As I’ve mentioned a few times here over the past year, I’m working on a book about my journey from born-again Christian to atheist. My book is different than the other recent atheist books that have been published primarily because of my positive experiences as an evangelical Christian insider. If my experiences were positive, why did I leave it all behind? That’s the story I want to tell.
I agree with you that preaching to the choir is a good thing, even if you don’t necessarily preach to everyone else. Sometimes it makes sense to talk to people in a certain cognitive framework that they understand. And while I don’t think that it’s good to dumb down things, do you think that it woud be a good idea for someone such as [Richard Dawkins] to write a book about religion that is in a cognitive framework that is accessible to [religious] people? And what would that book look like?
I’m not Richard Dawkins, but that’s exactly what I want to do. I want to write a book that simultaneously helps unbelievers understand what it is like to be a Christian — the allure, the enticements, the rewards of both the mindset and the community that comprise the born-again experience — and helps Christians understand why one of their own — a born-again and spirit-filled believer — would ultimately reject the teachings of the Bible and leave faith behind. This is something that Richard Dawkins cannot write, because he hasn’t lived it.
I want born-again Christians to see that I have not backslidden; that is, I have not gone backwards or fallen away from a higher plane where I once lived, but I continued to develop spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually so that I outgrew the faith of my youth. I did not fall into sin; I did not get mad at God; I did not become jaded because I witnessed hypocrisy. Nothing bad happened to me to instigate this journey. Yet I now have more peace and joy than I ever had as a Christian, and I give more of my time and money to charitable causes. The day I realized I no longer believed that God exists, a huge weight fell off my shoulders and I felt like I was set free from a lifetime of bondage.
I want skeptics and unbelievers to see that most Christians are not the evil, bigoted fools portrayed by the media. Although these people do exist, primarily as hypocritical leaders who care more about power or money than they care about spirituality or charity, the layperson sitting in the pew is much more likely to be sincere and compassionate, with a burning desire to please God and to help humanity. I want skeptics to feel what I felt as a Bible school student when I listed to Norvel Hayes preach at New Life Bible School in Cleveland, Tennesse, or what I felt sitting in the congregation when Bill and Renee Morris sang at Love Church on Long Island, New York — the hush and awe and power that comes into the congregation, the experience of mystery and desire and ecstacy that is most often attributed to “God’s presence in our midst,” but that I now believe is a natural uprising of human consciousness that arises out of physical interactions of neurons and chemicals and hormones in our brains and bodies.
My book will be my testimony — the story of my personal journey. Interjected between scenes from my life will be passages that explain my past and current thinking about the things that happened to me and my immediate and delayed reactions to these experiences. I will explain spiritual experiences in both Biblical language and in psychological language, to provide a window into my soul for both the believer and the unbeliever.
Jonathan Swift said, “It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” Because I was not converted by apologetics, nor was I deconverted by anti-apologetics, I will not attempt to debunk the Bible or to give a scientific explanation for or against the existence of God. Neither will I attempt to critique religions, sects, or doctrines other than the ones I followed. Instead, I will take the reader with me on my quest from young skeptic and nominal Christian, to fervent believer, to questioning agnostic and finally, atheist.
I started working on this book last year, and to date I have about 300 pages written. In the coming months, I will be putting this raw material together into the draft of a book, and will share some of my experiences with you all here.
Cross-posted on my personal blog.
So, what do you think? Any chance for a skepchick to become the “fifth horseman”? Does this sound like something you’d be interested in reading?