I’ve just read the rules on grandstanding, so I’ll do my best to avoid that.
I grew up as an implicit young earth creationist. It wasn’t really much of a feature other than the Creation magazines my Grandpa sent once in a while, I think I went to 2 talks or events over a ten year period where it was discussed. At the same time I was an obsessive wildlife enthusiast ( I still am) and loved it whenever my dad took me to the university to listen to public lectures or seminars. When I hit my early teen years I discovered the joys of the internet and on it a lot of people who thought that my background assumptions about the natural world were wrong. This usually ended up with me having drawn out debates in comment sections trying to prove that special proteins could make Adam live for hundreds of years. I spent hundreds of hours on creationist websites harvesting quotes or bullet point facts to use in arguments. When this seemed less tenable I sidestepped to intelligent design and did much the same thing. Eventually I came see science as less of ‘gotcha game’ and more of an honest method of understanding the world. Right from the start I had little or no faith to call my own. Since 13 years old I’ve been a mess psychologically and emotionally, for reasons which have little to do with internet arguments
As the need to magically prove the existence of a very particular view of God faded, my realization that the Gospel story and Christian message were, if real, the only game in town started to grow. I recently read the letters of a German pastor called Dietrich Bonhoeffer… He was under no illusion that God was an explanatory mechanism for all the annoying bits of science that don’t yet add up. But his faith was so real, his learning so deep, his love for God and humans and scripture just blew me away. There is nothing I want more than that kind of faith. I’m aware that by the ethical standards of the Gospel my life is a disaster. If you can imagine a kind of sin, I’ve probably committed it. I despise myself for being unable to change. I desperately want Christianity in some way shape or form to be true.
The narrative of atheists like Coyne, Dawkins and Harris is strangely compelling. Here I am, a young guy hoping to head off to university to study science. As someone who’s never had what religious people call faith, I still hate myself base on christian ethical standards and still cannot offer a stunning argument to demonstrate the existence of the God who I hope could make sense of the world and help me in fixing my own life. If I could believe for a moment I’d rush out and get baptised. I’d go to church 7 times a week. I know how powerful the ideas of Christianity are and how compelling the figure of Christ is. Every time I’m almost ready to jump back into Christianity I see a blog post or newspaper article mocking attempts to reconcile religion and science. They say it’s all an exercise in confirmation bias. I end up in despair.
I suppose the atheistic answer to my problems would be to buy a self help book, see a therapist and come to terms with the fact that life, the universe and everything are absurd. I don’t want that to be true.
Where do I start from this spiritual, philosophical, emotional ground zero?