The following is part three of a three part series about Fortune Hi-Tech Marketing, a Multi-level Marketing operation, my analysis of it, and how it brings out some of my qualities in relationship to my Quest for god. (Links to Part 1 | Part 2 | the REPORT that came out of my work).
Now that I've laid out the back-story to FHTM and linked to my analysis, what would I like to say about it in connection to my quest? Much!
In the last 7 months, I have often pondered the way I went about my quest. I began to have doubts as a result of encountering some information I took as surprising given what I would have expected were Christianity true. That's it. It was enough to simply make me wonder about it.
But that's a problem with me. When I wonder about something I am motivated to devour information until I come as close as possible to filling in my knowledge void about it. I also think I do a fair job at suspending preference and trying to see as many sides as possible before landing at a conclusion. I used an example of finding out which Linux distribution I thought would be the best for me but could illustrate tons more: buying a Pentax K-x digital camera, a Mazda MPV mini-van, a Morgan acoustic guitar, a 1984 Schwinn Prelude road bike, and so on. Yes, most of these info-hunts tend to surround purchases. I could list some others but buying decisions are an area where information needs to be gathered, evaluated, and a decision made. It's just an easy category with which to illustrate my tendencies.
I've also hopefully made it clear the lengths I'll go to study and analyze. I wrote a 21 page report with tables, calculations, tons of referenced sites to support figures, etc. as a result of being shown a 45min business presentation. Recently I've become aware of an FHTM rep who apparently presents every Tuesday in a nearby suburb of St. Paul and I'm debating showing up with some of my papers and harder questions than he's probably ever received.
Okay, okay. Where am I going with all of this??
I'm going here: somewhere deeply ingrained in my nature is a desire to learn, understand, fiddle, and to know. I can't tell you that I had anything to do with it being there, but it's there. It comes out all the time when it's not convenient (e.g. when I should be sleeping but am on Wikipedia or reading books until 3:00am instead).
When I questioned god, I simply did what I always do. I applied my reasoning skills in the best way I knew how. Suspend judgment and belief and try to prove Christianity to myself. It hasn't worked. I think it's a great idea, but I was met with immense dissent from fellow believers. But why?
My reflection on my nature has led me to think of how others perceive my decision making and analytical tendencies. Honestly it's with almost unanimous respect. I'm asked for input on computers, which software is the best, car recommendations, purchase input, and so on. I get asked quite a bit for input on purchases I've made and things having to do with technology. I was in constant pastoral care when discerning to date/marry my wife. I prayed a ton about it. I sought god's will. I went to adoration countless times. I decided to pursue her in dating on my confirmation saint's feast day, July 31 (St. Ignatius of Loyola). I have brought up in my men's group my thoughts, prayers, etc. on whether or not to buy a house. No one suggested that my reasoning or decision making is flawed.
But what about now? Now I am criticized for stepping outside of the bubble and suspending belief. I'm told that I should have had faith seeking understanding in order to come to the truth. For some reason, one can only reach "the truth" if approached from one of two starting positions: assuming that god exists and that Christianity is true.
But why? Every other area in which I find my decision reasonably well-founded and certain is so exactly because it doesn't matter which approach I take to the resolution. I can suspect P or suspect ~P and then challenge each, sift through opinions and evidence, and end up at the same conclusion regardless of the starting point.
This is what makes things even more frustrating than they already are. Those who have endeavored to find the truth about god can surely attest to how convoluted the field is. Smart people exist on both sides and the various areas of argument are filled with both sides constantly attempting refutations of the opposing side's work. Even further, these areas are often not entirely accessible to those like myself who might have a level of familiarity with a topic but little depth. Sometimes it's hard to know which "expert" to believe or trust since they are both "experts" and using terms and arguments that far surpass my understanding in in the area.
Throw onto that frustration the fact that I'm apparently wrong to even use my reason freely and things only get worse. I find that suggestion perhaps even more frustrating than the obscure nature of the "god question." I shouldn't have thought about this like I did? I was wrong to step outside the box? Why just in this area and no others? Why didn't you tell me that I shouldn't have made all my other decisions with this method, then?
And that's what I don't get. Many will think my FHTM analysis is at least a reasonable display of perseverance, an attempt to get at the truth, and even an effort to help others with facts when they might otherwise have been swayed by illusions and emotions. So why not think the same thing about the same application of analysis to god? It's the only subject like this that I know where one is not supposed to use everyday critical thinking. A special class of thinking and wholly separate approach are devised since somehow the use of common sense isn't allowed with god.
Thus, enter personal coined definition of theology: A field of study in which the objective is to convince properly reasoning individuals that what they would imagine to be the case were an all-powerful, all-loving, and all-knowing being to exist and be in control of the universe... is utterly flawed, and that this being not only exists, but in fact the world in which we live is the only possible way this being could have done things.