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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

From Christian to Deist

When I graduated high school, I was a Christian who wanted to be a theologian.   After researching and visiting many Christian colleges, I finally settled on one. And the fall after Graduation, I started attending a Lincoln Christian College (now Lincoln Christian University) and Seminary.  And it was through the year I attended Lincoln that helped me to question and challenge the beliefs of modern Christianity so that I could be released and accept a more rational view of life, the universe and everything.
At Lincoln Christian College, as I knew, the few theologically liberal beliefs that I held (acceptance of Evolution, belief in only a temporary Hell) would make me a minority in the school.  Having talked to my Senior Minister and Youth Minister, who both attended Lincoln Christian College, I realized that it was an extremely conservative school that would frown on some of my beliefs. My youth minister, himself a religious conservative, had started pulling further away from me since I had confessed my acceptance of the Theory of Evolution, so I knew it would probably be much of the same at Lincoln.

Most of my other views took a back seat as the people there tried to understand how one could be a Christian and accept evolution.  It seemed like everyone at that school equated evolution with Atheism.  I sat through many classes and listened to professors berate my views on what I considered a very beautifu, poetic and majestic way God created the universe, Earth and man.   I got to the highest point of frustration that I had ever felt.  One day after I returned to my dorm from a lecture where my professor had, once again, discussed the evil and satanic ways of Evolution, I took out a dry erase marker, which I kept so I could make notes on my mirror, and I wrote in large red letters across the mirror opposite of my desk, “Evolution does not equal Atheism”.   When my roommate and friend arrived back at the dorm, he saw what I had written.  He looked at me and said, “Yes it does.”   When I tried to get him to further explain his position, he simple said, “The bible tells us so.”

On top of that, there were many more irrationalities at that school I could not comprehend.  During a lecture in my Principles of Bible Study class (Known throughout the body of students as “PBS”) my professor, who had seemed like a pretty outstanding guy up until this point, started praising God for Hell and for all of those evil sinners who would burn forever in the fiery depths. This caused me to see my professor as a man who might have been a little disturbed.  And I had seriously given it thought to go to the Dean, Keith Ray, and ask if this is a man sane enough to teach college students, but that thought left me as soon as I looked around.  The whole class was smiling and nodding.  When one thinks of a leader giving a speech to the members of his cult, they might think of the members as nodding with a blank, ignorant look on their faced that truly showed a lack of understanding in anything relevant to humanity or life on this planet.   That was the smile and the nod I saw in the faces of these young college students.  It was at that point that my heart broke.  It broke for what I had started referring to the “Irrational side of Christianity”.  I did not realize it, but it was at this very point that I would start heading away from the center beliefs of Christianity and towards a more rational and naturalistic philosophy.

Amanda, my Christian girlfriend at the time, never liked to think.  Thinking always just got in the way of the blind faith that made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside.   And when I would ask her a question like why do you believe Jesus was God incarnate, she would get angry that I would even have to ask such a silly question and tell me she accepts everything the bible says.

That was my first, but not last, run-in with the Christian logic known as Circular Reasoning.   The irrationality from Amanda did not affect me as much as those at my college did. She was still only a senior, and of course, did not have the maturity level of an esteemed college student as myself and those around me.  And I would repeat that little bit of false information to myself nightly so I could look past the lack of rational thinking within the person I called “Boo”.  But no matter what I told myself, I could not look past all of that in my college.  It was at college that people were supposed to accept reason! It was at college that people were supposed to give up their foolishness.  As the apostle Paul once said, “When I was a child; I talked like a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”  This was what was supposed to happen, yet it did not.  Even the professors continued to shout down evolution as an Atheist’s attempt to steal Christian souls.

The last day of School could not come fast enough for me.  I said my tear felt goodbyes to my friends and drove the three hour trip back to Lawrenceville, IL.   A month after I returned home, I was able to get a job at Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express.  The three breaks that I received while I worked eight hours at Wal-Mart gave me ample time to think about the things I had experience the past school year.  The more I thought about it, the more depressed I became.  I knew that this faith that I had accepted the majority of my life was coming to an end for me.  The irrationalities of the Christian religion had finally become apparent to me.  I dreaded the moment that I would finally have to confess to myself that I no longer accepted that Christianity had any bearing on reality.  Even more, I dreaded the moment I would have to tell the girl I had been seeing for a little less than a year.  I knew, with her mind closed off to all questions of her faith, that it would be the end of our relationship.  I had no idea that it would also be the end of many more of my relationships.

When, one day as I was sitting in the break room at work, I came to that final realization that I no longer accepted the Christian scriptures as more than ancient Hebrew myths I knew I had to tell Amanda.  The problem was, every time I tried to think of a way to tell her, I saw myself avoiding the topic.  I knew I could never tell Amanda what I had realized to her face.  I knew I was not man enough.  So, I decided to take a few extra minutes worth of a break as I got out my cell phone and sent a very nervously typed test message to her.  Her reply was a little different than I thought it would be.  It simply said, “You think too hard, Dean, Just give in.”  And while I knew I could never do that, I had hope that maybe we could continue this relationship.  But I was only kidding myself.  When I finally told her face to face the decision I had come to, she broke up with me, though it took her a few days.  We continued to hang out for the next couple of months as friends, though I knew it would never last and I knew that I was only making the situation worse for myself.  When the time finally came that Amanda found a new boy toy while on a mission trip in Kentucky, my heart was broken.  But I went to talk to a good friend who I loved very much.  This friend had been my Youth Minister growing up in Lawrenceville, Matt.  While I was telling Matt that Amanda had put an end to us once and for all, he told me he knew.  While in Kentucky, Amanda had told him her plans.  Then, Matt started explaining to me the reason Amanda and I did not work out.  It was all me.  I had caused the relationship to split. It, according to Matt, was my entire fault.  It was, of course, me who had left the one true religion to off gallivanting with Satan, The father of lies (whom I call the father of freedom).  I have talked to Matt only once since then.

At this point, I wanted to deny the existence of God all together.  The philosophical problem of Evil had embedded its sharp point directly into my heart.  This was cause enough for me to consider myself an Atheist, for a short time, at least.

Once my mind cleared and my month long intoxication ended, I rethought my stance as an Atheist.  I decided that even if the mythologies of Christianity were irrational, did that make the very existence of a God irrational?  For, I thought, if a god does exist, he would be quite embarrassed by the things Christians claim about him.  And so, I began to ponder the very existence of as an agnostic.  Through the studies of Richard Dawkins, I decided that Atheism was no less dogmatic and irrational as Christianity.  So, I thought to myself, where does this leave me?  As an agnostic, I felt like a naked man with no home. No idea of God to call his own.  That is when I came upon a book by an English Philosopher named Anthony Flew.  The book was called “There is a God”.  As I read it I was amazed at Flews’ long conversion from Atheism to a natural philosophy of God called Deism.  I was, by the time I started read, convinced a God does exist.  Flew showed me that while religions may blur the character of God, Deism does not.  It is a simple philosophy based on acknowledging the creator through his creation with no special revelation (Scriptures, prophets, messiahs) to darken our perspective of God.  A philosophy based on the nature that God has created.
Since that point in my life, I have continued to accept Deism as truth.  While I no longer have contact with the friends who left due to my sudden realization about the religion that, apparently, held us together, I am happier then I have ever been.  I am now able to see God through my own eyes, rather than through the eyes of men who lived thousands of years ago.  I am happy to say I have discovered a philosophy that shows me there is truth in life, the universe and everything.

There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
Deism: A Revolution in Religion - A Revolution in You

13 comments:

  1. Yours is a moving story, and this is written very well. I especially liked your Bible reference of Paul, and the need to grow out of childish thinking and reasoning.

    I'm sorry to hear of your loss of relationships through this journey you have undertaken. Many times people do this of their own accord, but often it is expected - even explicitly mandated - within certain religions/denominations. It alludes to your reference of "cult mentality", even among the predominant faiths and congregations.

    Thank you for sharing what some might consider too personal to make public. It's important that we do, so others might see they are not alone, and to give them strength in their journey as well.

    One Deist Φ

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  2. Thank You One Deist. I felt I had to write this for the simple fact that I wanted my readers (what few I have) to know where I am coming from.

    Thank you for your kind words. I still feel the loss of loosing some of my very best friends, but a friend that can't accept you for who you are is a friend not worth having.

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  3. A wonderful story of how you eventually found your way to deism. Kind of similar to how I found my way to Deism/Unitarianism.

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  4. I stumbled on your blog when I was browsing through the net searching for like minded people. And I appreciate that you posted this.
    I am a Deist, but then I read somewhere that Deism is considered to have declined by around 1800! and that it evolved into some other movements such as Unitarianism and Modern Deism, both of which I havent given much thought to.
    These new movements have carried on the tenets of Deism and they are more modern, but I would still like to call myself a Deist, so may I ask, what would your opinion be on this matter?

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  5. I wouls have to agree with Shakespeare: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." One problem with Organized religion is the fact that titles create division. Christians will duel it out because one may be Methodist and the other may be Catholic and they forget about the beliefs that tie them together as Christians. I think names and titles do not (or should not) matter as much as the views of the people adhering to the philosophy. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I have been focusing a lot on Thecostoftyranny.com

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  6. Very well articulated and very good account. I have actually just started exploring the ideas of Deism. I've felt myself drifting for a while now. If I had to point to a single event that started my drift, it would be October of 2010. The non-denominational church I was attending at that time was having a baptism service, and the first gentlemen that was baptized claimed to have a "Word from God." I was surprised that I felt repulsed by the whole experience. Like I said, I'm kind of adrift right now, an experience that troubles. I'm in my mid-thirties and most of my life I had been so certain about matters of faith and the spirit. Any suggestions, if anyone reads this?

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  7. This is a very beautiful story, thank you for sharing. I love your blog by the way.

    -Tay

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  8. I think each and everyone of you should read.the book of.Mormon with a contrite heart and spirit and willingness to let the holy.ghost.speak.to.you and let.you give.you a personal answer to whether it is true or not. I promise.you more happiness I.your life than you have yet to experience.in your lives. I know that God lives.that Jesus Christ is his Son and that he was sent here to establish His church and.stone for each and everyone ofour sins if we only truly follow Him and His commandments that He has given us
    In the name of Jesus Christ
    Amen

    Visit. Www.lds.org

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  9. and atone*** for each and everyone of our sins

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  10. Anonymous Mormon,
    I would implore you to sincerely, and with an open heart, study your misguided faith. To move from Deism to Mormonism would be akin to changing television channels from Science to Disney. The LDS church has handily been debunked ... Joseph Smith was a pathological charlatan.

    The LDS church is a testament to the ease in which the human mind can be manipulated without the slightest challenge to the excrement which is being shoveled into it.

    What? You're discouraged or forbidden to challenge your religion, or to find impartial information about it outside official church channels? Well go figure. Have fun with that.

    And keep your ignorant faith to yourself.

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  11. I thank you, brave brother, for stating your Deist faith. There are more of us out there than we can ever imagine and few of us are agnostics! Divine Providence does indeed stand the test of time!
    If you ever get a chance there is a one man play being performed based on one of our Deist fathers Thomas Paine called 'To Begin The World Over Again'. I found it very encouraging.
    In Faith,
    A Spiritual Deist Chaplain

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  12. Thanks for your statement. I recently (finally) saw that the Christian faith is a hoax. For me I could not justify in my mind why I trusted a book that was assembled by catholic bishops working under the authority of the secular Roman government.

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  13. Nice story. I'm a deist (specifically Agnostic Deist) and I was also raised Christian. I started questioning my beliefs and then I became a deist after questioning my beliefs

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