I am an agnostic because of the violent history of religion.
I am agnostic because I find it impossible to follow the beliefs of any “man-made” religion due to the violent history of most of them. I do however strive to uphold the moral standards as set out in the bible, not because I am told to, but because it feels right to me. Will “God” forgive me my doubts and let me into “heaven”?
I agree with you that the violence done in the name of “religion” is appalling. It doesn’t mirror Christianity’s character at all. Jesus himself rebuked one of his disciples when he used violence (Luke 23:47-51) and the consistent teaching in the New Testament for believers is to live in peace.
Much of the violence may have arisen from political or self-centered motives, and that actually reflects the Bible’s assertion that this world is in a bad state. Like you, Christianity recognizes the world’s problems, but radically extends the blame to all of us. None of us are exempt and all the violence and hatred are just manifestations of what is in all our hearts. The root of it is that none of us has the fear of God in our hearts (Romands 3:9-20). We might not have killed anyone but we are all essentially self-centered and have completely ignored God. Even if we try to live morally according to our standards, as you are doing, we will never be up to the mark (Romans 3:23). So in answer to your question, if we apply to go to heaven based on how we have lived, we are ALL going to fail the test and will be rightly punished by God.
That’s a big problem but the radical thing about Christianity is that it tells us of a God who is so concerned about us that he entered our world and took this punishment on our behalf! This happened when Jesus Christ was crucified. Because of Jesus’ death, those who believe in him can now enter heaven freely. This is the heart of Christianity. It’s not “man-made” because it centres not on our own philosophy or imagination but on a real person, Jesus. And it shows us that God is not far-away and uninvolved at all, because he actually came down into the world and sacrificed himself for us! Such a God is an intensely loving God who wants us back in relationship with him.
So please don’t dismiss Jesus because of Christianity’s poor showing in history. Violence and hatred only underlines the verdict of the Bible on all of us, and the only way for us to get to heaven is through trusting in Jesus. Do keep investigating through reading the Bible and asking more questions, and we would love to answer them.
Answers are kindly provided by our friends at Christianity.net.au