Book Review: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist – Ch 6.2

6: NEW LIFE FORMS: FROM THE GOO TO YOU VIA THE ZOO? (PART 2)

I had every emotional and volitional reason to want to believe in Christianity. I was in the nursery when I started going to church. I went to Christian school from first through twelfth grades. I had the fear of hell hammered into me on a deep emotional level at Christian summer camp. I had Christian parents, Christian teachers, and Christian friends. I did not desire to disappoint my parents, to be markedly different from my peers, or to be unable to relate to my daily lifestyle of prayer, Bible study and Christian conversation. As far as security and admiration, I had everything to lose and nothing to gain by publically disbelieving. The idea of avoiding moral prohibitions is laughable. I was eleven when I started to doubt, and there was certainly no chance of escaping the rules of my home and school for a life of hedonism. The possibility didn’t even occur to me. I did want to go to public school, but I had no thoughts about engaging in sinful behavior there; I only wanted to escape some of the spiritual pressure and be able to take higher level classes. Ironically, the fear of being denounced by the Christians in my life caused me to start constantly lying about my beliefs.

For these reasons, I tried hard to discover a personal relationship with Jesus. At the time, I had few problems accepting the tenets of Christianity. If I had been brought up in a tradition in which connection to god through sacraments or affirming a creed constituted salvation, I would likely still believe in that way. Alas, a personal relationship was the one thing that eluded me. I grew up hearing things like it’s a relationship, not a religion and heart knowledge not head knowledge. I have also heard Christians claim that belief is a choice. I did not know what to do except to beg god for a personal relationship, but I never felt any sense that god, Jesus or the Holy Spirit were entities that touched my life in any way. I did not detect spiritual guidance or reassurance. I was not comforted. I was not inwardly moved by reading the Bible. I did not sense love or truth. At times, I would cry myself into a frenzy of entreaty, but when it was over, I knew that it had been emotional self-manipulation.

I was tired and desperate and young, and I decided that I could demonstrate a complete commitment by trusting in the tenets and obeying the teachings of the Bible, which manifested itself in the teachings of the church. I claimed a new salvation experience and set about trying to live a Christian life in faith that if I did so, the personal relationship would happen. It never did. Four years later, in my mid-twenties, my attempts to live the life that I thought god wanted me to live had resulted in a series of poor decisions. Even as I continued to beg god to remove my unbelief, my life was empty and hopeless. When I read the Bible from cover to cover, I observed a morally inconsistent deity in a story full of inconsistencies. I came to believe that promises made in the Bible were not being fulfilled, particularly the promises about the Holy Spirit, and so its god must be non-existent, non-caring or dishonest. Even if such a being created a world or performed miracles, and even if my own moral code is groundless or relativistic, I would not worship that being.  After such a process, the implication of emotional dishonesty angers me.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kanade
    Aug 02, 2010 @ 12:40:22

    Hey, its been a while. I read your blog. Sorry to hear about your divorce… and I had no idea you were going through this in High School. I’ll be reading your future posts.

    Reply

  2. luthieneponine
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 20:59:39

    Hi Kanade, good to hear from you. I hope you’re doing well and thanks for reading 🙂

    Reply

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