And So The Pendulum Swings

When I first realised that my questioning of my Christianity meant that I was on the road towards atheism I made myself a promise. I promised myself that I would always be sympathetic towards Christianity.

Having slid slowly out of Christianity, I knew that there was much to admire about many Christians that I knew. I also knew that there was much that the churches behind organised religion do in their locality. I wasn’t leaving Christianity because I hated anything or anyone; I was leaving because the basis of the belief system isn’t true. People who I know are good people don’t suddenly become bad and meaningless just because I no longer believe what they believe.

I knew some atheists who were vocally anti religion and their comments would bug me because I viewed the comments as either ignorant or hateful and certainly without compassion. I wanted no part of that mentality so I promised myself that I would never become that sort of atheist and that I would always have that sympathetic attitude towards Christianity. It seemed like a sensible thing to do.

Unfortunately I now find myself in a place where I consider that promise naive and I can’t keep it anymore.

I Don’t Hate Religion

Let me be clear on that, I don’t have the hateful and mocking attitude towards religion that I so often see on various places on the internet. I find that deeply unhelpful.

However, I do find myself being less tolerant that I expected to be. It started with little things, like hearing or seeing comments about praying for situations but not seeing any evidence of actual practical effort to achieve the desired result. Or seeing that there are different ways to interpret bible passages with no clear guidance on what is being determined. If the message of Christianity is correct, then why are there so many arguments about what various passages mean? Surely if there is one God, it would be more obvious what was being said to his created beings in the bible. Such widespread ambiguity must surely be strong evidence for falsity.

I was starting to find myself agreeing with sentiment that I would have once discarded as atheistic nastiness. The fact is these were legitimate questions that I had never seriously considered.

There is a difference between honest criticism and religion bashing for sport. I am all for the former but want no part of the latter.

More than that, I do find myself wanting less and less Christian influence in my life. I’ve rejected the theology; I’ve rejected the lifestyle and now I found myself wanting to purge the influence of Christianity from other parts of my life. This is more serious because it has a direct impact on those close to me and has led to some difficult conversations and analysis of what stage my life is at.

Sitting back and analysing my atheist journey over the past, there has been a clear move further and further away from tolerating Christianity. I’ve moved further away from that point than I expected I would and it has been a bit of a surprise.

For the moment I am assuming that this is just a part of my deconversion experience and that at some point I’ll soften my attitude and the pendulum will swing a little back again. Until that happens, assuming it does, I’m going to have a fun ride while I wait to achieve a balanced viewpoint.

 

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8 thoughts on “And So The Pendulum Swings

  1. Limey,

    You give a thoughtful consideration to tough questions. I’ve ridden that pendulum; perhaps not to your extreme.

    I think ambiguity does not disprove anything. God doesn’t NOT (I think that double negative works there) exist merely because we don’t understand contradictions. Women exist (much to men’s consternation) even though we can be 1,000 contradictions in the same day.

    Modern-day Christians are not unique in getting things wrong and being so afraid of having their belief systems challenged that they are willing to defend to the death (almost) seemingly ridiculous ideas, Jesus, 2000 years ago, came telling people who thought they knew it all that they were wrong and knew nothing. That didn’t sit well with them. You know how that ended.

    Christians don’t get it all wrong, but they manage to get enough of it wrong and attract enough bigoted people who feel comfortable in the church because of their bigotry (not because they strive to be like Jesus), that they end up alienating a good portion of Western civilization. It is so ironic that Christians make more headway in those areas that are overtly oppressed or struggling to eke out an existence in the midst of war and persecution. I think it is because they show more of the side of Christianity that Jesus taught: Love God. Love your neighbor. They don’t trek 100 miles into the jungles of Africa and immediately start preaching to the inhabitants that if they are gay or had an abortion (and would support someone who is or has) that they can never be a “true” Christian.

    I was never a YE Creationist. That makes my pendulum less extreme than yours. It is equally interesting (not in a smug way) to me to see the opposite of what you describe; that being educated, non-Christians coming to faith and then trying to find a scientific proof for the YE Creationist interpretation.

    I have searched academia, nature, people and my soul. All I can say is that any spiritual awakening is a personal journey. Even if we try and find “congregations” with which to share our faith, we are still individuals. Even Jesus’ disciples represented the extremes of personality traits (many of them what we would consider flaws). These were the men Jesus chose to “feed his sheep”. That should teach us something as well.

    I truly wish you peace in your journey.

    • Hi Cindy,

      Thank you for the comment. You’ve not said anything controversial, or even anything that I’d disagree with.

      As its the subject of this blog, I’ll pick up on your comment about new Christians looking for retrospective evidence for YECism. This is the only way being a YEC can work. I can’t see how anyone could look at the evidence and see evidence for the YEC position if they don’t already have a predisposition towards it. I would maintain that the YEC view puts more store to the literal bible than any other strand of Christianity. To not hold a YEC view requires interpretation of biblical passages to fit ones belief. As soon as that happens the authority of the bible is under question.

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  3. Limey,

    I have never believed that having to believe in YE Creationism was necessary to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. My kid’s mind knew that the Ark was big but I also had watched enough Wild Kingdom to know that it couldn’t have fit every animal in the world. But I have no problem letting my daughter come to that realization herself.

    As a kid, I read the Bible and I loved science. I didn’t see anything mutually exclusive. Even a child understands that literary devices like poetry and symbolism can be used to get across a point or a lesson. It seems to me that it wasn’t until scientists – the ones that became the modern voice of science – started having an anti-Christianity agenda that this problem manifested.

    Plenty of really smart people have believed in God throughout history; even modern history. I always try and start at the beginning when I really think about God. If we were to somehow have our collective memories of God and religion wiped out, but still knew everything else (i.e., some meteor didn’t come down and wipe out our technology sending us back to the stone age), I am convinced we would still start searching for God even though we knew what really caused thunder, lightening and earthquakes.

    • Hi Cindy,

      I don’t see it as scientists being anti-Christian (though there clearly are some who are). My take is that as science has expanded our understanding its become more and more clear that the claims of religion (not just Christianity) become more and more doubtful.

      As for the bible being the inspired word of god. I no longer accept it is, but I do agree that you don’t need to be a YEC to hold that position. My point is that if you’re not a YEC then you need to explain stories like the creation, the flood and the tower of babel as though they are parables and not truth. The problem is that its not always clear where the distinction is and it makes the fall doctrine a little more difficult and at what point in the genealogies is the step between real people and fictional people? To not hold a YEC view requires explaining a lot of extra niggles.

      We’ll both likely agree that that YEC view is not correct. When I realised that, I took the extra step of discounting the rest of the bible too because I could not find a way to reconcile those extra niggles.

  4. Interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    I share your thoughts on the bashful atheist. I try my best to be respectful, and courteous in my criticisms, which are often quite hard-lined. It’s a fine balance, but I think being a former Christian myself, makes it easier.

    I wrote about my own journey on my blog if your interested.

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