Friday, June 01, 2007

We are not alone

We are not alone. Many have gone through similar experiences of doubt and enlightenment. Another reader shares his story:

I have read your story and was nearly moved to tears at the similarities of thought we possess. I now know that I am not alone as I've felt for the past 10 years. Out of respect for your time and eyesight, I will try to be as concise as I possibly can. As much as I'm sure you feel encouraged by the stories of others, I do not wish to be a burden. That being said, on we go:

I am now 27 years old. My recent decision to leave Christianity and religious dogma of all kinds has thrown my life and the lives of my loved ones into upheaval, even threatening to tear my marriage apart. (Thankfully, we do not have children.) The friends I've made over the past decade, the woman I've married--have all come from the one church I've attended for the past ten years. (I will get into the myriad of church experiences I've had since childhood a bit later). Prior to my momentous decision, each of my Christian friends had learned to accept me as "the Questioning Christian," the one who was just never satisfied with the "company line," but they did so with the expectation that I would always "come to my senses" and accept the "truth." (I must admit that this is better than being ex-communicated for a difference in beliefs, but it's a far cry from a healthy situation!) I cannot begin to explain to you how painful it's been for me to be surrounded by "believers" whose "faith" seemed to find its basis in a lack of desire to question rather than in some loving devotion to God. I berated myself constantly for thinking such "evil" thoughts, and often wondered if Satan asked "to sift me as wheat" like Peter. Indeed, no one else seemed to be as tormented with questions as I was! This would typically result in a pendulum swing of thought and emotion, ranging from pride that God thought so highly of me (which I would then feel guilty about) to wondering if I was going insane from believing that there was a demon influencing my thoughts. I find it near miraculous that I can laugh about it today. Countless times I have been looked upon with sincere pity by fellow Christians who could never figure out, "What's wrong with Jeremy???" Not knowing that I had a choice, I internalized those questions and wondered the same thing concerning myself. Christianity has done horrible things to my mind, Merle, and I've been beating myself up for years, trying to tell myself that I was the problem. No more.

I was born on February 11th, 1980 in Galliano, Louisiana. My father has never been religious, and to this day I have no idea what he thinks of religion...or politics...or anything. But that's an entirely different story. My mother, however, has been a searcher all her life. She grew up in the Catholic tradition, but found it to be a "lifeless tradition." She wanted excitement, and she found it in Pentecostalism--in spades. The Neo-Pentecostal movement formed my first impression of Christianity. (You may cringe if you like). Aided by my earliest memories as well as my mother's testimony, I was not your average child. My mind took in and assimilated information at alarming rate. I was truly the "inquiring scientist'" that children are described to be. My inquiry was fearless--that is, until Christian dogma came along. Combined with the emotionalism of the Pentecostal movement, I learned explicitly and implicitly to disdain knowledge and intellectual matters (outside of Christian thought, of course), shunning them for emotions, A.K.A. "specific direction from God" and "spiritual experience." Even more terrifying, I learned that God would make fools of those who "leaned on his own understanding." I began to grasp Christian concepts--the explicit as well as the implicit--from a very early age. I was fascinated by the supernatural through the help of Pentecostalism, and the concept of an ever unfolding spiritual war happening all around me filled me with fright and wonder. In fact, I can encapsulate everything I've ever learned about the Bible in those two words: fright and wonder. Fright kept me chained to the dogma, and wonder kept me asking the questions. This is a recipe for some serious discontent, as you well know. I can still remember lying in my bed at night at the age of six or seven, wondering incessantly if God was going to send me to hell for kissing a girl on the school bus, and this was only the tip of the iceberg, a very small window into what was a torturous thought-life even as a young boy. I've spoken with my mother years ago about my troubles, and I do not blame her--but I still feel the residual anger toward what I was taught so recklessly. So much time lost to worrying over groundless fears! Children are so vulnerable to this terrible indoctrination. They depend on their parents and guardians to teach them "how things came to be this way," and a large majority of otherwise intelligent people persist in teaching these defenseless minds to regard incredible, terrible, unjustified claims as self-evident. How can this go on and not be construed as child cruelty? But I digress by preaching to the choir, here. :-)

About the age of nine, a terrible falling-out occurred between my family and the leadership of the only church I had known. From that point, up until my late teens, church attendance was spotty at best. A Methodist service here, a Southern Baptist service there, a Catholic Mass on Christmas--it was all good. I took it in stride, not remembering much. All in all, I was happy to be free from the church culture of my youth: 4 hour long, fire and brimstone lessons on Wednesday and Sunday nights (no children's classes) and of course, the Sunday service. As God-conscious as I was at such an early age, I still liked my episodes of Knight Rider on television, too. Our flight from Pentacostalism was just that--still Christians, just not THAT kind of Christian anymore.

My teen years were pretty typical, I think. Experimentation with sex, drugs and rock'n'roll. To be sure, my biggest headache concerning my childhood religious beliefs during this time centered around the "demonic qualities" of rock music--a doctrine virtually pounded into my head during my years spent as the child of a Pentecostal mother. Seminar after seminar vilified the kind of music I loved most. People don't seem to understand the anguish I went through in trying to understand why particular guitar sounds and drum patterns were pleasing to the Devil. In my heart, I constantly wondered, "What does that say about me? I love Led Zeppelin!"


I understand that this position is extreme--even for Christianity. These are not the reasons I've shed religious dogma. More on that later. I'm simply describing the mental anguish caused by religious dogma in my formative years. Believers raised in more conservative circles may wish to point to the specific teachings as the root of my anguish and not the religion itself, but those seminars made a very strong case as to why I should believe that rock music was a form of Satan worship--especially to an eight year old! Scriptures were even used to back up the claims! All the children, young and old, were required to watch so that we could recognize the "wiles of the Devil." In the culture I grew up in, Satan and his minions were present in everything--even in my Transformers toys. We were pressed to burn them, along with any other toys that possessed "Satanic" qualities. I say again, it is near miraculous that my little mind held up under the strain of such teachings. It has taken me at least a decade to forgive.

I did not become heavily involved with religion again until the age of 17. Chasing hedonistic pursuits had landed me into trouble on various fronts, and nightmarish experiences with hallucinogenic drugs pushed me to the breaking point. One experience in particular is seared into my memory, as I spent nearly 12 hours in a kind of religious psychosis, convinced that I was forever separated from God and doomed to hell for my transgressions. (If you think an obsession with hell is painful enough in everyday experience, you should try it on LSD). This experience in particular turned me back to religion, and I was convinced that God had used my drug experience to put me on the straight and narrow. My mother and my brother began attending church as well, and we enjoyed a period of intense closeness. The particular brand of church we attended was a more moderate version of the Pentecostal church I grew up in. The ecstatic utterances and spontaneous dancing, laying on of hands and experience seeking was still the norm, however. I regularly heard the pastor of the church talk as if God were truly speaking to him directly, and I became enthralled with the idea that I could become so spiritual that God would speak to me also. But it never happened. I would often wonder why. Did I not pray enough? Should I have shared with that one person I was afraid to share with? Surely that was it! Next time, I would do better! This began in me a cycle of reaching for an impossible goal and then becoming disillusioned only to "repent" and do it all over again. Like you, I have walked up for countless "altar calls" in order to re-dedicate my life to the Lord. After awhile, it became embarrassing to continually walk up to the front, so I would try to do it quietly in my seat--but would start to feel guilty for being "ashamed" of God. Again, I realize how neurotic this practice is, but I am certainly not alone, and faith-based, dogmatic belief is to blame for it. I did not ask for the such misery gift-wrapped as "good news," and I was not comforted by the words of those who did not feel my misery due to a lack of thought on the issue. I continually tried to convince myself that I was the problem, that I had some innate mental illness which caused me to misinterpret the teachings of the Bible. I desperately wanted to believe that I was the problem and routinely begged God to change my personality (which scared me to the core) so that I could truly believe and be happy as a Christian. I was petrified of admitting to anyone (myself included) that I liked myself more as a non-Christian than when I was trying to be "holy." No matter how many times I read Scriptures to "fix myself," no matter how many times well-meaning believers tried to cast demons out of me by the laying on of hands, the mixed messages I was getting from the Bible and from believers were driving me toward mental illness. After repeated conversations with older believers about the evils of rock music and my lack of repentance in this area, (which ultimately meant that I didn't truly love the Lord), I quietly faded away from the religious life. The guilt I felt became more and more intense, as I was sure that my reason for leaving was inadequate and full proof of my "rebelliousness." In my eyes, everything that brought me happiness was now evil and contaminated by my apostasy, and I needed to feel guilty as my punishment! There was much to feel guilty about. Surely, your fundamentalist friend, Jeffrey Wilson would say that I was getting what I deserved. And I believed him, too--for a long time after this. Many years passed before I started to realize that guilt and fear are terrible motivators for genuine love and gratitude.

At the age of 18, I joined the Navy and transferred to a ship on the east coast. I was far from home and enjoying my new-found freedom, but I was not prepared to handle the responsibility. In the year I had spent away from religion, my apostate mind was sufficiently seared so that I had no thoughts of God. :-) I was dating a nice girl, felt more like myself again, and planned on marrying her within the year. I messed up, and the relationship was no more. I was alone in a strange place, and so I sought out my old friend, Jesus. Surely he would take me back! Jesus was the one who used to protect me from Satan and his baddies at night. He even used to protect me from the vengeful God who was always threatening to throw me into the Lake of Fire! I imagined Jesus stepping in on my behalf and pleading for the Father to give me one more chance. But I was beginning to wonder when Jesus would get tired of me. When would I stop being so rebellious and feel grateful to God? The question burned within me again, and I sought out a church similar to the one I had attended before. This marks the beginning of a journey that lasted nearly ten years, culminating in my new-found position as non-believer.

After dabbling in the Pentecostal circles for a month or two, I began to "backslide." I prayed that God would lead me to a church that would meet my needs, help me to be truly righteous. A few weeks later, I walked into a McDonald's on my military base and there sat two young men, reading their Bibles. They seemed to be engaged in a deep discussion. I felt the confirmation from within, telling me that this was my answered prayer. I struck up a conversation with them, and the leader of the two latched onto me, determined to help me become a "real" Christian. This man soon began to challenge my beliefs, even challenged the way I "prayed Jesus into my heart!" He told me that I needed to be baptized with a full knowledge of the truth in order to be saved. I fought like hell. I yelled and screamed. I called my mother for support. But in the end, I believed that God put me there for a reason, and so I "admitted" that I had never been a Christian. (Considering how many times I "re-dedicated" my life to the Lord and all the "sin" I had been in prior to that point, it felt futile to argue that I was a Christian). A study group was formed, and I was taught the basics of salvation from the ground-up. It was obvious to me that this church was serious about its beliefs, and they made it clear to me that I needed to do the same for others, even for people who believed themselves to be Christians already! I struggled terribly with this, but who was I to argue? I was 19, and I wanted to save souls. Indeed, they even pointed to the humility of Apollos when he discovered that he did not know about "real" baptism! I knew people would hate to hear it, but I had to proclaim the "truth." It was the loving thing to do, right?

As being a Christian goes, this movement did some great things for me: I was forced to truly "know my Bible" and to learn how to form arguments for the validity of Scripture. Pentecostals are more interested in experiences, per se. This transition in thought was very much a paradigm shift for me: from intuition and inner voices to scriptural authority and reason. Making this change proved to be very difficult, however. As much as I wanted to use reason and logic to bolster my Faith, I couldn't seem to shake the weight I had placed on my feelings and experiences. I read many books about the errors associated with the charismatic movement, trying to help myself along. I saw the validity of the arguments, but I had no volitional control back then. Trying to deal with my hyperactive conscience was torturous, and I soon hated being a Christian once more. Yet there was a problem this time. I had made a life-time commitment, and I felt I needed to do everything in my power to "think rightly." The community of Christians I had come to know expected me to be a true disciple of Christ, to live out the Great Commission. I knew that I needed to get help. I couldn't walk away just because I was miserable, could I? No! Miserable or not, I felt that I needed to live in accordance with the Truth.

From 1999 to 2004, I made incredible break-throughs in my thought-life. I saw a Christian counselor and read books about "making every thought captive to Christ." I learned how to avoid falling down that hole of groundless fears--at least in the framework of Christianity. I wasn't constantly plagued with accusatory thoughts, and I began to think more clearly about who I was. That's when pesky words and concepts like "self-esteem" and "perfectionist complex" and "self-worth" and "self-concept" began to enter my mind. Although I couldn't find these words in the Bible, they sure seemed to hold the key to my healing! Even more mind-blowing, I learned that my conscience could be mistrained and was not the voice of God! A part of me felt set free, but another part of me was perplexed. Where did these ideas come from? Were they "biblical"? I didn't know it at the time, but I had started my journey toward being a liberal Christian. First stop: moderation.

To be sure, I was never a good "Fundamentalist." Although I felt guilty for admitting it, I felt too "intelligent" to believe that a snake actually talked to Adam and Eve. I remember being petrified the first time I "confessed" this to a friend of mine, but he didn't burn me at the stake. In fact, he informed me that most Christian scholars interpret the story as an allegory. I was dumbfounded! Was it possible to have such thoughts and to be a Christian? I felt that a narrow gate had been opened to a vast expanse! Would this be the way to my happiness as a Christian? For quite a while, I thought so. But the unthinkable happened. My new-found perspective had to be applied to the whole of scripture. I had never thought of something so fearful and wondrous before! (There are those two words again). This was very problematic to me. Who was I to decide how scripture should be regarded? Was it enough to form my own opinions and to keep them to myself? These were nasty thoughts, indeed. I doubt I need to extrapolate very much to show you where this is going. In the next two years, I would conclude that I had taken the Bible at face value, and had therefore, very inadequate reasons for belief---the nastiest thought of all. It all began there, my friend, but it would be a long, hard road before I was able to admit to myself that I had given up on Faith--much less to admit it to others, namely my wife!

My transition from moderate to more liberal happened gradually. I began to be bothered by my private, "alternate take" on the Bible. I felt somewhat guilty, but I knew that it was time to be the "Questioning Christian." My first forays into exploration were timid at best. Lee Strobel's, "The Case for Faith," and the usual suspects were rounded up for a crash-course in apologetics, but my upbringing still had a hold on me. I had long been warned to watch out for the "dangerous knowledge" of the skeptics and the atheists. Although I fancied myself a "juror" at the Grand Trial of Truth, it was not so. I was only concerned with one side, only concerned with finding a little "proof" to back up my foregone conclusions. I can remember looking at a book of essays by Bertrand Russell with absolute dread. I wanted to read it, but I was afraid of my desire. I ran away, thinking I was a juror when I was little more than a pawn for the Defense. The flames within were really stoked when I later realized that this is the modus operandi of modern believers everywhere. Actually, I can't give them even that much credit. Today, the average believer gets his/her "faith" in the form of certitude, combined with a package of conventional wisdom that states: "Shhh...quiet those questions and devilish doubts. All of those nice apologists have done the hard work for you. There are many reasons for Faith outside of Scripture!" Far from doing even a miniscule amount of work, i.e. actually reading the book, the average believer is just content to hear such a comforting statement and to leave it at that. I could not ignore the dishonesty of such an action.

But prior to that realization, I just drifted. I became listless and evasive, ducking out of every church service I could. The glorious heyday we once shared as a congregation had degenerated into something of a struggling support group, position-less on nearly everything out of respect to "tolerance." Many rose up and spoke loudly to rouse the congregation into action, but we were all lulled to sleep in the doldrums that exist between "certainty" and "uncertainty." I was disgusted by the halfway house we were occupying, and although those who spoke up attributed the slump to "a lack of faith and action," I knew there was something else under the surface for me. I realized how often I had launched myself headfirst into the "lifestyle" to forget about my questions, intellectual and ethical. Now that the lifestyle had faded, all I had were my questions, and it struck me that no amount of activity--no matter how productive--proves anything about the literal truth of my religion. (For some reason, I am one of those rare people who really NEED to know if what I believe is true. I want no illusions, no matter how comforting or useful). I knew that I had to do something soon, but I wasn't ready to ask The Question. Another year passes, the listlessness turns into a low-level depression.

Suddenly, I find something to care about. I read a book about climate change, "The Weathermakers." I begin to ponder why religionists, on the average, do not care about the planet. A gospel song comes to mind: "This world is not my home, I'm just passing through..." Another unthinkable thought begins to form in my head, but I push it away. Six months pass, and I unwittingly pick up a book that will be the catalyst for my abandonment of Faith. It didn't "prove" God false, however. It didn't attack any religion, Christianity included. But it did help me to finally ask the un-askable: "Do I really need a Savior?" The question came and I thought I might die. I waited. Life went on.

The name of the book is "Ishmael," and the author is Daniel Quinn. I would not be surprised if you've heard of it, as it was written in 1991. Mr. Quinn has not posited a new religion, and I no longer need an "answer book." It was simply the first step in a journey that would lead to Darwin, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, dialogues with atheists and believers and lots and lots of journaling. As time went on, it became more and more clear that I was never the problem. The problem has always been the dogma. As I currently stand, I simply do not know the number of the gods, and no one will coerce me to make absolute claims on insufficient evidence. I will only grant the degree of certainty afforded by the evidence--what everyone of us does in every sphere of discourse--except religion! What a revolutionary thought it is to realize this! I am not required to be disingenuous! I am not required to act "as if" when I truly do not know! I can now resume the fearless inquiry of my childhood! I can be a juror and examine both sides, unafraid of unraveling my nicely packaged worldview! I can revise, redefine, change my mind! What freedom! The shackles are off!

Most recently, I've come to a startling conclusion. Even if the claims of the Bible were true in its entirety, I do not think I could bring myself to freely worship the god of the bible. This has floored me, as it's taken me ten years to admit to myself that the god of the bible is a destructive, childish tyrant. How truly apostate I must be when my ethical values are beyond that of the Creator! I simply cannot worship a god such as this in a genuine way, and I will not engage in verbal gymnastics to make apologies for this god. The only option beyond this is to worship Naked Power, and there is nothing in me that wishes to do so. Outside of my very real intellectual problems with the biblical and modern conceptions of Faith, I have ethical reasons to oppose such a god. I sometimes struggle with irrational fears involving hell-fire concerning this statement, but a lack of "proof" to the contrary does not add up to having a valid reason to make absolute statements as to the existence hell, either. Such a simple thought was impossible for me to think prior to this period in my life. I was chained to my fears--but only until I realized that I held the key the entire time. If the Creator of the Universe is the Christian god, and this "all powerful, all knowing, all loving" deity fashioned me uniquely, then a skeptic I shall be! If this god will condemn me to eternal hellfire for refusing to be disingenuous, then I guess I never had a chance.

In closing, I would like to thank you for sharing your story with the world. I am sure you've helped many to see that they, too, are not wicked for wishing to use their reason and intellect, to question, not terrified of being wrong. How freeing it is to no longer blindly accept terrible, unverifiable propositions! It is not self-evidently virtuous to suspend one's "god-given" reason in favor of fantastic propositions that dangle all of humanity over a flaming pit! Is it any wonder why dogma is so hard to shed? Never again will I bow to an oppressive doctrine of fear, calling it "good news." I would not do it even it if were true--but I will not shy away from the truth all the same. Thank you for reading the story of my life.


Yes, there is freedom from the fear of hell and guilt that can cripple the thought life of a child. This man has found his way to a new life. I congratulate him for his courage and resolve.

6 comments:

Jeremy G. said...

Thank you, Mr. Hertzler, for posting my story on your site. My hope is for those who felt as I have felt for all those years, wishing to break the chains of fear. While everyone must make his/her own journey out of religious oppression, Merle is right. You are not alone! Many sincere, moral individuals have rejected religious dogma for valid reasons.

--Jeremy G.

Anonymous said...

Jeremy,

Many childhoods are filled with
black holes that threaten to consume. Much of this fear is based in uncertainty and the lack of control available to children. These fears can recruit the most innocent of bystanders as accomplices in eroding away at a child's state of security and sometimes even sanity. The strangest one I have heard to date was a child's fear of bags of flour. The child had never had a traumatic experience with a bag of flour, but for some untraceable reason it had come to represent the child's greatest (and most unfounded) fears.

In my own childhood I spent many a long night frozen in my bed, fearful of the intruder in the dark who never materialized.

I even had a fear of going to heaven!! It wasn't so much a fear of heaven itself, but a fear of separation from my family - I was terrified of dying, and yet had no reason to believe I would soon die, and certainly the thought had never crossed my mind that in death I would be anywhere other than heaven.

To a child and even to adults these fears can become debilitating. The fact that you had an obvious target on which to project these fears does not necessitate that these targets were the basis of your fears, although from what you say, they certainly didn't help your situation.

Growing up I was a natural inquirer, as my non-Christian older brother opened for me many unfamiliar doors. My questions about the Book I had grown up with led me to many places, much like yourself. I was looking for 'the right church', and 'the right truth'. I wavered all over the place, until I reached a point of enlightenment, where all of a sudden everything just clicked into place. I am very grateful for this time of searching, that compelled me to study and seek truth, as it gave me a solid grounding in the Bible that enabled the enlightenment to take place.

One of the biggest mistakes I see being made is the crediting of peoples (within the physical church) erroneous beliefs to Christianity. When I look back at my own mistakes and misinterpretations of God, the Bible, and life, I can see there is nowhere to lay blame for those other than myself. My own perceptions, and filters prevented me from seeing the truth as it was laid before me.

Clearly you have come to a place where you feel the weight has been removed from your shoulders. Many times just stepping out of the way of everyone else's misdirection can allow us this freedom to breath the fresh air for ourselves.

All I can say is that I have asked the questions from very early on, but the difference now is that I have been freed from the external human encumbrances. The truth I have found is not from a Church, but through God, working in my heart to open my eyes, to the real beauty and mystery of the truth of the Bible.

I'm not sure what to say here...it's very difficult to say what needs to be said in a comments section, so I would just encourage you to remain open minded, as I wish to encourage everyone who reads here, and even Merle who writes. It would not surprise me Jeremy, if God should turn your situation around, to use the wealth of your experience for his glory. Paul is a wonderful example of someone well educated in 'God', having his eyes opened to a truth he could not have imagined.

It is far from my intention to offend you Jeremy so should I have done so, please forgive me.

Honey

LorMar said...

A few weeks later, I walked into a McDonald's on my military base and there sat two young men, reading their Bibles. They seemed to be engaged in a deep discussion. I felt the confirmation from within, telling me that this was my answered prayer. I struck up a conversation with them, and the leader of the two latched onto me, determined to help me become a "real" Christian. This man soon began to challenge my beliefs, even challenged the way I "prayed Jesus into my heart!"

This would have been a red flag for me personally. I went through a period of serious doubt, unbelief, etc. Admittedly, I still don't have all the answers, but I learned one important rule: I DO NOT allow others to tell me what the condition of my soul is. Of course this may be due to my personality.

But anyway, I can certainly identify with your experiences with Pentecostalism. I have shaken off a number of futile beliefs that were branded within me... I was finally able to admit that I don't like everything I read in the Bible. But, all of the things I dislike aren't enough for me personally to abandon it or christianity in general. Now, I don't allow others to force their views on me (even if they "claim" it is biblical; often, it is only their opinion).

Jeremy said...

Many thanks to all who have commented thus far. It honors me that you've taken the time to read my story, and it's refreshing to see that this site is not just an echo chamber for non-believers.

When writing my story, I intended for it to be light on the empiricism and heavy on personal experiences. Therefore, it does not surprise me that I look like someone who has left the fold because of my bad experiences that are more reflective of "bad Christianity" than True Christianity. I will not get offended at anyone who makes this observation. I tried to make it clear that my particular situation was a bit extreme in cases. I will also be the first to say that wishing for something to be so does not make it so and vice-versa.

Although I could have (and maybe should have) taken the time to outline my logical and ethical problems with Christian Faith and doctrine, it would have greatly extended the length of my story. Furthermore, I did not want my story to double as a scholarly essay on the horrors of religion. It is my position that individuals need to do their own work in this area.

In short, this story was not meant to spawn a scholarly debate. I certainly do not have all the answers, and I'm still trying to figure out where to begin with such a complex web of information.

In closing, faith-based religious dogma makes me miserable--whether in a "healthy" context or not. Furthermore, the information I have uncovered in support of the claims of faith-based religion is simply not enough for me to genuinely believe. What's more, I take issue with the notion that humanity is fundamentally flawed and needs a savior. There is no evidence for the reality of an immortal soul or some soul-staining property called sin. That these notions are in the "spiritual" realm and are therefore "beyond verification" is NOT a point in religion's favor.

Many well-meaning believers have tried to argue that the burden of proof should be on my shoulders rather than on the backs of those who are making incredible claims with no conceivable means for verification or falsification, i.e. the immortal soul.

I see no reason to accept the fact that Faith is virtuous in and of itself, that I should be required by a deity to go beyond the available evidence into an unwavering belief regardless of evidence. I feel confident in saying that such a notion has survived for so long because, at bottom, people fear this place called Hell. If not for the fear of eternal punishment, I could have been honest with myself a LONG time ago--that I cannot and will not believe incredible propositions without reasonable evidence. Reasonable evidence is evidence that is reasonable to me. Otherwise, I am just playing mind games with myself.

Some may wish to call my sincerity into question, but it is not your place to make inferences about my motives, and I hope that skeptics and believers alike will learn this lesson. To the best of my ability, I am searching for the most reasonable evidence available--on BOTH sides. I am more than open to getting book recommendations, but I am not open to debating anyone online at this point.

I hope this has helped to round me out a bit. Thanks again to all who have read and commented on my story.

Jeremy G.

Honey said...

Thank you for sharing your story Jeremy. It is a reminder of the issues that need to be unravelled in the minds of the masses, so that the heart of the issues might be clearly understood.

The Bible is the only book I can recommend at this stage. If you can discover in it what lies in wait to be revealed, you will gain all the evidence for God you need. I am confident that if you remain open to the evidence on both sides you will find your answers.

Anonymous said...

If the only thing you can recommend after reading his story is the Bible, you have problems and/or have not read the Bible.