"When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought as a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." - 1 Corinthians 13:11
I always liked this statement.
I write today to commemorate and appreciate what I've learned growing up how I have. I've spoken a lot lately about how I've been traumatized by religion when growing up and how I've moved away from faith, but another part of my journey lately has been recognizing the good that came from this subculture, for it is just as true.
Without Christianity, I would not have made the friends I have. Without Christianity, I would not have ended up the person I am today. Without Christianity, I would not have the unique and powerful perspective I've ended up with, nor would I be able to do what I will do in the future. For this, I am grateful, among a thousand other things. I can still debate theology with the best theologian out there and stalemate them at best, and that is something I take pride in. Not because I find theology to be true, but because I find it to have been a useful tool for abstract thought and for the development of a very unique sort of logic.
God, as a concept, is wondrously fascinating to me. Growing up, I went through phases of what I believed about god. I believed in his sovereignty and his absolute deterministic control in high school, and it's intriguing to note that I was also more rejected and alone than I ever have been in my life during that time. I needed control, I needed someone who could give me a measure of control, who could assure me that everything would be okay, and if that meant I affirmed that infant deaths resulted in more souls in hell, then so be it. Horrifying, but where my soul was is still apparent.
I then became intrigued with god as a lover. When things got better in my life, I began to be intrigued by these notions of god as a pursuer, god as a gentleman, god as not necessarily a father or even male, but genderless and transcendent, sublime and complete and still wanted me regardless. I was no longer looking for security, I was looking for love. Yet, in my pursuit I found these people broken by something, refusing to be great out of "humility" or some such concept. Time after time, my soul would not resonate with the people I met, and I often felt that they did not believe in the same god I did.
"We shape our god, and our god shapes us." Rob Bell could not be more right about this. Truly, every experience I have had of god, every spiritual experience has been a resonation with humanity or a realization of some greater reality that I was not conscious of previously.
I am sure conservative Christians would read what I write as "he never believed in god to begin with, we should save him by bringing him to our one true expression of Christianity." I've never been a person to conform to a group, and the more right a group thinks they are, the more questions I ask. The more authoritative a leadership figure is, the less I care about what they are saying. Truly, I have a "rebellious spirit."
This is a good thing. People aren't created to be lead, they exist to be what they are, no matter how scary that is to people that are afraid or lonely. Nothing can stand in the way of the truth.
At some point, one must call a concept what it is. There is no doubt in my mind that two things are true.
1. There is more to humanity than biology, more to life than the surface of what people deal with every day, and there is something that transcends what we as humans know through current science. We must push forward with every aspect of philosophy, every science and every art, to understand more and come up with more questions.
2. In the context of church and political history, scientific discovery, and the nature of the "supernatural" (anything beyond our current understanding), if there is a god, he is nothing like the one in any major religion. This is because we shape our god, and when a lot of people choose to shape god the same way, we end up with a religious movement that, if it lasts, will become an established religion. This is nothing more than a psychological phenomenon combined with our adolescence as a race, and none of it proves a god.
I am, without a doubt, an atheist. I would term myself agnostic as well, because I do not think our race has come to a point of making definitive statements about whether an ultimate deity exists, or even whether there are higher developed life forms which can be considered deities exist.
I also know that I will spend a good portion of my life studying the concept of god and learning more about it, studying humanity and learning more about our race's psychological makeup, and making a combination of the two. Like I said, Christianity has put me on this path, and for that I am grateful.
Christianity has also lead me to the example of Christ, at once a beneficial and a harmful role model. When I was a child, this shaped me a great deal, and I still respect Jesus as an intriguing and beneficial figure, though not necessarily a historical one by any means. However, my idolization of the hero archetype must now become an intrigued study, for I am no longer a child.
I am a man, and my former ways are cast off. How terrifying, and what a great adventure.