02/21/2014 04:27 pm ET Updated Apr 23, 2014

Pathway to an Authentic, Real-World Faith

"What's the point of human existence?"

"Why did people actually show up on earth?"

"What is the point of your life?"

These are big questions and they are not easily answered. Anyone who answers them quickly is only admitting they have not explored them deeply.

I was told as a child in Sunday School that God created the world and that humans were the crown of God's creation.

Well, if that's true, why did it take God so long to get around to creating humans...modern humans? If he was so lonely, which was another reason I was given for the human creation, why would God not speed up the evolutionary cycle so he could actually interact with a self-conscious being, a human being?

This universe, my friend, is more than 13 billion years old and modern humans showed up only about 200,000 to 250,000 years ago. Now, if you'd like to put that into perspective, and, frankly, some of you might not -- consider that, on a geological time clock of 12-hours duration, what this means is that humans have only been around for the last minute or so in the great expanse of time.

Clearly, humans are not the point or necessarily the purpose of creation. It is the ultimate ego-trip to imagine we are. Which makes the reading of our sacred literature all the more interesting to me.

Scripture was written by humans who proudly depicted themselves as the crown of God's creation. Go back and re-read Genesis 1 and 2 and you'll get the idea of what I'm talking about. Adam is "naming" the other animals, clearly depicting his presumed superiority.

Read this and other stories of the Bible (or, any other sacred literature), however, from the perspective of humans writing about themselves. In other words, stop reading Genesis, or any part of the Bible for that matter, as if it were a document dropped from heaven itself, even penned by God.

The Bible, as indeed all sacred literature, was written by humans who sought survival at all costs in what they felt was a frightening world. They sought to make sense of their human experiences in light of their place in the world, a world that was admittedly much smaller than our understanding today. They thought of the world, for example, as a flat surface and that, to venture out too far, one might just fall off the edge into a bottomless pit -- what later generations thought of as the place of the dead, and later still, as hell itself. The heavens above were just beyond the clouds, the abode of God.

They had no conception of the vastness of this universe. Which explains how they could write about the bodily Ascension of Jesus, too, as Luke does in the Acts of the Apostles (Luke 1), and see no conflict whatsoever. Since heaven was just beyond the clouds, it made perfect sense to presume or to imagine that Jesus disappeared on a cloud just out of their sight and into heaven on the other side, taking his seat at the right hand of God. Parenthetically, they even thought of God as a cosmic human with actual hands.

We know today, however, that heaven -- whatever people believe it to be and most still believe it to be an actual place in space and time -- but, whatever it is, we know that it is not a place just above the clouds. In fact, we cannot imagine where it might be. Since we have a pretty good idea that heaven is not likely located on one of our planets in this solar system, then most Christians are inclined to say it must be somewhere beyond our Milky Way galaxy.

That sounds reasonable enough to some, until they consider what my good friend Brian Holley recently suggested to me. Had Jesus actually been caught up in bodily form at the Ascension, as Luke and other New Testament writers seem to assert, and many today still do, and had this been some kind of magical cloud or space ship disguised as a cloud wherein he could travel safely; and, furthermore, had this spaceship been able to travel to heaven beyond our galaxy at the the speed of light itself (186,000 MPS), guess what?

We now know our galaxy to be so large, although quite small compared to the billions of other beyond our own, had Jesus been traveling at the speed of light, He would still, even after two thousand years, he would still be en route to heaven.

A two thousand year flight?

Heck, I can hardly stand the thought of much more than a two-hour flight.

My point?

If you ever want to figure out the reason for human existence, my friend...and, equally as important, the point of your own'd better find more real-world explanations than the simple, misinformed explanations you got in Sunday School years ago. And, some children, unfortunately, are still getting in many Sunday School and religious education classes today.

Otherwise, your faith is founded on faith-filled fairytales that have no connection to the real world whatsoever. Which explains why much of what passes as religion today is disconnected from the real world and, as a consequence, is powerless to change human life or this world.

Where do you find authentic faith?

1. Start by being honest with yourself about your own questions and doubts. To say that you have no doubts and questions because you're a person of faith is to live in self-delusion. Nothing is more phony and inauthentic than the religious person who says, "I just believe. I don't question things."

If you question not, you "faith" not. In other words, until you question your faith, you have no faith.

2. Honor truth wherever it is found. End the senseless debate between science and religion.

Creationists are wrong.

Plain and simple. And, if you are Creationist, I mean no harshness or judgment in these words. But, the facts are the facts. If my child said to me, "Two plus two equals five," I would say the same thing, "Son, that's just plain wrong." No judgment. Just the facts.

So, you can understand why, at the same time, I often feel sick and tired of Christians making a laughing mockery of the Bible and who, in some twisted way, actually think they're "saving" the Bible by making claims about Genesis in particular and the Bible in general that are just not so.

I got news for you. Not only are you not "saving" the Bible, you actually turning away people away from the Bible and, hence, away from any experience of the authentic faith that is described in and through human and divine experiences.

Science and religion are not in conflict. Only in little minds with big egos that proudly assume more knowledge than anyone as yet can know. When we look into the heavens we see what science, technology and astronomy, etc., enable us to us.

But then, there's a seeing that goes beyond seeing. These are the conclusions we each make based on our own presuppositions and assumptions.

When I look into the heavens, I choose to see...

Orderliness, not chaos;
Mystery, yes, but meaning, too;
Planets and stars but emptiness, too (there's something about the emptiness...the darkness that draws me...I think we're in for some real mind-blowing discoveries one days when the light of our understanding illumines the darkness of black holes, etc.)

When I look into the heavens, I choose to see...

You and me and just how inconsequential and, yet, essential we are, too;
We are consciousness getting to know itself, I suppose;
I see energy and interconnectedness and I not only see this, I feel this oneness with all.
I see what is for me...God, too. I say "God" but it could be "It" too - I, frankly, don't care.

What do you choose to see beyond the seeing?

3. Stop defending the Bible as if it is some perfect book of divine instruction.

It is not.

It is, instead, a very human book, full of errors and contradictions and inconsistencies and...well...the list of problems is almost endless. Any honest person knows this.

"So, how can you believe any of it?" you ask.

Don't even try.


Because the Bible isn't looking for believers. It needs none anyway. Nor does it need defending, except by those who secretly doubt even the truth that it does contain.

Read it for its inspired wisdom. Read it critically. Read it looking for the life lessons that are in it, like a buried treasure. You'll enrich your soul, if you do.

4. Finally, Jesus promised, "Seek and you WILL find..." (Matt. 7:7).

But only if you seek. Which is why I believe we ought to invest half the Pentagon's budget into science and astronomy.

Seeking doesn't mean glibly saying, as many Christians do, "The Bible says it; I believe it; that settles it."

Such simpleminded nonsense settles nothing, my friend. It is a diversionary and delusional tactic used, not by a persons of authentic faith, but just the opposite. It is the kind of thing a person does who has "no real faith" whatsoever; but, who, ironically, even strangely, seems content to live with a appearance of religion while denying its real power.

Is that what you want? Then, go for it. The pews are emptying of those persons tired of such nonsense, but I'm sure you'll find there those who would welcome you.

As for me, my friend, I want the truth.


Because it was only to truth-seekers that Jesus made this promise: "Seek the truth you will find it and that truth will set you free." (John 8:32).