A lot can happen in 20 years – Part 3
This follows on from Part 2.
As mentioned in Part 1, I realised that it’s exactly 20 years since I entered the full-time workforce, and a lot can happen in that time, so thought I’d share my road to reason. This is a continuation.
It astonishes me to this day that this kind of surgical excision of my entire life could have happened. This elder and his wife had lied to everyone, peers my age had simply accepted it without question, and none thought to contact me — even on the side, just in case (or to wish me well). I could just have easily contacted any or all of them, but that would have misses the point of my choice to stop making contact.
It wasn’t the appalling behaviour of some of the people I’ve mentioned that has made me “hate God”, as is the common accusation levelled against atheists. I don’t hate God or even the concept of a god. It’s far too easy for our black and white views of the world — particularly in areas of high emotion, usually around the age old controversies of origin, religion, race, creed, politics and gender — to encourage us to pigeon-hole one another. Theists and atheists are often equally to blame, as it’s due to the logical fallacy of False Dichotomy (or Excluded Middle) which completely excludes the middle ground that nearly always exists. It’s what governments, leaders, politicians and advertising companies use against us on a daily basis and is quite likely to be a natural tendency (the same goes the truth of “sex sells”), so it takes thought and reason to both see and avoid.
So once I realised how things stood with the church congregation — my “loving family” and community — I ceased all religious activity. It wasn’t only because of the hurt and shock, as I was then unaware of what the elders had done on my departure, but rather because I felt as though my eyes had been opened and I was finally able to examine the previous 3-4 years of my life and the material, dogma and beliefs that had been accrued. And it was staggering. I did not consider myself an atheist at that point, in fact at that time I still consider myself a Christian, albeit non-practising. This examination included taking stock of the beliefs, policies, behaviours and dogmas of the churches I had attended, the contents of the Bible (particularly the sections chosen, those used as justifications, and those specifically ignored), and of course soul-searching my own beliefs now that I was out of the self-reinforcing environment of a congregation.
Outside of the community, it’s amazing how much time you have to think and, while you may not have someone to immediately seek advice or answers from, that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is, after all, often a difference between a fact and the party line (and that doesn’t just apply to religion). Until leaving I had mainly received the party line or an on-the-spot made up answer based upon the teachings of the party line… and it usually differed from even the written word in the Bible. Such is the nature of interpretive preaching and cherry-picking.
Continued in Part 4.