Posts Tagged ‘agnoticism’

(continued from the last post)

…So it was by a mix of curiosity and having nothing to lose that I picked up The God Delusion in a London bookstore. Despite the fact that there was an oral presentation I should have been working on all weekend, I spent most of my down time reading the first half of that book. Richard Dawkins declared in the first chapter that he hoped to convert anyone who read his book to atheism, and I could already feel its effects by the sixth chapter.

He moves from the introduction to a general discussion on the different religions of the world, taking a particular amount of time to focus on each of the two testaments of the Bible. During this section, he also spends a large effort making the point that many of the Founding Fathers of the United States were probably more secular than religious, and that the U.S. was not founded on the principles of Christianity, which many people claim today. I haven’t yet done much reading on this besides Dawkins’ work, but the quotes and evidence that he gives are convincing enough, and I have to agree with him on that particular point until I do more thorough research.

One whole chapter is devoted to various “proofs” of God’s existence that he refutes one at a time. Then he goes on with a defense of the theory of evolution and an attempt to reason that there “almost certainly is no God.” When addressed with the question of how life came to be, or why we are here, he says that God is an unsatisfactory answer, because it redoubles the problem. We should then ask, “How did God get here?” This was one of his biggest arguments, as I remember him repeating this several times.

I find myself going into too much detail about this book than I’d like to be, but I just wanted to give an idea of what I was reading that gave me my first taste of an atheistic perspective. From there, I leapt back to the U.S. and did some investigating on various websites to find even more objections to religion and Christianity. I began to look down upon religious people, because I thought they did not question their beliefs enough to find what I’d found.

I told my girlfriend and my parents that I no longer considered myself a Christian, and gave them some of my main doubts that seemed so unanswerable. But to be completely honest, they weren’t the only reasons. There was something about going against the grain of all my Christian friends and family that seemed exciting. I became arrogant. It pleased me to know that I had found questions that most people couldn’t answer. Along these lines, my rejection of Christianity was really more about me and the reputation I wanted than the actual doubts about the religion.

My girlfriend bought me a couple of books, which were targeted at the faithless and doubting audiences, and I agreed to read them. A quote at the beginning of one book was by the French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal, saying “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” This got me thinking. Were my doubts and questions proof enough to abandon Christianity? I hadn’t ever bothered to try and answer them myself. And I undoubtedly found my current beliefs attractive. I could live how I wanted and liked the glory I felt in “knowing” things others didn’t. Pascal’s quote told me pretty explicitly that my transition wasn’t justified as it went.

So for the next few weeks and months of the summer, I researched many of my questions and found that they didn’t really hold up in the face of the answers. Some of the doubts were based on bad logic; others were resultant of a simple misunderstanding of the nature of God. So He used authors and people who reasoned with the same logic that I had used in my objections to show me that my thinking was wrong.

At first, I turned back to Him only in my head, seeing that it made logical sense. But as weeks and months went by, I learned to pray.  I learned to read the Bible and apply it to every aspect of my life in every hour of my life. God has been letting me discover who He is. And as I learn more about Him, He shows me more and more about myself, and how desperate my situation as a fallen human being is. How much I need Him.

I am proud and selfish.

My motivation is self-seeking, and my actions are self-glorifying.

God created me and loves me, but I hardly give a thought to Him, not even a smidgen of the glory He deserves.

As Paul Washer says in the sermon I mentioned in Part 1, the issue is not that I have sinned. The issue is that I’ve never done anything but sin. Even my very kindest and most loving deeds are just filthy rags, polluted garments, to the LORD.

My situation is desperate. I am worthy of nothing better than eternal death. God saves me because He loves me – NOT because I am worth it.

Jesus dying on the cross doesn’t tell us how much we’re worth. It tells us how dire, how drastic, our situations are that God has to crush his Son.

-hasta pronto

Read Full Post »

Okay, so if I had to start my story somewhere, I’d choose the early summer of 2007, but right now I think I’d rather start with this picture of a squirrel that I took this week. Enjoy.

Anyway, early during the summer in 2007, I met with a good friend of mine from high school. He had studied a lot of theology, and during the drive home from the meal, our conversation turned to Christianity. He brought up Calvinism, of which I had never heard before. Calvinism is particularly known for what it has to say about predestination—that God, as the omniscient and omnipotent creator that He is, has the right to say where each human being will end up at the end of his or her life. At the time, it sounded to me that believing this would be to believe that we, as humans, don’t really have free will. Whoever God created us to be, we’ll be, and wherever He intends for us to go, we’ll go, and there’s nothing we can do about it. This scared me a lot. (I plan on focusing a separate post on this topic of predestination later.)

My friend also recommended a preacher named Paul Washer to me. Brother Paul, as he likes to go by, is a southern Baptist preacher who has gone and started ministries in Eastern Europe and South America, namely Peru. I listened to a sermon he gave at a church camp in Alabama. In this shocking sermon, he told the more than 6,000 listeners that he figured the great majority of them would be in Hell when they died. His main point is that here in America, Christians are taught to believe that as long as they pray “the prayer” and ask Jesus into their heart, He will undoubtedly do so. He takes the verse Matthew 7:20, which says that people are to be identified “by their fruits,” to support the claim that if you’re a Christian, there should be obvious evidence of it. Someone should be able to look at you before the change, and then look at you afterwards, and see a major difference. You should be turning away from your sin and look different than the rest of the world. (Go here to watch the sermon for yourself.)

I listened to this, and realized that all that of which he was accusing the listeners there in Alabama could have been charged against me as well. I admitted to myself then that, according to this man, who I believed (and still do) was speaking the truth, I was not a Christian. You would not see any major difference between how I lived before I became a Christian and afterwards. In the words of Brother Paul, I “looked like the world, smelled like the world, sounded like the world, and loved so much that was in the world.” I could sin again and again without pausing but for a couple of seconds to ask forgiveness, and there were even certain sins where I didn’t even feel any guilt at all.

Pairing this realization up with what I thought I knew about predestination, I came to the following conclusion: not only was I not a Christian, but there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I was going to Hell when I died. And for some reason, I was okay with this conclusion. For the rest of that summer, and for most of my trip to Spain in the fall, I was a fervent believer in Christianity, but believed myself excluded from the Good News that it preached.

It wasn’t until the end of the year, during my trip to London, where I found a book called The God Delusion by atheist Richard Dawkins, that I began to let my beliefs about Christianity turn negative.

Well folks, I apologize for the bad timing and sudden ending of this story, but I’m tired, and it is simply becoming too long for one post. I will tell the other half next time. (Click here to read it right now) But here, have another squirrel picture. 😀

-hasta pronto

Read Full Post »