The 27th September 2018 was a significant day for me. On that day, for the very first time, I told a Christian friend that I didn’t believe in any of that religious drivel anymore. It was significant for me because I had spent most of my life growing up in a Christian environment and believing in it all. Pretty much all my friends were Christian, so telling them you don’t believe in that stuff anymore can be a bit of a big deal.
Now, for the most part I keep my newfound beliefs to myself, because, I really really don’t think it’s such a big deal that I don’t believe in a God, nor should it be. I also really really don’t think it’s a big deal if you believe in a God either – it’s what you do with your beliefs that count more. Bringing up your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) when it isn’t warranted, can often create unnecessary divisions. Now I don’t think it should be that way, but it often is, unfortunately. Mental note: If there were no religions, would this even be an issue? However, if people want to know what my beliefs are, then I will certainly discuss with them my newfound atheism, and it seems that there are a lot of people out there who want to know what I believe (for some reason).
Enter Lance, an old church friend of mine. Every time I meet up with him he would ask me about church for some reason. Getting sick of this, I told him that no, I don’t go to a church anymore, because I don’t believe in Christianity and Jesus anymore. Now Lance is generally quite a friendly guy, and our conversation certainly started off friendly. He wanted to know why, and for how long my beliefs were like that. I told him a few years, and said that the Bible, in particular Genesis, just really doesn’t line up with science, nor make a lot of sense. I also told him the problem with Hell, since it’s clearly not the product of a loving, just God. He then responded with something along the lines of: “You’ve got to understand that God is perfect and just and holy, and that he can’t tolerate any sin or unholiness. What is just for God isn’t necessarily just for us, but his ways are right.” Alright then matey.
Interestingly, Lance admitted that he too had similar doubts to mine when he was at university, blaming the ‘secular system’ we were brought up in. He also said that there were a lot of things in the Bible which don’t quite make sense, but that we weren’t expected to make sense of everything here. An interesting approach there Lance, I don’t think you’d apply that to anything outside of the Bible, but whatever. Of course, I had to ask him my favourite question: how do you know the Bible is true? His response was that it made sense to him and that when we look at creation, we see proof of a God, and that there can’t be any other explanation. Yeah not a satisfactory answer to me sorry.
The conversation started to turn a bit sour though. It started with Lance saying: ”I say this respectfully but I’m saddened and a little bit disappointed with your decision, Covert.” He then added: “I say this respectfully, but sometimes when we have a problem with understanding the Bible, it is us. It is because we haven’t bothered to read and study the Bible properly, so we interpret it wrongly. Not always, but sometimes.” He seemed to insist that my sin was from not wanting to follow Christ, due to my misunderstanding of the Bible. Finally he said that I should think really seriously about my decision, saying that: “I say this respectfully, that since you have heard the truth (in our church and Bible study), yet you decide to turn away after, you should really think about what you’re doing, lest you end up in the opposite to heaven.”
Yeah what a dick I know. What started as a pleasant catch up between friends at a pub ended up like that. But the thing is, I couldn’t be too mad at him. Having grown up in that religious environment, I completely understand why he thinks that. His views are the product of his religious indoctrination, which I had learnt too. I am sure that if he wasn’t Christian, he would be a totally OK person. I then had to step in and tell him that we both believe in different things and that neither of us is going to be able to convince the other. He looked a bit shocked for some reason, but respectfully changed the conversation, thankfully.
After all that, we said our goodbyes, but he indicated that he wanted to chat more about it some other time, and said that I should think about what we discussed. Not wishing to argue more or anything, I was just like ‘yep’, and we went our separate ways. Having these conversations over and over again is going to get a bit annoying.
– The Overt Atheist.