I was a very intense fundamentalist Christian when I was young (12–18).
I was baptized at the age of 14 and had a strong sense of needing to be a disciple (in the literal sense of the world) and a theologian later in life. I spent a considerable amount of time reading Christian literature and listening to Christian sermons.
Me on the left.
I read J. I. Packer, R. C. Sproul, C. S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Timothy Keller, Mark Driscoll, John MacArthur, and other big names at a very young age.
I read a lot of apologetics.
I listened to a lot of sermons. I would keep lists of what sermons I listened to. At the age of 15, I was easily listening to a sermon a day online. I was reading a lot of Christian blogs and waking up at 4 AM to read the Bible and meditate.
My biggest temptation at that time was to read Christian literature in the morning. I sincerely considered it a waste of time or a “sin” to read books about God in the morning. The sin was the fact that I was not talking to God, but instead only reading about him.
And so I meditated on the words of the Bible and made sure I’d pray and communicate to God in that designated time.
I thought it very important to witness the gospel to people. By the time I moved to England (2014), I was listening to 6 sermons a day. I listened to everything from Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, R. C. Sproul to Timothy Keller, Ravi Zacharias, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever, Albert Mohler, Ed Stetzer, John Piper, Craig Groeschell, Steve Furtick.
I was listening to everyone. I mean everyone and everything.
I was living in the bubble. I was so sure of my opinion.
I barely ever read Atheist literature. I was reading a lot of Christian apologetics, however.
I rarely ever read the opposition.
I new that there was a lot of hate against the God Delusion and god is not Great.
Everyone was saying how poorly written these books were. “Such horrid scholarly work,” they would say.
I was among those that were saying it; that Christianity is common sense.
Then I left my bubble. I travelled. I started realizing how different the world is. I started realizing how small my bubble is — how limited my scope of reality was.
I really think that every Christian needs to read Atheist books. Without reading Atheist literature you will never be able to escape Christianity.
It is not that you want to — I know that you don’t want to. I would like to argue that you need to, or rather: you should.
Now here’s my quest month by month from 2015–2018. I hope you enjoy and consider some of these books and to set course on your own quest.
This was the beginning of my questioning stage.
I read Reasons for God, by Timothy Keller because of I came to Oxford and needed to defend my faith.
June 2015 — January 2016
I was very ostracized in Oxford, living with 14 Atheists in the same house. I read John C. Lennox in Oxford. I wanted to re-read his work. I was very persuaded.
God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
After that, I was reading a couple of different non-fiction works: Gone Girl, World War Z, The Path of Anger, Reasons to Stay Alive, etc.
I was reading very few “Christian” books. The part of my life spent in Oxford was very busy. I had little time to read.
March 2016 was just after I left Oxford, where I worked at the Trout Inn.
I left God because of “emotional” reasons in Oxford. You could say I was pretty bitter against Christianity.
I was living in Canada, just came from my brief visit in Slovakia.
I started reading more on philosophy, some biographies, a book on the science between homosexuality.
On a trip to Vancouver I revisited the concept of God through the book by Chuck Colson The Good Life: Seeking Purpose, Meaning, & Truth in Your Life.
The closest I was to being a Christian was when I was reading Timothy Keller’s Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering.
I was very close. I was without a job, very lonely, and uncertain of the future. I think that that anxiety had a lot to do with my willingness to reconsider Christianity.
I was really afraid.
By the end of summer, I was already identifying as a Christian.
There were a lot of Apologetic works that I was reading at that time.
Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis persuaded me of Christianity as being purely reasonable. I was in New Brunswick at the time. I remember reading the book entirely alone at a church, where I was visiting, in St. John.
I was also reading Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus. I was probably being reinforced by it’s nihilistic/existentialist message.
In a sense, I was justifying my Christianity through that nihilistic work.
When I came back from my trip to the East Coast, I read C. S. Lewis’ autobiography Surprised by Joy.
Once again: I was very persuaded.
Christian minds influenced me and I respected them. I read Lecrae’s Unashamed, which is also an autobiography.
The next couple of months I drifted away because I stopped reading apologetics. I started reading Dostoevsky, J. K. Rowling, Hemingway, & Kierkegaard.
This probably happened just because the business of life and different conversations I was having with very good friends in Kelowna, namely Seth MacGregor, that was recommending these works.
November — December 2016
The Age of Atheists was probably the first Atheist non-ficition I read. This is where the “Quest” mentioned in the title, started.
I did not stop reading Christian literature at all at this point. I was still persuaded by the Christian message.
I left Christianity because of emotional reasons, and here I was revisiting Christianity because I found it “reasonable.”
January — February 2017
I read Timothy Keller’s Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. A very well-researched book (as Keller usually is). His conclusions, however, were misleading. There is no such thing as Objective Morality, for which Keller argues in the book.
During this time I was also however keeping myself accountable, by reading Atheist literature. The already mentioned, Age of Atheists opened a whole new world for me. It introduced me to this world of Atheism, that had a vast amount of influential intellectuals in it.
I got Richard Dawkins’ famous God Delusion as a Christmas present at the same time as I bought and was reading Keller’s Making Sense of God.
I was making sure that I was reading both opinions at the same time.
I then read Sam Harris’ End of Faith, which was an introduction to my obsession with the man. I have read all of his books since then.
But majority-wise I was not leaning towards the Atheist side. I was reading books that defended the existence of God, such as Karen Armstrong’s Case for God.
But somehow the Atheist ideology was too strong and clear to me. I really wanted Christianity to be true, however. I read Karen Armstrong’s interpretation of Genesis, titled In the Beginning: A New Interpretation of Genesis.
And I also continued reading Harris. I remember that I really disliked his book, Letter to a Christian Nation. I thought it was way too short and didn’t clarify on very important topics.
I was defending Christianity. And the Atheist books I was reading were reinforcing my faith.
I had similar objections to The God Delusion.
I really wanted to be Christian.
The quest did not end there. I still had yet to read Hitchens. So I bought his book god is not Great: Why Religion Poisons Everything. And I really didn’t like it.
I thought it was the weakest of the ones I have thus far read in its argument against god. It was more of an argument against radicalism and Islam.
I was dumbfounded in how weak the mainstream arguments against Christianity were.
This was, no doubt, because of the influence of the Oxford mathematician John C. Lennox. I was reading his books Gunning for God: A Critique of the New Atheism and God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?
This is when I started writing my blog. I was writing on a different website, I believe it was called blogspot.com or something around those lines.
So I started to put down the thoughts I was having on Christianity at this time.
Sam Harris said that one of his revelations to the folly of Religion was through Bertrand Russell’s book Why I am Not a Christian (a collection of essays).
That is why I decided to give it a try. Yet again — I was sincerely disappointed. I didn’t dismiss the credibility of Atheism entirely. I was still in the middle, depending on the month — swaying from side to side.
For some time after this, I stopped thinking about Christianity. Or at least, reading about it. I read a lot of novels and short stories for my College courses.
It was probably because of forgetting about Christianity that I largely stopped believing about it, now that I look back.
I read C. S. Lewis’ Problem of Pain some time after that (June 2017), but I mainly read it because I enjoyed Lewis’ style of writing.
The last Christian book that I have read is by Mark Clarke, titled Problem of God: Answering a Skeptic’s Challenges to Christianity. Which was (unfortunately for my salvation) very weak.
Since then I have mainly been reading on Ethics, Stoic Philosophy, Biocentrism, & other philosophical issues.
It Seems Like the Battle has Been Won by Atheism.
I don’t have a desire to be a Christian. Maybe it is because of pride. Maybe it is because it seems too easy. I would like to think that it is because of my inquisitive spirit and mind that wants resolute answers that are actually obtainable via data and not faith.
That may just be the definition of pride. If it is — then well . . . I will go to hell. At least I will be in the company of those that were slow to accept absolutist claims. I will be in the company of those that wanted to overcome tribalism.
I will be in the company of the Stoics, the Epicureans, the Confucians, the Buddhists, the Zen philosophers, & the Enlightenment thinkers.
I will be in the company of those that reject exclusive claims. I will be in the company of those that read all literature, because truth is to be found in all cultures and worldviews.
I will be in the company of the lost generation. I will be in the company of those that saw the horrors of the 2 World Wars and never recovered.
I will be with James Joyce — the brilliant mind that rejected Christianity based on the abuse of the church it instilled on him as a child. I will be with Albert Camus, who defended life to be beautiful despite the horrors of war. I will be with Jean Paul Sartre — the downcast philosopher that stood up to the Nazis. I will be with Ernest Hemingway — the literary genius that changed the novel & dialogue for everyone to enjoy.
I will be with Sam Harris & Peter Singer — altruists and humanists that care more about animals and humanity as a whole than any Christian I have ever met in my life. I will be in the company of the millions upon millions of “souls” that did not have the privilege and luck of being born into a Christian family that indoctrinates them to believe in their faith.
I will be in good company.
To end on a sceptic note: my current philosophy professor’s arguments against Christianity are so weak that it really is making me want to reconsider Christianity.
I am constantly curious. I want to believe the opposing view.
Before you go…
I’d love if you’d share the article on Facebook/TWITTER if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.
I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,