Deconversion: A Response – Part 2 (Prayer)

I got some Christmas gifts early this year — we wanted to open gifts with my mother-in-law while she was in town helping us adjust to life with the new baby.  One of the gifts I received was this neat-looking credit-card-sized multi-tool from my Amazon wishlist.  Though I could discern on sight how to use most of the elements of the tool, there were a few that baffled me, so I swallowed my man-pride and actually took a look at the instructions.

There was one problem, though:  The instructions were all in Chinese.  I couldn’t read them.

I went to the product’s Amazon page, and lo and behold one of the pictures was a key that showed the uses of each element (though now I have to go figure out how to use a “direction auxiliary indication”).  Out of curiosity, I proceeded to read some of the reviews, and I noticed that many who had received the tool had the same problem that I did with the instructions.  What struck me the most about these particular reviews was how many users gave the product a negative review based solely on their inability to understand the instructions.  Ironically, in leaving their review, they had to visit the very page where I was able to discover clear instructions, so they could have easily overcame the linguistic difficulty, just as I had — and yet, their entire opinion of the efficacy of the tool never ventured beyond their inability to understand how it was meant to be used.

Isn’t this exactly how so many people base their opinions on the inefficacy of intercessory prayer?  Once they realize the tool doesn’t work they way they thought or assumed it did, they give the whole system a negative review and state that “it doesn’t work.” (more…)

Deconversion: A Response (Part 1)

About a month ago, Nan shared the video below in a comment.  The video is the first in a series by YouTuber Evid3nc3, where he explores his prior belief in Christianity and examines the various components of his deconversion.

I had seen this video and a few others in the series before, and I remember being impressed — it is, in my opinion, a very well-done series.  However, I think some of the points the gentleman makes warrant response.  So, I would like to begin a series of my own in response to each video in Evid3nc3’s “Deconversion” series — not to attack the author in any way, merely to respond to his points from my perspective.  The author’s main motivation in this series seems to be sharing his own personal story, and I highly respect that approach (more on that later) — I’m certainly not interested in undermining the author’s personal experience, or minimizing the impact of certain events in his life that led him to adopt his current beliefs.  I shall try my best to approach this series as though I were discussing with the author face-to-face, rather than attacking him or sniping his ideas from the security of my computer chair. (more…)

Unexamined Misgivings

I have been so blessed lately with lots of comments from new people — people who seem to be a perfect fit for a community like this.  Thank you all for engaging!

In one brief discussion I had recently with Charles, he discussed his deconversion process and mentioned this:

If you had asked me at age 24 why I believed, I would have been able to give a list of reasons similar to what you gave in a previous post, but in fact I was not all that confident in those reasons. I was holding to them in spite of misgivings, by faith, because I trusted my experience with God and felt that trumped everything else.

We later agreed that the presence of misgivings in one’s philosophy is not necessarily indication that the philosophy is fatally flawed — in fact, I’ve yet to come across any metaphysical philosophy that does not involve the acceptance of a few mysteries, unanswered questions, or even seeming contradictions.  There’s no such thing as an airtight philosophy of everything — not yet, anyway.  We simply don’t have all the information.

In any case, Charles further clarified what he meant:

It’s natural to have misgivings, but what I used to have were *unexamined* misgivings. Now I’m ok with examining any of my beliefs.

I agree with Charles that having misgivings and failing to examine them can be a bad thing.  I admit I can be slow sometimes to really dig into the nitty-gritty of my own questions concerning my faith — though I have been convinced enough in the bigger picture of my worldview that I’m not incredibly concerned or anxious about the questions I do have.  Someday I would like to go to seminary, and when I do I will certainly have some questions lined up and ready to fire at my professors.

Nevertheless, what Charles’ question did for me is make me curious to hear from my readers, especially those with deconversion stories of their own:  Looking back, what were some of the key points that you would consider to have been “unexamined misgivings” that led to you giving up your faith in God?  Thanks ahead of time for weighing in!  I look forward to reading your responses!

All the Hurting People

My wife is currently pregnant with our first child (our son), and while on the whole it has been a glorious experience, there is always a measure of growing pains that accompany any big change in life stage.  Our little one hasn’t even come yet, and already changes are occurring — in our plans, our lifestyle, my wife’s body, etc.  From what I’ve learned over the years about the physiological differences between males and females, I’d imagine most guys can relate to my habitual knee-jerk reaction, when a loved one is stressed or in pain, to want to “fix the situation”:  Something’s wrong?  Here I come to the rescue!  And I’d wager that a large portion of those guys (especially if I sampled from those who have been in a relationship with a woman) will be able to identify with the evident fact (learned through trial-and-error) that sometimes situations can’t be “fixed” by us, and essentially just need to work themselves out.  I’ve made many a situation worse by trying to put on my tool-belt and go to work; it makes it difficult, though, to see someone you care about so deeply in pain, and feeling powerless to help them.

This blogging experience, somewhat surprisingly, has garnered similar feelings in me — though I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised.  In reading what you have to say on this blog and perusing your own, I’ve come to care deeply for many of you.  I feel your pain when you talk about the circumstances that led to your deconversions; I mourn the inability of your local church to connect with you, meet your needs, and offer you sound, healing doctrine; I burn with anger when I read about hurtful, judgmental, bigoted, and legalistic words being given to you by church leaders and parishioners when they should have been offering words of love, reconciliation, grace, and the mercy of Christ as presented in the Gospels.  (I considered putting in some links to examples of these, but did not want to risk offense or misrepresentation — you know who you are, I suppose.)  I know all too well the disjointedness of the Western church, the equally harmful extremes of Pharisaical legalism and hedonistic liberalism — and it grieves me.  Frankly, hearing some of your stories makes me want to go back in time and punch some people in the face. (more…)