CarriedTheCross & Religion
I was raised by a non-religious family, and between birth and middle school I had little to no conception of who or what ‘god’ was. Upon entering middle school, I began to interact more with children of Christian families, which led eventually to my conversion and a committed Christian faith by early high school. I entered a small evangelical college as a religion major with the intention of pursuing some kind of full time ministry. After a few years of frustration with the department, I switched my major to philosophy. Over time, my skepticism, my studies and my personal convictions culminated in a de-conversion from Christianity before my senior year of college.
To borrow from the writings of Bertrand Russel, if I am talking to a philosophical audience, I would refer to myself as an agnostic. This is the most accurate description of my view concerning ‘god.’ I have neither epistemic proof for or against the existence of the divine. However, if I am speaking to a popular audience, I would deem myself an atheist. I am convinced that the burden of proof lies with the theist to prove the existence of a deity, and the theist has failed.
After a short period of open hostility to all forms of religion, I have come to more moderate positions. I value the social services provided to the world by some religious groups. I recognize that many people are motivated by their religious faith to do “good works” and meet real needs of real people with real problems. At the same time, I embrace the concept of “conversational intolerance,” coined by Sam Harris. Like WK Clifford, I believe, “It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.”
In looking at the past, I can see the real value of religion over the course of human history. At the same time, I believe that religious belief must necessarily surrender itself to truth over time. As the world becomes less religious, I am convinced that secularists will step into the positive roles once fulfilled by religious persons.