2/07/2011 | Share this article:By Thin-ice ~
I finally found my de-conversion story that I posted two years ago here at exchristian.net. (I couldn't find it because I used a different sign-in back then). If anyone wants to read my original posting so you can make sense of some things I say below, go here.
It's interesting to look back and see what I wrote a couple of years ago, and to see how far I've come since then. With my de-conversion came an insatiable curiosity, not only about my former faith and it's origins, but about the entire natural world. Science is my friend now, not a threat to my belief system. I've invariably got about 5 or 6 books on the go at one time, everything from Robert Ingersoll to Robert Wright, from Bart Simpson to Bart Ehrman. I've missed my chance to get a graduate degree, like ExPastorDan is doing (you ROCK!), but I still enjoy using my limited intelligence to follow the discussions on, for example, John Loftus blog, and Common Sense Atheism. I love watching David Attenborough and Neil deGrasse Tyson! My regret is that it wasn’t until I was 60 years old that I finally started learning about the wonderful universe around me, without looking through christian-colored spectacles.
I’ve managed to attend talks here in town by Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchins, Richard Dawkins other well-known freethinkers. Portland had it’s first Humanist Film Fest” last fall, for which I designed the logo and supporting literature (but not the website!). I was able to be interviewed on local Public Radio when they did a show about "Keeping the Faith", in which I told the story of my de-conversion at about the 31min40sec mark.
So then, reading through my story from two years ago, I’m pulling out a few phrases from that, and underneath you will find how I’ve moved on from that statement:
- "I'm not an atheist, and at best I am agnostic-lite..."Update: Although I still don't like labels (much as anything because everyone interprets words differently), I'm not uncomfortable with the term atheist, and certainly like the term agnostic even better, mainly because I think it is impossible to prove in any sort of empirical way that a supernatural being exists or not. I lean towards "not".
- "I am a great admirer of Jesus..."Update: I've now read a lot of Bart Ehrman and others about NT formation. I now realize that Jesus, if he did exist, was a Jewish preacher with no more supernatural power than, say, Joseph Smith. At least we have independent sources, such as newspapers, from that time verifying that a certain Joseph Smith did exist. But with Jesus, virtually no reliable accounts of his existence are to be found outside the N.T. gospels. As portrayed in the gospels, which each seem to be describing an entirely different person, he is schizophrenic, moody, volatile, misogynistic and delusional. In fact the gospels were written so far after his alleged existence, that absolutely nothing can be known about him for certain. Yes, the Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes) is great, but as it turns out, most of it was made up by others. (And as for the O.T. portraying actual history, let's not even start on that!
- "...the faith of atheism..."Update: calling Atheism a faith was ignorant, just as ignorant as calling a non-belief in Santa Claus a faith!
- "There is an immense, immeasurable amount of pure humanitarian work being done around the world, in the name of Jesus..."Update: It is sort-of true, but most of that work has strings attached: listen to sermons, attend a church, go to a christian school, give your life to Jesus. Even when it appears that no strings are attached, the underlying motive of those christians is: "If we do good works and help people, then they will see the love of Jesus at work through us, and they will want to know more about him." I now see that it is extremely rare for christians to be 100% free of religious motives when they do good. There is no doing good for it's own sake, by christians, as far as I can see.
- "I am missing the caring community..."Update:I have involved myself with Center For Inquiry groups, Atheists, Etc. and HGP meetups here in town, and met lots of nice people, some ex-christians, others with no religious background, but all humanists and freethinkers. They still do not have the volume of resources and critical mass, or wealth of experience that christian churches have in creating community, but things are moving in the right direction. The main principle creating community, though, is that to the amount you are willing to give of yourself, that will be the measure of what you receive in return.
So there you have it: moving onwards and upwards. (OMG, did I just quote from Narnia?) I'm still reading and learning more about the my former faith, mainly out of curiosity, because the longer I'm out of it, the more remote the possibility of my "renewing again unto repentance", as the apostle Paul put it. And certainly, reading the stories of de-conversion and humanism from all of you are an encouragement that we are making progress. It seems at times an almost insurmountable task, pushing back against the ignorance and fear that religion has infused into this country, especially. But I think we are making some progress.