I talk a lot about how I came to doubt god’s existence. It’s hard to say how long I spent defending god against what I assumed was (at best) my sinful nature and at worst the devil himself; but it’s safe to say I spent a significant amount of time devoted to Christian apologetics. I wanted all the evidence on Christianity that was available and I wanted to hear it from a Christian-biased source. Because I wanted every reason to believe it before I tested it.
At some point between Christianity and atheism my doubt switched teams. I had started with the uncomfortable question of: What if there is no god? And the first conclusion I came to, the one that allowed me to roll that overwhelming question off my tongue a little easier, was that Christianity left room for disagreement. A lot more room than I had ever anticipated.
This examination of Christian apologetics eventually erased my faith in man’s definition of god, but not in god himself. Suddenly my faith in god actually depended on my ability to doubt and be critical of religion. That meant that no questions were off the table and I no longer feared the devil. Maybe god did not exist, but now I was doubting atheism. And a new search had begun.
That was a while ago. I have since come to believe there is no god. And it’s easy, because I am even more certain of the idea that if there is a god it doesn’t matter if I believe or not. If Christians really want to understand atheism they should read that five more times. Because consequence and immortality are very specific ideas born out of very little evidence.
I am so far from that place where I cared about Christian apologetics that I am often dumbfounded by how real the Christian god is for others. Remembering what it felt like to believe keeps me grounded when speaking with Christians, but there is no going back. I understand and so I am respectful. But make no mistake; what Christians believe sounds like insanity to me every day, all of the time.
I still exist among believers. I sit quietly while they pray before each meal. I listen as they describe the Bible as the definition of truth. I read their social media memes about how important we are to god. And at no point can I shake the feeling that I am witnessing a complete disconnect from reality. Sometimes, when I’m really surrounded, it feels like I am dreaming and no one knows but me. But other people do know, which only makes it stranger.
I don’t mean this to be insulting, although I know it is. It used to be me, too, so I have no right to be condescending. I just find that my instinct to be understanding and respectful often leads Christians to believe they can save me, or that what they are saying is having an impact. I’m sorry, but that cannot be further from the truth. With every interaction about how real god is, absolute delusion is the elephant in the room that I am politely not mentioning. I am polite because I know how it happens and that it can happen to anyone.
And because I know they will still look at me as if I have only been deceived by the devil.
Last night I was online trying to come up with a better argument for the Bible. Maybe something new has developed. But I’m not looking for faith in god, I’m looking for faith in people. The Bible is what represents everything about the Christian god. I would argue that it is bigger than god himself because we can see it and hear what it has to say.
My biggest complaint about Christianity is that because of the Bible Christians have stopped searching for god. They have all their answers in that one book. It’s a nice thought to have all the answers like that, but it ought to make every Christian doubt their faith at least a little.
What made me believe the Bible had authority? Many Christians believe it is god’s will that these books should speak to us, using information both literally and as metaphor. Whether Christians agree on that or not doesn’t matter. If there is a god who is guiding us it only follows that he would ensure the Bible said what he wanted it to say. We only need to trust that god gave us what we needed.
But since everything we know about god is found in the pages of the Bible…. well, you see the problem. Is he really guiding us? How can we determine anything about god until we first determine whether or not the Bible can be trusted? Don’t skip this question, Christians. Understand how to answer it. As any apologist knows, this is the first stop one makes when defending god. The salvation of millions may depend upon it. Maybe even your own.
It makes my head hurt to talk with Christians who honestly cannot see any other answer to how the Bible came to be except for god. Why is it so easy for me to see how it happened? And if I can imagine it then others can imagine it, too. Plugging your ears and blaming the devil seems like a poor strategy, but it makes no difference. Because even if all the best evidence for the Bible’s authenticity were true, none of it offers a reason to believe that god was involved. Let alone one specific definition of god.
No one can provide objective truth of god. That’s why there are so many different beliefs in the world. That indisputable fact alone speaks volumes about his very existence.
This is where Christians want to point me to some article written by a respected apologist who will clear it up with an explanation too far over their heads for them to explain it themselves. Because naturally god intended for it to be so complicated. If they bothered to understand these arguments themselves they would find nothing new to add to the conversation.
And even after all of this a Christian will look at me and decide that the only possible explanation for my atheism is that I am suppressing the truth. Ironic, considering I have devoted more time to finding the truth than any Christian I know. The only reason to believe that true atheism does not exist is because the Bible claims it to be so. Which all goes back to the question: How can we find truth if we cannot trust outside information or even our own thoughts? It comes up again and again. The idea that truth is found only in the Bible because the Bible says so; and we cannot question the Bible because the Bible says so.
And my only sin is wondering if that claim holds any water.