If you were a former atheist/agnostic, that meant you did not believe in god or any religion that supported a god. Why did you go back to Christianity, and not choose another religion that supported a belief in a higher being? How is Christianity superior to other religions that led you to take up the religion?
Thanks for your honest question. I checked out your blog, and you appear to be smart, well-informed, educated, and with a sharp cool streak running in your veins. Not empty flattery here, but I recognize you’re not out to attack, and I respect your curiosity to reach out.
I’m well aware that I couldn’t possibly give you an answer that would somehow satisfy you without offending you, that would quench your intellect while at the same time appearing reasonable to your worldview. Particularly online, when words can be misconstrued and sentences can be analyzed word for word, where no one can possibly hope to convince (or even gently suggest) anyone towards anything else than their currently held paradigm, it is in all futility that I answer as humbly as I can.
Truthfully: I struggle to believe, I don’t have it all figured out or together, and some days I do feel this is all crazy. I confess with great frustration that I sometimes long for the atheist worldview again, as if this were a simpler Occam’s Razor solution to a seemingly meaningless existence on our chemical continuum.
I was content as an atheist to have no doubts about my position. I thought being “spiritual” meant I had to give up science and reason. I couldn’t do that (and still haven’t, regardless of how ridiculous you think this all is). I loved studying astrophysics, wormholes, time travel, quantum theory; I still do. I also got to do whatever I wanted, without accountability. God — what God? Being atheist was a cakewalk.
But then I’d meet a damn Christian who wasn’t totally fricking insane. Some who had serious honest doubts about themselves, but were content anyway. I kept thinking, “They must be purposefully ignoring those things to believe in that stupid, imaginary, misogynistic, mythological fantasy.” But I was pretty much doing the same thing: I was ignoring a possible spiritual reality in favor of my own biased conclusions. As an atheist, I slowly began to doubt for the first time.
Those doubts became looming, opening up like soggy tissue. Ultimately the no-God thing was an unsustainable view that held too many problems. I won’t go into the whole WHY, since that would bore you; I’m also not really up for debate nor nearly skilled enough.
But as much as I believed there was no-God, I never quite lived that way, and NO atheist lives out towards his or her logical conclusions of existential-nihilistic abandon. If that were to happen: then holy crap, dude, I’ve almost been there and no thanks. Where as a Christian (or most other religions), lived out to the ideals, would presumably lead to a better place. That, as lame and as “cop-out” as it must sound to you, presented an inherent clue to the puzzle of our shared human experience. A non-sustainable worldview that must turn in on itself and borrow from others was a final nail in the coffin. If it doesn’t work, it’s possible that it’s not supposed to.
To answer your question: I did study other religions. Not extensively, but being around its practitioners was helpful. My mother is atheist, my grandmother was Shinto, my dad is whatever, and being Asian I got to see a pretty grand scope of things. I did not find them to be evil or even misguided. As C.S. Lewis says, “If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions of the whole word is simply one huge mistake.”
We could focus on the negatives here, as surely there are evil men and women who use religion as a misguided excuse to output atrocity. That’s an easy target though, and not reflective of those core beliefs. A man who rapes a woman in the name of “sex” does not deem all sex bad. I’m sure you have a good counter-defense for this, and I’ll pre-admit it’s probably a good one. We must still come back to the main idea though.
I’m not sure I’d even say I am “superior” somehow, as if I picked the best one out of a buffet. But we must answer for historical reality, which there is plenty of wild but real evidence to suggest some damn crazy thing happened that made the Jews go nuts.
I’m certain this does nothing for you. But at some point I dug my heels into a church, wrestled with the horrific idea that this could be true, and asked all the hard questions. The truth I found was sustainable. I’m sure you have plenty of ammo about biblical genocide, slavery, misogyny, and the like. One by one, those issues plus others had answers: not even the ones I was looking for.
Again: I can’t say I understand it all. Nothing in this tiny limited life can claim to be known fully as it is. And “being a Christian” is no freaking cakewalk.
I trust that the world has not made you so cynical to take a reductionistic, deconstructive view of things, as if we can simply dismiss this by saying “Zombie-Jesus” or “Wow you just found it sustainable, whoop-dee-doo good for you.” I trust you can question the same preprogrammed statements I once used as an atheist that would shut down Christian bystanders.
I don’t mean this to say that somehow “I get it” and “You don’t.” I’m not here to proselytize. I’ve just seen too much — an entirely new world, if you will — to so quickly call it a molecular accident or a sappy re-arrangement of inner psychology.
I can only beg that you would search deeply, because you are a smart vibrant person who appears to want to know the truth, regardless of how hard that truth may sound.