"Looking over the shoulders of the hundreds of hard working, dedicated, self sacrificing biologists who spend years enduring the harsh conditions in the field to observe evolution in action inspires admiration in us real scientists. This is in sharp contrast with Creationists who sit in their comfortable homes and write drivel about subjects they have never studied and do not understand."
Donald Prothero: Evolution-What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
My journey, while irrelevant to others, has been significant to me. I am not the same person I was at 14 when both science and religion fascinated me. For better or worse, I heard the call of science but succumbed to the lure of religion to answer all my questions. I have to live with that decision and trust that there was a reason for all that has transpired since I chose to follow the Biblical path, as understood at the time by the Worldwide Church of God, and not the path of observation and science.
If I had the opportunity to do it over, which I don't, I would have opted for science and discovery rather than religion and the promotion of mythologies over realities.
I remember in high school taking a geology and earth science course because "I had to." Now I realize that was the science that was calling me and yet at the time, I was reading "The Plain Truth" which I now know was neither plain nor true. I grew up soaking in a rather strict Reformed Dutch environment, in a small church I loved and is still the source of my closest friends. The die seemed to be cast for me to follow my emotional self rather than my inquiring self. Or maybe the inquiry was just in the wrong place.
I have changed little since I was a little kid with dinosaur books galore and who often went to spend a day at the library rather than go play hockey on the bays of Lake Ontario. I did plenty of that, but I'd rather had been in the library at times. I used to spend hours, when at Ambassador College, in the Fuller Seminary Library. Guess I missed the good books!
I remember sitting in first year Bible class where we spent a semester "studying" The Genesis Flood. Whitcomb and Morris was the source of the information I was given to show how the Bible matched up with true science and the Bible tells the truth. It does not. The Genesis Flood was bullshit, excuse me, less than satisfying, and the literal story of Genesis, including how hominids arrived on the planet, was mythology at its best. I got my topic explained to me in the reverse order of its truth. I know that now, and of course, did not know that then. I also remember mentally arguing with Garner Ted's "A Theory for the Birds," and "A Whale of a Tale," but of course, keeping on because I thought the Wonderful World Tomorrow was just around the corner and the Book of Revelation was true somehow along with the rest of it. Probably a bit God haunted myself as a kid.
At any rate, what's the point? Simply, on AW we all have our shared background, our journey and where we have, for the moment ended up. It has intrigued me that as far as I know, I am the only former full time minister who has moved on who comments on AW by name. I knew hundreds of ministers and have yet to hear or see any of them step up to the plate and tell their story of disappointment, change and lessons learned. I know you are out there. I am appreciative of the ones who keep in touch like Vic Kubik, but not the ones who won't write back. Speaking of Vic, there is no one in the WCG or it's splinters who has such a practical, "how can I help you" approach and life work as Vic.* I congratulate him for practicing the Sermon on the Mount...
At any rate, it seems we all are on different locations on what, to me, is the same path in life... understanding. That's all I want in life. I want to understand origins and meaning. That's all I want and I have taken this path since WCG.
Others of us don't know what to believe or have either simply moved into a simple replacement for the WCG past that mimics it, such as into another splinter rendition, or have moved back to what, perhaps, we have grown up with and feels good again. I have done neither. I can't and have been labeled as "atheist" for that.
I prefer "seeker" but in the final analysis, I don't do labels much.
But for the record, what have I come to believe? I know, who cares? No one. But I'd still like to put it down on in writing for my own benefit of simply stating what it is I feel to be true for me. It's the present truth not the plain truth.
Since I have made myself an expert at what I don't believe, through ten years of study and thought, let's start with that.
I don't believe the Bible is literally true, "God-Breathed" or inerrant.
I don't believe serpents and donkeys can talk... ever.
I don't believe in Satan or millions of demons as portrayed by religion
I don't believe in angels, based on way too many experiences
I don't believe many of the accounts of Old Testament exploits of the Israelites are true.
I don't believe the first 11 Chapters of Genesis are literally true or tell us anything about origins, geology or reality in the history of humankind.
I don't believe God, as portrayed in the Bible, is anywhere near how a real God would be.
I don't believe the Old Testament portrays a consistent picture of monotheism nor do I believe the Israelites, including Abraham and Moses were monotheists.
I don't believe the story of Jesus birth, life and death are unique in the history of the world.
I don't believe the Gospel Accounts are eyewitness accounts or harmonious in their portrayal of events.
I don't believe anyone had a clue about the birth circumstances of Jesus and the authors of Matthew and Luke had a need to make one up based on OT scripture and not facts.
I don't believe they chose the same OT scriptures to tell a consistent story.
I don't believe the Apostles, as portrayed in the NT, agreed with each other nor had a common faith and view of who and what Jesus was or was meant to be.
I don't believe Jesus ever intended to start a church.
I don't believe there ever was one true church, consistent in thought, word, practice and deed from the beginning.
I don't believe there is one true church to find.
I don't believe Paul was a team player nor that his gospel was the same as that of the direct students of Jesus, if that story is true.
I don't believe Paul wrote everything he is said to have written.
I don't believe the Book of Revelation has relevance anymore and is a failed first century "prophecy.''
I don't believe human beings should invest their life energy in those who use the Book of Revelation, which seems to need them to reveal it, to motivate others in fear, compliance and adherence to cultic behaviors and outcomes.
I don't believe a lot of things...
Theologically: (and this is tough with my background to put down.)
I don't believer in atonement by execution
I don't believe we bear any sin as a result of any Adam and Eve antics.
I don't believe in being piously convicted about anything yet marginally informed about everything.
I don't believe Jesus died the worst death of any human being ever. (Perhaps being burned alive and dying over months, by Israeli phosphorus bombs gets close.)
I don't believe in chosen people leaving others unchosen.
I don't believe (or understand)? why the weekend inconvenience of Jesus "death and ultimate sacrifice" is real if shortly after you get to come back better than ever.
I don't believe human beings are defective in a way that can be remedied by religion.
I don't believe the heart of man is mostly "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked." It depends on who you hang with.
I don't believe without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. ("I forgive you" will do just fine).
I don't believe any God is three gods, or three gods revealed as one god, and is still not polytheistic in nature.
I don't believe in hell as punishment either by annihilation or eternal death.
I don't believe dunking, sprinkling or dabbing humans with water changes them.
I don't believe I have met a lot of humans have changed by being dunked, sprinkled or dabbed.
And I don't believe in a lot of other things I sincerely used to believe.
What do I believe literally?
I do believe humans are hairless, evolved hominids that arrived by the process of millions of years of evolution and suffering the right genetic glitches, can grow a tail or total body hair like we used to have.
I believe the earth is approximately 4.6 billion years old.
I believe Creationists are dishonest and in denial.
I believe you will never find Noah's Ark on any mountain where an elephant would fall to it's death trying to descend or a kangaroo would know how to get back to Australia, and no other place, from.
I believe the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Specials are more informative than the plain, present, current, restored, living, united, reconstituted, upheld, redacted, methodical, congregational, catholic, universal, united or revisited truth ever was.
I believe human beings can act out "prophecy" and attract evil to themselves and the planet and yet still get no Second Coming for all their trouble.
I believe most ministers I know teach one thing and believe another in their hearts.
I believe that most religious authorities, including Bible characters, prophets, priests and kings, suffer from delusions, illusions, imbalances and in some cases, outright mental illnesses.
I believe we have allowed the mentally unstable or ill to lead us down the wrong path.
I believe I have to take personal responsibility for having allowed that to happen.
I believe there are many very sincere balanced people in religion who just want to know the truth.
I believe the ego motivates many to an unreasonable and inaccurate view of themselves.
I believe these types of religious, and in some cases "God haunted" individuals, can rise to high positions in the world of religion.
I believe there are some reading this just itching to wish death upon me for not believing what they believe.
I believe we are all entitled to believe what we want or need to believe based on our own life experience, needs and ability or desire to look or not look outside the box we came in.
I believe it does not matter what I believe.
I believe if I understand, then things are as they are and if I don't understand, then things are still as they are.
What do I believe Spiritually?
I believe we are all one small part of the same one big thing.
I believe we became conscious and self aware for some reason I don't yet understand.
I believe I was born right the first time.
I believe whoever, or whatever God is, he/she/it is benevolent.
I believe that life is amazing and our true origins are incredible
I believe I have always been very, very sincere in what I believed or do believe.
I believe everything will be ok.
What do you believe?
* Kubik is founder of Lifenets, perhaps the only Church of God independent charity. The photograph shows one of Lifenets' projects.