The Secret, But Not So Angry, Atheist
One way that my story seems to differ from many of those who have “deconverted” from Christianity, especially the evangelical sort, is that I don’t feel this bitter hatred towards my former life and those who still hold to those beliefs that so many seem to. This isn’t the kind of hatred that Dawkins or Harris have toward religion in general, which comes from their stance of religion generally having a negative impact on our society. (This is a point on which I am still not ready to make a statement.) I think many of those who have become agnostic or atheists feel that they were lied to for most of their life and have a lot of anger because it.
Indeed, I realize that most of what churches teach is not true, much of it is outright lies. However, I don’t believe that the leadership of the churches I have been involved in set out to feed me a bunch of lies. They believe the things they teach. My father believes the things the teaches to his church, and my mother believes the things she teaches.
The problem is that so many people do not think critically about the things they are taught — especially the things they are taught at a young age — and are quite happy to go on believing them whether or not they are truly believable. They are quite happy to accept what is told them as truth without checking it out for themselves. Many find so much comfort in the lies that they will cling to them and avoid thinking otherwise.
I also am not bitter towards my parents. They have always done what they felt was best for me. If you believe that people are going to be eternally tormented in Hell if they do not follow God then what is best for them is to teach them to follow God. I kind of agree with Penn Jillette on this one. (I am not saying that I wish to be accosted by every Christian that comes in my path…)
(Here’s something that always bothered me: Those Christians who seem to find joy in the fact that some people will burn in Hell for all eternity. How can you rationalize the desire for someone to suffer forever with the compassion and love you are supposed to have? Now I realize that they simply are bending their beliefs to fit their views. They are not seeking any sort of truth.)
Not only that, but my parents never tried to turn me into an unthinking drone. This is a huge credit to them. They have always encouraged us to question what is taught to us and study on our own. I doubt they ever imagined it would lead me to atheism, but they are in part responsible for my views on religion! Now, I am sure that if I had read whatever 1996’s equivalent to Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” they would have questioned it, and had I questioned the authority of the Bible they would have said something. But simply studying the scripture and studying theology with an open mind they encouraged. There was a time when I believed in Calvinist theology and they still held to Arminianism.
I have no animosity towards any of my past. The things I was taught in the past have brought me to where I am today. Those who still cling to those beliefs are simply still deluded. The people who taught me the things that I now believe to be lies were only doing so because they believed them to be true and that the future of my soul rested upon my learning them.
Perhaps I should feel anger that people continue to spread the falsehoods of religion, perhaps I should speak out against the things that are taught and urge people to think for themselves. But then, I was never one to proselytize even when I was a Christian. I tend to sit back, observe, and think through things. That is, probably, one reason I’ve been able to think for myself rather than simply go along with what everyone else thinks.