Free after lectures, I walked up from the stairs to the platform near the Run Run Shaw Building and was preparing to go through the Chong Yuet Ming Building, down to the Bonham Road to take a bus back home. Planning to have a nice little tea in 澳洲牛奶公司 at Jordan and to either have a frozen yogurt next to it or to try out the new dessert shop around there to enjoy the rest of the late afternoon, a man came up to me and asked ‘Hi! Did ever think of what you want to achieve in your life?’
Taken aback, I said ‘Well, I never thought of that.’ He briskly produced a leaflet from his pocket, confidently and proudly said ‘God has already prepared what you want in his plan. What you need to do is to believe him.’, then he quickly flipped through the leaflet and talked. Wearing his rimless glasses and with an amicable smile, he seems to conclude by saying ‘No matter what your wishes are, be it academic achievement, a promising career or a beautiful partner, God has his plan for you. You only need to trust and to believe him.’
Finally having a chance of saying something in response, I said ‘But, I am sorry. I don’t believe in God’. ‘What do you think about God?’, he asked.
‘From what I read in Bible, God is rather cruel when he wants Abraham to sacrifice his own son to show his loyalty to him. Beside in the books of Joshua and Judges, God killed whoever that stands on his way.’, I answered.
‘That’s the Old Testament only. Have you read the New Testament?’
‘The New Testament is almost a joke. Look at Chapter 1 of Matthew and Chapter 3 of Luke, they can’t even agree on the basic genealogy of Jesus.’ I have forgotten the frozen yogurt and the afternoon tea already.
‘It’s only a matter of perspective and so it doesn’t…’
‘No, story can be a matter of perspective but not facts. The genealogy of Jesus is simply a matter of fact. Have you read that before?’, I snapped in.
I felt I should stop when I saw that he lost his amicable smile and his glasses slipping down a bit from his nose ridge.
In fact, I have encountered similar people before in the campus and elsewhere but I always find it irritating when few of them actually has read the Bible or rather, has read it with a critical mind. They don’t know beside the Gospels from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, there are also Gospel of Thomas, Mary Madgalene and even Judas. They don’t know why those gnostic gospels are discarded (well, I will tell them because the early Christian leaders were already intolerant enough to burn all those books and persecute the gnostics as heretics). They don’t know the Bible is more or less a melange of books that satisfy the rulers. They don’t know much about Bible and the history of it.
I always tried to discover people based on what to believe in God or in Christianity (which is not the same, as will be seen). When I tried to present my argument (if not in an overly aggressive manner, I hope), the final, if not the ultimate, answer I heard is: ‘I have a personal relationship with God that I can always feel, and that I can find him as someone I can rely on’. I tend to shut up after hearing this because that seems to be saying ‘Look, this is my personal feeling, and you are not going to question about that, won’t you? I just believe, and you don’t need to ask me with that logic that can’t understand any emotion’. I don’t want to say what I am going to say in their faces, as if I am Satan attacking his faith and hurting his feeling.
OK, so you have the feeling to be in a personal relationship with God (for the moment, I don’t dispute their psychological minds, although I do have a great deal to talk about, such as the possibility of some believer suffering hallucination/illusion/imaginary auditory voices. Anyway, I recommend them to read The Future of an Illusion by Freud to know more about their psychology though), how do you know even this God is the God from Christianity? Why can’t He be Allah, Jehovah, Zeus, Thor or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Given numerous inconsistencies of Bible and its bloody history, it seems that your kind and all – reliable God can’t be the cruel and ruthless one that killed all the first – born son in Egypt and also the one that drove Christians in history to burn women alive.
OK, so you are in a personal relationship with God, but it doesn’t stop you from questioning what he has done and what he argued for his own existence. It reminded me of a game that I’ve played with my dad when I was small:
‘I am the God’, he said.
‘How do you prove that?’, I asked, in a high – pitched childish tone.
‘Don’t you just think of God just now? See, I’ve created that concept in your mind’
‘But fossils have existed way before you are here’
‘Oh no worry, I’ve just created them’
Of course, I ended being frustrated of trying to disprove him but the story does illustrate several points. Even though he is my dad and is in a dear personal relationship with me, first what he said isn’t true. Secondly his relationship with me doesn’t mean he can’t talk about nonsense. Thirdly it also doesn’t stop me from questioning him.
I am afraid I must stop here, in case of offending someone back in the campus. I do want to apologize to the man with the rimless glasses that I should have talked in a more measured tone. But I just want you or any other future comers to really read about Bible and so we can have a more thoughtful discussion.