Well, I think this is it. I think this is the end of the road for me – my stop is coming up and I’m getting off. I don’t know that I can, with any truthfulness, call myself a Christian anymore. How can one be a Christian without believing in Christ? It’s a little difficult. It’s been a journey – a long, arduous one. Emotions have torn me apart, logic has likewise torn my beliefs apart, and now it’s a horrid mess. Yes sir, mess over 11 months in the making is certainly a mess indeed.
But it’s a necessary one. Something inside has compelled me to move forward, in search of truth, despite the fact that everything else within me wants to wake up from the horrible dream and just go back to believing in the nice, comfortable God that I grew up with. I feel a little like a character in the Matrix – it’s comfortable, but if you believe or know it’s a lie, can you really keep living in it and pretend like it’s real? It’s impossible. I must follow the truth, and that’s all there is to it. My emotions will just have to shut up and come along for the ride.
But as I said, the ride is over. I’ve read all I can read, I’ve thought all I can think, and I’ve prayed my little heart out too many times to count. I’ve given God his “last chance” about sixteen times, and each time it’s gotten a little more desperate, though with similar response – silence. How could a loving God bear to let his own child agonize over something like this, without giving some sort of help? I don’t think there’s a rational response to that answer, except for one: Because he does not exist. That’s the only conclusion I can come to, from whatever angle I tackle the complex problem. So I’m done. Game over. I am getting out of this before it sucks away any more of my life from me. I’m going to piece together what’s left of me, and start building myself up again.
But the big question is still this: Where do I go from here? Atheism is a big, wide open expanse. After all, the only requirement to call yourself one is that you don’t believe in a God. Everything else is up to you to decide. What is my political stance? What do I think about abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, and other social issues? How do I form my system of ethics? What purpose will I find for my life? Before, all these questions were spoon-fed to me. The assumption that the Bible is true led naturally to certain conclusions (although that is much simplified, since denominations wildly disagree on how to interpret what it says). Everything was neat and tidy. It was sterilized and sanitized and put into neat little packages. “If you are a Christian, you will do _____.” Nice and simple. A convenient way to interpret the world.
One thing I know is that life is not simple. And to its credit, I think Christianity does a pretty good job at covering many of the intricacies of life. It’s certainly had long enough to grow, develop, shift, and evolve to encompass them. But it would be so much easier if, now that I am setting that aside, I could just as easily pick up another framework for interpreting life. I could avoid this whole building process by getting something that’s ready-made. But alas, that’s not the case. Christians who talk about the “atheist worldview” or that “atheism is just another religion” don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s no formal dogma, no necessity to believe anything you don’t want to believe, no structured gatherings, no object of worship, and no developed traditions. It’s just a simple statement: “I don’t believe in God.” Or, “I lack belief in a God.” From there, the world is yours to define and interpret and model and structure. Just you, and the whole, wide world.
It’s a scary thing to face. It’s why I’ve spent so much time holding out for God to make his dramatic entrance and save the day. I want to believe that he’s there – desperately. But I just can’t anymore. The evidence all points against it. So that’s that. I need to keep a stiff upper lip, as the Brits say, and just go through with it. Somehow I have to figure out who I am, what the world is like, and what I believe about it all over again. Somehow I thought I was done with that back in high school. It certainly looked that way. But here I am, writing this, and telling the world that I’m no longer a Christian. How sad. How depressing. How freeing. How hopeful.
I’m starting to feel like I’m writing my graduation speech all over again, so I’ll stop. But let me just say that while I have been having some serious mood swings in regards to this issue, I am still hopeful about the future. I am confident that I will figure things out, and will find my own little sanitized way to interpret the world. Why? Because I must. It is inevitable that I will resolve my dilemma, because a person cannot permanently live in this state of tension that I’m in right now. Perhaps I’ll have to read some existentialist literature. I’ll try to find some Jean-Paul Sartre, and maybe he can shed some light on defining one’s purpose. Who knows? I surely don’t. But I’m willing to find out.