I was awash in doubt, moreso than at anytime since the beginning of my fundamentalist experience in 1985. My inner turmoil surprised me. I was afraid I was leading myself down a path of apostasy and out of the graces of God. What would that do to me? To my family? To my eternal security? What if I was wrong about my eternal security.
But with all of my doubts looming so large, I couldn’t stuff them back in that giant hole. It was time for a reckoning.
Not to pat myself on the back at all, but I count that as one of the braver things I’ve ever done.
I decided that in order to avoid prejudicing myself toward my doubts, something I always accused T of doing when she left the faith, I would find a well-recommended apologetics book and give God the first and best chance of answering my questions and calming my fears.
For the Pro side of the argument, I downloaded to my Kindle Norman Geisler’s I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
I already knew what book I would choose for the Con side of the conversation. I wanted to read the book that made me the most afraid, because that would be the greatest challenge. If I could get through that with my faith intact, I could set aside my doubts and at least approach the meditation question with the confidence that would come from overcoming what to me was the sternest challenge I could find. So I downloaded Loftus’ Why I Became an Atheist.
I’m very committed to using ebooks, and buy almost exclusively unless the book is either very graphics heavy, or I intend to use it more as a reference and want to page back and forth easily. I probably would have bought these in paper for that reason, but I did not want T to know what I was reading. I didn’t want anyone to know. I didn’t want other opinions, encouragement or discouragement, or any other input. This was going to be me and my own mind, nobody else.
I got a blank steno pad and started reading Geisler. I had all my doubts and questions clear in my mind and looked for answers. Really, before I even read a word of Loftus, I was severely dissatisfied with what I was finding in this book. I took 30 pages of notes, delineating why the answers weren’t at all satisfying. If I wasn’t sure, I would think of what T would say about that answer, and if I could come up with her response myself, then I knew it wasn’t an answer for the rational seeker, but for the convinced who needs comfort.
By the time I finished that book, I was shaken. If this was some of the best on offer, I knew where this conversation was going to end up. After all, I’d read enough of chapter 3 in Loftus’ book to really put cracks in my confidence.
So I started reading WIBA, same steno pad in hand. I took another 20 pages of notes, trying to poke holes in his assertions and answers, but when I finished the book, I looked up at the blank wall and thought, “I don’t believe it anymore.”
I wondered for a short time if maybe there was a better book on the Christian side. Having read through WIBA, I now knew of William Lane Craig, whose talent is not that he makes a better argument, but that he knows how to manipulate the debate environment to his advantage.
So I downloaded Contending With Christianity’s Critics by Mr. Craig. I got about 40% into it and gave up. It was like reading Geisler all over again. He was perhaps more wordy, but it was the same moving of goalposts and equivocating that I’d tired of so desperately during my first read.
I could go back and delineate a lot of what was in those books, but I think that’s what the blog and the articles I post there are for. This is just the story of how I got to where I am, and the relevance of the articles to the experience I had.
For now it’s enough to know that I was done. I was no longer a believer.