The Infidel Guy is re-posting many of his old radio shows on his podcast stream at the moment. Last week, I ended up listening to an old show that I had listened to over a year ago. I even commented on it back then. The show was an interview with an ex-fundamentalist (her word), ex-wife of a Baptist pastor. She 'deconverted' and is now an atheist.
When I re-listened to the show one thing struck me - she had had all the same doubts as me, all the same issues that I have raised on this blog. Yet she abandoned her faith as a result of the questions. I didn't.
Why is that? How can the same questions lead to different answers for two different people?
I keep coming back to the same conclusions that I commented on the first time round - it is the difference between head-knowledge and experience. For her, Christianity was entirely a system of belief, built on things she knew from a book. For me, there is much more to it than that, I only became a Christian when I saw the effects of God in people's lives. I know he is there, not from a book, but having seen and felt him.
Now I'm not saying, as many have said to her, that she can't have been a real Christian in the first place. What makes you a Christian? Well, the biblical answer (Romans 10v9) 'if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved'... As far as I can tell, she used to satisfy those criteria. But when she lost her faith in the historical accuracy of the bible, she lost her faith in Jesus.
When trying to get my head around the differences between her and me, I came up with this (probably not very good) analogy:
Strange as it might seem to us non-Americans, there are a great many supporters of President Bush in the USA. Many of them will never have met him; does that make them not-real supporters? Of course not. Now, with carefully presented arguments and evidence, it might be possible to convinvce one of those supporters who have never met the man that he is, in fact, an entirely fictional character - devised by the government to fool the people. Policy decisions are made by other folk in the administration and the face on the TV is just an actor. Someone who has never met him might be persuaded by this reasoning. However, if you tried that reasoning on somebody who had actually met him or knew him, it wouldn't work because their experience of the man would hold a greater weight than any body of evidence presented. Does that make sense?
I'm just saddened that the woman interviewed on the Infidel Guy show never actually experienced the real Jesus. Maybe she will yet.