As an agnostic who professed Christianity for most of my life, I often encounter the “No True Scotsman” argument from well-meaning Christians. Basically, they insist that if I have in fact fallen away from the faith, my faith must not have been genuine. Unfortunately, this belief, which is likely grounded in fear (if I was a true Christian and yet fell away, how could they be sure of their own or anyone else’s faith?) is simply baseless, and in my increasing irritation at its repetition, I almost feel like calling it slander.
I was a devout Christian most of my life. I have read the Bible cover-to-cover nearly a dozen times in several different translations. I have taught adult Sunday School classes. I have studied some Greek and Hebrew in order to better understand difficult Scripture passages. I hosted a Xanga blog dedicated to debate and discussion of several controversial theological topics, and the year or so I spent moderating it deepened my understanding and appreciation of theology and the Bible. Even in my teen years, many adults in my church looked up to me with respect and admiration for my knowledge of the Bible, my understanding of theology, and my passion for God.
I was intimate with God (sometimes, of course, much more so than others). Any questions or doubts or fears I brought to him. When I was troubled, I prayed for peace, and he gave me peace. When I wrestled with dilemmas or struggles that overwhelmed me, I sought his guidance and he led me to understanding. When I agonized for months over how I could know I was truly saved, he led me to I John 5:13, and I clung to that promise dearly. I trusted and loved and confided in him as a perfect friend, a holy father, an omniscient, omnipotent God who was also intimately personal and deeply loving.
There does not exist any standard or definition of Christianity with which to discredit my honest, passionate, heartfelt, true belief.
And here I am, an agnostic. Not because I’ve been hurt by the church (though the church has thrown a lot of hurt at me AFTER I left them). Not because I wanted to be free from religion (losing my faith was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life). Not because I didn’t like what the Bible said (when I left my faith, I actually agreed with pretty much everything I understood about its teachings, and in fact still largely do).
But just because it no longer made sense to believe in a deity with absolutely no physical or historical evidence pointing to his existence. When I realized that I had just as much reason to believe in Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, or even Greek mythology as I did in the Christian God, I decided to suspend my judgment on the truth or falsity of anything divine or supernatural, and instead devote myself to studying what is real and tangible, approaching every question of ethics and truth from the dual perspective of “if there is a God, then?” and “if there is no God, then?”.
I have yet to see anything in nature that points to God’s existence (despite his own claims to the contrary in Romans 1). And even should I find something (as, honestly, I wish I could), there is still nothing to indicate WHICH God or gods are true.
All of life is a journey. I am pursuing mine as honestly and open-mindedly as I know how. If God is good and just, he will commend my current honesty far more than the narrower-minded, semi-blind faith of my previous belief.