We human beings like to think we are right, all the time.
Why is this?
- ⇒ An insatiable need to be right which masks a deep fear of being wrong?
- ⇒ A high need to expect others to see it our way?
- ⇒ An inability to say, "I don't know." and "I was wrong"?
- ⇒ A feeling of being threatened from new ideas from other people?
- ⇒ A fear of hearing new information that threatens our beliefs?
- ⇒ A preoccupation with winning approval from a god or other people?
- ⇒ The need to always be seen as tough, powerful and strong?
- ⇒ A belief that others who disagree with us are wrong and should change?
What we human beings don’t like to admit is that we are frequently wrong.
I am quite aware of my ability to be wrong. I believed for decades that being a Christian was the right thing to be. I was sure that studying to show myself approved was the highest of callings, and that sharing my discoveries with others was the greatest good a person could do. I was convinced of my position in all matters religious. No one could argue me out of anything. If someone brought up a question I couldn’t answer, I dove into the masses of commentaries and apologetics until I found an answer that quieted my mind and gave me the assurance that, after all, I was still right. I pacified my ego and pride by telling myself that the Holy Spirit had promised to lead me into all truth, and therefore, it was unlikely that I was wrong. Anyone who insisted on arguing with me I easily dismissed as either mislead or under the oppression of the devil. And of course I did all this with a humble and prayerful heart.
As a Christian, I refused to accept the possibility that I might be wrong when it came to Christianity. Christianity was the truth, and any contradictions or inconsistencies I found in the Bible or the lives of other Christians, I excused as human frailty and the inability to completely comprehend or grasp the will of the Almighty. On top of that, I had the witness of the Spirit. I "felt" that Christianity was the truth. It gave me great comfort to believe in Christ, to walk with HIM and talk with HIM along life’s weary way.
In essence, I stopped questioning anything that would cast doubt on my faith, consumed massive amounts of literature supporting my faith, and made a dogmatic decision to believe, regardless of what anyone, anywhere might say, ever.
I’ve been humbled since that time. Age, experience, and finally, honest, open investigation into the history and development of Christian belief through the last 20 centuries forced me to admit the possibility that no magical ghost was leading or teaching Christians, and that my unshakeable faith in Christianity was more akin to stubbornness and the need to be right, than anything else. Christianity has changed and mutated so much in 2,000 years, and yet, every generation of Christians believes that they, and perhaps they alone, have the best and most true version of the faith that was once delivered to the saints.
Benjamin Franklin once said:
"For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise."
Being right is something that people value. Who wants to be wrong about anything? Who wants to admit to being wrong?
Non-believers and believers alike are equally prone to stubbornly refusing to admit to the possibility of being wrong. But what Christians too frequently fail to understand is that ex-Christians have already admitted to being wrong. Ex-Christians were once Christians who whole-heartedly embraced a cult that claimed to hold all the answers to the universe, and later, sometimes much later, for any number of reasons, came to the realization that they were wrong.
Most people become Christians early in life, before they really have the experience or knowledge to make a well-thought-out decision. Childhood conversions may be sincere, but are bereft of thorough investigation. Adult conversions are often emotional, occurring during times of personal stress or problems, and equally without probing research. The well paraded testimonies of reformed alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, et al., rather than confirming the truth of Christianity, illustrate something else entirely: a desire for change. Religions and philosophies do offer change, especially for the person who feels out of control. If a person finds the strength to limit or avoid self-destructive behaviors by becoming immersed in a cult, more power to that person, I suppose. However, ultimately, these stories of redemption from self-destruction speak less to the efficaciousness of religion and more to the natural human instinct for personal survival. Most people understand that a lifestyle of self-destruction will eventually destroy a person if nothing changes. And once the person is free of a dangerous addiction, he or she may equate leaving the cult as a guarantee of returning to the abandoned lifestyle. Christianity reinforces this pattern of thought by teaching that a person must abide in Christ or risk being cast aside. At no time will a person be told it is possible to live a clean life outside of Christianity.
Of course there may be other reasons for conversion, but can there be any question that childhood conversions and adult conversions during difficult times comprise the bulk of conversion stories? I was a Christian for 30 years. These two types of personal testimonials filled my ears during those decades.
Now, many years later, I am an ex-Christian. I didn’t become an ex-Christian because someone hurt my feelings. I became an ex-Christian after studiously endeavoring to learn all I could about my God, my faith, Christianity, history, theology, and other closely related topics. Little by little I discovered that Christianity is just another magical cult that captured the imaginations and satisfied the emotional needs of enough people over the years to gather a strong following. I found out that it is not truth, it is not even unique, and that I had been wrong.
No doubt, Christians will continue to insist that the ex-Christian is closed minded — that the ex-Christian hasn’t closely considered all the facts — that the ex-Christian is stubborn and refuses to admit to being wrong. But in reality, it is the Christian who is calling the kettle black. Most Christians are afraid to analyze their religion from a position of neutrality, from outside of the approved list of authors and books. When I was a Christian, I was discouraged from reading anything written by non-Christian authors. Such materials could damage faith, I was told.
Those prophets were correct. Once I finally broke taboo and started reading materials less apologetic in nature, not to just argue with the materials, but to actually listen to what the authors had to say, my faith started to show cracks.
When it comes to religion, few people read things to test their faith. Most read things that confirm their faith. They like to read things that tell them they are right. If they do read an opposing view, it is with the intention of finding flaws in the argument, and once again, confirming the position of faith.
It is a difficult thing to admit being wrong. I know.
So, Christian, when you come here and post, please be aware that ex-Christians have already agonized over being wrong. We know we can be wrong. We admit to having been wrong in the past, and admit that the possibility to be wrong again still exists in the future.
Be honest with yourself, Christian. Are you willing to admit you might be wrong?