By A Freethinking Okie
It seems I have been getting a lot of nasty personal emails from Christians calling me all sorts of names, saying I am bitter, angry, resentful, hateful, sad, bigoted, lost, confused, wavering, over-reacting, disillusioned, schizophrenic, bi-polar, and lactose intolerant. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I keep getting the same stuff everyday. It seems there are lots of Christians out there that feel it’s there duty to rebuke me and put this poor’ lost atheist in his place. Like an average blue-collar middle-of-nowhere small town Oklahoman whose face is easily lost in any crowd is a major threat to their faith. They could just as easily overlook me and ignore me as just another tiny voice of no real threat on the vast global network called the internet. But the emails just keep coming.
I’m certainly no threat to them…or maybe I am. Yes, I think I am. Why?
Well, the more I thought about it today the more I realized something about Christians (especially myself when I was a Christian). I had read on Ex-Christian.net a few weeks ago this idea that Christians are constantly having to convince themselves of the ‘truth’. At first I thought this was incorrect, but the more I thought about it I realized it made a lot of sense.
Case in point: I began to look back at my entire 12 years as a Christian. for the first 6 years (ages 14-20) I was pretty naive. At 14 I pretty much believed what I was told by an adult who was a perceived authority in the matter and certainly wouldn’t steer me wrong. However, as I began to age my naturally curious mind wanted to know how all the pieces fit together. The more I looked at the puzzle the more I realized that things weren’t fitting together like they should. I mean, if Christianity is THE truth then it should all go together nicely, right?
My college years hit me like a bombshell. Christians, if you want your kids to stay ’strong’ then don’t send them to liberal arts universities. The one class that almost did me in was “Logic and Critical Thinking”. I thought I was a strong Christian but I was hanging on to my faith by a thread by the end of the semester. I realized the only way to regain my strength was to totally immerse myself in Christians studies and stop being skeptical. I force-fed myself all the latest in books and CDs. After a while I stabilized and was even more zealous for my faith. But I was never the same. It seemed I had to continue to immerse myself in my religious studies. I couldn’t seem to uproot that small sapling of doubt in my heart. I kept hearing over and over “something just isn’t right” deep within me. I think this is how I ended up crossing over into Christian Hebraic-Roots movement.
I always pressed myself to live beyond the status quo of those around me, to live passionately and full of zeal. I could match wits with any minister I came in contact with because ignorance was not bliss. I knew that traditional Christianity was all screwed up so I knew I had to get back to the ‘roots’, back to the 1st century, back to the way Jesus lived his Christianity. What I didn’t realize is that he lived as a Jew…because he was a Jew. It was at this time that my skepticism became a GOOD thing. I began to question everything I had been taught in traditional Christian theology and doctrine. I also changed a lot of my practices to conform more to how I thought Jesus would have done it. Fortunately for me I let my skeptic muscle get stronger, so strong that I began to question the very foundations of my faith. It came to the point that I could no longer deny all the evidences I had revealed before me. The burden of proof laid with the Christians and there just wasn’t enough preponderance of the evidence to convince me of the ‘truth’ of Christianity. I lost my ‘faith’.
Getting back to why a guy like me is such a threat to some of these people is that I think deep down in their own hearts they have to be violently defensive about their beliefs because if they gave me any inch it would completely unseat their own faith. Just like me, they have to immerse themselves much into their studies to stay convinced. I personally spent thousands of dollars on books to keep me convinced. And I think the more intelligent a Christian is the more it takes to keep them convinced. They need more ‘proofs’. I think this is why Christians have to have thousands of books covering every topic beyond what is written in the Bible. The Bible simply isn’t enough for them.
I have a ‘friend’ who is highly intelligent and a believer. He really is incredibly smart, and much more articulate then I could dream of being. But he also has several thousand books in his library, and he even admits that his daily bible study lacks. Some would say that because he read those books he is intelligent, but I would argue that because he is intelligent, highly intelligent, he needs all those books to stay comfortably nestled in his faith. I think if he for one second allowed himself to think objectively he too would be a strong atheist. But he has way too much at stake, way too much vested interest to change sides now. I think he would rather live and die wrong than live the truth and be rejected by his peers.
Me? Well, I have nothing to lose. And I am not afraid. Life will be what will be, come what may. But I will face reality with open arms and in the end, well, it won’t matter, I will cease to exist, and that’s okay.
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)