Christianity was my pet cause
I’m naturally analytical, although I am not well educated in any scientific discipline or in rhetoric. I am also a stickler for precision in communication. I think my stubbornness in those two areas is the reason I clung to Christianity for so long — much more than the validity of my beliefs or my sincerity in believing them.
I would challenge (aloud or to myself) the logic of people’s justifications for not believing: “Yes, the church is full of hypocrites, but that doesn’t mean their god is false.” “OK, so, you don’t understand how Jesus could be fully divine and also fully human, but that is an argument from ignorance.”
I was, so to speak, a born ‘devil’s advocate’ who happened to be advocating Christianity. Until …
I was at a men’s Bible study a few years ago, and we were pondering why people reject Christianity. One guy said, flatly, “Because they are hard-hearted.” My gut reaction, though I kept it to myself, was that Christians are just as hard-hearted (or more so) toward other religions and toward atheism as non-Christians are toward Christianity.
I began trying to see things from the atheist point of view. Toward this end, I visited atheist, rationalist, skeptic and ex-Christian websites, initially with the goal of eliminating double standards and weak arguments from my Christian apologetics toolkit.
Here is an excerpt from an e-mail message I sent to my dad during that period of study:
Seen on bumper sticker: “We are both atheists. I just believe in one less god than you do.” Actually that’s very good way to articulate it. A monotheist is satisfied with the evidence in support of the existence of a particular god and dissatisfied with the evidence in support of all contrary beliefs — either that no god exists or that other gods exist.
- Conclusion A: There are no gods.
- Conclusion B: There is *only* the Christian God.
- Conclusion C: There are other gods besides the Christian God.
A precludes B and C. The person who draws conclusion A must be satisfied that B and C are both false.
B precludes A and C. The person who draws conclusion B must be satisfied that A and C are both false.
C precludes A and B. The person who draws conclusion C must be satisfied that A and B are both false.
The Christian who objects to a rejection of Christianity based on lack of satisfying evidence should keep in mind that Christians reject non-Christian beliefs on the same basis.
That was a turning point for me. I had finally given myself permission to question everything.