idea of believing in God, and that led me to a prominent atheist web site at http://www.infidels.org/. I got a kick out of the name. Now, I don’t know if this was good idea or not, but it was rather eye opening for me to see the number of arguments that the website delivered in defending their position of there being no God. It actually humbled me, because what I thought might be an easy task in creating this “elevator speech” is going to prove not to be so easy. I honestly don't know why I thought it would be easy, after all this topic has consumed the lives of many great theologians and philoshophers, that to condense it into three or four paragraphs probably is a bit of a stretch.

I actually walked away from the whole experience, after reading a number of entries in the infidels' forums, with a heighten level of skepticism about some of the ideas and beliefs that are taken for granted living in a society which was/is rooted in Christianity (although some would argue does not model the Christian belief system.) You might say that my faith was shaken up a bit, and it was really one of the first times in a while that I had experienced such a feeling. I still see some of the flaws in the arguments presented at the infidels’ website, but the eye opening part of the experience was in recognizing some of the flaws that Christians have in their arguments for God’s existence. I always knew there where some pretty weak arguments on both sides of the fence, but even what I thought to be some of the stronger Christian arguments did not seem to hold as much weight as I had thought they would.

I plan on continuing on in my pursuit of creating these elevator speeches, because I think they will be good for me to further continue to learn about my beliefs and to appreciate and respect other points of view. I might not agree with one or the other in the end, but going through the learning process I hope will be valuable. And for those times when the skepticism is at a high in my life, I will echo those words of another father, who lived during Biblical times and say “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)