The Perfectly Inaudible Voice of God

I can't Hear You

An old friend I used to know when I was a Christian sent me a few questions. Here’s one of them:

“I’m just curious what you think about the personal experiences you once thought were God/the voice of God. Do you now think you were just a little crazy yourself?”

When I was a Christian, I never physically heard the voice of god, nor witnessed any supernatural events that I could actually connect to a god. Neither did my old pastor Chuck Smith, according to the many times he said as much from the pulpit. To demonstrate this, Chuck used to tell the story of a drive he once took up the coast. Because it was such a lovely day, he decided last-minute to drive up PCH. I don’t remember the details – something to do with a hitchhiker – but something really cool and spiritual happened to him because he took PCH, and he attributed that to a supernatural god redirecting his path in a very natural way. That story was Chuck’s way of demonstrating how god directs us without actually saying anything or showing himself. However, we don’t really know if god told Chuck to take PCH that day, or if he just wanted a prettier drive, and we’ll never know what even cooler, even more spiritual things may have happened to Chuck had he taken the 101.

I don’t think Christians are crazy, and I don’t think I was crazy when I was a Christian. I think I was guilty of poor thinking, incomplete and inconsistent logic, and a whole lot of cognitive dissonance.

Our minds are flawed. We humans have the capacity to believe things that aren’t true. We make errors in our critical thinking. We have lapses in judgement. We commit logical fallacies with our thinking. We hold conflicting values, beliefs and ideas. We draw illogical conclusions. We go with our gut, even when our gut is flawed.

In another post I mentioned the very weak argument that convinced me to “accept the Lord.” For some reason, that argument made sense to me at the time. I don’t think I was crazy. I just wasn’t examining the argument closely enough, and then my human emotions took over from there.

The Terrible Reasons I First Believed

Broken-Chair

I spent over three decades of my life as a devout Christian.

I am no longer a Christian. Not even close.

When I ponder the reasons why I first became a Christian back in High School, I come up with three:

1. I really, really wanted to please people (a terrible reason),

2. Both of the major religious groups in my High School (the Christians and the Mormons) were full of really great people who seemed to be part of big, loving, religious groups – like big families – and I wanted that for myself (another terrible reason), and

3. Someone made an argument that I bought, hook, line and sinker.

Here was that argument:

“See that chair you are sitting in right now? I noticed that you sat down in that chair without even thinking. How did you know that chair wasn’t going to collapse under your weight? When you sat down in that chair, it took faith that the chair would hold you up. That’s all I’m asking you to do with God. Just have faith he’s there.”

And with that, I prayed and “accepted Jesus.”

Now, I realize how ridiculous the chair argument was.

It didn’t take any faith whatsoever to sit in that chair. No, it took years of observable, hard evidence that created in me a reasonable expectation that the chair would hold me up.

With god, there is zero hard evidence – none. If he’s there, he’s completely silent, 100% invisible, and he never actually does anything. There is no difference between a universe with a silent, invisible, do-nothing god, and a universe that has no god at all. Believing in a god or gods takes faith – specifically because there is no good evidence. Sitting in a chair does not take any faith at all.

Not to mention that even if that chair had collapsed, so what? I would fall on my ass and my friends would laugh at me. That’s the worst that would happen.

However, if you spend decades wrapping your life around a fable, and basing your life on that fable, choosing your mate and your friends and your job and your possessions and where you live and where you go to church and who you socialize with and who you do business with and what you do with your time and your money and what you tell your children, all based on that fable… well, the fallout from that is way worse than sitting in a collapsing chair.

I can tell you from experience, that when you finally realize the weak reasons why you initially believed, and when you finally wake up to realize you were completely duped, that experience is heart-wrenching.

Which would you choose? A collapsing chair, or wasting what precious time you have left in this amazing, only life you might ever have?

Give me a collapsing chair any day.

I’m curious… why did you first believe?