This is exactly where I was about 3 or 4 months ago. How do I know I'm able to come to a true conclusion? What is truth anyway? How can I trust myself, let alone other people? What if I'm mad?
In the end I decided I had to take a pragmatic approach and assume that truth exists (in some form) and it is possible for me to know it (it some way). If I don't assume those things, then everything just stops. That sounds like a weak argument - I believe X because otherwise my life would be pointless. But imagine... if I ask if truth exists, I am, by asking the question, assuming that truth does exist - by expecting an answer to the question. The same is true with trusting my own thought processes - unless I assume I can trust them (to some extent) then it is pointless even wondering if I can trust myself, because by doing so, I assume I can!
Anyway, assuming those 2 things has been quite helpful for me as I re-explore my Christian roots and wonder what substance the faith I had was based on.
I've found a few things helpful over the last few months...
- Speaking to an atheist friend who said that by exploring faith, I was being more open-minded than he was. I think I'd always assumed that atheists were the open-minded ones and us Christians were the dumb ones who'd never seriously considered the alternatives. I think the same is true on both sides - perhaps we are scared of the implications of finding out what we based our life on was untrue. I still believe atheism (or antitheism in its extreme) is as much a position of faith as Christianity...
- Reading "Mere Christianity" by C S Lewis. He argues the existence of God from a very different perspective - reflecting on what we all experience internally that might point in that direction. I find arguments about "Doesn't the world just work so well?" and "The chance of life existing are so small, it must be God" etc pretty weak as, if we didn't exist & there wasn't order, then we wouldn't be here to observe them! However, reflecting on the processes we go through when making decisions (What makes us think we should do the "right" thing? Why do we believe there is a "right" and "wrong"? "Good" and "bad"? "Better" and "worse"?) can be quite useful because there are hints at something above & beyond our everyday, physical existence in there.
- Reading "The Case for Christ" by L Strobel. Only just started this, but I think there's a challenge here to argumentative atheists (and argumentative Christians like me!) to engage with something like this that is not a philosophical nor theological book, but rather a historical investigation. It's easy to argue God doesn't exist by staying at a distance and protecting yourself using big arguments (atheists and Christians and others alike), but when it comes down to specific, historical points, this can present a challenge. If Jesus existed, and if he said what the Bible says he said, and if he did the things it says he did including coming back to life, then doesn't this suggest there might be a God? I'm not assuming the conclusion to these questions as I look, I just think it's a more practical, tangible way of engaging with the argument.
- Chatting to friends & family about it. It's amazing what you find out about people when you make it clear you're not sure what you believe. I think they feel free to express what it is they believe and also not feel threatened that you will argue with them.[/list]