the silver bullet
For a while almost a year ago, when I became an active skeptic, or began struggling with my faith, or whatever one might call it, I started reading compulsively. I was not sleeping, anxious, which afforded me many “bonus” hours for reading. Looking back, I see a sense of looking for something to prove Christianity false, something I could rest on to justify my disbelief in the faith I was leaving. A silver bullet that would by itself, once and for all, prove that Christianity is not true.
Ever look for one of those? Guess what, I still haven’t found one. Because for every evidence something in the bible is not true, there is an apologetic argument showing a logical possibility as to how it could be true. Not necessarily showing it likely to be true, just showing a logical possibility that it could be true. If only one wants badly enough to believe. Christianity has had literally thousands of years to work on them. Just learning that took me an inordinate amount of time and was extremely frustrating.
Over time, the shear number of these explanations for difficulties with the conservative Christian faith, and the intricate, convoluted arguments apologists weave to justify their beliefs, provided me with evidence to my satisfaction. The preponderance of evidence got me to the point where I became comfortable with what I did and did not believe. That’s about where I am today.
I recently realized that at some point during that process something odd happened. I stopped looking for a silver bullet to prove Christianity false and I started searching for a silver bullet to prove Christianity true. I know I won’t find it, it doesn’t exist either. And the Christianity I read about now is much more amorphous, less defined, messy. It doesn’t need the same kind of proof to exist. So what am I looking for?
I realized I am still trying to prove myself to the Christians in my life, to demonstrate faithfulness, that I have fought the good fight, turned over every stone, left myself open to what they believe, even if I still don’t believe it. Mostly that is craziness, I still want to justify my moving on. But I think partly it is a desire to maintain relationships with people, when it is my set of beliefs that changed, not their’s. Maybe that’s the price I feel I have to pay.
I also want to be able to provide some direction for my family, not ceding that area to religion that would work to drive us apart. And I want to have knowledge and language to articulate the Christian faith better than others who would hint to me at other ways of viewing Christianity. I want to have been there already, done my homework, understood the arguments ahead of time, done due diligence.
While this new quest for the second kind of silver bullet has not been as frantic as the first one, I do recognize some of the same obsession in the search. I reassure myself that this time won’t last forever. I am still growing into my new beliefs, and I am still enjoying reading and learning in ways I have not in a long time. But I yearn for a freedom from this searching. It feels oppressive at times. Life is so hard to get through as a husband, father, employee, apart from worrying what other people think and about other people’s faith. I’m looking forward to just being myself.