Thursday, March 30, 2006

A response to Kirsten

This is a comment left by a reader (see here). Below is a copy of the comment, as well as my response.

Kirsten wrote:
I walked away from the Lord for about 5 years after getting my pastoral License and being in intense ministry at a young age. The church politics gave me a very bad taste in my mouth and I decided that I didn't want to be a part anymore. Those 5 years were filled with events- but the thing that I regret the most- was walking away from the Lord's love and intimacy. Life's not perfect- because of sin. But God's love is always there...comforting. Life without the feeling that God is there- sucks. I will pray for you. Pray that the Holy Spirit will not leave you alone- That the presence of God will keep you up at night...that God's love will surround. That you will not be able to run from God's spirit. I gave my heart back to the Lord- and there is absolutely NO COMPARRISON. My GOD is real.

My response:
Thank you for your story and for your words of encouragement. I must say up front that I have a great deal of respect for anyone who has seriously struggled with their faith, irrespective of whether their faith was lost or strengthened as a result. I definitely know how you feel, Kirsten, to struggle with faith, but I also believe that struggling with our beliefs is what makes our final choices regarding those beliefs all the more valuable and precious at the end of the day.

However, I must admit that although I used to feel feelings of guilt over rejecting God’s love and intimacy during my faith struggle, I don’t anymore. Some Christians might hold the view that I, an atheist, lay awake at night, wondering with some degree of angst if there is any meaning to life, and if there is anything “more” out there. But, strangely enough, I don’t. After much thinking, I’ve come to a place of peace regarding my beliefs about God and my place in this universe. I still ponder meaning and mystery, but I’m not in a hurry to find answers.

I think it was M. Scott Peck, in his book, The Road Less Travelled, who suggests that when we are six months old or younger, we instinctively believe that we are omnipotent. At that age we are unable to tell the difference between ourselves and the world around us. One of the most painful journeys of life is coming to the realisation that this world is indeed a separate thing from us, that we are not omnipotent, and that there are things in this world that we cannot control. For myself, it felt as if I made an additional step in this direction by realising that there is no supernatural being looking after my interests, that this life is all that there is. I’m not arguing whether the step was right or wrong, or whether there is a God or not. I’m just saying that once I made this step, I felt no desire to adopt a theistic belief any longer. For me life goes on as usual, even though it is a life without God.

Thank you for your prayers. I hope that your faith will grow, Kirsten, and I wish you luck in the ministry and in your spiritual journey.

All the best


Jason Hughes said...

I had a woman e-mail something similar about two weeks ago.

Seems to me (and she states quite clearly) that it was the politics of the church that turned her off, not the religion or practice of the religion itself. So was her faith able to return without the "political" interference? Or was it an acceptace of the state of mankind that allowed her to rise above politics and let her faith thrive?

And--my final point to Kirsten if she reads this--it seems to me that if men and their politics so easily dissuaded you from your religion to begin with, what's to keep men from doing so again? And your feeling "lost" without that feeling of security and intimacy that you get from worship? Sounds like self-esteem issues to me. But that's just me. If god fills that need for you, who am I to judge? But I think you need to pin down if you are putting your faith in your god, or just in your experiences within your god's church. That's a big difference that most people never evaluate and analyze...

Good luck with everything, Kirsten, and I hope you find what your looking for, whether it be from men or from god.

And Kevin? Still love your blog! Keep it up!

Kevin Cadman said...

Yeah, it's a textbook Christian rebuttal to the content atheist viewpoint. As a Christian, you cannot accept the idea of an atheist concomitantly being content with life - without God, that's not possible! The obvious and easy way out is to blame not the religion, but the people. From their point of view, the religion cannot be at fault because it is perfect. Hence, the only reason one would turn away from God is not because of the perfect God, but because of the people.

This happens to me all the time. I immediately get accused of picking up offences and making the fatal error of blaming God for our iniquities.

My response is simple and effective: "I don't believe in your god or any other god. I never had a problem with the people who served the god, but rather the god being served by the people. I don't have the faith to believe in the fairy-tale of Christianity and thus am an atheist."

Good entry. I'm still waiting for part 2 of the evangelical conversation! ;)

Kevin Cadman

marc said...

I think Kristens words are sincere and that in the tradition she is coming from, that is the best thing to do.

Everyone struggles with faith, if they don't I would have to say they are lying.

My hardest time for me was when my mum died a few years ago but the weird thing for me - it strengthened my faith.

Maybe I was fotunate!!

eddie said...

Nice response Kevin.

What irks me most, is when some believers discover that I am a nontheist, to assume I got "hurt" by the Church. For those people, it seems in their myopic view of life, it's the only rational explanation why someone might walk away from Jesus.

. said...

I have no reason to express opinions after this post except to say that it is very beautiful to see that different people can agree to disagree in peace and even care for each other at the same time.

Very beautiful.

TheJollyNihilist said...

Very nice response.

I, too, am an ex-Christian. I abandoned Christianity about 4 years ago, while in college. I did so after doing rather intensive study in biology, anthropology, philosophy and history. It suddenly occurred to me that The Resurrection, for example, is absolutely impossible based upon the natural laws under which we live. Morever, most of the Bible is equally impossible or factually inaccurate.

I harbored some feelings of guilt after deconverting, however, those have long since passed. Now I realize that this earthly life is the only one I'll ever have. As such, I should do everything I can to squeeze every bit of enjoyment from it. Being the pious servant of a non-existent deity simply doesn't fit in.

Kyaroko said...

A Christian asking an atheist to pray? I think that's the definition of futility.

It's scary trying to conceive of a world without God when it's all that you've ever been taught to believe.

I still hope there is a god. Hope is the residue of the faith I used to have that slid away.

r10b said...

It suddenly occurred to me that The Resurrection, for example, is absolutely impossible based upon the natural laws under which we live.

No kidding.

TheJollyNihilist said...

Of course, I always knew The Resurrection was scientifically impossible. However, college was the first time where I actually focused on that. I realized that I was simply "suspending my disbelief" all those years because I felt I was supposed to. It was then I realized that scientifically impossible is scientifically impossible....period. No suspension of disbelief allowed.

r10b said...

scientifically impossible is scientifically impossible

That's a tautology not an argument.

Is scientifically impossible completely impossible? Yes, if God is a product of science or imagination. Yes, again, if God is constrained by His own creation. Otherwise, no.