Ever since I came to peace (I think I can call it peace) with shedding my Christian skin (or fleece, perhaps?) I have found it to be increasingly difficult to converse with those whose faith is still on solid ground. Some good friends have pointed out that my critiques have been offensive lately. I can believe it. People get offended, especially when it comes to issues they feel strongly about. I have always attempted to clarify that my statements are not personal attacks, but simply my own thoughts and experience with the subject matter.
Well, that doesn’t work.
For example, I recently pointed out how I think it’s dishonest if Christians mock and immediately dismiss miracle accounts of other religious traditions as being clearly absurd, but are offended if someone mocks the miracles of Jesus or Christian supernaturalism in general (as if some magic is more scientific than other magic). While I think this is a clear double standard, my critique comes across to many as an attack on Christianity. I am not making a claim as to the accuracy of said accounts (even though I’m sure someone could probably guess where I stand). The issue gets bogged down in the details, when I only meant to bring out the one seemingly obvious piece of intellectual dishonesty.
Oh, I guess calling something “intellectually dishonest” also sounds offensive. Hmm. There’s no getting around this, is there.
Over the past week I’ve been seriously questioning my motives, my approach. For so long I’ve wondered why a mere discussion of the underlying philosophies inherent to spirituality, belief, and disbelief was so incendiary to those I engaged. If someone believes in God, and they claim to exercise a rational faith, then why would they willingly choose to suspend critical thinking on certain topics? Why even “study” the Bible or theology if the cop-out becomes “God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts”? Why even claim a God whose evidence of intelligent design can seemingly be “plainly seen” but then become offended when skeptics wish to honestly discuss said evidence?
What offends me, personally, is the idea that skeptics are merely angry with God, as if we can’t come to conclusions about the implications of theistic beliefs without a broken, immature, or damaged spirit. Perhaps the “damage” was inflicted systematically over decades, and the “healing” resembles an immature “hissy-fit” when encountered by Christians. I’ll be the first to admit that anger is often involved whenever someone feels misled for a large portion of their lives. But to imply that a disbelief in God is a flaw in the individuals’ character… yeah, that’s offensive. Many of us battled with trying to believe in this worldview for years, often shedding many tears in the process… crying out with unheard prayers… and then with the pseudo “rejection” we also get a side “You were always the problem.”
We just never “got” it. And evidently we never wanted to “get” it. So, thanks for that.
All that being said, I think I now understand the nature of my offense. See, I have let go of the “faith” aspect and have transitioned to a purely intellectual interaction with the material. For example, since the existence of miracles is of no consequence to me anymore, a full critique of miracles has no possibility of offending me. But speaking of such things with someone who builds their own eternal foundation around the historical accuracy of a resurrected Jesus… Yeah, that could ruffle some feathers I guess.
But in all seriousness, I don’t have an agenda to remove someone’s faith. However, I do think there is something to be said about someone being honest about their beliefs. If you claim to believe in a good God who loves everyone unconditionally, yet you have absolutely zero problem with an eternal lake of fire set aside for his enemies, and also have zero interest in entertaining the “non-eternal lake of fire” theologies that are totally consistent with Christianity, then yeah… I think you want to have your loving-God-cake and eat him too, most likely to hide some prejudices you have against those of different faith traditions.
But I could be wrong.
And hey, if I am wrong, tell me why I’m wrong. I don’t want to simply prove my points. My friends can tell you that my points have changed, drastically and constantly. I want to be compelled to consider different points of view. I guess that’s where I’ve landed. I’m currently on the line between spirituality and secularism, hoping that there is more to the story than just the endless barking of internet message boards. Give me a reason to believe in something, to become passionate about something. I’d love for you to prove me wrong.
Disbelieve it or not.