Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Dual Perspective

I dislike my religious upbringing for a number of reasons. It terrified me with the threat of being tortured forever in a place that does not exist. It caused me to take life less seriously, since Jesus would probably be coming back soon to whisk me off into heaven anyway. It stifled my acceptance of "sinful" lifestyles, my respect for science and my sense of awe toward the universe.

Clearly all of this was created for me, me, me!
The one nice thing about being raised as an evangelical Christian is that I know evangelical Christianity. It gives me a perspective that I would never have known had I grown up in a nonreligious household. I can often tell when someone misquotes a verse or twists the meaning of a Bible story to make it fit their viewpoint. I can also use the Bible against Christians themselves. For example, if one of them decides to hold a grudge against me, I can say, "Let not the sun go down on your anger." Or if someone tries to tell me that hell isn't so bad because it's merely the absence of God, I can reference Jesus' parable in which a rich man being scorched by the flames of hell begs for a few drops of water to cool his tongue.

As soon as I think of a problem with Christianity, I know just how Christians are likely to respond. It's almost as though there's a past version of myself residing in my brain with whom I can debate points back and forth. When I hear someone argue for atheism or against Christianity I sometimes cringe involuntarily—not because they're wrong, but because I know how negatively I would have responded only a few short years ago. I can actually feel the outrage and revulsion that a fundamentalist would feel at the arguments I make, even as I make them.

This is the reason that it's not surprising to me that atheists have been shown to know more about religion—including Christianity—than the average Christian. Many of us grew up with this faith and only rejected it after looking at it more closely than most Christians ever do. I know how Christians feel because I once felt that way myself; I know how they respond to criticism because I, too, once responded that way. If Christians don't want their religion to continue its slow slide into obsolescence, they had better be careful to rein in their flock—otherwise they'll be unleashing hordes of people who can beat them at their own game.

No comments:

Post a Comment