Nate wrote a post recently called Pandora’s Box on his blog Finding Truth, that truly resonated with me.
His post began with, “The other day I started thinking about what would have happened if I had stopped looking critically at Christianity after reading those articles that first made me question the Bible’s legitimacy. What if I had turned from them and decided to never look at anything else that might cause me to doubt my faith? If I had, I’m sure I’d still be a Christian today.”
It’s been a little less than a year since my full deconversion, and the journey was difficult. I was a fundamentalist for over 32 years and it was quite uncomfortable to consider the arguments against my faith. The cognitive dissonance was often very intense.
But I agree with Nate. Had I chosen to continue my willful ignorance about science and the many issues with Christianity, I’d still be in wonderland. My choice to swallow the red pill meant that I got to discover how deep the rabbit hole goes.
I occasionally visit the reddit.com forums at exchristian and atheism. Someone recently posted a related question there. Are you truly happier now as an ex-believer? Before I answer that, I want to share that my deconversion journey had real consequences and heartache. There was fallout. And hurt.
I haven’t written about my marriage or about my other children. My wife and I raised 5 kids, and I have shared how my oldest son’s declaration of atheism in 2007 fueled my journey.
Had my wife and I stayed together, we would have been married for 30 years in December. But we’re divorced now. The question is, did my marriage die because of my deconversion from a believer to an apostate?
I don’t have a simple answer to that, but I can say that my deconversion was a significant factor. My ex-wife remains a staunch evangelical, fundamentalist young earth creationist, who has strong leanings toward the quiverfull ideology. Life has routinely been black and white for her. But I began to see shades of gray 20 years ago. She believed we were “meant to be together – – destined by God”. I did not.
It’s not my intention to dig out the dirty laundry or to ridicule my ex-wife. She truly has many wonderful qualities, but I was very unhappy in our marriage and I reached a point where I concluded that life was too short to stay miserable. When I was a fully committed fundamentalist, I believer that my happiness wasn’t important, and after all, life on earth was brief but being a faithful Christian meant reward in heaven for all eternity.
When a person realizes that the Bible and the whole heaven and hell thing is total bullshit, it certainly can impact your choices in life. My real regrets though involve my children. All but my youngest are of adult age now, and it had been my intent to wait till they were all of adult age before I separated from their mother. I guess I bailed a little early. Unfortunately, my two daughters don’t want to see me or communicate with me. And my relationship with my second son is wounded as well.
I think only another parent could know or empathize with the pain and heartache that a person would feel in this situation. My actions and choices hurt my children, and my heartache is profound. I have hope for the future, but it’s hard to know how long it will be till I can restore those relationships with my kids.
So when like Nate, I ponder the questions: “What if I hadn’t pursued those criticisms about Christianity? What if I had chosen to remain willfully ignorant about science?”
The answer isn’t black and white for me. My heart hurts for my kids, but I am truly happy to have pursued truth and reason. I am truly happy to have escaped the delusion of religious fundamentalism. I am so glad that all three of my sons can say the same. The spell has been broken. As the Russian proverb says, I would rather be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie.
Am I truly happier now? Yes. Yes I am.