Those Who Went Before

Your questions have probably been asked before.

It has taken me a while to realise that with everything I am going through, someone else will have been on a similar journey. Where we end up could, of course, be different but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take the time to stop and understand who else has been asking the very questions that I am engaging with.

Imagine that you have been dropped in a new part of the world, the landscapes are unfamiliar and you are essential lost. You can push forwards, try to understand where you are by moving forwards and reflecting back when you can later on, or you can ask those who have been in this world before you, to reflect on their experiences that went ahead of you.

Take my journey of doubt as an example. Everything I am going through feels raw and new, nothing is familiar or comfortable. Others have been through these feelings and fears before. So as far as I can tell, I should seek them out.

My movement into doubt happened back in 2017 when I read ‘Sapiens‘ by Yuval Noah Harari. Before this, nothing had made me question the grand sweep of scripture and the biblical story to this extreme. I remember sitting the in Lake District in the UK, having my world turned on its head (I read the book on the evenings during a holiday). Whether or not you think it is a good book, it defiantly did something within my brain like no other piece of literature has ever done. The doubt flooded in. It shook me to my core, and the ripples are still felt to this day.

After finishing Sapiens, I decided to continue the investigative journey I was on. If Christianity was real, then others must have been in similar positions to me throughout the last 2,000 years. I searched for the next year to find a resource that would begin to enable me to work through all of the questions that Sapiens had raised. I came across the podcast ‘Unbelievable?‘ by Justin Brierley. I still devour this podcast each week, and am slowly working through the backlog of episodes (over 10 years worth now – that is a whole ton of listening ahead of me).

My hope with Unbelievable? was to be exposed to the best Atheist arguments and to hear the best Christian responses, which I think after year, I have but scratched the surface. Each week (usually), a Christian and Atheist talk around a topic, say Morality, and dive into a robust conversation from their personal worldview. The problem is, 9 times out of 10 I agree with the Atheist more than the Christian.

I soon realised that Justin was very unbiased as a moderator, leaving the listener wondering what Justin himself actually believed at the end of the show each week. It then became apparent after a few episodes that he had published a book in 2017 titled: ‘Unbelievable?: Why after ten years of talking with atheists, I’m still a Christian‘. This was brilliant – Justin has listened to some of the best speakers within apologetics, for years, debate and expound their faith and worldview.

I bought and quickly read through the book, it was fun, light and very interesting. But it was also full of holes (which book isn’t I guess?!? – don’t you dare say the Bible…). In the summer of 2018 I listened to one Unbelievable? episode in which Justin and another Christian guest debated with a few Atheist’s who had written a book titled: ‘Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics‘, (seven people wrote this book, but I believe there were only 2-3 guests on the show for the debate). Throughout the episode it became apparent that these individuals had once held a faith themselves, and without any choice in the matter, had lost it due to the conversations they came across in their lives.

This struck a massive chord with me. Here were a number of individuals who had gone through extremely similar things to me, who had come across Unbelievable? and who still no longer believed in God.

Now, don’t hear what I am not saying. Their book is not the ultimate Atheist guide or the perfect rebuttal to Justin’s book. Rather finding and reading their book, I discovered a group of people, from around the world, who had lost a faith without wanting to, and who had been real with the answers that they came across and had made some extremely difficult decisions along the way… decisions I know I am going to have to make one day.

Leaving church. Changing job. Losing friends. Family fallout’s. Worldview crushed. Purpose lost. Morality un-grounded. Everything turned upside down.

This is just an example – there are many of them out there and I am sure I will tell of them in other blog posts.

The bottom line is: others have gone before me.

I might not journey the same journey as them, I might not land in the same camp as them in the end, but I can talk to them about the landscape that I find myself in, and ask some hard questions and get some honest answers.

Some have gone who can no longer speak in the same way. People who have lost faith or studied religion and have died. But they can still share their insights if they where captured before they passed away in their books, videos, lectures or talks.

To me, this life does not feel like a destination, it feels like a journey and I feel as though there are many people who can input into my journey as I ask the tough questions and make difficult steps along the road.

I am going to study those who went before, I am going to talk to those who are on the road now, and I am going to continue to publish this blog each week for me now, and for those who are going come on this journey tomorrow. This is for us all.

_End of Blog Blurb_

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. It has taken me a few years to get to a place where I am able to share about my loss of faith and to start writing about the journey that I am still on for you all. I hope you find it useful.

Grammar, spelling, capitalisation and punctuation: I am massively dyslexic. It has taken me years to get to the level I am currently at with writing and I have done this mainly through reading. I want to be better, and ask you reader to please forgive any errors in my writing. I hope you notice improvement upon improvement over the coming years.

Time Frame: This blog is roughly six to nine months behind where I currently am at in my journey out of religion. It’s important to remember that when reading and commenting.

If you want to connect with me, then you can get in touch via any of the social media links that can be found at the top of the page. If you want to get every post straight to your inbox then you can do that by either following directly via WordPress or with your email address, whichever you prefer – the links are to the right.

I’ll see you back here at the same time next week 🙂

-Sam

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