For me, the worst part of being a Christian was this: taking things on faith, even when my mind totally, utterly disagreed with what Christianity wanted me to believe in. I'm soon going to be 31, and I had my first moments of doubt when I was about 15. I can't remember what, exactly, set me off, but the end result was that I became a bit more fanatical about my belief in the truth of Christianity. That's not odd, I suppose. How many Christians who, when they feel doubt, begin to fear that Satan is working his wiles upon them? They, like I was doing at the age of 15, cling more tightly to a sinking ship. The water spills out of the ship, the ship goes down to the deep, so to speak, but the faitful remain unawares in a mad, blissful sort of way. That's how I was at age 15, and up on through till my mid-20s: unaware, mad with faith of a sort, and blissful with that happy sort of stupidity that only a complete denier can possess.
Now, at almost 31, I'm having, I hope, the last battle with Christianity and Jesus. There have been moments in my life when I've seriously waffled between belief and disbelief; a part of me wants to believe, that credulous and irrational part of us that will accept any little thing “on faith.” Another part, the rational part, of me rebels at the very notion of being locked back into a religion that drove me out of it in the first place. Who is going to win, what part of me will walk away after this last-man-standing battle between Jesus and myself? I want to win of course! I don't really care about Jesus or his religion any longer, even when I take into consideration all of the moral platitudes and niceties that have been written about this dodgy, so-called savior. Do 2,000 years of wishful thinking and, I'll admit this freely, eloquent apologetic writing by Christians truly justify the internal, existential misery that I've gone through for all of these years?
Christianity may have a great deal to offer to those who need a savior or who fear the hellfire, but what about a person like me? Is the world a cosmic chess board between God and Satan, with black and white, absolute good and absolute evil? Or, rather, is it merely, as Carl Sagan said, a “pale blue dot?”Well, I can say with a great deal of certainty that notions of cosmic good and cosmic evil are fodder for comic books and Hollywood, not for real life. I can also say that, from my experiences, life actually comes in shades of grey. As to pale blue dots, time will tell if mankind exists at the center of the universe; I'm open to notions of other intelligent life forms out in the universe, but I've also studied Fermi's paradox a bit, too.
A part of me has always wanted to believe that Christianity is true, but how can it be? I think that, empirically, I've more than amply disproven Christianity. My rational, reasoning side sees it for the sinking ship that it is, but it's my gullible, faithful side that wants to hop back onto the Jesus train. Skepticism is far harder than one might think and I'd decry anyone who says that skeptics are cowards or quislings. It's taken me nearly 16 years, swinging back and forth between belief and disbelief, to come this far. At one time “faith” dominated my life; now "reason" seems poised to dominate. What is going to win, faith with all of its superstitious accouterments? Or, will reason win out in the battle for my heart and mind?
I can't recall who said that "Faith without reason is dead." I'd like to see this quote placed in a better context; I've seen Christians and other theists use it to justify their own religion, but what does faith mean? Protagoras quipped about 2500 years ago, "Man is the measure of all things." So, if I had faith in God and Jesus, I'd be lauded to high heaven by the believers. I'd be one of the elect. But, if I instead said that I had faith in myself, as a human being, I'd be accused of hubris. I'd be on a trip to hell with Satan and the devils. But, this is what I have the most faith in: myself. I put my entire trust in my own humanity, my intellect, intuition, and ability to reason, rather than in a shady savior and a God that never seems to be around when you need him the most.
Examining my life, I'm reminded of a bit of poetry from Aeschylus's Agamemnon:
He (God) steered the mortal mind to thought,
making one law: suffer and learn.
How correct that is, if God is anything more than a hopeful figment of imagination!
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