This is going to be a deeply personal entry for me. It may even sit in my draft folder for who-knows-how-long because it’s not really something I’ve ever discussed with anyone outside my wife, Sara, and we haven’t discussed it in length; though I know she understands how I feel. *edit* In fact, this post has been sitting in my draft box for almost 4 months and is, I suspect, the biggest reason why I mostly stopped blogging over the summer.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand. I want to be clear that I have NOT stopped believing in God. I believe that declaring with 100% certainty there is NO God is just as ignorant, egotistical, and wrong, as declaring with 100% certainty there IS a God, and he believes that same things you believe. But I have lost my faith in Christianity and in the Bible. I am not, and will never be, an atheist. The closest word that describes what I believe (or what I don’t believe) is agnostic. I don’t know why I feel compelled to blog about it, I just do.
Growing up, my parents were not religious, at least not outwardly. I believe I was pretty close to being a teenager before I ever set foot in a church of any kind. There are a lot of reasons for this. My mom was brought up in a strict Church of Christ household, and she did not (and does not today) agree with much of the CoC “doctrine” (if that’s the right word). My dad was Southern Baptist, but being in the Air Force and moving every four years (or less) did not lend itself to my parents finding a church when I was a kid.
Once my dad retired from the Air Force, we moved back to my parents’ home town, but we just weren’t in the habit of going to church. I was brought up to believe in God and the Bible, but I had no idea how many denominations of Christianity there were, nor what made any of them different until I was well into my teen years. I spent the ages of 4-9 in Utah, and learned a good bit about Mormons, but it was so prevalent and ingrained in the culture there, I had no idea that other people did not believe the same things they believed. For example, they taught us in school that Jesus came to North America after he was crucified and ministered to the American Indians. That floors me to this day.
Anyway, once my family moved back to Texas, we went to church sporadically. We always went to a Southern Baptist church, and I had fond memories and an overall positive view of Southern Baptists, and the church in general. When I was in high school, I became good friends with a group of kids that were very active in their respective churches and youth groups, and I was “saved” two days before my 17th birthday.
I was all-in. Church every Sunday. Bible study every week. Daily prayer and meditation. Church softball with my youth group. Lock-ins at the church. You name it. If it was a church activity for the youth group, I was there. Those are still some of my fondest memories from my teen years.
I look back on it now, however, and realize just how obnoxious and arrogant I was. I still cringe when I think of the time in my Philosophy class at the University of Texas that I argued with a professor over whether I KNEW if I was going to heaven or not. Of course I KNEW. The Bible told me that if I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, then I would go to heaven. If it was in the Bible, then I KNEW it was true. But, that is a lie. Yes, I had faith I was going to heaven, but I did not, and could not, know I was going to heaven.
These days, I don’t really believe in heaven. I believe when you die, you just stop being. No afterlife, no heaven, no hell. Just…nothing. That’s probably a sad idea to some (or most) of you reading this, but I think it’s arrogant and childish to believe that there is a life after this one. Heck, not only that there is a life after this one, but that ONLY people who believe the EXACT same thing I do will get to be in the “good” part. EVERYONE else goes to the “bad” part. That is the HEIGHT of arrogance, in my opinion.
So, you may be wondering, what exactly happened to me to make me lose my faith. To be sure, I have had my fair share (or maybe more than my fair share) of sorrow, trials, and heartbreak. But those things alone had little, if anything, to do with it. It had more to do with the things I see around me, that caused me to lose my faith. War, death, starvation, disease, the abuse of the innocent and the helpless, all the bad things that happen to good people. All the while, Christians believe it is just “a part of God’s plan”.
Well, you know what? If God loves us (and John 3:16 tells us he does), then why wouldn’t he end these things? Why would he allow children to be physically, sexually, and mentally abused? Why would he allow ministers to rape and pillage their church congregation (literally and figuratively) all in His name? Why would he allow something like 9/11 happen? Why would there be discrimination and hatred scattered throughout the Bible?
Christians I know almost always say, “We can’t know the mind of God”, and it’s “His will”. They’ve told me that it is man’s “free will” that causes all of the bad things in the world. I’ve even had Christians tell me that maybe the Lord is “testing” us. What. The. Fuck. Seriously? Let me be clear about this: IF there is a God, and he can stop bad things from happening, then He can go FUCK himself for not stopping the bad things in the world. I will never understand the Christian who just shrugs their shoulders, and completely wipes their hands of the bad things in life, and proceeds to “leave it to God”.
I think I’m starting to understand why it is I have been hesitant to post this entry. The overall tone of it seems much angrier than I FEEL. I really hold no animosity whatsoever towards Christians or Christianity. I just don’t believe in it any more. It’s something I’ve come to grips with over a very long period of time. I’m certainly more at peace with my feelings than I have been in the past. In fact, that’s probably another reason why I wanted to write about this.
So, there you have it. I really don’t know why I felt so compelled to write about this other than it’s been weighing on my mind for quite a long time (several years, in fact). I know there won’t be a lot of people who agree with me, and many who will flat-out condemn me to Hell for it. That’s ok. In fact, I’d rather go to Hell for eternity than worship the same God as the Evangelicals and the Religious Right.