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Truth over comfort

Truth over Comfort

Comfortable lies often lead us to faulty beliefs because comfort is valued more than truth. The question is, would you – or I – choose truth over comfort?

My last post talked about the very clear deception that occurs in Charismatic Christian churches, it was the truth but when I began recognizing this truth it was anything but comfortable.

Comfort, in my own words, is when your understanding of the world is something you are OK with. It’s when your way of seeing the world doesn’t have to be changed by anything because it doesn’t conflict with the way you want the world to be. Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that a life of faith doesn’t have it’s challenges – what with denying your carnal desires and working to please the man in the sky all of your life – it’s tough for many that care enough to pursue it fully – but the idea of an afterlife of niceties kind of outweighs those cons.

I’ve always valued Truth…so much that I’ve often capitalized it as if the word Truth were just as good as the word God (actually, it’s better), the way I determine what is true has changed dramatically though; as I used to believe that if the Bible said it that it must be Truth. I didn’t even have to question that conclusion, my faith allowed for that to be so…it was comfortable to me and I had no reason to question it.

I remember when I first started feeling my doubts, it was very uncomfortable – kinda like sleeping on a bed of nails uncomfortable, it won’t kill you but it’s not a Serta™. It was at that point that I had to make a decision:  I could hush my doubts and try to forget that they had ever began…I could be comfortable where I was before or I could embrace the standard of evidence that I had been fully aware existed but ignored most of my life – I could pursue Truth despite comfort.  I didn’t know where it would lead me, I never expected to become an atheist but without fully knowing what the consequences would be – I told myself that it was Truth that I wanted, even if it hurt.

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Facing Doubt with Integrity and Honesty

There are a few Christian ministries popping up here and there that are dedicating themselves to ministering to doubters, one such ministry is called Credo House which has recently hosted a few podcast programs and blogs dedicated solely to being a haven for Christian doubters looking to restore their faith.   I contacted one of the ministers involved with this organization in order to offer to be a guest one of the pod-casts to give my testimony of leaving the faith.  He wasn’t interested.  I was surprised by the response because I thought this was an attempt at an honest examination of doubt and faith with the goal of giving people  hope that, regardless of where you end up as a result of your doubts, the depression, fears, and suicidal thoughts that often accompany these events can eventually get better.

Before I really became entrenched in facing and realizing my doubts about the Christian faith I had certainly dealt with doubts before. Small things like the Trinity, Biblical lack of clarity on some subjects, post or pretrib eschatology had made me question myself and the Bible in small ways but never in ways so ground-shaking as I eventually began to deal with.  I recognize that many of my Christian friends  deal with those same small issues and because of my own personal hindsight I recognize one of the main problems with the way believers of any faith deal with those doubts.

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It Gets Better: A Letter to Doubters

I remember thinking – knowing really, during that indescribably difficult and painful time of my life when all of my doubts were finally being dealt with, that this darkness and self-hatred was  something I was destined to endure until I died. I remember this feeling, hopelessness, being all that I could feel for some time.

I was losing my faith. I was losing the core of who I thought I was. I’ve tried to describe this pain before but my words can’t do it justice. This was an involuntary reversal of that which I once KNEW; that my god existed, loved me, and had plans for my life. To know something and then to no longer know that something, especially something so vital to my own existence can be absolutely devastating.  It was for me.

For over two years I wanted to end my life every day. It seemed like the only way.

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Is Debating Theists Futile?

Many atheist activists take the time to debate and discuss religion with theists while others often assert the futility of such discussions.  I spend a good amount of time in discussion with theists and aside from the fact that I truly enjoy this type of discourse I personally find that the exercise is more often healthy for all parties involved than not.

Consider the following three examples:

Here in the deep south, in a small town where there are almost as many churches as people – many believers have never been exposed to such fundamentally differing opinions as my own rejection of the faith worldview in exchange for a naturalistic and evidence based approach to determining truth. In my discussions with “real life” people here I’ve come to realize that the vast majority of believers are under-prepared for this level of debate and in many cases find themselves admitting that they are ill-prepared and under educated in the tenets of their own faith.  Most of the time I’m the one that has to explain what the Bible says about any certain topic and I think that this fact has had an impact on many local believers in-so-much that they frequently commit themselves to better understanding their faith and even other view points.

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The Ethics of Doubt

I have had various people approach me, generally Christians, whom think the idea of doubting god or god’s existence is unethical. Obviously I think the idea is ridiculous, but I would like to give my take on it. We aren’t really talking about morality here, that has been handled in depth more times than I care to count on this blog…what I am referring to is the actual ethical nature of the individual whom doubts. My contention is that a person skeptical of the existence of god is ethical in a more altruistic sense than the individual whom accepts god and dogma without question.

Before I go into my reasoning I would like to point out that this isn’t intended at an accusation against the believer…I contest that believers (those that believe in god) can just as well be skeptics and doubters not exposed to the same information or unable to get past the religious programming they may have endured. I for one know very well that overcoming all that fear, nervousness, and denying my devotion to god is incredibly difficult. I suggest that the more devoted to your god you are the more likely you are to challenge him, at least that was my own experience. This most certainly qualifies one as a doubter in my book and therefore somewhat more ethical than ones sheepish counterparts.

My standard of ethics is that an ethical person will fight and seek truth no matter what he finds to be true. Despite what I may find to be true I will still attempt to validate that truth and fight for it’s survival, hence you have this  blog in front of your face. In my view, both the pursuit of reality (truth) and  the propagation of it meet the very definition of ethical behavior. Proliferating one’s faith is altruistic as it generally tends to attempt to save wayward souls, but it is only pure when an individual is willing to endure the struggles of his faith….some Atheists lack the experience of faith and therefore an understanding of the difficulty that a person of faith can face in daily life. The doubter loves his non-existent god, his god is real to him, he fights everything natural to him to keep that god happy – my own faith kept me teetering on the border of sanity and insanity almost constantly and it was incredibly difficult- far more than the scapegoat that some Atheists may believe it to be.

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Extimony Rebuttal

A friend of mine responded to my Extimony via Myspace mail…First will be his post, then mine follows

From: David
Date: Aug 22, 2008 12:27 PM


Thanks. You really put a lot of thought into that and I enjoyed the insight. Moreover, I applaud your objectivity, but I’m a little thrown by the way one of the biggest beefs with God you mentioned is allowing humans to doubt. IMHO, Doubt is purely an emotional state of mind influenced by logic.

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