Friday, January 7, 2011
I Wanted It So Bad
Bud over at Dead-Logic got me thinking about the reasons I left Christianity to begin with. It wasn’t because I was just deliberately trying to find a way out; it was the exact opposite actually. I wanted a stronger faith that involved not only emotional commitment but a logical argument to defend the Christianity that I so desperately wanted to believe in. This is where things became problematic. Instead of strengthening my faith, I began to lose my faith as I began to look at the Bible critically and attempted to tackle the pestering cognitive dissonance brewing in my head. As I’ve often said, I tend to worry (OCD related) and prayer seemed like it should be the perfect tool to alleviate those worries. But, I just couldn’t understand how my seemingly trivial prayers would be answered, or my worries mitigated, when there is so much suffering in the world. In other words, I noticed too many reports of children suffering, and often dying, to think that these worries that plague me would be helped by a god who couldn’t even care for the mere existence of three year old children, for example. I didn’t want to come to that conclusion but that’s where I ended up time and time again. I desperately wanted to continue believing and remember trying to get answers from other people but they all led to unsatisfying answers. Ultimately, all of these unsatisfying answers took a toll and I had to give it up. I had some help from books and the great A-Unicornist along the way too but it was ultimately my decision and no one else’s.
But, I assume that many Christians think that people leave for selfish and sinful reasons. If it’s sinful to find the Christian faith illogical than I’m guilty as charged. I can’t see what I’m supposed to do to change the fact that I think it’s illogical in many places, cruel and illogical in other places, and wholly backward for the most part. If my conclusions are somehow wrong, which I don’t see how they could be, I guess I will spend all eternity living in a constant state of suffering for getting it wrong. This seems like a grave injustice in and of itself. God’s going to send me to an eternal place of torment because I just couldn’t believe no matter how hard I tried and I tried with everything I had. I could pull it off emotionally but the logical fallacies and non sequiturs mounted offenses that were too heavy to surmount. I don’t want an exclusively emotional based faith which lacks substance or logical grounds to support my beliefs with. Maybe that’s the problem and the faith is only meant to be an emotional commitment? As John Loftus points out frequently, god knew that I wouldn’t be able to believe to begin with and he should know exactly what it would take to get me to believe but he refuses to provide the necessary information.
I also tried to find answers for the big problem I had with god’s treatment of children, women and unarmed men in the OT. If you've followed my blog for any time at all you will already know that this was a big problem emotionally and logically for me. How could a loving god command his followers, whom he loves, to kill children and infants? Why would a loving god command his followers to stone people to death? This kind of death is horrible, prolonged and taking the scenic route to getting to the same foregone conclusion you could have came to if you just used a swift stroke of the sword—using a sword wouldn’t make god’s behavior any more justifiable but at least he wouldn’t be torturing the victim in the process. The process of death by stoning could take up to an hour as the victim hemorrhages from the repeated blows to the head.
I’ve given god many chances to help me understand. Even today, I still keep an open mind and am waiting for answers that don’t fly in the face of reasoning. I’m just not finding anything out there that would be enough to get me to go back to the faith. The fact that many Christians become oppositional toward science when science doesn’t come to the same conclusions as their Bible does is not helping matters either. Christians that deny evolution, for instance, are parading their ignorance every time they say evolution is fraudulent.
The point of this post is just to say that I really did try to find satisfying answers that would strengthen my faith and I’m still open to the possibility. I would still like to live in “paradise” with my loved ones forever. So, it’s not that I have closed my mind and have sunken into this blissful state of "sinfulness". So far, answers from science have been far more satisfying than anything my Christian friends or Christian apologists have provided. Apologists tend to give god the benefit of the doubt and add there on biases without even having the Bible to base their assumptions on. For instance, masturbation is wrong even though the Bible says nothing about it aside from a story about Onan and when he failed to inseminate the widow of a brother. Christians will come to their own conclusion and say that masturbation is wrong because you can’t do it without lusting and lust is sinful. You can’t even do it while only thinking of your wife because she isn’t involved so you’re being selfish which is sinful too. So, they basically fill in the blanks by drawing from other scripture which is not even addressing masturbation. Don’t you think that god would have addressed masturbation specifically if it was a big problem that a lot of Christians would have questions about one day? Of course, science completely disagrees with the Christian interpretation of masturbation because it's so replete throughout the mammalian kingdom and no noteworthy harm comes from doing it--aside from guilt associated with religious devotion (go figure). There are other examples out there which are probably better but you get the point. Then, there’s the fact that many denominations of Christianity don’t agree on its central tenants and Christians deny this at every turn. This isn’t even mentioning the fact that there are thousands of different religions which have very little to do with Christianity at all. As Bertrand Russell once said, “every believer should expect damnation purely on grounds of probability.”