Friday, December 16, 2005
How I Lost My Faith
Several people have been asking me to explain how I came to lose my faith. I feel like I've told this story a thousand times, but I've finally decided to put it in writing. After this, anyone who wants to hear my deconversion story can piss off!
Like all really good stories, mine begins with a young man in love. Except that the object of my affection was eternal, all-powerful and (I would eventually discover) completely imaginary. In fact, I was so in love with God that I decided to major in Theology in college, with the intention of entering the ministry. However, at the beginning of my senior year, I had a crisis of faith. No, I didn't have a traumatic experience - i.e., nobody in my family died, my girlfriend didn't leave me, and I didn't find out that I had an incurable STD - that all happened later. Simply put, I spent a lot of time studying the Bible (perhaps more than I should have) and I began encountering many inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
I know you're going to want an example (they always do) and so I'm going to give you one (and only one). Jeremiah 28:9 states that if a prophet makes a prediction that does not come to pass, then that prophet is not of God. Now, it so happens that in Matthew 16:27,28 Jesus predicts that his Second Coming (in glory and power) would take place within the lifetime of some of the people in his audience. Naturally, all the folks in his audience are now dead and Jesus still hasn't returned. (There’s not even a Yahoo emoticon that captures such a let down!) In brief, since Jesus' prediction didn't come to pass we have to conclude he is a false prophet. Oops.
But like I said, I came across dozens of instances of the kind just described. At first I simply assumed that I was just misunderstanding these passages or that there was some explanation for these "apparent" problems. (Damn, I knew I shouldn't have smoked that peyote before my Bible Study class!) However, after reading and re-reading many of the problematic passages - often in the original Greek and Hebrew - I could no longer deny the obvious: reading is much easier when you're not high, especially since the words don't move about the page as much. I realised that I only pretended not to understand what were clear inaccuracies and inconsistencies because I was unwilling to accept that the Bible was not the infallible word of God. But it soon dawned on me that I was not only lying to myself, but also to my church members. (I was actually a ministerial intern at the Hosanna SDA church in Trinidad at the time). Finally, I decided that I couldn't go on living a lie; burgundy ties are not fashionable, no matter what the Deacon says! With new-found determination, I tore off my burgundy tie and walked out of the church, never to return!
Admittedly, for a short time thereafter I did dabble in a few moderate versions of religion - a little Unitarianism here and a little Buddhism there - you know, nothing too hardcore. But ultimately, it all boiled down to a matter of faith - or more aptly, my rejection of it. In brief, I am convinced that faith is merely the excuse we use to believe things we want to believe but have no good reason for believing. Now that's all well and good, except that if we're all simply entitled to believe what we want, then I would much prefer to believe in a heaven filled with large breasted women wearing nothing but fishnets and knee-high boots whose sole ambition is to enjoy the endless delights of sodomy.
So there you have it folks, the ‘short’ story of my deconversion. And no I don’t hate God (given the inherent difficulty of hating someone who doesn’t exist) and I’m not on a crusade to convert all Christians to atheism (If I'm not going to be an evangelist for God, I see no reason to be one against him either). I believe everyone should simply live their lives honestly and in harmony with their own convictions (except if your convictions include doing naughty things to farm animals, in which case I think you should be taken outside and whipped).