Soft Questions

I’d like to think that my natural curiosity and intelligence lead me out of fundamental Christianity.  However, I know that is only partially true.  Much of my journey out was guided by the soft questions of those with another view.

Although my family never discussed evolution vs creationism, we were involved with people who were vocal creationists.  I remember seeing a film reel at the Anglican parish in town when I was about 6 or 8.  It was ‘disproving’ evolution.   A phrase I heard at the Alliance church was “my God is big enough to have created the earth in 6 days.” 

Personally, I thought the ‘days’ were figurative as a time period describing the earth’s revolution in relation to the sun made no sense if there were no earth or sun.  But I was scared that Adam and Eve were real people.  I made up all sorts of theories such as the retroactive fall to atone for dinosaurs killing other dinosaurs and lions not being capable of eating grass.  Accordingly, heaven would be working back in time to fix all the horrors of life.

When I was 16 I encountered my first Christian evolutionist.  I was climbing trees when my cousin’s friend remarked how obvious my ape-ancestry was.  I reacted as if it were blasphemy.  He calmly stated that he was confident in evolution, that it was amazing, and not contradictory to the idea of God. 

My cousin’s friends also shattered my stereotypes of Catholics, social drinkers, and intellectuals.  Sitting under the stars after a day of hiking there on those rock cliffs

listening to classical music, sipping wine and discussing issues like social justice and clay art was a tipping point.   What I had been told about ‘those people’ was wrong.

Taking biology and physics at university was another small step.  An uncle was a big promoter of intelligent design.  He couldn’t believe that God was the great deciever who would make the earth look older to trick us.  I didn’t research the theory, but since it acknowleged evolution without denying God, I thought it was great.  One of my biology professors sadly told me that he was a Christian but that he could not reconcile his faith with his knowlege.  I blamed it on a literal interpretation of Genesis and went on my merry way.

One time in a high school debate I remember discussing those verses about “husbands love your wives, wives submit to your husbands…”  I have no idea why we were discussing that.  I said that I would be glad to submit to someone who loved me enough to lay down his life for me.  It was what I had been taught was the ideal.  My English teacher gave me a look.  He didn’t say anything but the pity came through.  And I thought, maybe I’m seeing it wrong.  Maybe there is a love that doesn’t demand placing myself beneath someone.

Even though I always hated head coverings and had glorious fights with my mom on Sunday mornings about it, I eventually became an advocate.  Out of fear.

One time in university I got locked out of my house on a -30 C winter day and decided to hang out at the Bible College down the street until my roomie got home.  I walked into the first classroom and sat in the back.  The lecture was on headcoverings.  The prof finished the lecture early which he remarked never happened, taking it as affirmation from God, I asked if I could speak.  I had the same heart-pounding adrenalin heat rush that I had been taught to identify with the Holy Spirit asking me to do something.

He let me come up to the front and talk to the class about why I wore headcoverings.  I don’t remember what I said but apparently his students believed I was a plant asked to do an object lesson.  The kids asked me questions.  The prof did too. 

Most I could answer- I had been trained well.  But the last question the prof asked was, “so you do this because someone in the 1940’s told you to and said it was God?  How do you know it was God’s voice and not their own?”

I had never thought to question the authority of the entire governing body of our church. 

Later, after a severe bout of post-partum depression, I was talking to a counsellor about my fear of what God thought about women.  She encouraged me to seek truth instead of rely on what certain men (from early church fathers, Martin Luther, church leaders …) and women had said.  So I decided to look at the verses in the Bible from the perspective that God loves women as much as men. 

I wrote up some thoughts and sent them in to the church leaders.  I was told, in love, that Jesus had no women disciples and that I needed to be in submission to whatever the head guys of the church decided God wanted for women.  Even though I was using the bible and going back to the Greek and Hebrew my essay on why women can teach was disregarded because I was a woman.  A more accurate translation of this verse couldn’t be heard.

My husband read my work.  He then asked the last question, “You’ve shown one way to interpret the bible, but your church makes an idol of the Bible.  Why give so much weight to what Paul said at all?”

I could question biblical inerrancy?

During a class we had a guest speaker do a talk on hermeneutics.  He was a former pastor.  After class I asked him why he left pastoring.  He said that he could not believe in a god who denied the humanity of anyone as the bible did of women and other groups.  So I wasn’t the only one who had troubles with the bible’s treatment of women and non-chosen peoples. 

A coworker who had left Christianity also echoed his views.  People left christianity because they were too compassionate?

A few months later I heard John Shelby Spong on the radio discussing the bible.  I devoured his books with much skepticism.  Then, at the urging of a Christian writer, I read Laughter of Aphrodite by Carol Christ.  And many other books and authors.

The God of the Bible was exposed as a human attempt to understand the divine, connect with the spiritual, and control people.

I found Common Sense Athiest from a link on my cousin’s blog.  And then   There were intelligent, compassionate former Christians.

I had found a safe place to question and questions that lead me to a safe place.

6 thoughts on “Soft Questions

  1. theo(il)logical says:

    Now let me get this straight: Jesus was able to defeat Satan some two-thousand years ago, but is having trouble in a battle with modern science?

  2. dana says:

    You said it all when you said: “Most I could answer- I had been trained well”.

    You are asking the right questions, but maybe of the wrong people. I spent years blindly believing what I had been taught. Then I started asking questions. My minister would answer with “pre-drilled platitudes” and I’d be dismissed. Then he sent me to the Creation Museum so I could “learn”. Instead of pulling me back in line like he had planned. everything he did only reinforced MY belief that I was onto something.

    When we believe what we believe because other’s believe it too, we are only repeating the history of our ancestors or – worse yet – promoting without investigating if what we are promoting has any roots in FACT.

    Do I make sense so far??

    There’s also the flip side of the coin: asking questions of those who have their own axe to grind, trying to prove that “they” are right in their athiestic beliefs.

    One does not have to be (or need) an atheist or a bible thumping robot in order to “figure it out”. Personally, I think I got bashed around from left to right before I found MY voice. MY opinions have just as much validity as anyone’s and MORE than the people I looked to for answers.

  3. I see no contradiction between creation and evolution. One is about Who and Why, the other is about How. It is only a problem is you think the KJV of1604 is the actual WORDS of God. On that subject, I suggest you read Bart Ehrman “Misquoting Jesus”. I have his Jesus Interrupted” but have not read it yet.
    Dana is right in that both Creationists and Atheists are poor people to ask as they are using “science” or lack there of for their political agendas. Kind of like AGW but don’t get me started on that or I will sound like a Teapartier. A great many people on the Left are just as greedy and power hungry as those on the Right.
    Why do “people of the book” deny the humanity of half the human race? I have often asked myself that question. What (in Hell) are men afraid of? Are our poor tender egos so fragile? Are our economies so well off we can afford to deny the brains of half the country? I have been pro-feminist since I was a small boy, mostly because of how my father treated my mother. One of my early childhood heroes was Charlotte Whitten, mayor of Ottawa in the 1950’s (though at the time I didn’t know about her racist views. Also Judy LaMarsh an outspoken MP and “Mother” of CPP and Canadian Medicare.
    “The Church’s” view of women as inferior to men was one of my reasons for leaving. The notion that men could tell women what to do, what to think and how to act I found repulsive. I do NOT understand it at all. I love the poster of 1 Timothey 2:11. It is so true.
    Another good link is to Snowbrush at . He is an atheist from southern Baptist roots and is pretty bitter at Christianity but he asks the right questions and the discussion is good. He blogs about many things so you have to look for the ones on religion.

    • prairienymph says:

      I enjoy Snowbrush’s blog. Especially his posts about religion and nude hiking.

      People are people, and any ideology can be destructive. The New Athiests are pretty dogmatic and close-minded along with the people who place the Bible on a pedestal. Most athiests and Christians aren’t like that- I hope. Richard Dawkins and Ted Haggard are the extremes.

      Easy to see how people of the book treat women poorly- the bible does denigrate women. I spent a year trying to find a way to read the bible that treats women as full humans, intending to write a book on it. The only way to do that is to ignore most of the bible or explain most away under “cultural context”. Neither is satisfying. If that god was radical enough to have called for totally different diets and beard styles as the other cultures, which discourages dialogue and community with other faiths, he damn well should have been radical enough to decry gang rape and pedophilia. Which he did not.

      I find it sadly amusing that two groups who are being unfairly treated often turn on each other instead of supporting each other. I am constantly shocked at the racism that many women used in fighting for equality for (wasp) women and am equally as disgusted at the sexism used by many racial minorities. I think each side felt like they were competing with each other for a tiny sliver of equality that wasn’t big enough to share.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s