That's me in the corner

My previous post about William Lane Craig's inane rationalization of what is to him the obvious truth of his religious beliefs got me thinking a bit about my own de-conversion. One comment of Craig's in particular really grinds my gears:
Indeed, Paul says that [non-believers] actually do know that God exists, but they suppress this truth because of their unrighteousness. 
The implication here is that we actually do think it's true – we just don't want to believe (because we'd rather be naughty). I can't speak for other apostates, but this is like a slap in the face given how extraordinarily trying my deconversion really was. Contrary to Craig's assumptions, I was very deeply rooted in the church and my personal faith. It was the center of my social life, an important means by which I connected with my family, and a deeply personal source of strength and inspiration that I believed had helped me through many difficult times. Unfortunately, a helpful delusion is still a delusion.

I never reached a point where I explicitly renounced my faith. My deconversion was a gradual and emotionally trying process of disillusionment. It began with a simple question: why are there so many religions? As one question cascaded into the next, I continually found that satisfying answers were distressingly elusive. But something greater bothered me: that even among answers I found slightly more satisfying (I found none wholly satisfying), I had no way to know that they were true. If you ask ten Christian theologians the same question, you're likely to get ten different answers. But because religion is a matter of faith – believing in spite of, or even because of, a lack of evidence – there's no way to objectively filter out the erroneous information. Ultimately, theology is reduced to a sort of "best guess".

The paucity of clear answers disturbed me greatly, because I believed my faith to be unfailingly true. But if my beliefs were really the rock I'd come to think they were, why were the "answers" to my questions so muddled, conflicting and elusive?

After a while, I simply reached a point where I couldn't believe anymore. Christian theology simply doesn't make sense. The defensive apologetics I had read, like C.S. Lewis' The Case for Christianity, were full of specious reasoning that even I, as a relatively naive teenager, could rather easily deconstruct. I've read numerous apologists books since my deconversion, including Francis Collins' The Language of God and Tim Keller's The Reason for God (part 2 of that review is coming in a few days, by the way), and without fail I have found them to be full of the same logically fallacious structure – deconstruct the premise, and all subsequent arguments and conclusions become meaningless.

After my slow slip into apostasy, I spent months in a deep depression. I struggled with how I would find meaning in my life, how I would cope in difficult times, how my beliefs would affect my family, and whether I'd be able to make new friends. Fortunately, in time and with further study, I've come to find my fears were misguided. I live a very happy, fulfilling life. I'm still close to my family and have the greatest friends a guy could ask for. But getting there was a process, and certainly not an easy one. So to these nincompoops like Craig who, having spent their entire lives in the insular existence from which I am now so happy to have liberated myself from, conclude that I rejected my faith because I wanted to be naughty: you clowns don't have a clue.

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