Friday, September 09, 2005

Deconversions

This week I've listened to two of the Infidel Guy's radio show podcasts. Both shows featured 'deconversion' stories, one was the (ex-)wife of a Baptist pastor and the other had actually been a 'fundamentalist' (his word) minister (see his website).

Both shows were interesting and a bit sad.

The common theme in both stories was that they had fully believed all the '6000 year old earth' and 'creation in six actual days' stories, and when they came to believe that these stories could not be true, they dismissed all belief in any kind of a God.

This strikes me as odd. It appears that, for both of them, Christianity was exclusively a system of belief, based entirely on the words of a book and nothing else. Especially, no experience. Basically it was a house of cards and if you remove one of the cards then the whole thing falls apart.

Christianity is not like that for me at all. Over the years I have come to doubt the historical accuracy of certain stories in the bible, but that doesn't make me doubt the existence of God, but rather confirms my belief that the bible was written by fallible human beings - albeit ones with good intentions.

My belief in God is largely based on experience - I became a Christian when I saw that my Christian friends posessed some extra quality that others did not have. I knew that this extra quality was the Spirit of God, and from observing these Christians, I knew I wanted it too. On becoming a Christian I experienced the Spirit of God in an utterly unexpected way (certainly no 'wish fulfillment' there) and this confirmed to me that God is real. OK, so the bible says that too, but without seeing and experiencing I wouldn't have become a Christian.

So, having experienced God, questionmarks over bits of the bible do not particularly shake my faith.

But coming back to the deconversion stories, I just feel sorry for those Christians out there who are merely sticking to a system of belief with no real experience. To me that would be like looking at holiday brochures without ever going on holiday. It really is missing out.



By the way, I don't mean to imply that the bible is merely a book. It certainly does contain the words of God and the stories of God, its just that I believe that these have been written through flawed human beings who have occasionally put their own slant on things. But God can and does still speak to Christians through His book.

3 Comments:

At 11:54 pm, Anonymous The Infidel Guy - Reggie Finley said...

No, I think what happened is that they began to see things wrong with what they thought about God. It's a start. Not the ONLY reason. If I were to ask them if they still do NOT believe in any God because they believe Christianity is false. I doubt they'd say yes.

All God concepts, however, do have problems. Once one breaks free of one belief system. They are more able to see much more clearly the flaws in other God belief systems.

 
At 7:38 am, Blogger Ricky Carvel said...

Hey Reggie,

Thanks for reading my blog! I'm particularly enjoying your podcasts at the moment, especially the Bible Geek ones. Anyway I agree that most 'God concepts' have problems, as you say. In fact I'd be very surprised if any variation of any religion has got it all right about God.

In this post I was expressing my sadness that these two 'deconverted' people had followed a strict set of beliefs (and presumably had restricted their own lifestyles accordingly), based on only headknowledge. For me and many others, Christianity is a very experiential thing.

Its hard to lose belief in an experience that you've had - sure, you can change your beliefs about the experience, but the historical fact of the experience remains. Over the years my beliefs in God have changed, but I still remember the many experiences I have had and know that He is there - even if my understanding of who 'He' is has changed with time.

 
At 3:44 pm, Anonymous The Infidel Guy - Reggie Finley said...

Yes.. I agree. Experience is a very powerful thing. The more I learned about these experiences and what they were from a naturalistic perspective. The Emporer had no clothes.

Examples: Ouija Boards, Euphoria, "The Presence", Ghost Phenomena, faith healing and more. Took a while.. but once I learned what truly causes these experiences, I could no longer hold on to false beliefs.

 

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