FAITH: Vacillating between faith and uncertainty
Does God exist?
On this topic, we hear many opinions from many people and cultures.
In our postmodern society, your imagination, feelings or intellect decide. One view is as good as another and dare not question your neighbor’s opinion, however strange it may be, for that is unacceptable and politically incorrect — even suicidal.
This column will not dissect the wide variety of views that exist and contradict each other.
Some worship trees and nature; others focus on “the god within.”
Others see God as a personal God in whose image we were created.
But, what kind of image is that? Is God a just and loving caring God or is He an impersonal distant deity?
Are there many gods from which to choose?
I didn’t grow up in a society in which people worshiped spirits of their dead ancestors or were focusing on how to develop “the god or divine within themselves.”
I grew up under hardline communism and materialistic atheism where God, the supernatural or belief in any god was considered absurd.
Any belief in God was an open assault on the regime. The state set up active re-education programs to erase this superstition from the minds of ignorant masses.
I became a happy recipient of this process that started very early in the state-controlled educational system and continued through media, culture and entertainment.
We were taught religion is the relic of the superstitious past, the opium of the people, a crutch for the ignorant, weak and feeble-minded.
I had one big problem: One year after the onset of atheism that happened in February 1948, my parents became Bible- believing Christians. To make it doubly worse, they became Seventh Day Adventist Christians who believe in the immutability of God’s moral law of 10 Commandments.
The fourth commandment regarding the seventh day Sabbath calls for a weekly full-day focused worship and closer relationship with God.
This belief, but particularly its weekly practice, was directly against the state-held doctrine of atheism and evolution.
At that time, school and work took place over six days, with Sundays off.
During my first eight years in school, I went to church on the seventh day.
This was considered an open challenge to the government and my family paid dearly for this.
Those were very difficult years of my life, full of pain and ridicule.
So, here I was, stuck between two competing and mutually exclusive worldviews.
Beside this, my godly grandparents, whom I loved dearly, were devout Catholics who tried to influence me in “the only right way.”
Across the street from us lived another devout believer, a Jehovah’s Witness who supplied us with another “only true message” for the world: If you don’t have God’s name right, don’t accept what he taught and join his organization, you were under the influence of evil and, at the end, excluded from the paradise on earth.
My dad had verbal exchanges with him and the man was not very nice when his views were rebuffed.
From my early childhood, I was nurtured in the classroom by the Darwinian atheistic doctrine of natural selection and survival of the fittest.
At church I heard otherwise.
Besides, there existed extreme believers in the church I attended and surely people there were not all nice or attractive to my childhood perceptions.
Yet, it was absolutely fun to be around people there.
Was I confused?
Yes, and in some small ways, no.
I observed lives of the people around me, listening to the communist gospel of another kind — the utopia of perfect society— while seeing its oppressive results.
These things started to shape my beliefs.
My parents were not perfect people. I loved my Catholic grandpa and grandma and was scared of our Jehovah’s Witness neighbour.
I was also critically evaluating church members I knew, some of whose ways and professions didn’t harmonize.
Looking back now, I could have many reasons to reject belief in the existence of God.
Why haven’t I?
For some time, I had rejected my belief in religion all together.
My favorite slogan was: “All church people are hypocrites.”
There are many people like this today, vacillating between faith, unbelief, uncertainty and commitment.
I understand this well as there is so much confusion out there — and I was there.
In my next column, part two, I will invite you on a journey that led from partial rejection to discovery that surprised me and others who knew me well.
Pastor Karel Samek can be found at Seventh-Day Adventist churches of Merritt, Ashcroft and Lillooet and at Merritt Friendship Outreach.
KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to email@example.com. Please include a very short bio and a photo.