Even though Lent is a spiritually attentive time of year, for thinking people, this season of preparation for Easter can also remind us of the unanswered questions we have about faith.
Is there really a God?
Does organized religion do more harm than good?
Why does God allow suffering?
Why is religion in America so political?
Do miracles happen?
Does Bill Maher actually know something we don’t?
And, oh yeah, with Easter approaching…
Was Jesus really raised from the dead?
The loss of faith in America has become a cliché. The percentage of “nones” — those who claim no faith — recently grew by five percentage points in as many years. The Pew Research Center found that a whopping 32 percent of 18-29 year olds are unaffiliated with any religion.
It’s not difficult to understand why.
Pew put it bluntly, “Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”
The so-called “culture war” reminds many (including me) of what they find repulsive about religion. This is in addition to the age-old philosophical questions. The perpetual presence of culturally backward, anti-intellectual religious voices makes it almost embarrassing for curious, forward-leaning people to search for guidance within the vast, rich Jesus tradition of mysticism and spirituality.
I believe in thinking deeply about faith. I’m currently writing a Lent sermon series informed by Richard Dawkins and other New Atheists in which I acknowledge the hardest questions for Christians to answer. At the same time, I find myself agreeing with Frank Schaeffer’s assertion in Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God, “Scientists and theologians can’t offer better than circular arguments, because there are no other kinds of arguments.” As subjective humans, we can’t seem to escape our own presuppositions.
Lent doesn’t answer all of the questions, but perhaps Lent does suggest the initial reason human beings found value in spirituality in the first place.
When Oprah interviewed Rob Bell for Super Soul Sunday last November, she referenced Rob’s suggestion in his book What We Talk about When We Talk About God that the starting place for spirituality is to be open…
Read the full article here at OnFaith, the religion blog hosted by Faithstreet.