Sam asked a good question: “Dagoods, your whole blog seems mostly to be about deconstructing Christianity. If you don't care whether people are Christians or not, why do you do it?”
He’s correct—most of my blog entries deal with deconstructing Christianity or Christian themes. And…I don’t care to “sell” Christians to deconvert to non-belief. How do those two concepts align?
As always, there is no short answer with me. *grin*
Why do we Blog?
There are many reasons to blog. Some people write a diary of their lives. “Today I ran 2 miles.” Others post pictures for friends. Or tell of trips. Some theistic blogs concentrate on arguing (“Debunking Christianity” and “Triablogue” come to mind.) Some do not. Some are funny; some sad. And they come and go.
Within blogs themselves, we may veer from our general theme and blog on some other note.
Years ago, I concentrated on forums. Where arguing is the de facto form of communication. And one particular forum thread was started by a blogger who documented her experiences regarding Christian forums on her blog. As I followed that particular blog entry, a fellow named Jeff commented that if this blogger wanted some intelligent Christian interaction-- converse with him. As an initial curiosity, I joined the world of Blogging to interact with Jeff. I was soon up to my elbows, interacting with Jeff, Paul, Sam, and Roman.
Over the years, my blogging has vacillated between apathetic meanderings, argumentative positions, and simple questions. From such humble beginnings…I now blog because I want to.
Who I am
There are two core essentials to understand me and my blogging: 1) I learn by argumentation and 2) I enjoy the topic of Christianity.
I don’t know if I love the practice of law, because I love the argument; or I love the argument because I love the practice of law. They are intertwined.
Now, when I say “argument” I am not talking about two people screaming at each other, faces red and pounding on their chests. While that can be fun (for a bit)—I am referring to the whole process. Researching all the facts both favorable and not favorable to a particular position. Becoming aware of the correct law to apply, and how to apply it. Being fully prepared for any possible contingency (while knowing you cannot cover them all). Carefully framing a weave of the facts and law to present your position.
Then, if screaming and shouting is how to deliver it—do so.
My partner and I often play “devil’s advocate” with each other. Take the other side and argue vociferously from the position opposing our own. This shows the weakness in our own case, the strengths, where we might need more information or be better prepared. It is how we “learn” what we need to know.
I like to watch other cases, and other lawyers present their positions—knitting together the facts and law, while the opposing side presents their own interpretations and emphases. What the public cannot always conceptualize is the lawyer’s ability to separate the argument from the person. We can shout and yell, and be outrageously indignant as to the complete and utter stupidity of the opposing position, and once the argument has ended—outside the courtroom—ask the other lawyer how the wife and kids are doing. Arguing is what we do for a living—we don’t take it home with us.
Even when I am arguing with you, Sam, it is often not as much intended to be a confrontational fight, but rather a way for me to probe and dissect and weigh the strength and weaknesses of each of our positions. It may seem I am 100% gung-ho against you, but in fact I am thinking and wondering and even trying as best I can to see it from your point of view. I may be screaming how bloody wrong you are on the ‘net, while my mind is thinking, “I’m about 90% convinced he’s right.” I know it doesn’t come across that way (and sometimes I am much more emotionally obstinate than merely being a disinterested debater) yet that is how I argue. It is how I learn.
I am sure it is frustrating to other people. Irritating even. I have tried to explain it and never can quite capture how arguing can be a matter of enjoyment and gaining knowledge.
I enjoy the topic of Christianity
This should not come as a surprise. I attended Christian schools all my life—taking Bible courses literally every single year. I took so many Bible/Christian courses in college just for enjoyment; I am only a few credits short of a Bible Major (in addition to my History Major.) I taught Sunday School and small groups.
I like the study; I like the discussion. I like the people.
After deconverting, I approached the friends I had spent 100’s of hours learning and discussing these topics to continue the discussion. “I will not discuss this with you.” “I can’t talk about this with you.” “I’ll call you…someday…in about 175 years…”
I approached my own family. “We don’t know what to say to you, so we won’t say anything at all.”
I approached churches. “We don’t really have a place for you.”
I approached my wife. “I refuse to talk about this with you.”
Gone. Every single human outlet I had to discuss a topic I loved for 37 years; my joy was taken away from me.
If you approached me in life, Sam, you would never recognize me as “DagoodS.” If you said you were a Christian, I would smile and say, “That’s nice.” If you said, “I want to discuss Christianity with you”—I would laugh and say, “Probably not.” And then change the subject. If you wanted to tell me your Christian testimony—you would find me a patient listener, with the appropriate, “Go on” and “How fascinating.”
In person-to-person meetings, it takes an extremely special Christian to interact with an atheist such as myself, and since I doubt happenstance would allow such a meeting, I don’t probe for it. I let the person be who they are, and move on. Every single time I have indicated I am an atheist to a Christian—be it friend, family, former acquaintance or stranger—it has ended badly. *shrug* Maybe its me; maybe its my personality. Maybe it is how life goes.
This blog—this corner of the Internet—is my last bastion to discuss the topic I love in the form I enjoy. Believe me, if I could find Christian friends who would be willing to interact on this level—this blog would disappear like the majority.
I have other places where I can write of who I am, or what my day is like. Of funny medical stories, or lawyer jokes or whatever passes my fancy. While I have tried to struggle away from it, this blog defaults to my talking about Christianity, and why I am not persuaded by it.
I’ve gone back and forth with just ending it. Maybe one out of three books I now read deal with Christianity. It was a full-time endeavor for many a year, but as a good friend told me, “I get it. Move on.” HeIsSailing clearly was able to, why can’t I?
Because I feel guilty, believe it or not.
We talk about how deconverting is a solitary event. People go through it alone. I have written on the reasons for that, and will not reiterate them here. Only to say, THIS is why it is useless to try and “sell” deconversion. People chose to go that route or they don’t. Can’t force ‘em.
As a person deconverting, you read. You read and you read and you read. Since the Internet is so handy—much of what you read is on the Internet. You look for Christian arguments. You hope to find a strong, supportive, impenetrable Christian argument. But since your mind is now questioning—you constantly look for what the other side has to say.
“Judas died by hanging and then fell. Matthew recorded his death; Luke his post mortem fall.”
O.K. (you think to yourself). This sounds like a pretty good resolution to a supposed contradiction. What does the other side have to say about this strong argument for inerrancy in this instance?
“Matthew and Luke disagree on this issue and that and this. Luke’s reasoning for recounting the tale was for death, not what happened to the body. Papais lists another way in which Judas died. What is the method for determining a contradiction?”
And so, for one long afternoon, the deconverting go back and forth between websites and Greek Bibles and commentaries on this one little issue, trying to come to a conclusion in their mind as to whether they should continue to believe the way they have been taught.
Whether I like it or not—I am a part of that process. I have been one of those skeptics that deconverts look at their arguments in the face of Christian ones. I am deeply and utterly appreciative of the skeptics who presented their arguments while I was the Christian, then the questioning, then the deconvert. I feel an obligation to do the same.
It is funny—I consider myself an extremely fresh deconvert. I am amazed it has been almost four years. Who’d a thunk it?! It is not like a new wound, but rather a wound that has scabbed and scarred, and is now just a dull red. Yet I still look at the wound and think, “Hey, that is not what my mental image is of myself. I don’t remember that being there on my hand.” It still seems “new” to me.
And then I read of people who were adamant Christians in 2006, and joined iidb in 2007, to deconvert in 2008. I think, “Wow, they were still Christians when I was already an atheist.” In my mind, I am the freshest batch of deconverts, not an alumni. Not the guy who returns and says, “I remember when the skeptics used to play football where the new Administration Building stands.” I think of myself as the guy who graduated yesterday.
Instead I find myself one of the professors (forgive me, but it works in the analogy.) One of the people the next graduating class is looking at.
I don’t write as well, or as adamantly as I used to. Much of that has to do with my degree of interest. But I leave this blog open for the occasional moment where I want to talk about a cherished topic, let my thoughts leave my head—and if it helps a person along their way, I consider it an added bonus.
I see a difference between writing on Christianity and selling atheism. I like to see the arguments and attempt to present the arguments in a cohesive manner. But if the person is not persuaded by them—so be it. People persuade differently. Let them chose their own path.