Something Different Saturdays

Something Different Saturday #5: Theist Mindset

For last weeks Something Different Saturday, click here.

For nearly 30 years I was a theist. If you have followed this blog you will know that I was a Pentecostal pastor, raised to believe that I was an end times prophet. With that in mind I should be fairly well able to describe the theist mindset. Some will of course state that I was never actually a believer, they will assert that only a non-believer could ever really leave the faith and if god had actually touched my heart I would still be a believer. These arguments are used by those in the faith community to immunize their own beliefs from true scrutiny. Others will say that this is only my experience, which is true, but I think you will find that my experience is shared by many who have left the faith and so I feel it is good to share.

dinosaursGrowing up I always loved learning, that might seem strange to hear from someone who was a fundamentalist but it is true. Having Autism means that I have very focused interests with History, Archaeology, and Paleontology being a few of those interests. From as early as I can remember, dinosaurs were a huge part of my life. I still read any new article that I come across involving the subject.

So it might also come as a shock that I both believed in a young earth as well as admitting that dinosaurs made this fact an impossibility. How could this be true? How can someone hold two separate contradictory thoughts and believe them both just as firmly?

If you have ever partitioned a hard-drive than maybe you will realize just how this was possible.  A partitioned hard-drive can act as two completely separate hard-drives, each with their own programs, operating systems, and faults. The same was true for my mind as a theist.

evan.jpgMy brain was partitioned. The vast majority of my thoughts were logical and reasonable.  There was however a portion of my brain where logic and reason were not built into the operating system, this was my faith center. In that portion of my brain all of the things from the bible were completely reasonable; the 6 day creation, Noah’s ark, the tower of babble, angels, the devil, demons, etc…

It is my opinion that the majority of theists are of the exact same mindset. Part of their brain is closed off to reason the other is completely open. This is why when something forces both parts together, the believer can become the non-believer in a short period of time. The same can also be true in the reverse, some non-believers can become believers in a short period of time.

UnicornWhat proof do I have of this phenomena outside of my own experiences? Ask a theist if they believe in leprechaun’s, fairies, unicorns, or big foot? Some might, but the vast majority will state that these things can’t exist because they are completely illogical. Then ask if god fits into this same scenario and their mindset will switch. They will state that god is completely logical and apparent to anyone who actually looks…

Go one step further and ask about Zeus, Dionysus, Hercules, or any other god outside of the one they believe in. They will more than likely go back to the logic and reason center stating that these God’s cannot exist because they are illogical and make no sense.

How else can this be explained outside of the closed off portion of the mind?

So what can you do with this information? Sadly the answer is, not much. If religion was a matter that could be reasoned away from then I have a hard time believing that it would have existed to this point in history.  Like myself, I believe that the easiest way to break the barrier between these two portions of the brain is through life experience. Most often this comes in the form of a traumatic event.

Traumatic events have a way of refocusing the mind in ways that were impossible prior to them. This is especially true in the areas of faith. Think of it like this, what is “Free-will?” Free will was in essence an idea created to explain and answer the reason for suffering in the world. From ancient Greece, the philosopher Epicurus, came up with the following problem.

Epicurus_bust21.) If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2.) There is evil in the world.
3.) Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does not exist.

This problem has been the bane of believers and theologians for centuries. So the theologian introduced the idea of free-will, or that man shapes this world outside the ability of god, god cannot mess with free-will or else humans have no real choice in whether to serve him or not. So the equation becomes…

1.) If an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god exists, then evil does not.
2.) There is evil in the world.
3.) Free-Will Exists which allows evil to exist.
3.) Therefore, an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent god does exist.

The entire idea of free-will is centered around the need for an out for god. If free-will does not exist and we are much more like the animals that we believe ourselves superior to, then god is the reason for suffering and he cannot be a good and loving god. In many cases a believer can be perfectly happy with the free-will equation until a traumatic event occurs that appears to be no fault of their own.

For me this came in the form of my cousin’s suicide and the idea that a good and loving god sent him to hell. I was no longer capable of accepting a good and loving god in the equation. God became dark, distant and evil. My mind began to open where it had once been closed and I was finally able to use logic and reason on the subject of faith. Once this became possible, faith fell apart and what remained was one departitioned mind.

I try to remember this in the conversations that I have with theists. Many are quite intelligent, logical and reasonable, in all areas outside of their faith. They are who I once was for a long period of my life. With this in mind my discussions and debates with theists became much more civil and caring. I no longer resort to anger when someone challenges me on the facts of my former belief. They have to claim that I was never a believer in order to still keep the disconnect within their own minds in place. One day they might be in the same shoes as I once was and I would like to be there for them if that becomes the case.

 

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