My sister sent me a blog about a Washington Post article by Jared Bilski entitled, “I’m not passing my parents’ religion on to my kids, but I am teaching their values.” You can read the article here.
The blog, by Dr. Jim Denison, covered four main points. You can read his blog here.
Bilski grew up Roman Catholic, attended Catholic schools through high school, and even considered becoming a priest. Ultimately, he fell away from the Catholic faith and from Christianity in general. Why? “Too many unanswered questions, too many problematic absolutes, too much fear-mongering, and way too much hypocrisy.” The priest abuse scandal was the final straw for him.
Denison points out that more people in American now identify as having no religion (23.1%) than those who identify as Catholics (23.0%) or Evangelicals (22.5%).
Bilski implies that he and his wife are agnostics (“If my wife and I end up raising our children agnostic…”). However, he also says he wants to expose his children to every religion, “to everything, spiritually speaking…and to let them choose for themselves.” He indicates that he and his wife once were considering Buddhism. They are now “toying with the idea of casually dropping into a service here and there so our children can get a clear picture of how different faiths worship.” They even recently “accompanied some family friends to their Sunday Mass.”
It turns out that the four items which led Bilski to leave religion behind are the main items cited by 1,300 people who identified as religiously unaffiliated in a Pew Research Center Survey.
Let’s go through those four points briefly. Denision did a good job of covering each point. Check out his blog. I decided to write my own responses to these four points, which are slightly different. (In fact, I’m not looking back at what he wrote. I’m simply responding to these four points.)
Unanswered Questions. I remember Phil Donohue saying that was the main reason he left Catholicism. Recently I read the autobiography of Roger Ebert, and he said the same thing. My thinking, each time I hear this objection, is that there are satisfying answers and that it is a shame no one shared those answers with these men when they were undergoing religious instruction.
One major unanswered question many have is where God came from. They assume He cannot be eternal. But no one ever explained to them that the first cause of all that exists had to be eternal. They happen to believe that matter and energy are eternal, though I wonder if they’ve ever thought about that. And they believe that matter and energy somehow created the universe and life on earth. So, they believe that non-life gave rise to life. But only once. Never again. In my estimation that is quite illogical. Indeed, it is impossible. If what we see is personal, then the first cause is Personal.
Problematic Absolutes. What are these? Denison points out that Bilski’s father has identified as gay. Bilski criticized Catholicism saying, “it sure had a lot of restrictions on whom you were allowed to love.” Therefore, likely he is thinking of commandments against things like premarital sex, homosexuality, bisexuality, and maybe salvation only by faith in Christ (though the Catholic Church does not teach that).
The problem with rejecting certain absolutes as problematic, but accepting others, is that if there is no God, then there is no basis for absolutes. Prohibitions against incest, pedophilia, bestiality, murder, kidnapping, theft and so forth make sense. We don’t want to allow people to hurt other people. But if there is no God, then any laws at all would be problematic since each person not only should be free to pick his own religion, or no religion, but also, he should be free to select his own morals. If his morals say it is okay to lie, cheat, steal, and even kill in order to get what you want, on what grounds do we say that his morals are wrong?
If God indeed is our Creator, then His commandments are good for us as individuals and as a society. They are wonderful absolutes, not problematic.
Fear-mongering. I assume here Bilski is thinking especially of fear of hell or fear of purgatory. Since there is no purgatory, it is correct to reject fear of that. But there is a place called hell (Biblically called Sheol or Hades). And it is right to fear going there until you come to faith in Christ for everlasting life.
Of course, if someone is his own authority, if he has no Creator and no God, then he need only fear other humans. And wild animals. And climate change. And cows passing gas. And China and India polluting the world. And conservatives who might be permitted to speak on college campuses.
Hypocrisy. I agree that hypocrisy in any field should bother us. When a politician says one thing when the political winds favor that sentiment and then says exactly the opposite when the wind changes direction, he is a hypocrite. Of course, some of the greatest hypocrites happen to be politicians, the very sort of people that many who have no religion favor. But political hypocrisy is often overlooked since the media rarely reports it.
Hypocrites in religion, whether Catholic, Orthodox, Mormon, Baptist, or Bible Church, should be especially upsetting. But it should not cause us to abandon the faith.
I like racewalking, swimming, and biking. When Lance Armstrong was revealed to be a liar and a cheat, I was much bothered. He had been such a shining model of overcoming. But that did not cause me to stop doing marathons (or swimming or biking). Why should someone else’s hypocrisy cause me to abandon what I know to be true and good for me?
When I read articles like Bilski’s, I wonder what influences led him to abandon all religion. Was it his college professors? Books he read? Hollywood? Politics? Friends? Family? Now he is seeking to win people to his way of thinking.
I wish for him to become a Bible-believing born-again Christian, one who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for everlasting life. There is still time. Lord, please show mercy to Jared Bilski and his wife and kids. Show them the truth.