I don’t believe in a God, I haven’t for a long time, but I find Christianity fascinating. Not because I’m one of those judgemental atheists who assumes that theists are inherently idiotic, but because I find people, all people, genuinely fascinating, and because I want to understand them. And right now, it appears as though Christians are the majority of people. At least for the moment, it’s the common religion, as Greek Paganism, and later, Roman Paganism, once was.
As it happens, I come from a Christian family. My dad’s side of the family wasn’t particularly religious, but my mum’s was. My grandparents were both missionaries, and my grandfather later became a priest in an evangelical church. My mum is no longer Christian, but she’s very spiritual. My aunt is now kind of Catholic, and my uncle remains a part of the Alliance, an evangelical denomination within the church. He’s actually a professor of theology, and recently wrote an article about Calvinism, called Calvinism and Problematic Readings of New Testament Texts: Or, Why I Am Not a Calvinist . Anyways, I happen to be with him for Christmas (for reasons that I might blog about later), so I asked him some questions that have been bugging me.
I asked him first about Calvinism, because we learned about it in my history class this semester. Of course, I already knew the basics of Calvinism, from high school, but I learned about it more in depth because of school.
I wondered what motivated people to be good, if they follow Calvinism, which basically teaches that God has predestined people to be saved, and if you are one of the elect, He will save you regardless of what you do, because He planned out all of your thoughts and actions. It also means that if you’re not one of the elect, you’re going to hell regardless of how you behave. So of course that drove me to wonder why Calvinists didn’t run wild and be bad people.
While Glen didn’t give me a satisfactory answer, he did inspire me to ask other questions. Questions about why God, a perfect being, would create imperfect humans. Glen said that it’s because God made a decision. He decided that it’s worth it for humans to have free will, even if it means that they’ll be imperfect, even if it means that they can do evil.
That idea, the idea of a God who risks, is really beautiful to me.
I’m still an atheist. I can’t bring myself to believe in a creator. But I have faith. I have faith in my friends, and I have faith in science, and I have faith in the capability of kindness. But if I did have faith in God, if I was theistic, I think I’d believe in that. I’d believe in a God who risked a loss of power, a loss of control, for the free will of his creations.