Tuesday 21 July 2009

Breaking the Chains

Hello, if you are reading this, I consider you a friend. I know many of you from school, some from church, and others I have only met online. Firstly, I thank you for your friendship.


I am an atheist. Yes, you read correctly. This has been a long time coming, and I think it is finally time, that I make public the private doubts that have been building for several years now.

My experiences with Christianity as a child were quite varied. Unlike many of my friends, I did not grow up in a Christian home, and it was not until I was in elementary school that my mother regularly started attending church at the invitation of a friend. Though my father never attended church, I was often “dragged” along on these expeditions...rather unwillingly I might add. As with most kids, I was much more excited by box forts, sandboxes, and jungle gyms than by long boring talks about topics that no ordinary kid would find exciting. Nevertheless, as I grew older, I did so in the structure of Christianity, attending church, children's church, and for a few years a Christian school. I learned about all the different bible stories, learned songs about “father Abraham” and the wise man who build a house on a rock. I learned about morality and why we shouldn't take things without asking, hurt other people, or covet someone else's belongings. During these early years I did not really question what I was taught.

As I grew older, I spent time in various children's churches and youth groups. I participated in Awana at several churches, and went to a Christian summer camp with my school. During this time, I distinctly remember becoming confused about the concept of salvation. Why did I feel exactly the same when I was “saved” as before. I took up the amusing habit of “re-saving” myself on a regular basis just to be safe. Just before my last year of junior high, my father got out of the military and we moved to Colorado Springs. Immediately my mother found a church for us to attend and I have very fond memories of this time. I met many kind people, and my youth-group participated in a variety of enjoyable activities such as Christian concerts, trips to Elich Gardens, and game nights. After a few years of this the church broke up. I don't feel it necessary to go into the details here because they do not really pertain to the point of my story. Let it suffice for me to say that the breakup of the church was not planned and was a real upset for the members of that congregation.

By this point, I was pretty well integrated into the culture of the church. I had long since given up my habit of “re-saving” myself, and felt very secure in my “eternal destiny”. I never really questioned whether such a thing existed, I just knew that it worked for me. I had great friends, a good family life, I was happy, and I saw no reason to doubt or explore my options. After the breakup of our first church in Colorado Springs, we began to attend what was then known as the Mountain Springs Vineyard. It was a larger church than any of the churches we had previously attended, something I enjoyed, but later caused my mother to seek out smaller churches where she considered the people to be friendlier and more personal. By that time, I had become well rooted at MSC. I was a regular attendee at services, a happy member of the youth group, an occasional participant on mission trips, and I continued to grow in my dedication to the church and the biblical principals for which it stood. There was a time where I would attend church multiple times a week, staying for multiple services, participating in bible studies, doing street evangelism, and happily volunteering my time in the soundbooth, or wherever else I had an opportunity to help out. I believed wholeheartedly and saw myself being involved to the same degree for an infinite amount of time in the future. It was during this time period when I made many of my closest friendships, many of which survive to this day.

I have always been bad with numbers, so I don't know how many years passed, but at some point I began to feel myself distancing from the extremely church-integrated life I had led in the past. I stopped volunteering in the soundbooth, and I no longer helped with the junior high students on the weekend. Why this happened, I still don't entirely know. If I look back, it seemed like I was doing everything right, yet somehow I was drawn away. I still attended services, but I had become quite dissatisfied with the church and with Christianity in general. I recorded many of my thoughts from this time period in a notebook. I a bit of a poet, and find great joy in recording my thoughts and ideas in artistic form. Some of these writings are personal, but I don't usually mind sharing them when someone asks. It was during this time that I began to subconsciously realize that many of my views and ideas about life where poorly supported or altogether ridiculous and began to generate complex rationalizations for them. I never took seriously the possibility that I could just ditch them and follow the truth wherever it might lead me. This realization now stands in the center of my world-view and I have never found anyone who could sum it up as beautifully as the German philosopher and poet Frederich Nietzsche did in this poem “Mein Glück”Seit ich des Suchens müde ward,
erlernte ich das finden.
Einst heilt mir der wind Widerpart,
Jetzt segle ich mit allen Winden.

Since I tired of the search,
I learned to find.
Once the wind opposed me,
Now I sail with all winds.

I spent so many years of my life fighting the wind of logic. I sailed my ship of thought against the winds of reality and the stronger they grew, the harder I rowed. Now I am content to find and learn. I no longer oppose the wind, but rather allow logic to blow me in whatever direction I will find truth. Since I value logic so highly, I only think it fair that I should expound on it, and flesh out some of the reasoning behind my deconverion.

Logic is perhaps the most important thing in the world. It is the basis of human understanding, and thought. Try to have a thought or come up with an idea without using logic to some degree. The very process of language requires logic. Without logic, we are like lower animals, driven only by the most primal instincts, and incapable of complex thought or any form of understanding.

Oftentimes, people have told me that logic is flawed and that it cannot be trusted. What then are we to trust? Can we trust God? If so, what is the basis of our trust? One cannot honestly say that they arrive at their faith in God via the same logic they claim is flawed. This leaves us with two options. Firstly, there is the possibility that logic is not flawed and that if we follow it we will eventually arrive at the conclusion that God can be trusted. If this is true, then why is it that so many Christians cry foul when you ask the hard questions, ones without simple answers? The second option is that because our logic is flawed we can never know anything about anything including God. That doesn't work for me, and upon careful inspection I don't see how it can work for any rational person, but I don't intend to dissect everyone else's thought processes.

And now, I must become somewhat disorganized because the vast quantities of ideas and thoughts I am dealing with do not easily lent themselves to organization and categorization.

Magic, miracles, and the supernatural are often claimed when our understanding is incomplete. Yet it seems that time after time these superstitions have been replaced with understanding as our capability for reason grows. Once we thought that the world was flat; pending the invention of physics, the telescope, and modern cartography, we have come to the realization that our planet is a sphere. Once we thought that diseases were the result of demonic possession; now, thanks to modern medicine, we understand germs and viruses. Once we thought that the universe was static; then physics introduced us to the big bang and now we are discovering that reality may be even more extensive and far reaching than that, encompassing multiverses and the cyclic generation and destruction of universes over millions of years. Sea monsters were once considered a legitimate threat; but now no rational individual would tolerate such nonsense. Nevertheless, religion claims to be exempt from this, and as new discoveries are made, they are resisted for as long as possible, and then accepted only grudgingly and with many stipulations and modifications so as not to weaken related superstitions. Since logic is the basis of our minds I refuse to participate further in this willful delusion, even if I am in the smallest of minorities.

Religion often attaches itself to entirely non-religious and in the case of Christianity non-Biblically supported concepts and ideas. In many parts of the United States it is impossible to be against the death penalty and still be considered a “good Christian.” From the way people act, it seems absolutely certain that the Jesus was a rich white, pro-life, pro-death penalty, gun-toting, capitalist, anti-welfare, Republican. This is not up for debate.

The Religious exhibit more hypocrisy than any group on the planet. They consistently judge others, while secret practicing all the things they pretend to detest. Why is it that Christians, claim that Christian marriage is so different, yet they get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians? If God has truly placed two people together why is it that someone like Ted Haggard who vehemently preached against homosexuality turned out to be a closet homosexual and drug addict. I didn't sit there and watch him do what he did, but in the weeks of denial that followed, it was pretty easy to see through the bullshit and discover what was really going on.

Christians embrace wholeheartedly the hierarchies in society which are alleged to give some men power over others and even go so far as to designate dissent as a “sin.” Groupthink is encouraged and individualism is frowned upon. Anyone who dares to step outside the norm or ask questions is immediately deemed a thought criminal. If anyone can be said to have thoroughly understood such things it would be George Orwell. His book 1984 seems to perfectly foreshadow the direction in which our country, and likely many other countries, are headed. Doublethink as Orwell called it is now commonplace. Everyday, people willfully delude themselves in order too escape the consequences of reality and the world they live in.

Rather than attempting to understand the true nature of morality, the religious subscribe to the idea of a cosmic hangman who sees every thought and action and will punish anyone who deviates from the laws and rules revealed by his “spokesmen.”

Rather than try to make the world we live in a better place, the religious find themselves wishing for Armageddon. If the whole world gets nuked because of some religious disagreement, they won't view that as a bad thing. Rather than practice love and tolerance, they have chosen to judge and hate. They wish for then “end-times” and many are actively attempting to expedite their arrival.

I've probably lost at least half of my readers by now, so I will forgo any further redress and begin to wrap things up. I quit. My decisions are based on logic and reason. I will not willfully delude myself, and I will not play the game simple for social expedience. I reject Christianity and choose instead to follow the truth wherever it might lead me. Unless they are scared that it cannot stand up to scrutiny, I think a real Christian should be OK with this. After all, if the truth is the truth, then surely the questions I ask, no matter how numerous or complex should eventually bring me to the point where I once again believe. I suppose this is a good place to insert one of my favorite quotes from my journal.

Unlike many people, I do not have the ability to repress true belief in order to obtain temporal comfort or social expedience. Many times have I longed for ignorance and the simplicity it brings – yet I have done so in vain. That which is thought cannot be unthought and that which seems true cannot be falsified by power of will.”

I hope that some of you will be able to see past our differences and that we will remain friends. I realize that many of you will be unwilling to do so. Nevertheless, I wish you the best.


P.S. I apologize for any grammatical errors. This was written all at once, and I did not do an awful lot of proofreading.