This isn’t my first blog. I’ve been blogging regularly since February 2010, when I was eighteen and unemployed. After four and a half years, I started this one and abandoned my old one, right about the time I realized that most of my old beliefs were rubbish.
Recently I scrolled through my archives of blog posts and read a lot of my early ones, and my reaction to them was complicated. I’m embarrassed by Younger Me’s ignorance, yet the love for truth and logic is apparent even in the bad arguments I made. I was thoroughly indoctrinated, but committed to finding my own way to truth using evidence and reason, and I can remember clearly my state of mind and the circumstances around a lot of that old writing.
It’s unsettling to see myself thinking and reasoning as a devout Christian, because I believed everything I said. It was all so real to me back then, and my search for truth really began with a burning desire to share my deeply emotional religion with as many other people as I could. To have an impact on the world, I figured my beliefs and message had to be based on evidence and reason, and since I believed those things were created by an omnipotent god there was no way for me to comprehend an outcome other than discovering the correct version of Christianity. From my 2+ years on this blog, you can see how that actually turned out.
I’ve always had a lot to say (only in written form, of course), and I’d like to examine several quotes from my old blog. By doing so, perhaps I can provide a better picture of how and why my beliefs changed, and make it clear just how serious I was about my old religion. And since these are my own words, I can be as harsh and sarcastic as I want without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings. It should be a lot of fun.
Younger Me: “Time is like a road, a one-way road with a very strict speed limit. Everyone and everything in the material world moves along the road, at the speed limit, and in the only direction possible.”
The very first article I wrote for my first blog was about the impossibility of time travel, and the basic premise was that god imposed time on us essentially for moral reasons. It’s simplistic and boring, but this quote makes one thing clear: Younger Me, general relativity is going to blow your mind, and then you’re going to feel dumb. Your understanding of time is based on fundamentally incorrect assumptions because your science education was pitifully incomplete.
Younger Me: “Growing up is exciting. Learning to trust God with everything is even better. The more faith I have, the more I see what God does. I notice things that I used to take for granted.”
Let me translate that for you, buddy: The more you convince yourself that a certain mythology is true, the more you notice opportunities to feed your confirmation bias and project your beliefs into situations where they are actually irrelevant. It’s a feedback loop and it’s going to break itself.
Younger Me: (in a college admissions essay) “Whatever course God leads me on, a Christian college like [College Name] is highly preferable over any government-run secular university. Having been taught at home by my parents all the way through high school, I would love to continue my education under the influence of other Christians. Someday, whether I’m a professor or just a father, I want to become another of those influential Christian people.”
In other words, you’ve been so thoroughly indoctrinated that you literally fear the information you don’t know; you’ve been deprived of knowing it and trained to believe it’s evil. You’re in for some big surprises when you actually go to a Christian college. In fact, doing so and studying the bible there will contribute greatly to your eventual rejection of Christianity.
Younger Me: “God’s the only one who can really fill that empty space inside people, the space so many people try to fill with movies, music, food, sex, alcohol, drugs, etc. It’s like we have a spiritual stomach that needs to be filled with happiness and contentment. Earthly things that promise these will never fill it up. But Jesus and His living water will fill it up for ever.”
You know what, Jesus and his magic juice turned out to be just as unfulfilling, as soon as you actually needed him. That “empty space” you’re talking about is your desire for new experiences…nothing will fill it up forever. It won’t be long before you realize that some things are more fulfilling than believing in Jesus, but even they are still temporary.
Younger Me: “I cried last night. I cried tears of joy for the love that surpasses knowledge. (Eph. 3:19) I used to define love as caring for someone else more than yourself. I knew it wasn’t a complete definition, but at the time, I didn’t know how to describe the rest. Last night it was clearer. Love sees the beauty and goodness in people, even in their faults and blemishes. Love forgives before asked. It isn’t something you feel for a person, it’s something you give to them. It isn’t a desire to be loved by someone; it’s a desire to love them no matter what. And when someone else loves you like that, you can feel it, if you accept it. The emotion is overwhelming. That is the love God has for us, and I’ve felt it.”
I remember that night clearly. You’re on the right track with love, but you’re confusing the activity of your subconscious mind with a deity, which is kind of dumb. You felt some intense emotions while thinking about an imaginary being that loves you. In a few years you will experience the same thing with a character you invent because you’re lonely, and that experience will be far more “real” and significant than any of your god encounters. It may even have a bigger impact than your failed engagement to a girl you truly love…not immediately but in the long run.
Younger Me: “My one big problem—interpersonal communication—was made even worse by my intelligence. I became reclusive because I didn’t want to seem arrogant or bother anyone. And now, trying to be more social, I’m not quite smart enough to completely offset that problem with quick thinking. The habit of keeping my mouth shut is too firmly embedded in my mind.”
Dude, you’re on the autism spectrum. You’ll figure that out in a couple years, and everything will make sense. You’ll endure eighteen months of PTSD, then become a Dudeist priest and mellow out. Your problems are not because you are smart; you are smart because of your problems.
Younger Me: “Homosexuality, for example, is one of the most irritating perversions of a good thing I’ve ever heard of. It has tampered with people’s perception of love between two men, which should be what the Bible calls brotherly love. That brotherly love, by the way, is one of the most powerful types of love, short of God’s love, as evidenced by the Bible’s constant mentioning of it.”
It’s irritating because you’re bisexual. You’ve been deprived of understanding yourself, and of the meaningful connections with other men that you desire. I remember writing those words; how strongly you believed it and yet how wrong it felt to say it. The perversion is your religion; you feel threatened by the hatred of gay people that shows its ugly head whenever men are a little too close to each other. You envy the way that women can be physically affectionate without condemnation, because your love language is physical touch and your religion is so afraid of gayness that it sexualizes and condemns almost all physical expressions of love between men. Your religion is depriving you of what you need to be psychologically healthy, and programming you to hate yourself.
Younger Me: “There’s evil out there, and if Christian writers skirt around things that make them uncomfortable, the world is just going to keep shoving its garbage down everyone’s throats and things will only get worse. Just look at how far we’ve gone already. About a hundred years ago, women could be arrested for wearing swimsuits in public that didn’t cover enough skin. Now there are nude beaches. Fifty years ago, abortion was illegal. Now the government is trying to fund the murder of unborn babies. Assisted suicide is being legalized. Homosexual marriage as well.”
The most hilarious thing about this one is that you’re going to really enjoy those clothing-optional beaches (come on, you’ve always hated clothes and fantasized about being able to just not wear any), you will pursue relationships with men, you will argue in favor of letting people with terminal illnesses end their lives on their own terms, and you will learn enough about reality to understand that around 100% of abortions are not murder, and over 98% don’t even end a conscious human life.
Younger Me: “Without God’s love, the divorce rate would be a whole lot higher.”
I know this quote is out of context, but….bahahahahahahahaha! That’s a prime example of religious lies. Christian divorce rates are similar to the general population, and certain branches (like your own conservative tradition) actually have higher than average divorce rates. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by a Christian research organization, atheists have a lower divorce rate than most major Christian groups…non-denominational, Baptists, Protestants, Mormons…only Catholics have as low a rate as atheists and agnostics. And you guys think Catholics are messed up.
Younger Me: (describing a crush I had on a girl when I was fifteen) “For over a year I suffered from emotions I didn’t understand. Eventually it ended, and to this day I’m not quite sure why I went through that. I specifically prayed—nearly every night during that time—that I would stop feeling that way. It was very strange to me, and frightening.”
You went through it because it’s the natural response of a human reaching sexual maturity, and there’s no god to magically change the physical process in your body that generated those feelings. It was strange and frightening because you were ignorant and indoctrinated. Also, she’s still one of the kindest and most beautiful people you’ve ever met. Your judgment was spot on even though you were an idiot (the same can’t be said for that time you thought god told you to get engaged to your first girlfriend…that time, you were just wrong all around).
Younger Me: “I talk to God pretty much every night, and throughout the day as well. I do it increasingly often, and as time goes by I’m always surprised by how much more there is to learn, and how much happier I can be with seemingly less than I had before.”
This will continue until god is one of the things you had before and are much happier without.
Younger Me: “Misunderstandings are so common because people don’t stop to think that what they think the other person is thinking might be wrong. A guy might rush ahead and react to his perceived notions of why a girl is acting a certain way, which in turn causes the girl to conceive notions about what the guy might be thinking in response to what she thinks he’s thinking about what she might be thinking about him.”
Oh dear, you were so ambitious with your prose.
Younger Me: “Being a Christian is to be like Christ. He would never betray my trust, so I strive to never do that to anyone I know. I greatly admire people who are loyal. Many things in this world try to distract them, but they stick firmly to their friends. It’s an estimable trait.”
You’ll stay your same loyal self long after Jesus fails you and you move on.
Younger Me: “I don’t want to love a girl for her face, or her body, or because she’s a writer, or any other single facet of herself. I want to love a girl for who she is as a whole person, a creation of God, a beautiful and unique young lady who God loves. This means loving everything about her. Everyone has faults. We’re not perfect because we live in a fallen world, but God still made us who we are, flaws and all.”
Your god is insane and malevolent, but you’re on the right path nonetheless. Your love for other people will lead you to understand how much hate and harm your religion inspires.
Younger Me: “You wouldn’t tell a suicidal non-Christian teen that she wasn’t worth anything without Christ. What good is that going to do? If she isn’t worth anything without trusting someone she’s never seen, then why would she believe that God loves her? Why would God love someone who’s worthless?”
Ah, this is where you start standing up to hypocritical Christians and believing in social justice. But you’re still viewing everything through the same lens that created the injustice in the first place. Eventually you will notice, and you will regret the times that you unwittingly contributed to it.
Younger Me: “I’ve talked to people who believe that we are inherently good, just with a little sinful nature as well, even without Christ. I wouldn’t take it that far. But having a fallen, sinful nature is a completely different thing than being worthless. It’s far different than being evil. Even non-Christians are capable of doing plenty of good things. This is because God’s law is written on everyone’s heart. Everyone has a sense of right and wrong, even with their sinful natures!”
I see the first glimmer of an accurate understanding of morality, yet still shackled to a god who is a terrible basis for it.
Younger Me: “It’s like God comes to our doors and offers us a wrapped package. “This is for you, absolutely free,” he says. “Do you want it?” Some people take it. Some slam the door in his face, thinking he’s offering them a bomb or a puppy or something equally destructive.”
You’re trying so hard. Don’t worry, you’ll be funnier when you’re older.
Younger Me: “I see choosing God and ‘getting saved’ as two entirely different things, as evidenced by my drowning man analogy. All we do is hold on. God saves us. He won’t save us unless we ask, so that his perfect justice will be carried out, and he saves us if we ask, so that his mercy will be shown.”
He won’t save us unless we ask. From a situation that only exists because of his own actions, which means he’s fully responsible. And he’s fully capable of saving us. This is exactly like excusing a murderer who bound and gagged his victim before killing because the victim didn’t ask not to be killed. God is both responsible for the situation and capable of fixing it, and leaving us to drown makes him evil. Your drowning man analogy fails because you would blame the rescuer if he was omnipotent, whether the drowning person grabbed the rope or not, because the only way the person drowns in that situation is if the omnipotent rescuer willingly lets them drown.
Younger Me: “Recent events have taught me more and more to rely on God. For everything. Through trials and pain I grow in my faith and learn to trust him even more.”
And in the worst of it he will abandon you, because he’s imaginary, and you’ll have to learn how to rely on yourself.
Younger Me: “A while back I was called in for jury duty and picked as part of the six-person jury in a domestic violence case. During the litigation, with all the lawyers’ arguments and evidence presented, I found my thoughts drifting back and forth, latching onto not the most logical answer, but the most appealing one based on the most recent carefully-worded argument. A cunning lie can be just as believable as an unavoidable truth, and often even more so, when the lie is crafted to appeal to our selfish desires.”
You don’t know how right you are, even as you’re in the middle of being very wrong. About four years in the future, a fascist buffoon will win the presidential election using this very principle to con the nation.
Younger Me: “If someone who once claimed to be a Christian turns around and completely denies God, lives a life given to sin, and dies unrepentant, it should be obvious that they never truly believed in their heart that Christ is God and did not repent of their sins.”
I’m just going to snicker at the massive irony. You said so many things about how firm your faith was, how you would always be a Christian. And you believed it, too.
Younger Me: “Tomorrow doesn’t belong to you. You, as a child of God, are dependent on God alone. To believe in him means to surrender your will to his purpose. All your worries, your plans, your dreams, your desires, and everything else you have, you give to him.”
You wrote this after being suddenly and traumatically dumped by your fiancee for whom you had just moved thousands of miles away from home. You just lost almost all control over your life and more than two years of slow progress fighting severe depression, and it was devastating. The delusion may help you through, but in the end it won’t be enough. A psychiatrist and medication is what will ultimately relieve you of the painful chaos in your mind.