(Spoiler alert: The truth about Santa.)
Can you remember when you first learned Santa wasn’t real? How old were you? How did it affect you? Realizing the truth about Big Red hasn’t made him go away, but he’s a shadow of his former self to those who know the truth.
Growing up is part of life, and this means at certain stages we grow out things that used to fit such as shoes, clothes, toys, heroes and beliefs. While many adults embrace their family’s religion, making it their own, others lay it aside like too-small pajamas—once comfortable but no longer suitable. Still others find the faith of their fathers makes a good foundation for life but a lousy ceiling.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
1 Corinthians 13:11
What usually leads to a change in beliefs is an influx of data. New information changes old ways of seeing. The telescope changed theology, and many branches of science, by expanding human knowledge. So did the microscope, the MRI machine, the computer and scores of other advances. These tools didn’t change reality but simply revealed what’s always been there.
We should outgrow beliefs that no longer fit the facts or adequately explain our experiences. We should also grow into new beliefs for the same reasons. C. S. Lewis is a famous example (read Surprised by Joy). So is Anthony Flew, a leading atheist who became a theist later in life:
Flew told Christianity Today that although he was not on the road to becoming a Christian convert, he reaffirmed his deism: “Since the beginning of my philosophical life I have followed the policy of Plato’s Socrates: We must follow the argument wherever it leads.”
The important thing is to keep learning, to keep searching, to keep asking questions and evaluating answers. The quest will certainly take us off church property, maybe even into the wild. Could we get lost? Yes. But we could also discover new territory not on our original maps.
Over the years my beliefs have changed concerning:
- my concept of God
- my idea of church
- my understanding of the Bible
- my view of the afterlife
- my practice of prayer
- my definition of truth
- my attitude toward material things
There are a few beliefs, however, that have remained solid and grown stronger; my belief in:
- a personal God
- a spirit/soul that survives the body
- the uniqueness of Jesus
- the supremacy of love
What beliefs remain on your short list?
All religions are the same.
Religion is basically guilt with different holidays.