Every time I ask a believer why they believe or why they have faith or what evidence they have for the existence of god, they eventually give me some personal experience report. Sure, they may begin with creation or the bible, but these things are actually refutable, so they move on fairly quickly. What reaaly gets them is the personal experience they are just dying to tell me. The story almost always goes something like this:
Once I was a horrible person. I just sucked. My life sucked really, really bad, I had a bad relationship with the opposite sex, my parents, my job, etc. Everything just plain sucked. Then, I found the lord and things got better. Maybe not all at once, but slowly, they got better. Now, things are better than ever, and I have the good graces of god to thank for it. People in my life are happier, healthier, and wealthier. I amd happier, healthier and wealthier. I stopped doing drugs/alcohol, and/or all sorts of other bad things and now use that energy to worship god. It’s flipping fantastic.
Good for you. How does that prove god exists?
Look, don’t get me wrong. I’m glad your life no longer sucks the way it used to. That’s just dandy. But if your experience is supposed to convince me that there was some supernatural force driving all this good feeling into your life, well, you fail. Good things happen, and bad things happen too. It can’t rain all the time. And what if I told you the opposite story? Say I have a story that goes like this:
Once, I was a horrible person. I just sucked. I thought I had all the answers and no one else had a stinking clue. I told friends, neighbors and people who really wanted to help me to shove it, because I didn’t think I needed their help. I knew what god said. I knew how god wanted me to be and that was that. I had no problem telling people they were damning themselves to hell for sinful behavior or thoughts. I enjoyed watching people squirm uncomfortably when I described in detail the nature of god’s wrath and vengeance. Then, I found reason. I turned logic loose on my beliefs and watched in horror as they fell apart. All the answers I thought I knew evaporated as quickly as the morning dew. Devastated, I tried to salvage the remains of my religion, but to no avail. Eventually, I figured out how much simpler life is without the delusion of religious beliefs. Now I am happier, healthier, and wealthier than I ever was. It’s flipping fantastic.
For every conversion story, there is a story of apostasy. And neither prove anything other than people can change their minds. Which I suppose is promising to all of us.
If you think your story of salvation is convincing, what do you think of my story of apostasy? Did I not tell an equally compelling tale? Oh, and here’s another thing….
When I left religion behind, I left a place of comfort, familiarity, and reassurance for tribulation, trial, and turmoil. I thought I had the answers. I thought things were great. This is where the atheist begins the journey to reason. So many conversion stories I hear begin differently. I was sad, depressed and anxious. I was alone and scared. This is where the believer begins his journey to delusion. I find that interesting.