I am currently undergoing a theology degree seeing as I have a passion for Christ and like having well reasoned beliefs. During my studies I spend a bit of time researching and writing on various interesting topics. And so, with some prompting from my partner, I decided to place some of my writings on this website with the hope that others might be challenged and stimulated into thinking more deeply about their own beliefs.
I find it a bit humourous when someone asks whether I'm wanting to be a pastor or priest. I believe this to be a misconception about someone who studies theology, since there are even self-proclaimed Atheists who I have conversed with in my subjects. The most important belief I think anyone can have is their one to do with God (or lack thereof). Such a belief affects how we see our purpose in life, which can obviously influence the way we live life. And so, whether or not you agree with my beliefs, I hope I can at least provoke you into thinking more deeply and better understanding your own.
Many people don't think twice about why they hold a particular belief—we are just naturally wise and reasonable and so of course our beliefs are correct... right? The truth tends to be that many beliefs make their way into our minds unexamined. It doesn't help matters that we exist within an age dominated by media, where we are constantly bombarded with new knowledge and the opinions of others. Knowledge and opinions are thrown at us left, right and centre, and our living in the real world can make it hard for us to remain on top of critically examining them all. So to make this task easier, it appears as though we accept beliefs based on what sounds good or appealing; we accept beliefs if they are accepted by groups we respect or people we admire; and we may reject beliefs simply out of spite for certain groups or people we dislike.
"We accept?", I predict some questioning as though they are different. If this is you, then I extend an apology. "Other people" may accept and reject beliefs based on the criteria just stated, but "we" are above this. We hold a belief because we know just how consistent and well thought out our position really is. It would never be the case that we primarily hold to a belief based on our feelings and intuitions; just like those "other people" we know who are naive and illogical, who employ unsound reasoning and demonstrate a lack of knowledge whenever they disagree with us. ;)
We may think through deeply at least some of the major beliefs we hold. For example, I consider my beliefs on God—particularly my Christian beliefs—to be very well reasoned. You may disagree and not understand how I could retain my Christian beliefs if I truly did reason them through properly. I am perhaps the same with someone who doesn't see things my way, yet don't you think it just seems too coincidental that it happens to always be us who are right?
After having participated in many online discussions and debates, the problem as I see it seems to be that our first accepted beliefs—no matter how well examined or understood by us—are the ones we like to hang onto the most. Our first beliefs are usually accepted based on how we "feel" about them, rather than reason and a proper examination. Then when we gain enough knowledge and/or have time to properly examine the beliefs we've accepted, we tend to look for ways at justifying and defending the positions we've gravitated towards. Rarely, if at all, would we come to an issue clean of any prejudice or bias towards one side. This is as true for me as it would be for you.
Perhaps the most we can hope for is to make our beliefs as consistent as possible, while respectfully listening to the positions of others. Over time, just listening to those varying positions allows seeds to be placed at the base of our own beliefs. Perhaps we may eventually experience something, or hear something we know to be true, which renders one of our previously held beliefs inconsistent. As our inconsistent belief buckles, a new position shoots up into place, and all our other beliefs begin to be re-aligned.