For my first blog series, I’m going to talk about why I am a former Christian. It’s not something I normally bring up in polite conversation, but I want to have this available for friends and family who ask about it. Some of my friends have been encouraging me to write more openly, everyone from a Christian worship leader to the host of an atheist radio program. So first I want to zoom way, way out and talk about religion and worldview in a much broader sense.
When I want to test my own intellectual honesty and biases around any important personal topic such as politics or religion, I ask myself three pointed questions:
“If this belief system was mistaken, what sorts of moves would adherents have to make to keep it looking true?”
“As I offer this evidence, would I accept this sort of evidence for another belief?”
“As I invite other people to reconsider, what sort of evidence would it take to get me to reconsider?”
Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember these things especially when it’s real close to my heart. But when the pressure’s off and I’m eating and exercising well, and I feel secure about my receding hairline, I come back to these as rough guides to help me chew on reality. Imagine what would happen if these caught on. It would eliminate most superfluous arguments and annoying political memes, and cable news networks would have to change their entire approach in finding 24 hours of original content each day.
I share these three questions because much of my beliefs have to do with the challenge of developing a fair way to discern which religion is right. In college, other faiths and denominations were always nearby and my conversations with them and around them eventually led me to conclusions like this:
A degree of flexibility and humility is needed in evaluating sacred texts. However, we shouldn’t entertain a level of mental gymnastics so broad that any holy book could pass the standards we give our own.
In sharing my reasoning I’m going to limit myself to reasons that:
- Made sense to me when I was making the transition
- Still look like good reasons after all this time (If you were a Christian friend of mine at the time, you helped me remove a lot of the bad reasons I had, thank you)
- Had at least a small impact on most of the Christian friends I shared them with
If you’re a Christian who emphasizes the Bible, and you’re in a position where losing or altering your faith would have severe consequences, or today you’re just not in the mood for having someone attempt to take apart your entire meaning of life with the possible side effect of disrupting your social life and so on (on most days, I’m not), I encourage you to count the cost and skip this series. However, you may discover in Part 2 that my form(s) of Christianity and reasons for believing looked so different from yours that you could safely watch me dismantle a foundation your house doesn’t even sit on.
This post is part of a series, here are all the posts: