The Process of My Disbelief
One of my friends who follows this blog has asked if I could say what points in my life lead to my departure from Christianity, so here is my attempt to figure that out.
I honestly can’t say,“I stopped believing in God on X,” or, “I stopped believing in God because of Y.” It was a slow process that started in my childhood and was completed, more or less, this spring. Just like I can’t say for sure when I learned to speak or read, or when I stopped believing in Santa (I do know the year, but I don’t remember what lead up to my asking my parents about it) I can’t really say when it happened.
My earliest doubts started when I realized that there was no way I could live a “holy” life, free from sin, and that no matter how much I prayed for God to help me with this nothing changed. I was experiencing the full rush of hormones and having “sinful” thoughts every moment of every day and God wouldn’t take them away no matter how fervently I prayed to him. I begged and pleaded for him to “fix” me and make me his faithful servant but nothing ever happened. I began to question why God would make me this way and then require me to not be this way.
Of course, there were also the doubts about the truth of the bible — the creation story in particular. I saw that there was good, solid evidence to support the idea of the earth being billions, not thousands, of years old, and a lack of evidence for events like the great, worldwide flood. My parents took us to Answers in Genesis conferences and the explanations Ken Ham gave didn’t make any sense to me. This was when I was about 13-15 years old. I had never considered that the things that are described in the bible were myth instead of fact, but I knew that the facts didn’t line up with reality. It wasn’t until college that I would hear that there are people who believe many of the stories in the Old Testament are myth, but still believe in the God of the bible.
It was also during high school that I began to realize that it didn’t really make logical sense for us (Christians) to be able to claim that our beliefs were the only religion that could be true. But, the religion of the bible claims that it is the only way, so there is no way to justify a Christianity that is accepting of other religions as possible truth. Christianity is either the only way or it is a lie.
A sovereign God
When I began to study Reformation theology, the sovereignty of God, more doubts crept in. The God of the bible is totally sovereign, there is nothing that can happen outside of his will. However, things do happen that aren’t in his will. Sin is, by definition, not the will of God, but if he is 100% sovereign then sin must be part of his will. How can a perfect god will that there be sin? “The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” (Proverbs 16:4) This verse seems to support the idea that God, who is supposed to be holy and perfect, creates evil.
The idea of a fully sovereign God would suggest that whatever he wills is done. But what is his will? Is it that all should be saved, or that some should not be saved? II Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” On the other hand, John 12:40 says, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Why would a God who wishes that none should perish harden the hearts and blind the eyes of some?
The bible’s descriptions of God are full of contradictions like this, especially when we look at the God of the Old Testament versus the God of the New Testament (but even comparing New Testament passages there are contradictions to be found in the nature of God).
I realize that there are Christians who recognize these inconsistencies and insist that God is not a vengeful, angry being as described in the Old Testament, but a being of pure love, a being who doesn’t damn anyone to Hell for all eternity. There is no biblical basis for this idea, it is wishful thinking. If we are to believe in the Christian God we must believe in the scriptures. If we believe these scriptures then God is not a perfect, all-powerful, being. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the scriptures are full of inconsistencies and must be viewed as a collection of myths. If these scriptures that we base our religion on are myths then how can we claim to know the one true way?
Just as the warring gods of the ancient Greek and Roman myth are simply reflections on human nature, the God of the Old Testament is a reflection of human nature. The God that liberal Christians believe in is a reflection of their all-accepting nature. We create God in our image, not the other way around.
I know that the response most Christians will have to my disbelief is to quote Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” I’m sorry, I no longer have faith, I have reason. This is why I have left Christianity; why I now call myself godless.
I guess that, if pressured to name the point where I grew out of Christianity, I would have to say it was the point when I stopped believing in the bible. Without the bible none of the rest of the story holds any weight. As to when, exactly, I stopped believing in the truth of the bible I cannot say. It was sometime between the end of high school and the end of college, but like the rest of this journey it was a slow process of examination and thought.
(All scripture is taken from the English Standard Bible)