We’ve been looking at the criteria we should use when surveying faith systems and deciding which to adhere to or evaluating the system we already claim. I’ve laid out seven principles that, I think, can help keep us on track to truth and not get bogged down in the inconsequential. To recap:
I don’t think that any of these principles are unreasonable. In fact, I think they are somewhat intuitive and uncontroversial – at least when we’re detached or disciplined enough to remain objective about the process. If you ask the average person who deconverted from any particular religion, you’re going to find that their reasons for doing so, correctly or incorrectly, have to do with one of these principles.
Evaluating your own faith and opening yourself to the possibility that you may be wrong is, in a word, frightening. In many religions, the adherence to the faith system is the glue that holds families and communities together and can often be deeply intertwined with ethnic or national identity. In such situations, leaving the faith system is to intentionally ostracize yourself from your friends, family and the only life you’ve ever known. In some cases, the penalty for apostasy is death. If nothing else, even in a society such as our own where people change faith systems like underwear without consequence, it is unpleasant at best and terrifying at worst to consider the fact that you may have built your life and worldview upon a lie. However, though it may be difficult, if we are to be honest seekers of truth we must follow the evidence where it leads regardless of the consequences. We must do this because truth matters, because eternity matters, and because choosing incorrectly can have devastating consequences.
Writer, artist, lay theologian, student of comparative religion.