I thought it might be time to share my own experience of my journey out of Christianity. It’s been a little over a year since I officially adopted the title of “agnostic” to describe myself, but how did I get there? I’m still processing a lot, so it’s hard even for me to piece together all of the factors that lead to de-conversion, but I will try my best. The following is more of a narrative describing the initial seeds of doubt, but the end summarizes the conclusions I have come to more fully.
The Early Seeds of Doubt
I’ve always been active in extended evangelism. For example, I have taken more than one person through “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller, and have had many conversations over the years with unbelievers about why they don’t believe. But in the process of my own defense of the faith to other people, I started to realize that the arguments weren’t as persuasive as I had thought they were (this is obviously my opinion and not everyone will agree). That was one piece of it, but it didn’t do anything to shake my faith initially. There were a few other things going on below the surface for a number of years. One was the worry that there might not really be anything supernatural “going on here”. It didn’t seem like there was really anything that different about Christians than anyone else. In my own life there were both times where my spiritual experience of Jesus seemed incredibly real and others when it was less so. I would of course tell myself that these were just the ups and downs of faith, but I started to wonder whether my spiritual experience was really any different than what people from other religions experienced when seeking to live out their faiths.
Because I have generally read the Bible once a year since I was 19, I have always had questions that I wrestled with – though much of the time I would force them to the back of my mind. The strangeness and violence of the OT is a perennial struggle for many Christians, and I would include myself in that number. Another major issue for me was coming to the realization that trying to decipher the unified teachings on any subject resulted in flattening other passages that seemed equally clear (For example, Jesus couldn’t have possibly meant X because somewhere else in the Bible it says Y). For almost any important doctrinal topic there are Christians who disagree because opposing groups choose different verses that seem the clearest to each group, and It became harder and harder for me to blame them. I could genuinely see where they were coming from.
The two things that really pushed me over into doubt were thinking through the problem of evil as a Calvinist and reading former conservative Christians explain why they gave up their previous views of the Bible. Reading the former conservative Christians really agitated me because I realized just how much subtle information control really goes on in evangelicalism, and how much relevant information is out there about the Bible that people just don’t know because there seems to be a vested interest to keep it from the “people in the pew”. I respect Christians who can remain so after moving on from conservative views of the Bible, but initially I couldn’t do that. Aren’t mistakes, contradictions, myth, etc exactly what you would expect from a non-divine book?
Doubts Coming to Fruition: A Summary of my Current Positions
- Perhaps most importantly, I think the arguments for Christian theism are at best inconclusive and at worst riddled with problems
- I came to be convinced that my religious experience (personally and corporately) was not any more real than what people in other religions/sects were experiencing, and therefore not a good foundation for belief.
- My view of the Bible changed. It doesn’t seem obvious to me how the doctrine of inspiration (in any form) could ever be falsified if mistakes, contradictions, myth, moral absurdities etc can’t do it. I simply found myself no longer accepting any doctrine of divine inspiration.
- There seems to me to be powerful reasons to reject the concept of the Christian God. For example, I think variations of the problem of evil are devastating no matter which theological approach a person takes. I also think there are good arguments in favor of atheism/naturalism generally (though I am still an agnostic at this point).
My Twitter – See here
Jeffery Jay Lowder, The VICTIMs of Christian Apologetics
Bart Ehrman vs Mike Licona, Are the Gospels Historically Reliable?
Blog Post, What Can Miracle Claims Really Establish?
Blog Post, Thinking About the Bible
Blog Post, Does the Problem of Evil Presuppose God?
Secular Outpost, Index: Draper’s Evidential Argument from Pain and Pleasure
Jeffery Jay Lowder, Opening Statement from My Debate with Frank Turek