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 have one request: IF YOU READ THIS, PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END BEFORE RESPONDING. That is all.

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.

-Kevin

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

12 comments:

  1. Though I don't agree with most of what you say, I understand and accept your choice. I am wholeheartedly your friend, and look forward to game nights and whatnot. =D

    One thing I request you do (and I think you will) is to ask yourself questions about everyting, as you did in coming to this conclusion; and research all the various possibilities for answers. During this, keep an open mind to every "viewpoint" (don't be biased like some people I've talked to who don't want to believe in God because they want to do whatever they want, rather than having as you say logical reasons, though I don't think you'll do that), get answers from those viewpoints, and choose the one that best corresponds to reality.

    I went through a similar time, and actually came to the opposite conclusion (that God is the only explanation), but I need to head out to work. I'll keep in touch on facebook/here and am looking forward to maybe some TI soon!

    Aaron

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  2. Doug Radzanowski21 July 2009 at 08:15

    Kevin, I don't agree with some of what you say, but I stand by you in your decision to search for the truth. I know I haven't been the best of friends, and my loyalty to my girlfriend/now fiancee has meant spending more time with her than you. I do feel bad about the broken engagements I had with you, but I would have hoped in the philosophy group at Crossing that you would have found an antithesis to the hypocrisy and doublethought rampant in the church today.
    I certainly understand your frustration with the church, I was in a church that crumbled as well, mostly due to crazy amounts of gossip, a lot of it based on my family. Long story short, that was a lot of the reason we moved to Colorado Springs (the church was in Arizona).

    My faith in God, though mainly in his people, was shaken to the very core. But then I went to MSC and found people who, while still being very faulty, didn't try to hide their faults, but instead openly admitted them.

    In your search for the truth, I stand by you as my dear friend. I hope only that you return someday to a belief in Christ, a belief not based on fluffy thoughts, but based on hard logic and reasoning. I look forward to many nights of arguing about various topics, including but not limited to, moving the universe, Hnefatafl, and other such pursuits.

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  3. I'm not a very eligant speaker or writer and I really don't know alot about life. All that I know is from my experiece and I'm not big into exploring on my own and researching things. I just feel I have to say these things.

    I agree with you about the church. I'm not a big fan of what i've seen alot of christian people becoming. I don't like I know anyone who hasn't had a bad church going eperience. My family was run out of your old church by my very aunt and uncle. So I've never really liked some christian people. The dislike has led me to stop going to youthgroups and I spend more time in my own personal biblestudies. And I have to admit I've been happier and learned more from that than I ever did in youth group studies.

    Also I am a huge fan of logic. Every decision I think about making has to have some logical reasoning behind it. When friends ask me advice I do my best to give them logical answers. Logic is one of the greatest tools we have. However I've found in my experience that if we use logic on something that we can't prove is true or false we always end up with circular reasoning. You can't ever be sure about something by circular reasoning. I've had many friends who have walked away from christianity. Its always made me wonder about my own faith. I've alays come to one conclusion. We can't ever be sure we just have to hope we're making the right decision. I know most christian wouldn't agree with me, but thats how I feel. I remember a philosopher I studied in my class last semester. I can't remember his name and I don't totally agree with him, but he basically came up with the argument of where do you want to place your bet.

    If you place your bet in God and there is one you've won. If you place your bet with God and there isn't one you really haven't won or lost. If you don't place your best in God an there isn't one you haven't lost or won. But if you don't place your bet in God and there is a God you've lost. So he believed that people should play the odds.

    While I don't agree with him totally I've always thought he had a point.

    So I hope I haven't bored you to death I just felt conpelled to give you my two cents. I hope everything works out for you man. I can't wait to go shooting again.

    Nate Julsonnet

    PS I didn't proof read at all so I'm sorry.

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  4. Hey, I don't have long but I'll probably post more later. I really never got to know you that well, but I just want to say that I am completely open to any questions (and I really do mean anything at all you can think of) you have about Chrisianity or my personal faith. I totally understand your train of thought and I don't think any differently of you at all or of your character. I am a 100% logical thinker so if you ever want to discuss anything I promise not to present anything that is not grounded in reality and reason.

    Again I don't know you as well as I'd like to, but I'll stay in touch and I hope that your search for the truth goes well. Any serious Christian (or member of any religion, Atheism included) you talk to should be open to a complete scrutiny of their beliefs.

    G'day eh?

    Brian Hendrix

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  5. Kevin.... You rock. Many people feel that its hard to be a Christian in a room of athiests... but I think its even harder to be an athiest in a room of Christians. What you've done by writing this is a hard thing to do. I don't know if it means anything to you, but I'm proud of you. You've got guts. As far as your logic and reasoning goes... well... its really well thought out. Its very similar to the kind of questions I've been asking.

    Ultimately I must wonder, whats the difference? Between the Moral Atheist and the Christian... where is the line? What is truely different about the Christian other than the belief that there is a difference? I'm not going to bore you with MORE reason to not believe. Your a smart guy. If the truth is that there IS a God and this God is indeed the Christian God then the evidence must support this. If thats not the truth... then life seems kinda bleak. But even if the truth is bleak, its still the truth. I for one want to live like a better person if there is no God. If all we have is ourselves and life is what WE make it out to be, then its time to start practicing much of what Christians preach. Its time to start loving people unconditionally. Its time to stop judging people. Its time to start making this world a better place...

    I want to take a paragraph to respond to the 'playing the odds' theory that Nathan mentioned. Although the logic makes sence I do believe that it falls through. If there is NO god and I spend my life pursuing one then I've not just 'played the best odd' but I've waisted my entire life. I've pursued a lie all the days of my life. I've told people that they would go to hell. I've cried tears and fought with a deity that is non-existant. I've spent all my days wishing people were different. I've spent all my days longing for my death so I could be with a god that isn't there. I've wished that everyone would believe. I've wished that everyone would believe a lie! I've tried to convicne others to ignore the truth and follow a falsity. I've condemed people for being homosexual when the reality is that homosexuality is NOT a sin. I've fought and voted against gay marriage. I've fought and voted against a gay couple adopting children. I've spent my entire life expecting people to live up to MY standard and act according to MY beliefs... all of which were a lie.

    I don't know about you... but that sounds like a pretty crappy existance to me. So although the 'odds' argument SEEMS to make sense, its still given with a Bias TOWARDS christianity. It doesn't honestly consider the alternative. Its also a form of 'bullying' someone into believing. Its at best an argument through fear and a threat to believe. "if your wrong your going to Hell... If I'm wrong nothing changes"-bullcrap. You've waisted your life.

    P.S. I'm sorry about all the gramatical problems. This comment box is exempt from the red squiggly line that firefox gives me... and I'm lost with out my line, lol

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  6. What? no paste function? What's up with that? I just typed my whole response in Word. I'll e-mail you my response. For anybody else reading, the bottom line of my comments was that Kevin's summary is spot on. Keep searching for the truth and you will find it, besides there isn't anything you can do to separate you from the love of God.

    Kevin, you're not my friend, you're my brother!
    Kyon

    PS for Kendall... Right click, click "Check Spelling". Works wonders...

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  7. Doug Radzanowski22 July 2009 at 02:35

    yeah, Kendall, that squigly line is precious!

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  8. Humm..... So I come to an impass. What am I too say about the whole thing? If I call myself a follower of Christ and His Father than I must be compelled to speak,

    Religion and constructed mindsets are a degenerative construct of men who need to have a concrete definition for the things we can not explain. THis is where the physical world cannot help.---Why do the electrons of an atom not collapse to the protons?-- The search for truth on a physical plane can never produce an answer. The truth is one thing and one thing alone, that is a life in pursuit of Christ and a relationship with our Father. There is no belief that can match this nor evidence that can dissuade a person, except when someone wants to create a world view of his own. So my footsteps behind Jesus compels me to say that there is no search for truth there is only Christ and only He is truth.

    If I call myself your friend then I am to speak like this,

    You and I are very similar. We both grew up in non christian military homes where we were forced to go to church because it was the "right" thing to do. This was a living hell for me and something I would never like to do again, but it allowed the words of God to be written on my heart, so that when time came I knew what truth was. Knowing and feeling are very different. There are times I "feel" saved but more often then not I "know" I am saved. It was not feeling that kept Christ on the cross but his knowledge that His death is the only way to truth and back to a relationship with God. So what makes us so different?? You are easily one of the smartest men I know but what do you do with that knowledge? If you do not live your life in pursuit of God then what are you going to use your talents for? All the great men of history used their talents for God and are remembered for their contributions to the world. Washington, Constantine, C.S. Lewis, Luther etc...

    So tell me what are you planning to do with your abilities, and who are you planing to futher enrich this world for??

    Have fun man I wait to hear from you>

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  9. Before I begin, let me say this. You asked me to read to the end, and I did. I ask the same courtesy of you. What I have to say to you may hurt you as much as what you had to say hurt me, but please, please read to the end.

    Kevin, you and I have spent so many years in the same places, being loved by the same people, and being taught the same things that I have grown as accustomed to your presence as I have to my own brother's. Talking and listening to you has led me to truly enjoy you as a brother. I have loved you as such for years and feel as if my heart has been ripped out of my chest and trampled because of what this note says. For this reason, be warned that I will approach you in real love, not in the hypocritical pish-posh that so often passes for love in the secular world (aka "love and tolerance")- such hypocrisy disgusts me. If I now become your enemy for telling you the truth, so be it. I would rather tell you the truth and have you hate me forever than watch you die in silence, or, worse, "tolerance." You will have to forgive me for the harshness in my tone, but what you have written in this note is sheer folly. There are certainly errors in this "logic," but I will not waste my time by pointing out every single one here. (Note: paragraphs 7 and 12 (I think - I'm no better at numbers than you are) contain quite a few, for example. You're smart. See if you can find them.) I can tell you quite honestly that if our positions were reversed, it would be pride driving me to such thoughts, and pride has a tendency to have a big mouth and small ears - such an endeavor would probably only encourage you to try to use "logic" to get around them, which I will submit to you is the very essence of folly. You are one man, Kevin. You are intelligent, but you are only as intelligent as one man. If you would like to challenge the Almighty Maker of Heaven and Earth to a battle of the wits, remember that you are finite and He is not. I have encountered all of the questions you have raised, and found that He always has an answer.

    I have rambled on too long already. Let me get to the point. You doubt that God exists. I cannot "show" you God, Kevin, to prove to you that He exists. He can rend the Heavens and reveal Himself - His very, actual, physical presence - to you just fine without my help. He's done it before. But is that something you really want Him to do? Think about all that you have learned of God, and if you don't know what I'm talking about, read the Bible - and seriously question if you would like to meet that God, right now, face to face.

    I won't lie to you Kevin, losing your friendship is not something I would choose nor is it something I am hoping for. In fact it would bitterly wound me. However, the Pauline epistles give some very clear guidelines for how a believer is to treat one who has fallen away. This I will follow in the hopes and prayers that God will work mightily in your heart. I will not remain friends with you. I am sure that you think this is cruel and judgmental on my part. I am sure that many of our friends will think the same, but I cannot act according to what they think, but what the Bible says. Understand that hatred, anger and judgment have absolutely no part in that decision (it's okay - I don't expect you to believe me now, but I pray you will believe me soon). I do not hate you, I am not angry with you (at ALL), and I do not condemn you - on the contrary, I do what I do in the hopes that you will be saved, not condemned. I will simply not sit here and tell you that this is okay so that you feel better about the decision that you have made. I will not be an accomplice to your suicide. I will hand your flesh over to Satan, in hopes that through it your soul will be saved. My dear brother, I love you too much to accept your decision to destroy yourself. Repent. Please!

    In Christ's eternal love,
    Carolyn

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  10. Carolyn... the bible doesn't say to abandon people who 'fall away' from the faith. It says to abandon people who call them self 'brother' and indulge in every kind of sin. Instead it says to 'treat them like an unbeliever'... which means to show them the love of Christ and share with them the 'truth' of Christ in hopes that they will return to the faith. NOWHERE does the bible say to abandon people who fall away. Look it up. All the passages that speak of 'kicking people out of fellowship' and 'giving them over to Satan' refer to one who SAYS he believes. If Kevin has said that he no longer believes then he doesn't fall into this category... Look it up. Your clearly not in line with what the bible says.

    P.S. Kyon... Thank you for the advice!! It works wonders!

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  11. @Kendall @Nathan The odds theory was from Pascal (sp) and is called "Pascals Wager". If you that there was a god and it turned out there was one I don't know how happy he would be about your motives. :) Also, you're chances are reduced because who knows if you'll guess the right god.

    To quote SouthPark: [bunch of people end up in hell]"Hey, what are we doing here?" "Oooo, I'm sorry, the right answer was Mormonism, the Mormons had it right." :)

    Of course that is based soley on Pascals Wager, not any of the other evidence that might exist.

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  12. Hmm... Pascals Wager. I'll try to remember that.

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