Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Religion, Truth

Never Going Back

I value open-mindedness over most other things. When I was going through my deconversion and having frequent religious discussions with my family, I often felt that they weren’t being open-minded. I know that it’s hard (perhaps impossible) to judge how open-minded someone else is being, so I hesitate to even pass that kind of judgment. At the same time, it’s not like they were answering the problems I brought up with actual solutions — it mostly centered on how arrogant I was to question “God’s word.” On top of that, they never read any of the books or articles that I asked them to — I don’t think they even read all of the stuff I personally wrote to them.

It was the seeming lack of open-mindedness that shocked me most, in many ways. During my time as a Christian, I tried to be as open-minded as possible. I was part of a strict denomination that thought most other Christians were wrong, so I often had discussions with my Christian friends to try to help them see “the truth.” In those discussions, I often admitted that I could be wrong:

Either I’m wrong, or you’re wrong, or we’re both wrong. We can’t both be right…

I firmly believed (based on Matthew 7) that as long as I was searching for the truth, I would find it. Also, if what I believed about Christianity was true, then more study would only bear that out. In other words, I had nothing to fear by discussing and examining Christianity with those who disagreed with me. If they could show me where I was wrong, then that was good! It would mean that I had believed the wrong thing, but learning that would give me the opportunity to correct it and be more pleasing to God.

Now that I have come out of Christianity, I still feel just as strongly about the merits of open-mindedness. Recently, someone suggested that I read In His Image, by William Jennings Bryan (which I’m now doing), but when he gave me the suggestion, he then backpedaled and said I might not like the book because it supports Christianity. I was disappointed by that statement. I told him that I don’t read things based on whether or not I will agree with them — I take religion very seriously, because all religion is an effort to explain reality. If this book by WJB can provide some arguments I haven’t considered before, or answer some of my questions about Christianity, then I want to know that!

But now for the admission. Now for the part that I haven’t been able to say to my family yet: I don’t see any way that I’ll ever believe Christianity again. On the surface, that may seem like it runs counter toward my goal of being open-minded, but it really doesn’t. The fact is, I’ve just seen too much. “I once was blind, but now I see.” The fact is, the Bible can’t fix its problems because it’s a closed document. No more material is going in or out of it. Nor is God going to speak to me directly or perform some miracle to overcome my skepticism. We’re stuck with what we’ve got.

We’re left with a god that’s supposedly omnipotent, omniscient, and loves us all, yet we still have evil in the world. He remains hidden from us, but supposedly wants a relationship with us. He supposedly left us a message, but no one can agree on what it says, and its books look pretty much like all the other things that were being written at the time. As this post said:

Let’s face it – I may still be open to the idea of being convinced on the matter, but this is a genie that’s not going to go back into the bottle easily. I can’t unlearn what I’ve found; I can’t simply deny the truth that I’ve been able to discover without the fear of uprooting my faith. To ask me to believe again would be to take on the herculean task of not only providing sufficient evidence but also dealing with all of the logical and evidential problems or to ask me to knowingly deceive myself – and I’m not sure I’m willing to do that for anyone.

I am still an open-minded person. But I also know enough about Christianity now to know what it is and what it isn’t. I didn’t lose my faith by forgetting things, but by learning things. And if I had known years ago what I know now, I never would have been a Christian in the first place.

445 thoughts on “Never Going Back”

  1. I’m using such strong language because adult, educated human beings should not need to have something so simple and obvious explained to them.

    silenceofmind, regardless of whether you are right or wrong, you aren’t making anybody more likely to accept your views this way. Instead you only turn people off. The user above already claims your behaviour “prov[es] the atheist agenda”.

    I know that many rationalisations exist for behaving this way, but do you think this way of acting is congruent with New Testament ethics?

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  2. I am new to accepting the fact that I am an agnostic…. being raised as a Christian and wanting to be liked by my friends and family kept me from pursuing my ideas until now. I hope to learn a lot from your site and appreciate all of your opinions. I find most of the people I know are not open to discussion on this subject. Thank you for this post which allows me to see that I’m not the only one with lots of questions.

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  3. Not one of you has responded to the actual content of my comments. All you’ve done is object to my style.

    The truth is the truth regardless of whether it is sugar coated enough for you to accept.

    If you were really interested in the truth my style of delivery wouldn’t even concern you.

    For leftists, and that includes atheists, it’s all about symbolism over substance. Nothing gets considered unless the right words are said the right way.

    That means you and people like you exist in an echo chamber where you only hear what you want to hear.

    That means your comment is a clarion call to ingrained ignorance.

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  4. Nate,

    Slavery was only abolished less than 150 years ago after being an institution so ingrained in the human psyche that it was considered normal.

    The Christian United States destroyed slavery in the 19th century and the mass murdering Communists and fascists in the 20th.

    The 20th century was man’s most blood soaked century.

    Do you know that slavery of black African-Americans was abolished because white Northern Christians fought a war against Southern white Christian slavers and died by the 100’s of thousands?

    No other civilization in history ever went to war to eliminate slavery.

    Only Christians have developed the morality to change the world for the better. Only the evil of Marxist atheism and the butchering religion of Islam have bested Christianity.

    And that has only led to murder and mayhem.

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  5. @Silence of mind
    ”Atheists always, and I mean ALWAYS, blame God for the evil that men do. ”

    No, we don’t.
    Atheists do not believe in gods so to blame them for anything is oxymoronic.
    Atheists blame those men that commit such evil deeds in the name of their god/s.

    Understand?

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  6. @Howie
    “Chances are I won’t be interacting with you much, because you don’t seem the type to have a calm, respectful and productive conversation. That said though maybe you’ll offer a nice balance to the Ark for this blog. ;-)”

    Thank you Howie, I love you too….;)

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  7. “Only Christians have developed the morality to change the world for the better. Only the evil of Marxist atheism and the butchering religion of Islam have bested Christianity.”

    Scriptures teach that we know morality even without knowing it comes from God (see Romans). By limiting morality as only something Christians have developed and follow, you are actually limiting the force of your perspective, not to mention the force of the fact that, as a result of everyone having rather clear ideas of morality, we can provide some evidence for the existence of God.

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  8. ”Scriptures teach that we know morality even without knowing it comes from God”

    This is using the bible to justify the bible.

    Why not, therefore, use the Qur’an to justify the Qur’an?

    Are Muslims immoral?

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  9. Hey Ark-
    I was speaking to silenceofmind, who appears to be Christian. Using scripture as a source of authority makes sense in this scenario, does it not?

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  10. Silenceofmind, I just read your first post and decided to respond to it before the posts following it… If I am a bit redundant here, then please forgive me.

    I found your statement to be house of cards. Carefully put together so that you could easily knock them down. But what you so easily knocked down in your statement was nothing of substance and nothing that anyone really uses as a real house – a strawman of sorts.

    You referenced the problem of evil. Well, Proverbs 3:27 says that if you are able to do good, then you should do it. Wouldnt it be good to save an elderly man from being beaten by three teenagers? Woiuldnt it be good to protect a 2 year old girl and her grandparents from a murderous rapist? Or is it that the biblical god is more into “do as I say, not as I do?” I can tell you, if I had the power to protect the innocent and keep harm and atrocities from happening, i would do it – does that make me more merciful and more loving than god?

    And this really highlights the rest of what you said. Atheists (I myself am an agnostic) dont need to create a god – they take what the bible (in this case) says about god, and then lay beside what else the bible says about god. When the two dont match up, it’s reason that tells us something is wrong.

    It’s funny to me how many christians will try to argue that their believe is the most reasonable, that their religion is the most rooted in logic… that’s absurdly false. Even the bible says that the faith is foolishness to man. Are you relying on faith or on your own understanding? If your own understanding, then i think you wont last long as a christian. If you rely on faith, then reason doesnt matter.

    Read your bible. in it you will what we’re talking about, but only if you search honestly.

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  11. @Josh
    Oh, he is Christian all right.I think he tears out pages from the KJV and eats them for breakfast. I realise the comment was for him(?), but this is an atheist blog, after all, and we are all allowed to play,too, yes? I was just keeping you honest that’s all. Carry on, Josh.

    Besides, if he agrees with you he is merely acknowledging a different Christian interpretation of your Big Book of Lies.

    I

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  12. Silenceofmind – “Not one of you has responded to the actual content of my comments.”

    BAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! oh my… I have a tear. where do you get this stuff? I’ve seen half a dozen responses to what little opinion you’ve presented (presented without any backup or supporting evidence), and seen you ignore straight and direct questions…

    1 Pet 3:15 – “always be ready to give an answer for hope that is within you…” I guess answering a question about your holy book doesn’t count?

    You must be a good christian… you’re so self righteous.

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  13. Great post. Congratulations on your escape. There’s a wonderful life ahead of you.
    @Arkenaten: thanks for reblogging, matey, this was a nice read, and a rather intrigueing ongoing discussion to ‘silence our minds.’ Indeed.

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  14. Hello Nate,

    I understand your scenario, more than I care to. After two decades (over half of my time as a very dedicated Christian) of much struggle, doubt and obsessively going through the Bible, it was time for me to leave Christianity. I don’t see myself ever going back to it and I don’t believe I will be apart of any religion again.

    Thank you for your blog. I wish you the very best for your family and your health.

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  15. @Silence:

    You wrote this:

    Not one of you has responded to the actual content of my comments. All you’ve done is object to my style.

    William is spot on about this one Silence. I don’t see how the above statement is true at all. From the above statement it looks like to me that you are either convincing yourself of things that are obviously not true or just blatantly lying.

    Sure, several of us have commented on your style (at least one of them I think is Christian). But both exrelayman and Nate have very obviously responded to much of your content and others have responded to small parts of your content. I even responded to one small part of it, but I realize that drawn out discussions with you won’t be productive.

    @Ark: I can say that you always manage to crack me up! You’re definitely growing on me buddy.

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  16. @Nate,

    This is a great post as usual. I feel very similar but can’t quite express the confidence you have. This is admittedly something that might be wrong about me – I’ve never really had huge amounts of confidence in myself given that I sometimes focus too much on the mistakes and wrong thinking that I fall into. And when it comes to things like metaphysical reality I just think that humans have not come near far enough to really form any good conclusions about what that reality is like.

    While I see pretty low likelihood of this happening, perhaps someday given new experiences or new evidences that may pop up I may be able to see that some parts of the Christian message have truth in them. Perhaps there is a god who isn’t perfect (or maybe isn’t all-powerful, or maybe isn’t all loving) but made some screwed up attempt at trying to communicate things about reality through the people who wrote different so-called “inspired” scriptures. But for me this equally includes scriptures of many many other faiths. I recently checked out a book from the library that had a very long list as well as some content of scriptures that were considered inspired by different religions of the world. When you include even some primitive cultures this list is incredibly huge. I’m rambling a bit now, but I think you get my point.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everything is on the table for me. I’ve expressed some things on your blog that I just can’t see ever being able to make sense of, and if they don’t make sense I can’t see saying that I believe them.

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  17. William,

    You are using the same logical fallacies that I defined for Nate as an argument against my reasoning.

    That means you didn’t understand a single idea in my comments.

    Actions do not determine whether something exists. Because God doesn’t act the way you think he should has nothing to do with whether he exists or not.

    You applied your personal standard of correct behavior to God and determined that he doesn’t exist because he doesn’t conform to your behavior standards.

    That is like saying your child will cease to exist because he doesn’t conform to your behavioral standards.

    And what if a child accused his father of not measuring up to the child’s expectations and then declared that his father no longer existed.

    We would all say that the child was delusional.

    Well I say that the reasoning used by you and Nate is delusional. I don’t say that to be mean. I say that because that is the true nature of your thinking.

    Atheism is such an intellectual plague. Yet people deliberately choose it.

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  18. I identify with this. I considered myself an open-minded Christian and even muttered the “One or both of us is wrong, but we can’t both be right” mantra on many occasions.

    When I look back I do see that its because I was open minded and prepared to question and challenge myself that I ended up turning my back on Christianity. I wanted to learn more and when I did I found Christianity wanting.

    I am disappointed by the posts by silenceofmind. The comments about atheists hating or blaming god make no sense. Why can’t I hate or blame shiva?

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  19. Howie,

    Your comment is all about my style, about me lying, about everything but the actual topic.

    The reason you don’t argue the point is because you can’t. You don’t have the intellectual capacity. Atheism has robbed you of your thinking mind.

    All you and your atheist brethren can do is make declarations of personal opinion and then declare them to be true.

    And since all you folks exist in an echo chamber, you just repeat what each other says and tell each other how right on you are.

    Without the one true God, you have no choice but to become god of your own little reality.

    And what need has god to learn anything? And how can god be wrong?

    And how can anyone who questions the gods like I have done here be anything other than a heretic?

    Like

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