Converting to Reason

Being new to this blogsite, I was invited to give my "deconversion" story. The truth is, I think I was more "converted" than "deconverted" - or maybe just came out of the closet.

I was a minister for over 25 years, very serious about thoughtful Christianity, a graduate of Emory University with undergrad study in psychology and grad study in religion/theology. Studied anthropology and mythology along the way, because I was fascinated with origins, and because I had a lingering suspicion even in those days that much of what I believed was probably myth. I was a person who chose to believe in the face of dogged unbelief. I struggled with intellectual concerns with Christianity from the day I was "born again" - but my conversion experience was so emotionally gratifying and gave me such acceptance in a tight-knit community that I chose to turn off or "closet" my reasonable objections and simply believe the unbelievable.

And, that is one of the reasons I actually "deconverted" or came out of the closet...I grew tired, after 25 years - of seeing emotion and acceptance be awarded to the converted for choosing to believe something that has no basis in reality. I could no longer live with my own sense of compromised integrity and intellectual dishonesty.

I always questioned my faith, but Christianity and ministry gave me a place, an identity, and frankly a salary, so the questions only took me to a place of constant discontent. I was important and successful in my chosen community because I was a great speaker, a brilliant counselor, and a charming personality. I had exploited the pay-off to my conversion to its maximum effect. But in my moments of reflection I wrestled - not with how to better share Jesus with my flock - but with the nagging inconsistencies of the gospel, the ragged edges of religion and the fact that I really did not believe what I said I believed.

I think the power of religion is that it promises so much, and keeps people "grateful" by keeping them guilty...and withholding emotional validation and acceptance when one strays. Most people I know who are "in faith" are people who have suspended their intellect and accept the package because with it comes occasional emotional validation and acceptance by a group of people. Very few are there because of intellectual reasoning. I hope to meet some on this blogsite.

I am also a believer in evidential consequence. Which means, most of what we know happens because we observe a consequence...a ripple in a pond, thunder after lightning. We understand this as a consequence, even from the earliest age - "mommy, why is the sky blue?" We move backward, examining evidence (which are also prior consequences) until we get to the point of origin...the original action. The rock thrown in the pond, the heated air after a lightning strike. Thus, we learn, and we also put into practice the scientific method.

After 25 years in the organized religious institution, I was nearly asphyxiated due to "lack of evidence" behind the consequence. (What???) I mean - I could no longer justify the lack of genuine belief I saw demonstrated in so-called "believers". The church does not enable inquiry, it shuts it off by pontification and by studying over and over again only the preordained and pre-approved texts. And so we never got anywhere, and we never examined what we said we believed...we just said we believed it and moved on.

When the ripple in the pond is not a ripple, and there is no lightning behind the thunder...then you know it is time to move out and move on.

I have since acquired a more expansive view of "debunking Christianity." Things like: lack of historic evidence, internal inconsistencies in the authoritative document (the Bible - duh!), no sound arguments of proof, being honest about mythological and anthropological origins of the gospel narratives (and indeed the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament).

But, the truth is, I converted - not deconverted. I converted to intellectual honesty. I came out of the closet and admitted...I don't believe this, and I have reasons.

I am a truly happy, born-again and uncloseted agnostic.

Take me on...take on me!