Yes, it’s another one of these posts. You see, I have written myself over to a corner dominated by opinionated Christians and I am having a little bit of trouble getting myself back to the other side of the room. But I do like this discussion. And I appreciate the efforts of those who want to save me. After all, some of my oldest friends are not even willing to discuss my loss of faith. So I have patience each time a Christian takes time to tell me that their faith in god cannot be undermined.
But dear Christian, faith in god isn’t the problem.
At the end of the day, you have faith in god because you believe he exists. You are guided by the ideas of others and the information that has been passed down. Your experiences reinforce that faith and lead you toward a more precise definition of god and how he works. And you can stop explaining that, because I know just how real it is for you.
But the possibility will always remain that you could be wrong. This would be fine, except your religion teaches you that recognition of that possibility must be denied completely. Which, you know…. complicates things between you and anyone who is aware that you could be wrong. Which includes me.
If god exists and cares about us, don’t we owe him the effort of being critical of what we’ve been taught about him? Or to even be critical of our own experiences?
We are not ignorant of the fact that man has always used religion to control others. Obviously there are false religions, and for each one there are people willing to die for their faith, too. Are you sure your brand of Christianity and its interpretation of how the Bible applies to your life are truly untouched by human corruption? Or your own bias? You shouldn’t be.
Maybe you have some details wrong. And if one thing is wrong, then any of it could be wrong. Creationists will point to this as the reason we must take the entire Bible literally. It’s a slippery slope to doubt, right? But I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to consider that maybe some of what we find in the Bible was written to keep people submissive to the church- not to god. If you build a religion and give people an official instruction manual from god, you can have power over them. What a wonderfully terrifying world we create for ourselves.
Maybe you don’t care for atheists because we represent the possibility you have worked so hard to suppress. It is definitely one of the reasons. And it is more than possible that you are wrong about atheism, too. Perhaps we are not deceived, angry, stubborn, or wicked…. maybe we simply stopped believing god would penalize us for having questions about his mysterious ways.
It’s hard to imagine doubting god, isn’t it? You have a relationship, but there are assumptions that must be made any time we’re in a relationship with someone who never appears or speaks audibly. It’s wise to leave room for error while interpreting signs and intuition. But you wouldn’t dare doubt what it all means, because the Bible makes it clear. And the Bible also warns us about how the devil tempts us.
Do you know how I overcame the feeling that doubt would be a terrible betrayal to god? It was easy. I wasn’t doubting god at all; I was doubting man’s interpretation of him. Doubt in man cannot be a sin, right? And so it became a pathway to lost theology. But god remained. In fact, it actually made me feel closer to him. For a while. Many people stay in that place permanently.
When we strip away our interpretation of god, not believing in him doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Christians would say that is exactly why one should avoid this path, but such reactions only hold meaning from a Christian point of view. It is protecting Christianity. Not god. Maybe god doesn’t even realize I have lost faith. Maybe there is no punishment for being wrong. Maybe…. we hardly understand god at all.
What if I wanted to know that kind of a god better? A god who offered nothing; no personal intervention in my life or immortality. Just a belief that he existed. After all, aren’t we supposed to worship god because he is real and we are grateful? That would still be true. If I wanted to know a god like that, a god that truly offered nothing else, wouldn’t I be more worthy of his love?
I don’t think it’s true, but I don’t mind thinking about it.
My point is, it doesn’t matter how sure you are. The possibility will always remain that you could be wrong. Not god…. but you. Let’s start with that before dealing with the existence of god. Because if you are unable to recognize the possibility of being wrong about the details of god, what makes you think you can offer insight to a person who is searching for god outside of the rules of Christianity? You can offer up a Bible verse, but the Bible is only an explanation that can help others understand what you believe. It can mean nothing to someone who has already stripped away that part of their faith.
And until you can wrap your mind around how someone can lose Christianity and still hold onto god, you are completely incapable of understanding an atheist like me.