You arrive at University. This was your goal for so long. Now you’re free – free to explore new ways of living and new ways of thinking. There’s quite a menu of what to think and believe. As you begin to choose what is best to satisfy your soul-hunger you need to check the details. A bit like the allergen information on a restaurant menu.
People will tell you all the items on the menu are all the same. No, they’re not! And does it matter? Well, yes it does if you want to pursue a well-rounded life.
Four pointers for your menu choice:
1. If you want to be the kind of person who can relate to others the way you’d like people to treat you then you should think about following Jesus. The historical records about him show he was capable of a wide range of loving relationships in contrast with other lonely worldviews who see God as a solitary being.
2. Sooner or later (believe me) you will feel that you’ve run into the buffers because you have to suffer something intolerable and your life trajectory is indefinitely put on “hold”. At that point you need an understanding person who can identify with your depth of experience. Sift through the world’s great leaders and see if you can come up with someone who has suffered anything like Jesus. Don’t subscribe to some grinning, ever-optimistic leader who wouldn’t recognise suffering even if it jumped up and bit them in the leg.
3. It has almost become “flavour of the month” to opt for tolerating whatever “higher power” is popular at the time – whether nasty or nice. This is strangely like the Romans of the first century A.D. They liked their religion to be tolerant so they took on a whole range of gods, some nasty, some nice. You could pick and mix the ones with which you resonated best.
Everyone would be tolerant of your choice – unless you chose to claim exclusively that your god was the only one – which is what the Christians did when they proclaimed that Jesus was It. Mind you, they had his resurrection to back them up. That was the one thing the Romans couldn’t stand. It meant that you wouldn’t tolerate their range of gods.
4. If you’re like me and end up studying the scientific disciplines you need a philosophy which explains the existence of the natural world you see around you. Like Julie Andrews sang in the “Sound of Music”, “Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could…” – unbeatable logic. You’ll also need an explanation for altruism, beauty and morality. It’s hard to squeeze these out of an atheist worldview. I’ve seen people try.