What is your best reason for being a Christian?
Truth. First let’s start with God. Clearly there are ample proofs for god’s existence but my favourite is probably the argument from desire. This argument simply put states that there are NO innate desires in man that are not fulfilled in nature, the desire for love, food, etc… Since every man has an innate desire for greater fulfillment, and since no matter how hard we try this fulfillment can never be reached on earth during our natural lives there must be “something more”. The definition of God in this proof is the fulfillment of that desire. I know that this doesn’t define or prove a complete image of the Christian god, but it is what I think the must succinct and elegant of the common proof (first cause, etc). As to why I am a Christian, this is simply because the Christian view of God and story contains truth. Man is obviously fallen in nature and requires salvation, only through Christ do we get access to that salvation. No other faith or belief system I have encountered speaks to my heart with as much truth as the story of the incarnation.
What evidence or experience (if any) would cause you to stop believing in God?
I do not think that we can choose what we believe if we have true faith. I can evaluate scientific concepts based on the evidence as decide that the evidence changes my preconceived notions, but I cannot do this with faith. I believe in a rational God and a rational faith. Therefore if I could reason something that contradicts what my faith requires me to believe I would be forced to accept that either I reasoned badly, or I had faith in something that was incorrect. Many early Christians (and sadly many today) believed in a literally real interpretation of the book of genesis for instance. Through science we know that this is not an accurate accounting of the creation of life or the earth. However this book is not a scientific account, and its value and meaning is not diminished due to it failing on scientific ground. But, if it made theological points that were irrefutably contradicted by facts this would call into question the book or the ‘facts’. I believe this has not happened, and will not happen since for the history of the Church even when men were wrong the truth of divine revelation have always come out to line up compatibly with discovered fact. Due to this I don’t believe there is a bit of evidence or and experience I can have that will change my view, if I did I wouldn’t have faith.
See question one. As Chesterton liked to say the Church is a truth-telling machine, and for 2000 years it has consistently told truth. Throughout the dark ages even when the church hierarchy contained men known not to live up to its teaching nothing managed to corrupt it. When the popes had mistresses and children, against their vows, and they handed out prizes for cash and power, even then, they did not manage to corrupt the core teachings of the Church. This has allowed later leaders to come that cold correct the practices and more closely follow the gospels.
How do you read the Bible? Do you study the history of its translations? How do you decide which translations/versions/books are the true Bible? How does it guide you if you have a moral or theological dilemma?
The bible is not something I claim to be a scholar on. However as a Catholic I take the Bible along with sacred tradition as divinely inspired. Meaning that the body of the faithful, with the guidance of the holy spirit has been able through the centuries to work out proper interpretations of revelation. The bible itself is a collection of many books all in different genres if you will. Some are historical accounts, some are prayer, some are prophesy. Each book has to be taken in light of all the others, sacred tradition, AND its historical context.
Voting opens Friday afternoon