Phew! What a week it’s been. Things have been pretty busy. After finishing up exams, I packed up all my stuff in preparation to move to a new place, and then came home for a few days. While at home on the weekend, I went to my cousin Bethany’s graduation, watched Crash Paper Plane (a band made up of several of my friends) compete in a battle of the bands, and headed out of town for a bit to visit my friend Melissa. Then on Monday, my dad and I drove back up and we moved all my stuff from my old place to my new place for the summer. So it’s been a busy time since then, unpacking and arranging everything. Of course, on top of that, I didn’t have the password to access the wireless connection, so I had no Internet for a couple days. I ended up travelling to school so I could check my email and such. But now that’s all settled, and so am I. For the most part, anyway. There are still a few things I need to do before the term begins, but I’ve got a list prepared, at least. Whether or not I actually do the things on the list is a different issue, but hopefully I’ll be productive enough to do some of them, anyway.
But on top of all these things I had to do, I also decided it was time to do another important thing. On the car ride up to the graduation ceremony, I let my parents know that I was no longer a Christian. I did it as tactfully as I could, but of course it sparked a long conversation. They were disappointed, of course, but I had at least prepared them for it a while back by letting them know I was having doubts. On the whole I think it went fairly well – as well as this sort of thing can go, anyway – but it wasn’t as concluding as I thought it would be. I don’t think that my parents were quite ready to accept the change, and so my dad tried various efforts to “convince” me. I had expected it to some extent, but it didn’t end quite how I wanted it to. My mom left me with “homework” – she wants me to read through the Gospel of John chapter by chapter and converse back and forth with her over email about what I think about it. To be honest, I don’t know why I agreed to that – I really don’t want to do it for several reasons. For one thing, John is about the worst choice, since most historians and New Testament scholars agree that it is the least historical of the four. Second, I fear that I’m going to end up hurting my mom at some point. I want to be honest with her, but I’m afraid that if I come at it too forcefully it will cause her some pain. The outcome I really want in all of these is just for them to accept it and respect it – even if they don’t agree with it – and move on. I just want equilibrium, really. But that might take a while, and it will certainly take longer if my mom and I are going to go back and forth talking about John for some time.
I love my mother very much, but it was especially hard to tell her this since she is really not an intellectual. I don’t mean that in any sort of derogatory way, but that’s just the fact of the matter. She believes because that is most comfortable for her, and I don’t have any problem with that, except that it makes it hard to explain why that is not enough for me. During most of the car ride, it was my dad and me talking back and forth. That was about as frustrating as the first time that I talked about this with them. My dad spent most of the time asserting things like, “But life is meaningless and purposeless without God,” without actually backing up what he said. Not wanting to do the same, I tried to present arguments about how that wasn’t the case. Such as, “Well, there are many people who seem to find meaning and purpose without God or religion, and we have no basis to measure whether a Christian has more meaning or purpose than they do.” As it turns out, trying to actually come up with a coherent argument is much more difficult to do than simply asserting things without proof, so I had a hard time and it caused me some frustration. The other thing is that he kept getting caught up in circular reasoning. He would say that “The Bible is the only truth in this world,” and I would ask him how he knew that to be true. He would then say that it is proven by the experiences of Christians all over the world who had changed lives. I would point out that people of other faiths have very similar experiences, so “experiences” aren’t a good indicator of truth. Then he would admit that was the case and say, “Well that’s why we have the Bible.” And so the vicious cycle would continue. I think we made it through about two or three cycles of that, even though I was trying to point out its circularity the whole time.
What really shocked me the most was something he said before that, however. He mentioned that the Bible was true, and I asked him how he knew that, and he said, “Because it says so!” I pointed out that just because someone says they’re telling the truth, that doesn’t mean they are. I honestly was shocked that he would say that, though. Having an affinity for apologetics, I’ve come across plenty of atheists ridiculing the argument that the Bible says it’s true, therefore it’s true. I simply assumed that Christians didn’t actually say that sort of thing, since it was so obviously circular. I figured they were simply setting up a straw man to laugh at. But apparently I was wrong about that. My father actually said it, to my utter shock and horror. To his credit, though, after I drew the analogy of someone saying they are telling the truth, he did agree that it was circular. Phew! I thought the universe was going to implode there for a second!
At any rate, I am simply glad that the ordeal is over. I was dreading the thought of having to bring it up, and I chickened out several times before saying anything. It’s not that I feared they would get angry and throw me out of the moving vehicle, but I simply dread disappointing my parents. Their opinion of me is important to me, and to even imagine that they are disappointed with me gives me plenty of anguish. It’s not something I like to think about. Those thoughts were honestly the worst part of losing my faith. Thankfully, however, I have loving parents who I know will never stop loving me or caring for me based on anything that I do. That’s certainly appreciated, and it reassures me to know that. But all in all, I’m simply glad that I’ve told them. So now all I have left to do is talk about John and why we have no reason to believe that he was “inspired” by anything other than earlier traditions about Jesus. That might be a lot easier to do if I had a Ph.D. in New Testament studies, but at least I can rely on other scholars for information. It’s sure nice when all your work is done for you, isn’t it?