De-conversion post

If anyone is interested, I just contributed a post to De-conversion. It starts off “I might have become an atheist.”

  • Ben

    I read The Story We Find Ourselves In: Further Adventures of a New Kind of Christian (it was the only McLaren book the library had) and reviewed it in a series of three posts here, if you had any interest. I don’t know if you’ve read that one.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    cool!

    mike, I know it has your name listed as the author of the post, but somehow I miss it every time. Would it be possible to say “this is mike” or something of the sort when you post? thanks for considering…

  • http://hoverFrog.wordpress.com hoverFrog

    I like the idea of converting to something rather than away from something. It is what atheism lacks but humanism retains. As a group atheists lack cohesion and direction. All that free thought works against us as we all go off and do our own thing. I’d never really considered the church in the same light before but I suppose all those factions, cults and denominations must have started with someone saying “hang on, I’m not sure about that”. Something to ponder. Thanks Mike.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Thanks for the link Ben. I have read that book (actually all of Brian’s books), and it’s interesting to see how it comes across to someone like yourself. I’m not surprised that it plays very differently than it does to a conservative evangelical (which I’m pretty sure was the audience Brian particularly had in mind when he wrote it.)

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    I read that, Mike, it was interesting. I don’t know what would have happened to me if I’d stumbled onto more liberal forms of Christianity. I don’t think it would have made a difference, because I did not stop believing in God because I was disillusioned with the church. I stopped believing in God because as I learned more about the universe and human nature, I found that reality didn’t jive with my beliefs from the Bible, and I had to be honest with myself about what I thought was real, not what I wanted to believe. I never, ever would have chosen to stop believing in God, but in the end, it was a huge relief to find that my faith had dissolved.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I can understand that Donna. I guess what was different for me is that when I encountered ideas about the world that didn’t jive with my faith, I was willing to adapt my faith to accommodate them. (And then discovered that there were plenty of other Christians out there who had already or were already doing so too.)

  • http://talesofordinarygirl.blogspot.com Ordinary Girl

    I enjoyed reading your story very much, but I’m a little puzzled why you consider that you might be an atheist? I’d love to hear more of your thoughts about why you chose that title or what you classify yourself as or just your thoughts in general. I’m not trying to put a label to you, but I’m puzzled about why you might chose that label. :)

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Time for 20 questions, Mike. :)

    Shouldn’t the question of whether religious beliefs are true be considered separately from whether religious practices work? If the beliefs are true, then this implies that religion should work in practice. But the converse is not true. That is, even if a religion works in practice, that doesn’t necessarily mean the underlying beliefs are true. What I’m trying to ask is that, when you say orthopraxy is as important as orthodoxy, why is Christian orthodoxy important at all?

  • Siamang

    “I enjoyed reading your story very much, but I’m a little puzzled why you consider that you might be an atheist.”

    I think he means in context: “If things had gone another way, I might have become an atheist.”

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    “I enjoyed reading your story very much, but I’m a little puzzled why you consider that you might be an atheist.”

    I think he means in context: “If things had gone another way, I might have become an atheist.”

    Yes, that is what I meant. That’s why the title was “I might have become an atheist”, NOT “I might be an atheist”

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Shouldn’t the question of whether religious beliefs are true be considered separately from whether religious practices work?

    IMO, not really. While that sounds good in theory, in my experience “truth” rarely conforms so easily to such nice, neat little boxes. Beliefs and practice are all wrapped up together most of the time for most people in pretty much any worldview, religious or otherwise.

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 Ben

    I’m not surprised that it plays very differently than it does to a conservative evangelical (which I’m pretty sure was the audience Brian particularly had in mind when he wrote it.)

    Interesting. If so, I question his character selection – there is one conservative Christian minor character who disappears fairly early, two emerging church types, and two skeptics.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I’d say you really need to read the first book to get the broader context of the conversation and the journey for his characters up to that point. I think Brian’s point in TSWFOI is not to try to convince skeptics and naturalists to embrace Christianity, but is to try to help disillusioned evangelicals try to reconstruct a different way of looking at their faith. The characters he chooses are merely plot devices to help further the conversations on those topics. I think he chose non-Christian characters so that he could start laying out his view of the faith “from the ground up” as it were, rather than having to first go through the same kind of deconstructive work of dismantling the conservative evangelical view of Christianity that he had already done in “A New Kind of Christian”. Does that make sense?

    Though I completely agree that his storytelling in this volume was just atrocious, and I too got annoyed at how “amazed” and “wowed” some of those skeptics were at Neo’s explanations. There were many times reading it when I just had to say “no way that conversation would ever go that way in real life.” But then, Brian’s main point is not to tell a believable story. The story is more like a Socratic dialogue – really just a frame for the conversation where he can bring out the points he wants to make.

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 Ben

    I’d say you really need to read the first book to get the broader context of the conversation and the journey for his characters up to that point.

    Very valid point.

    I too got annoyed at how “amazed” and “wowed” some of those skeptics were at Neo’s explanations.

    I’m glad it wasn’t just me.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    A few quotes from Mr Clawson:

    I had learned that doubt and uncertainty were an unavoidable part of the human condition, and that questioning my faith was actually a good thing.

    And

    I de-converted from the faith of my youth, from the kind of faith that was locked into one narrow set of answers – that didn’t allow room for questions and doubts – and from the kind of faith that said the most important thing was believing exactly the right set of doctrines rather than how we actually lived in the world.

    And from this thread:

    While that sounds good in theory, in my experience “truth” rarely conforms so easily to such nice, neat little boxes.

    You don’t sound like most Christians. You seem to be aware that not everybody thinks like you. A lot of Christians think that I should believe just because they believe. The divorced addicts are the worst. I think the world (and the USA) would be more pleasant if there were more Christians like you.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Thanks SD. Though I’m amused by this particular comment:

    The divorced addicts are the worst.

    And wondering what exactly you mean by that. :)

  • Edwin

    “what was different for me is that when I encountered ideas about the world that didn’t jive with my faith, I was willing to adapt my faith to accommodate them.”

    What I don’t understand is why your faith – which is based on very questionable (by your own admission) “revealed wisdom” written down in one book – takes precedence over the evidence of the universe itself.

    I can see ending up a pantheist or a Deist. Christianity just doesn’t make any sense on the face of it.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    I’m not sure what you mean by “taking precedence” Edwin. I don’t think one has to take precedence over the other since personally I don’t see any contradiction between the “evidence of the universe” and “revealed wisdom”, at least as I’ve come to understand it. IMHO, they both spring from the same source, so why should I expect to find any contradiction? It’s not an either/or for me. It’s a both/and.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    To: Mike Clawson

    Regarding my “divorced addict” comment:

    My male biological parent is a boozer. Maybe he still is, I do not know because I do not have any contact. (My choice. I know “male biological parent” is a mouthful; it is an intentional word choice.) I started writing a response clarifying my comment, and it became a rant. Perhaps I will clarify some other time.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    ok, no problem SD. I don’t mean to pry.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    You were not prying, and I was not crying. I just read what I was writing, and I thought that it was starting to become incoherent.

    Here is another attempt:
    There are Xians who try to convert people by saying that Jesus helped them kick drugs. This is given as a reason for us to believe. “I was self-destructive, therefore God exists”. I think it is a non-sequitur. If you are self-destructive, it does not prove your religion. It just proves you are stupid.

    Alcohol does not sprout legs and jump down your throat. You have to put it there.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    There are Xians who try to convert people by saying that Jesus helped them kick drugs. This is given as a reason for us to believe. “I was self-destructive, therefore God exists”.

    I think you left out a step in their argument: “I was self-destructive, faith in God helped me get better after all my other efforts had failed, therefore God exists.”

    Though to be completely fair, I’ve heard many testimonies like this and most of the time the point wasn’t really to “prove” anything or convert anyone. They were just honestly relating their experiences. Of course, your experiences may differ.

  • http://www.SecularDignity.net Secular Dignity

    I think you left out a step in their argument: “I was self-destructive, faith in God helped me get better after all my other efforts had failed, therefore God exists.”

    I suppose so, but I still don’t buy it. Your pain is your problem.

    (I mean in general. I am not directing anger at Mr Clawson in particular.)