The social Matrix

The social Matrix

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why I am an Agnostic?

Recently I was riding the bus and came across a religious pamphlet. The pamphlet was entitled "Have you believed Another Gospel"? the pamphlet consisted of a cartoon of a man looking at a pole with signs pointing to different directions. Some of them point to Buddhism Islam Hinduism or Mormonism. The point of the pamphlet is clear; The only way to God is through Jesus.

Inside there are several verses that reaffirm the exclusivity of God through Christian doctrine. What is God's response for people who fail to follow the Christian doctrine?

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, that obey not the gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ; who shall be punished with everlasting destruction..." Thessalonians 1:8-9

The track goes on to say that if you believe in another "Gospel" (sic. religion) you can not have a relationship with God.

Currently I am an agnostic. It is not that I dont believe in God it is more so I dont know which God is the right God.

Again the basic premise of fundamentalist Christianity is that only Jesus is the way to God. Furthermore it is the correct understanding of Jesus. You must believe Jesus is God and the Son of God and that he died as a sacrifice for the soul of humanity.

Lets look at this putatively weird doctrine a little closer to understand its spiritual significance. Why would God want to sacrifice his son and how is that showing love? Well, let’s put this in perspective. Throughout the bible there are numerous references to the Firstborn animals, children, and fruit. What is meaningful is that a man is supposed to remain a virgin until he gets married and "the two become one Flesh." What does that exactly mean? It means that there is something spiritually significant about a man's virginity and that it is that sacredness of the man that gets transformed in the form of a firstborn child. Its as if the man is giving away something of himself. This is especially true of the first born child. This could be why it was so hard for Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.

"The bible clearly teaches that a person must believe the gospel to go to Heaven. TO teach any other way of salvation is to deny God's word," The pamphlet reads.

The pamphlet continues and says that God loves you and does not want for you to go to Hell but that you are a sinner and that you deserve an eternal punishment in hell.

Interestingly enough Paul himself gives almost a divine directive when he tells his followers not to trust any other message even if it’s from an angel from Heaven. Yet at the same time, Paul admits that if the crucifixion never happened that the Christian faith is baseless. Is that a hint of vulnerability I'm reading?

Let’s put this in perspective; suppose this is true what does this mean? Although Christianity is the largest religion in the world it only accounts for 33% of the population. Furthermore only approximately 2% engage in the biblical call of evangelism. In other words that means if Christian fundamentalist and literalist doctrine is true many people will suffer eternal punishment for their ignorance.
Does this seem fair?

I believe it was the 18th century education philosopher John Dewey who once said the same social conditions that make someone an Anglican in England is the same thing that makes someone a Buddhist in Peking? The point being is that how can someone be spiritually accountable if they grew up in a culture or religion that was ignorant of God? Assuming that Buddhism is wrong of course? Should that person face eternal misery simply because they were brought up in the wrong religion?

When it comes to other religions many evangelicals come across as immeasurably ignorant. There ideas of Hinduism is that Hinduism is a religion of many Gods its idolatrous and everything is God and you are God. Islam? There is a "prophet" Muhammad who received a false revelations. They look at religions from the east as an amalgamation of new age hocus pocus failing to see the nuances that exist in these religions.

Yes there some, especially westerners who dabble in Eastern religions for superficial reasons. These individuals are more concerned with experiencing the immediacy of what they believe these alternative faiths offer rather than understanding them in their entirety. They do the yogas experiment with Crystals chant some obscure Sanskrit mantra without understanding the comprehensive history of the religion. They may have heard of Krishna but they dont understand the context of the Mahabharata war they may have heard of the Ramayana but dont know the whole story.

This may have to do with American culture. Many America's dont take the time to look at things critically. We tend to just want the SoundBits and nothing more. One sociologist has referred to this as "the Mcdonalidization of Society." I believe this applies to religion and any other field like politics, that take a certain level of intellectual honesty and maturity that few of us have the time to develop.

Without getting to off tangent although there are many evangelicals who have a fundemtalist outlook on Salvation, there are many voices who have a more nuanced understanding.
One example is, Liberal evangelical Tony Campolo. For Campolo he is reluctant to admit that salvation from God’s wrath is limited to those who don’t accept Christ. Campolo admits that he has trouble believing this and that if it were true that non-believers of Christ would burn eternally then there should be a sense of urgency in converting people:

To say that the billions who have never yet accepted the gospel will burn forever and then go on about life relatively unconcerned, seems to me evidence of an almost inhuman emotional callousness

Although Campolo admits that he believes in hell, he goes on to say that heaven or hell is not an impetus for believing in Christ it is what Christ does for him in his life on earth that is important.

When asked directly if he believes non-Christians will go to heaven Campolo refrences Romans 2:14-15 which states that those without the knowledge of God in the scripture will be guided by their conscience.

Although I disagree with his assessment that people choose to go to hell. I doubt very much so that if there were a hell and that people could comprehend the intensity of such a place few would choose to go their.

Campolo’s reasoning is misleading. Yes people make immoral decisions but they don’t do so because they want to suffer eternal punishment. People don’t get angry, spend money avariciously, or engage in premarital sex because they are “choosing’ to go to hell.

People don’t choose to have sex because they know they think it will lead them to burn forever they choose it because its exciting liberating, and natural. To “choose” something is to suggest that the person making the decision is fully aware of the consequences. Personally I don’t think there is a hell.

That does not mean that I believe people like Hitler or Stalin, or any other brutal dictator or Charles Manson gets away without any repercussions for their behavior.
I think that they deserve to be punished but their punishment should be a reflection of the crime they committed. Unfortunately, many evangelist have the problem of applying the same punishment to everyone with little regard for the disproportionally of crimes committed. To put it another way, if sex before marriage is a crime against God then why should someone who had sex once or twice before marriage be given the same punishment as someone like Ron Jeremy who is a repeated offender? This is true for other “crimes against God.” Should someone who killed another human being be given the same punishment as someone who committed genocide?

In his book “Sharing the Truth in Love” Sri Lankan Christian Apologist, tells fellow Christians that they should be sensitive to other people’s cultures similar to the way Paul Contextualized the Christian message for various audiences post-resurrection. Although, Fernando writes that he believes there is good in other religions the truth is only known in Christianity.

“The biblical Christian may say we have some peripheral similarities we are different at the center”

Fernado goes on to write that “gods” from other religions can lead people people astray.

Satan can use the best in other religions to lead people away from the truth

Fernado comes to the conclusion that:

“Other passages present even more clearly the truth that gods of other people are demons”

To give a more biblical understanding of Fernado’s and other like him, like Indian apologist Ravi Zachrias’s view here are some passages;

1 Corinthians 10:19

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils

Another commonly used verse is the first chapter of Galatians which read:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Many Christian fundamentalist use this verse when they try to discredit Muhammad revelation.

Fernado goes on to say that Christ’s supremacy is justified because many cultures believed in Sacrifices for God but that Christ was the last and ultimate sacrifice.

Now that we have a proper understanding of Christian Fundamentalist attitutudes towards other religions.

Despite these diplomatic acrobatics the question still remains why should someone believe that Christianity is superior to other religions? What evidence does Christian apologist have outside of the bible?

There are many ways that we can evaluate the truth of a religion outside of scripture one way is through. Archaeology.
Many Asian apologist will admit that there is some good in Hinduism yet disregard any archaeological evidence associated with Hinduism. A good example is Krisha’s state; Dwarka which was thought to be regarded as mythology;

Another strong example is the Ramayana. In the Ramayana the principal character is said to have built a causeway to rescue his love from the evil Rakshaka (demon) living in Sri Lanka. Recently GPS satellite images suggest that there might be more truth to the Ramyana than indologist give it; Dr. Bhorjraj Dwivedi stated in his book that scientist have discovered a Reef Frest. According to Dwivedi these reefs were dropped in the ocean forming rocks and eventually hardening and forming walls. Over a serious of years these hardened reefs would form a bridge;

Ram's Bride

A great source for archaelogical evidence of Hinduism can be found in the debate over the Invasion theory. The invasion theory posits that Indian culture was not original instead it came from somewhere in Europe.

The grounds for this believe have been largely discredited. What I find interesting though is how out of this debate there have been archaelogical findings that have seemed to correspond with hindu scriptures. A good read for this is “The Invasion that Never Was”;

One example is the rig-Vedas

The Rig-Veda repeatedly refers to Saptasindhu, or the seven rivers, a clear description of the Punjab with the Sarasvati to the east, the Indust to the West and its five tributaries in between.”

“Not only that, the Rig-Veda makes dozens of refrences to the sea or the ocean, which “clearly show a maritime culture.”

This is just the tip of the Iceberg. In a recent PBS documentary on India. Documentarian Michael Wood takes views through some of the places discussed in the Mahabharata;

I think that as you saw in the interview with BB Lal, the excavation at Hastinapur (and Lal’s examination of over thirty other sites mentioned in the Mahabharata-most of which have never been excavated) proved that the mythic story (rather like Schliemann’s excavation of sites named in Homer’s Iliad) did go back to real places that existed in the late Bronze Age or early Iron Age (Lal thought Hastinapur was abandoned in the ninth century BCE and that the Great War in the Mahabharata might have taken place around 860 BCE). Now obviously this doesn’t prove that the war actually took place or that the heroes were real people; but correlation with the historical layers of the Rig Veda –the battles of the Purus and the Bharatas, the battle of the Ten Kings, etc. - suggests a real context to such wars. I have a feeling that closer examination of the later hymns in the RV may take us closer to the real wars between the Ravi and Kurukshetra in the late Bronze/early Iron Age.

A more detailed explanation of the dating of the Mahabharata war can be found here;

dating of Mahabharata

This is just a sample of why I find it hard to believe that a religion like Hinduism is nothing more than mythology.


Another way to judge religions is miracles. Many Christians are quick to say that when a Christian performs a Miracle it is picks God wills it but if someone from another faith does so it is from Satan.

But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one Acts 8:9

The aforementioned apologist Fernado has this to say of the Hindu saint Sai Baba;

“The bible is clear that powerful forces that take people away from Christ are to be denounced.


“he is guilty of the very serious sin of keeping people from seeing the light of the gospel of Christ” Fernado points to 2nd Corinthians which state that Satan sometimes disguises himself as an angel of light.

How do you explain Mata Amritanandamayi Devi? Allow it is said that she has seen visions of Krishna and that people have tried to poison her the same way that people tried to poision Krishna, the truth of the matter is that there is no evidence that she is trying to lead people away from Christianity.

What is this “evil woman’s power” to deceive people away from the “true God?” Does she swallow glass? Fly? Turn into an animal? She hugs people. Its as simple as that. She doesn’t even say she is a Hindu she says her religion is love. She doesn’t require her followers to bow down to some “unknown God.”

AMA's Miracles

Are we to say that her miraculous experiences should be attributed to Satan?

Another example is the story of RamaKrishna.
How can God allow someone like Ramakrisha to be mislead by the Devil.

Ramakrishna deeply wanted to know if he was truly worshiping God;

“Art thou true, Mother, or is it all fiction—mere poetry without any reality? If thou dost exist, why do I not se Thee? Is religion a mere fantasy and art thou only a figment of Man’s imagination?”

Finally, after much patience Ramakrishna decided that he could not be sepearted from “Her” any longer.

“Life seemed to be not worth living for. Suddenly my glance fell on the sword that was kept in the Mother’s temple.” As RamaKrishna was about to kill himself he said that the divine Mother revealed herself to him and he experience an intense spiritual moment. It is said when when he regained conscience on his lips were written the words “Mother”

For fundamentalist Christians and other exclusivist it might be noteworthy to look at Sri Ramakrishna and how his exploration of other faiths especially Christiantiy;
In a biography written by Swami Nikhilanada Ramakrishna is said that Christ had possession of his soul.

“A voice rang out in the depths of his soul; Behold the Christ, who shed his Heart’s blood for the redemption of the world, who suffered a sea of anguish for the love of men.”
“It is Jesus the Eternal union with God. It is Jesus Love incarnate.”

Collossians 2:4 and 8


Another example of why I find it hard to believe that Jesus is the only way to God is because of science. Many Muslims have used Science to solidified their belief in the Quran.

Without getting into too much detail. Many Evangelicals do not know this. If the Quran is false than why do certain Scientific truths seem to correspond with what is in the Quran? Christians rarely look at the scientific merits of the Quran. If the Quran is false why would it contain scientific truths?

In addition, if Jesus is to be said to have been predicted through the Jewish Scriptures what about the claims by Muslims that their prophet is said to have been predicted by both the New Testament and the Torah.

For example, in the book of Isaiah there is a part where the prophet speaks of another prophet. Whats interesting about this prophet is that he is said to come from (Kedar) and most interesting is that he is unlettered and told to recite by God but says he cannot read which is exactly how Muhammad’s experience is described.

Like Hinduism and Christianity Islam too has had extrodarinary examples of miracles:

For example, there was a baby found in Russia that had Quranic verses on its leg;

Quran verses on Baby

I wonder how Christian apologist explains that.


Many Christians believe that Jesus do not posses the fullness of God because they deny the messiahship of Jesus. Have Christians actually studied the Tanakh and explored it from a Jewish perspective, the might be interested to note how certain parts of the “Old Testment” have been manipulated to conform to Christian doctrine.

For example in Matthew 27:9-10 the author attributes a prophecy in which Judas is bribed with thirty pieces of silver to Jermiah. However there is no evidence for this. In fact the only refrence is in Zachrias (11:13) the meaning is different. No where in Zachrias does it refer to a bribe.

Another example is John 2:16 where it is written “Zeal for your House will consume me.” Many apologists point to Psalm 69:9 many jews would argue that its not a messianic prophecy because a few verses prior the Psalmist admits to being a sinner.

Here is a list of Prophecies from a Christian Perspective;

Messianic Prophecies

Here is a list of Jewish objections

Jewish Response

Let me share an anecdote with you as to why I don’t think Jews need Jesus to find God. I once met a Rabbi who told me one of his congregants knew someone who was sick in the hospital. The Rabbi went to say a prayer by the tombstone of a Jewish Sage. Before he got into his car the phone rang. The congregant’s friend healed immediately.

What strucks me as fascinating is that even Paul was not Completely sure of his faith

And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not
. Corinthians 15:14

The truth is that there is no way to prove that Christianity is superior to other faiths. The point of the post is not gone on the offensive and claim Christianity is false but to defend other faith systems that Christianity has labeled as Satanic for the simple fact it is not Christianity.

As for, I dont plan to be held forever in spiritual ambiguity i do plan on reaching a conclusion on who God is but I dont want to do so with out research.

What saddens me is that there are some parts of the bible that suggest we as humans can’t think for ourselves.

Collossians 2:4 & 8
Corinthians 1:8

I believe there is a God I just haven’t figured out which one. In the future I plan on doing an exhaustive investigative study that will hopefully lead me to the truth. Throughout the course of 6 years I will be studying 6 religions. I will pick them randomly. I will emerge myself into these faiths--knowing their text intimately and participating like a true believer. If I dont feel the presence of God afterwards--then i give up.


  1. You seem set on finding a absolute answer to one of the biggest questions. Is there a god and who is he? Unfortunatly you may have to come to terms that this question may be unanswerable. Its like saying i think there is life on other planets and i'm going to do all kinds of research until i figure out who they are. Its just not that simple..It may be that we will never know if there is life on other planets or if there is a god, who he is.

    1. Thanks for your comment. I just noticed it now