Monday, 4 July 2011

When The Bad Days Dawn

Hell bound sinners such as me will occasionally be exposed to the following challenge; we're told that when things go bad, when we're suffering and grieving we'll turn to God for help. Ok then, let's run with this. Supposing I do capitulate and hand in my powers of reason like a gunslinger has to hand in his guns before entering the saloon, how would that in any way make God more real?
Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a coward as the next guy, and fear can make a mockery of many of our deeply cherished ideals. But consider for a moment; don't you think I've tried to believe this stuff? Don't you think I've studied and reflected and considered all that your God appears to offer? Please acknowledge that I have almost certainly given the God question far more consideration than most church goers. For goodness sake I lived it for 13 years. I lead drama teams and home groups; I was baptized as an adult and read the Bible inside out. I used to be a proficient apologist for the Christian faith, I prayed and I fasted and I read the great theologians. And then you come along and suggest that if I just suffer enough, if I just find myself crushed beneath the wheels of life's misfortune that will do the trick?
Perhaps it might? But ask yourself, would that make what you believe any more real? Or would it just make me a credulous fool?
I rejected Christianity because the Bible is demonstrably man made. I rejected it because it's an empty white washed tomb. If the average church goer knew a tenth of what I know about how that book has been altered, interpolated, and redacted they might have pause for thought. If they allowed themselves to see beyond the culture in which they live they'd see that issues such as natural evil, animal suffering, and biological evolution serve as wrecking balls to religious belief. I did everything I could to save my faith, but at the end of the day I was left with a stark choice. Do I want to go where the truth leads? Or do I want to continue to live a lifestyle unsupported by facts? What was I seeking? Comfort or an honest outlook concerning the way the world is? If I'd stayed I would have been lying to my friends, my family, my children, my wife. Worse, I'd have been lying to myself. And that's a path I cannot tread. So continue to remind me that the day will come when I collapse in a heap and cry out. Perhaps I will. Just don't be under the illusion that my failings make your fabrications any more real. The world doesn't work that way.


  1. That really resonated with me, Rob. Particularly "don't you think I've tried to believe this stuff?"
    I was probably about your age when I realized that was my problem - I was "trying" to believe. This is as impossible as "trying" to fall in love. It can't work - ever.
    Yes, statistically religious "conversion" occurs when a person is undergoing a personal life crisis. And, yes, the life of that person does "improve" in measurable ways after conversion. And, yes, this doesn't prove anything about the objective validity of the basis for the new-found beliefs.
    Over on RDNet, JHJEFFERY had posed several questions at Comment 893 in the "dealing with William Lane Craig" thread. and I had prepared a lengthy, startlingly frank response. In fact I actually posted it, but it was deleted by the Mods, and I was banned at that point. If you're interested in knowing why I was banned (and you have a right to know) you can read about it here :
    What I'm saying is that I find your current position reasonable, and totally coherent with what little I know about your life experiences. As I have said before, if you have to "try to believe" or "try to cling to beliefs" then, in fact, you don't actually believe in the first place. Best to let go of "beliefs" that need to be shored up by conscious efforts. RD's "The Blind Watchmaker" allowed me to do that a quarter of a century ago. Or rather, it was the last nail in the coffin of my quest for the "transcendental". TBW just allowed me to realise that I didn't believe in what I was apparently looking for!

    If a person is having serious problems with his/her "beliefs", moving to an agnostic/atheist position can allow for a salutary, mental "spring-cleaning" period - which may last a long time. Perhaps a life-time....

  2. Oops - I should have said "Over on RDNet, JHJEFFERY had posed ME, personally, several questions at Comment 893..."

  3. Thanks for those kind words, Richard. I think it's a shame that the Mods over at are so highly strung. Nobody, as far as I can tell, was offended by what you said. And Daniel's been a superb alternative voice, and I genuinely think the majority have enjoyed the engagement.