Resembling a convicted psychopath in another Crime Channel documentary—the theme of which being the question: why did you do it?—I often recount about my now beaten Christian behaviour as if recalling a horrific rape & murder that I had partaken in.
I do this lucidly, with great accuracy, and to the annoyance of christians everywhere, because what they hate the most is an atheist who’s intellect and scientific knowledge are matched only by his personal experience with faith and christian dogma. There is something about the confessions of a true christian gone pure atheist that unnerves and frightens even the deceased believer in me. While I know that the events, emotions, and struggles I write about were once a part of me as tangible as my own face, I now shudder at the thought that I once was… one of them.
Because of my experience with and knowledge regarding both science and religion, I consider my articles on the topic to be wholly different from the usual vapid muck that flies about this partition of the News24 domain. I see youtube atheism is on the rise. Now, if only they would substitute their usual diet of Dawkins/Hitchens debate videos for proper physics/biology/paleontology/cosmology books, they might have something sensible to say. They may also realise that you don’t debate someone on science when they can’t even prove the validity of their beliefs. It is like trying to teach poetry to a newborn. It does not have the faculties to understand what you are trying to teach it.
I would also like to publically thank News24 for consistently and bravely allowing this topic to fume and burn. This topic polarizes society; the middle ground that is occupied by the ‘tolerant’ religious and the ‘everybody’s friend’ atheist becomes a desolate wasteland. Each person who enters this ongoing debate, or even observes it, will either take a more binary stance, or be treated as if they did.
Of course, the ensuing arguments, reasoning, and show of evidence is rather one sided. When floored, the religious can only but hide behind the curtains of faith and ignorance. And we now have a sufficiently large sample size of these arguments to distinguish between the two polar opposites. Let us look at the core distinctions:
· I believe VS I can prove
· I don’t know VS I can explain
· I don’t want to know VS I can never know enough
· I’m a slave VS I am free
· Nothing can change my mind (not even facts and evidence) VS I only need evidence to change my mind
· I need to be threatened & rewarded to be moral VS I am moral because I am a highly evolved life form
What would drive one to throw away certainty for hope; to forego treatment and cling to prayer; to seek confusion over wisdom? The desolate wastelands of the infertile intellect is where you will find the weeds of religion growing. And I once used to eat and live amongst those weeds.
[I reflect back on my own obstinacy] As a true believer, I would eschew all knowledge to the contrary of my precious beliefs. Everything could be reasoned away because I could not even distinguish between real reason and self-deceiving arguments. god did not fail to answer my prayers, I simply need more faith. The acts of evil in the bible are not of a tyrannical god, he just loves us so much he can’t help but become psychotic if we don’t accept his love. It is the highest form of love. Of course, down here on planet earth, people who behave like that are locked up, and I knew that.
I recall several heated arguments I had with my parents and friends over religion. I was determined to make it to heaven even if they would not. I became isolated and lived in my own world decorated by religion. I lived for the end times. Wars, earthquakes, and turmoil were music to my ears. I could almost hear the trumpets being blown by the angels which would herald my salvation and escape from this miserable world.
I was sick… and it shames me to think that this person I describe was once me in totality. I was a TRUE believer. I did not fluff up religion, or push it away as just something I needed look into every now and again to feel better. No. I was living it. I did not engage in premarital sex; I did not drink alcohol; I refused to even download an MP3 off the internet; I spent my nights reading the bible and praying. My school grades went down; I had no ambition to work. The end was near, and I was going to be a lamb of god even if it cost me my sanity.
To explain faith to someone who has not experienced it (that would include most religious people, actually), is impossible. It would be like trying to show you a 4D hypercube. It cannot be done in 3D. Nobody really knows what a 4D hypercube looks like; we can only see its contorted reflection in 3D. The same is true of faith. I can explain it to someone, but I can’t have them feel the word. I can’t make them FEEL the presence of god. I can’t make the FEEL that everything in the bible is just right. I just knew it was right and nothing could shake that conviction. I would hear atheists argue and think, you just don’t get it!
I dare say there is nothing a christian can teach me about faith, or being a believer, and in part 2 of Confessions of an Ex Christian, I will detail my fall from grace (or rather, my awakening to reason).