Finding myself…

When I was in my late teens, a Church Army Officer took me under his wing. When we first met (as he later described it to me), I only knew how to talk about three things: God, Star Trek, and computers. If I joined a conversation that wasn’t about one of these things, it very quickly became about one of these things.

This was before the internet, and before geek ever became ‘chic’; between my family and my obsessions, I was a pretty isolated kid.

My Star Trek obsession was laid to rest many years ago; I work full time in IT, so I get to talk about computers all day with like-minded folks.

But the God and faith? That’s been a long journey. Reading back through my posts on the blog, I’ve touched on it a few times, and addressed it directly a couple of times, but I haven’t explored it in any great detail in writing. I’ve tweeted about it a bit, and had some interesting conversations, but the ephemeral nature of Twitter means that those conversations tend to melt away like an early-morning mist on a hot summer’s day.

Honestly, I like that. I’ve gotten to talk about God, and explore bits and pieces of theology with people; I’ve managed to (for the most part) avoid getting into any arguments. It’s often the same kind of topics I enjoy discussing over food or coffee with a few friends in particular; however, for all the conversations I’ve had with people, I’ve rarely written about theology. A couple of weeks ago, one of those friends pointedly told me that I should be writing about it.

Writing about God and theology on a blog is an entirely different kettle of fish, because I hate confrontation; there’s few things I’ve seen in the blogosphere that can be as divisive as talking about God or theology. Truth is, I’d rather have a root canal than an argument; I fear getting into an argument more than I fear spiders.

Fear is a fantastic demotivator, and it’s pretty much the major reason I’ve avoided writing about something that’s so central to my life.

Over the years I’ve met more than a few people who are apparently VERY sure of what they believe. Since what they believe is the only true and correct thing to believe, they’ve then smashed away at me until I was little more than a pulpy bloody mess; some even insisted that unless I agreed with them, then and there, I’ll spend eternity in hell.

The problem is: I’m a theological mutt. I think a big part of this is because we moved around from church to church so often while I grew up, I picked up a lot of theological baggage along the way; often theology from one church stream doesn’t play well with theology from another stream.

Eventually, I got to the point where the cognitive dissonance was too much; I had too much contradictory theology in my head. For instance, a few years ago I got so wrapped up in trying to un-knot a particular aspect of Reformed theology, it sent me into a two month major depressive episode. Seriously. Somehow, this doesn’t sound a lot like “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.

So, I’m going to start blogging about my faith, as I start picking through it.

Some of my theology is wrong. I know that. I don’t know which bits yet, and I’m pretty sure I won’t get all that sorted out until I reach the other side. You know what else? Chances are some of what you believe is wrong too.

Both I, and my faith, are a work in progress, and I want to start exploring that here; as I blog about my faith, please realise this, and accept it. I want to work out what it is that I believe and explore some of my questions and doubts. Assuming anyone actually ends up reading what I write, I’d say the chances are pretty good that there’s going to be something that you, my wonderful reader, disagree with. I’m OK with that; there are things I used to believe that I disagree with now, even some things I believe right now that I think I disagree with. Work with me here, OK?

I want to lay down some ground rules for commenting going forward; it’s my blog, so I figure I get to decide how to play this.

I’m not going to moderate comments just because someone disagrees with me; it all hinges on *how* you disagree. If you want to beat me up or abuse me (or other commenters) I’ll happily make your comment go away.

Given the mix of people I know, chances are pretty good that  you’re probably either an atheist or a Christian. I’m cool with both, but let me break it down how I’m going to handle comments:

If you’re an atheist, I respect your non-belief. I tried atheism, and it didn’t work for me. I’ve found that I’m unable to stop believing in God. I know this probably seems ridiculous to you, but there it is. I do, however, understand why you don’t see the need for a deity, and I’m absolutely not interested in trying to convince you that you’re wrong. If you’re absolutely sure that you’re right, and I’m wrong, and you really want to convince me I’m wrong, stop and seriously consider what it would take to convince you that you’re wrong. Yeah, that’s where I’m at on believing in the existence of God. It seems to be hard-wired in there. Yes, I’ve heard lots of the arguments, and no, I don’t have answers for all of them. Best bet, if you’re convinced I’m wrong, and it really irritates you, just do us both a favour and skip my posts about faith.

If you’re a Christian, and if you’re absolutely convinced that you’re right and I’m utterly wrong, and you MUST convince me of this, please go and pray about it, and ask that God will open my eyes to my error; preferably through someone with lots of grace and who’s willing to walk the path with me. At this point in my life, I’ve taken enough theological beatings from people who are convinced they’re right and are determined to show me the error of my ways, that I tend not to react very well, and can end up in a very bad place emotionally.

I’ll probably look at this tomorrow and see a dozen things I want to change, but I also need to get into the habit of writing more frequently, so I’m going to run with it for now.

Onwards and upwards.

  • Looking forward to reading along. 🙂

  • andrewdotnich

    Brave man 🙂

    I apologise on behalf of all well-meaning Christian ideologues – there’s a point where we stop thinking about the person we’re talking to, and interact purely in the realm of ideas. We shouldn’t do that, and I’m sorry that this lack of wisdom and understanding has caused you so much hurt in your life.

    Looking forward to what you write…

  • I’m actually a little more fearful now than I was last night. I’ve just watched, for want of a better description, a sustained attack on John Dickson on Facebook because of the comment he made about YEC last week on Q&A. He later followed it up, admitting he could have phrased it in a more gracious way, and apologising for offending his brothers and sisters in Christ.

    However, it seems that some people have decided that there is nothing else for it than a relentless barrage of comments attempting to get him to admit that he’s wrong and has entirely abandoned the faith because he’s not YEC.

    That sustained, relentless attack is what I fear…

  • Hey Warwick

    Sounds like an interesting conversation brewing. You’ve had a rich life, and reflected pretty seriously about it I think. I’ll look forward to hearing more about it.

  • Stu Andrews

    Hey Warwick,

    Am also looking forward to reading what you have to say.

    Be encouraged. Seek out wisdom (Proverbs 4, especially vs 5-9).

  • Hello Warwick! Did you ever post the one you mentioned on my blog? Couldn’t find it here on your site, but this one seems to be aiming in that direction.

  • Hi Gary.

    No, I think I started drafting it, but life got in the way. The next one will probably be about alcohol. :/

  • AnOn

    Dude, let’s have a good ole’ argument about all this! 😉 Pick whatever side you want! Though I mask my identity I promise you’ll get the genuine interlocutor you won’t find in your normal circles!

  • AnOn

    Ok I’ll start 😉

    You wrote: “If you’re absolutely sure that you’re right, and I’m wrong, and you
    really want to convince me I’m wrong, stop and seriously consider what
    it would take to convince you that you’re wrong. Yeah, that’s where I’m
    at on believing in the existence of God.”

    Right there. That’s awesome.

    Why? The explanation needs three steps:

    (1) The claim “Either Melbourne is south of Sydney or it isn’t” is a tautology – it’s ALWAYS true no matter how the universe is. While the claim “Melbourne is both south of Sydney AND NOT south of Sydney” is a contradiction – it is always FALSE, no matter how the universe actually is. In other words, tautologies and contradictions don’t say ANYTHING AT ALL. We can tell that much by just looking at the words.

    (2) Other claims require a bit more investigation to know whether they are saying anything at all. A claim regarding theism (for example; “there is a god” or “there isn’t a god”) needs to say that the universe is one particular way and NOT ANOTHER WAY to be saying anything at all. For example, if I say the universe had a god in it then I’m saying that it is false that it doesn’t! My claim ‘splits’ the ways the universe might be into two categories – one where what I’m saying is true, and one where what I’m saying is false. It HAS to do this to be saying anything at all.

    (3) It’s very common for people who believe something fervently to forget this. To forget, in other words, that they MIGHT BE WRONG! If they make this mistake, they are likely to think that they CAN’T be wrong! It’s therefore a very good idea to check upfront with people whether they admit the possibility that they might be wrong.*

    That’s what you do, above, with “stop and seriously consider what
    it would take to convince you that you’re wrong.”

    Well played sir!

    *The best way to check this is to ask for some imaginary circumstance which, if it happened, would lead them to accept that they WERE wrong! If I’m an Atheist, for example, and the clouds open up and the Four Horsemen come down and start tearing shit up, I’m gonna change my atheism pretty quick. Yes, sir. If I’m a theist, it’s a bit harder to imagine a circumstance that would make me accept that I’m wrong. That usually means that theist’s beliefs are ‘protected’ from criticism.

  • What purpose does this conversation serve?

    My belief in the existence in this specific God is illogical. I get that.

    I have little doubt that you may be able to present a logical argument for the non-existence of God.

    Here’s the thing… I like having conversations with my friends, even when we outright disagree (as I’ve experienced with some of my atheist friends). I don’t have arguments with anonymous individuals on the internet, because I don’t see the point. There’s no investment, there’s no relationship…

    There’s just two (or more) people seeking to try and disabuse the other of something they believe.

    So… what does arguing with me about the (non?)-existence of (a/any) God(s) achieve?

  • AnOn

    Your blog, your call, of course…

    To avoid further misunderstandings, a couple things for the record.

    (1) I’m invested. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t have bothered taking the time to write! I’m not a troll.

    (2) I was complimenting you. Nothing more. Re-read it if you missed that the first time.

    (3) I honestly don’t care what you believe. That’s why I suggested picking whatever side you wanted! I don’t want to disabuse anyone of anything.

    (4) Purpose of conversation / what does it achieve? Well let’s see. You have a blog. Either its your personal diary or its for communication. If its the latter, and someone finds what you said interesting enough (and finds you human enough) to start a conversation, maybe that common interest is enough to kickstart more discussion about what you’re already blogging about?

    (5) You mention a gazillion things in this post – I only grabbed onto one. Your other point about whether you (or we, more generally) get to decide what we believe or not, is another excellent one. (I personally think we dont always get to choose what we believe).

    (6) Offer remains open. Happy to go talk with someone else though, if your not into that!

  • AnOn

    I guess that’s a no.

    Pity. Best of luck with your [personal] project

  • Warwick

    Honestly, I completely forgot. Sorry.

    But I should have replied, the answer is still no, thanks.