Sunday, July 01, 2007

Agnosticism / Atheism: Destination, or Point on a Journey?

This question came to mind after reading this:

For readers who have de-converted, do you think you have arrived at your spiritual/religious "destination"? Or do you think where you are today is part of a broader ebb-and-flow arc of spirituality/belief?

I wonder whether I am: in an angry backlash phase (and will eventually settle back into the faith of my upbringing), making a permanent exodus from belief in god, or am simply at a waypoint along the way to a different kind of spirituality.


Heather said...

Based on the posts you've made previously, I would find it highly unlikely that you would go back to your previous faith. And by this, I mean the fundamentalist faith (am I labelling it correctly as fundamentalist?) However, I could be wrong. :)

It just seems that since you're blogging about your experiences and engaging with others who have had similiar experiences, you'd have to bury a lot to go back to that.

However, I'm also not sure if you could accept a different type of Christian faith. This is a generalization, but I often find that those who have left the fundamentalist background can't ... 'water it down,' for lack of a better phrase. They still hold to the it's either all true or can't be trusted, if that makes any sense. After all, if the Bible is wrong about scientific matters, how can it be trusted in any other regard, from their POV.

Note -- this is based on what I've witnessed, and there are always exceptions. Marcus Borg is one of them. He's a liberal Christian who was once fundamentalist.

Slapdash said...

Hi Heather -
Yes, I think I agree that I'm unlikely to go back to fundamentalism/evangelicalism. I had a foot out that door as early as 2001 and I haven't since "(re-)woken up" to its truth.

I think I'm still a bit fearful, though - as in a "crap, what if eternal fiery hell is for real?" way. But then I think, well, faith that is based on fear is no faith at all. Take away the hell question and I'm left with very little to stand on.

I would *like* to believe that Jesus was God. But you're right that I feel like "it's either all true or can't be trusted".

I'll have to look up Marcus Borg...

lowendaction said...

Hey Slap -

Though I can't currently claim the title of "de-converted" (which is a fascinating term in and of it self...), I would however like to recount a time (not all that long ago) when I was very much at the edge of my faith--any faith for that matter.

I had left my parents and their missionary work in Germany to live in the Sates. In part to find a new career path, but mostly to get away from being an MK (a title that one can never shake...) and finding out if this God that my parents followed and had tought me was real and viable for me. I made some very serious attempts at "running away" from God, and opened myself up to "everything".

But eventually, when I found myself in a very deep and dark hole of depression and self loathing, I was confronted with two options. One was to do what I had grown accustomed to: wallow in my dank depressive state, for at least this was tangible, albeit destructive. Or, reach out to this vague, but inescapable concept of God. There wasn't a beautifally formed image of Him at the time, nor was it some kind of sweet relief, but I found myself incapable of ignoring God away, despite my greatest, darkest efforts. This was a little over 12 years ago, and I would call the journey since then a very slow, unsteady, and inconsistent one.

What was most important to me, was that this initial event (as well as most significant "spiritual milestones" since then) happened between God and myself, in private. Not at the steps of some cheesy alter call, or in the arms of a "prayer team member". Not to say, that some people have had very real experiences in such ways, but for me it has to be a revelation through self discovery. I, to this day, am a huge admirer of my parents belief and especially faith, but it is theirs, and I had to find mine. I believe we both have valid and real relationships with God, even if theirs may differ in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

I'll close with a quote from my dad: "It doesn't have to be in the Bible. It just has to be biblical."

Heidi said...

I am so with you. I have been deconverting for . . . I don't know how long. I've thought I was swinging back from Atheism / Agnosticism to a different, better kind of Christianity / Spirituality, but these days I just don't know. Maybe it is all delusion.

I know that I can't go back though. Some days I wish that I could . . . it definitely is a sedative. Being nonthinking and numb - codependent just isn't an option any more.

I think that the outside chance of hell is what keeps me from completely turning my back.

How do we know what is real?


Slapdash said...

Hi Heidi, welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

Yes, the prospect of hell sure is a big one. Sometimes I wish I could just fall back on the "once saved, always saved" theology I used to believe - because I was definitely saved many years ago. And I suppose if I was a Calvinist I wouldn't really have to worry either - because there would literally be nothing I could do to alter my eternal destination.

Too bad I don't subscribe to either of those views!

Kay said...

Agnosticism and atheism were stepping stones for me to where I am now (whatever that is). However they are stones that I often look sideways at (note- not "back" at).

My views are in a constant "ebb and flow" state. It's an uncomfortable place to be, but I find it an honest one.

marie said...

Hey slapdash

I deconverted recently, and I cant answer this question well. All I know is that I am finding it easier and easier to be a non-christian and that I am finding more peace and freedom in it. I am keeping the option of re-converting open, but who is to say what will happen...but then again, it's not up to me, it is up to God's will right? So i guess he already chose for me

JumpingFromConclusions said...

I think I am permanently settled as an agnostic atheist. I could be wrong, of course. I considered deism for a while, but I have just never had any experience that makes me think there is any kind of god out there. Maybe someday I'll change my mind, but I think agnostic atheism will be long-term for me.