I received these two comments (from the same person) on my site this weekend. I didn’t approve them but I do think he asks a legitimate question amid all the ranting and I’d like to address it:
From Christian to Deist is a natural progression.
From “Born-again” Christian to Atheist is a natural move too.
Its only natural that a crazy lunatic “born again” Christian fundanmentalist, upon figuring out how false Christianity is, would throw the baby out with the bathwater and become a bat-guano crazy Atheist.
Whereas a ‘normal’ Christian can toss aside faith in a lie and retain belief in God’s existence, I suppose it is impossible for a fundamentalist, especially a Calvinist, to do so.
One of the reasons, I suppose, is that fundamentalists have no critical reasoning capacity. Their psychology requires a perfect inerrant document of some sort to simply believe in without question. A Deist has no such thing. So they can’t move to Deism. But Atheism has this in so-called ‘science’ (i.e. pop-science). So the crazy Fundie moves from belief that the Bible is the perfect inerrant receptacle of truth to believing that Science is the perfect inerrant receptacle of truth to be dogmatically believed in with no questions and no critical thinking. Whatever pop-science says is like the word of God (as it were) to these Fundie Atheists. Paul was unquestionable as a Fundie Christian — but now having rejected the Bible, Dawkins is unquestionable, Steven Hawkings is unquestionable. The pop-science on the Nightly News that pretends Global Warming is man-made — UNQUESTIONABLE!!!!! How dare you question the Lord God Al Gore!!!! There is a psychosis in you people. You just can’t stand not having some perfect Magesterial authority dictating to you what to believe — you are pawns who have to have your every belief dictated to you by someone else because you can’t think or are too afraid to. Maybe its because your mother drunk too much while you were in the womb and it caused brain damage — maybe its because you drank too much yourself and caused brain damage. I’d really like to figure our what it is that kills a person’s ability to think for themselves and makes them a mind full of mush that can give their full unquestioning consent either to the Bible or to pop-science. Maybe you can help me understand it. Are you a drunk? Was your mom a drunk? Because those are my two best leads on this subject.
“Bat-guano crazy Atheist” – he he! I kinda like it! My mother would likely be insulted by the accusation that she’s a drunk though! lol
Did I jump from one type of fundamentalism to another?
I’ve spent some time thinking about it and there are a few key things I’d like to say:
1. Here’s a post I published about my personality profile. If you read that it won’t be surprising that I feel comfortable within the atheist community! I like correct answers so it does make sense that I didn’t hang out long in any worldview that I probably perceived as wishy-washy.
2. I started my blog after I’d completed the journey from Christian fundamentalist to atheist. I realize now that my site doesn’t document that journey much at all. There was a full two years where I struggled with a million issues, read innumerable books (my amazon bill was insane!) and thought, thought, and thought some more about pretty much every issue relating to religion. So looking at my site I can see how someone would think I just made a quick leap from one end of the spectrum to the other.
3. I did hang out in the grey zone for awhile. I started out reading liberal Christian material. Then I remember reading about deism and thinking maybe that’s where I belonged. I called myself an agnostic for awhile. Realizing that I no longer believed in any revelation from any god and that no human knew more about the big life questions than I did made me an agnostic. The hiddenness of god and the problem of evil and suffering tipped me over into the atheist camp. It wasn’t a quick jump and it certainly wasn’t one I made without any thought.
4. Am I incapable of thinking for myself? I certainly relied on books and the internet during my deconversion. I read things from both ends of the spectrum and everything in between. I was constantly reading and trying to digest it all and decide what made the most sense and what I could accept. But in the end I had to make up my own mind about what everyone had to say. I’m not sure what thinking for myself would look like for this commentator. Would I have to lock myself in a room and ponder the mysteries of the universe without any outside input? I don’t think there is anything wrong with hearing what others have to say and then coming to your own conclusions and that’s what I did.
5. I read this wikipedia article on fundamentalism. In there, Richard Dawkins says this about the accusation that he is a fundamentalist:
Richard Dawkins has rejected the charge of “fundamentalism,” arguing that critics mistake his “passion”—which he says may match that of evangelical Christians—for an inability to change his mind. Dawkins asserts that the atheists’ position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind, but is held based on the verifiable evidence; as he puts it: “The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe” in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.” Dawkins has stated that, unlike religious fundamentalists, he would willingly change his mind if new evidence challenged his current position.
I’ve taken part in some online discussions about what would change people’s minds about their current worldview. I have to admit I was shocked. As a Christian I believed that the evidence supported my view but I don’t think I ever held the belief that no evidence would change my mind. But lately I’ve come across Christians who say that faith trumps evidence and therefore no evidence could change their mind. On the other hand I’ve read atheists’ specific lists of what would change their minds. Here’s another one. I think most atheists could come up with a similar list. But what I see many Christians saying is that it’s ok to doubt – as long as that doubt leads back to God. And it doesn’t matter which issue you bring up with most Christians – they ultimately say that they just have faith that it is true and that the evidence they’ve been presented with won’t change their mind. To me this is a huge difference between the two camps: a willingness to change one’s view if there is sufficient reason to do so.
I’m certainly open to changing my mind. If I was able to change my views while believing it could send me to a literal hell then I think that speaks pretty loudly to the fact that I am concerned with truth and not just accepting someone else’s views.