For our anniversary gift this year I gave Mark a hardbound binder filled with over 400 pages of facebook discussions he’s had on the topic of religion. These 400 pages of dialogue, discussion and debate are from Oct 2010 to Feb 2011. This does not include all the phone conversations, face to face meetings, private emails and personal reading/learning!
This is much of the reason I stopped wasting my time and energy on Facebook. These debates in the beginning were quite rewarding and eye opening and then they progressed in to anger and resentment on all sides. Anger because the responses often times were not challenging or because they only confirmed that we had made the right decision. When Mark started openly posting his opposition to religion back in October I was new to the freethinking world and was constantly searching for answers to solidify or change my current beliefs. These religious discussions left me feeling very firm in the belief that there is no god tied to one religion and there possibly is no god at all.
Mark has continued in his wrath against religion on FB and much of his anger is attributed to the many cliche answers christians have posted to his questioning of their beliefs. Answers that after 30 years of christianity he and I could quote verbatim before they were even posted! He’s tired of the “it’s not for us to judge” and the “you are taking everything out of context” and the “who are we to question God?” responses. But ultimately it’s the “What do you have to lose if you’re wrong and what do I have to lose if I’m wrong?” question that is like nails on a chalkboard or in my case like rubbing two pieces of cardboard together. Horrible, gagging chills.
The faith card is the final straw always pulled that drives a Seeker of Truth further and further away from believing.
That bring us to yesterday. Finally a christian posed a question that makes it easier for religious antagonists to let it go. This question was posted at the tail end of a string of debating between Mark (atheist) and another very smart guy (christian) about the probabilities/statistics supporting different theories attesting to the beginning of the universe. The question was simple. Ask yourself are you A Seeker of Truth or A Defender of Faith?
As it is with all things in life I was quick to think of all the people I knew that were ABSOLUTELY a Defender of Faith. The ones who had posted responses such as, “I don’t need to watch any video or read any article you post. Nothing will change my opinion” or “There is nothing about atheism I wish to know. Jesus is everything and Always will be” or “There are absolutely NO flaws or contradictions in the Bible because it is God’s word.” These people were obvious Defenders of the Faith. They wouldn’t dare question or seek anything outside of what’s comfortable to them.
The friend who was sharing this exchange with Mark answered the Defender vs Seeker question stating that he also is a Defender of Faith. I pondered that for a bit because he is definitely more educated and scientific in his approach to the Bible and unbelievers. I never thought of him as one to blindly follow and I still don’t think that he does. What I realized rather is that Defenders of Faith are often far deeper in their defensive tactics than simply choosing to avoid questions. Some Defenders question as much as the non-religious but instead of denying their faith they find ways to make the Faith fit their need for answers. Christians have evolved over time and continue to do so to make the faith more relevant and more defendable to those who are Seekers of Truth and Defenders. The Bible is literal/The Bible has many many allegories. The flood was worldwide/The flood was local. Creation happened as the Bible has written it either in Genesis 1 or 2/ God created evolution and we evolved over time. The earth is a few thousand years old/The earth is as old as science says. Christianity and science are at war/Christianity and science are friends. God approves of slave ownership/God despises slave ownership. Homosexuality is a sin/homosexuals are welcome leaders of the church. Women are not allowed to have leadership roles in church/Women are encouraged to lead. Hell is a real scary place/Hell is an allegory.
Warrior type Defenders of Faith are required to change the story in order to have a viable defense. One that they can firmly stand behind when science and society throw out truth seeking questions. IF the Bible is not a true work of God I wonder how many more years the Defenders of Faith will even have the ability to change the biblical story? And if they can’t change it many will still absently answer that NOTHING will make them leave or question it. The ominous play of the faith card.
Well after I spent all that time evaluating and judging other people I judged myself. Always best to put others first right =)
I really do think I’m a Seeker of truth (lower case ‘t’ for now). I’m always searching. Always questioning. Always challenging myself. During the Oct-Feb period on FB I read every article and response posted. I watched every video posted. I listened to every sermon recommended. I read as many books on both sides that I could. I hashed things over in conversations with christians and non-christians alike. And I’m still questioning. I think I’ll always question. It’s good to be on this side. To not feel like I’m defending a god or religion therefore allowing uninhibited questioning. I don’t care what the end result ends up proving to be. I don’t feel the need to manipulate any of my learnings. I don’t have an agenda. That’s why I’m still happily an agnostic/atheist. Some days there’s just enough for me to believe there’s a God and other days I cannot fathom that a God exists. So I just continue the cycle of questioning and researching until the answer that sits best with me arrives. Until that answer feels good and acceptable in my being and then I begin a new round of discovery. It’s awesome!
And because I am a Seeker of truth and others are admittedly Defenders of Faith I can let go. I can free the need to convince those Defenders that it’s beautiful over here in the land of truth seeking.