I’ve been inspired to write this from a couple of places, really. The Big Blog of Knowledge had this post on Radical Honesty. How much value do you place on the truth? Is honesty important to you? Do you lie to keep yourself from hearing your wife nag about how much time you spend golfing? Do you lie to your husband about how much money you spent on that purse? Do you lie to your children?
If you went to the doctor for tests and the results weren’t favorable would you want to know? If you went to an attorney and asked for advice would you tell him all the details to get the best options? Or would you withhold information in the hopes anything seedy wouldn’t come out and you’d get them to do a great job for you without all the details? Would you want your attorney to give you an honest assessment of your situation or blow smoke up your skirt?
I’m a firm believer in the concept that if you ask me a question you’d better be prepared for the answer. I don’t mean brutally; I mean do you really want the truth? Before getting into debates with unbelievers Christians(or apologists from any other faith, for that matter) should be prepared for the stark reality that many of us have considered real evidence to come to our conclusions. We didn’t get mad at God. We didn’t decide we wanted to live a life of sin and debauchery. We honestly assessed the evidence and found it wanting. Not only did we find evidence for a God wanting, we found evidence to the contrary.
Over at Thoughts from a Sandwich there’s a wealth of knowledge. DagoodS really knows his stuff. Every so often a Christian happens along his path hoping to reconvert him. With the false belief(because some apologist lied to this apologist somewhere along the way) that the reasons people are atheist or have deconverted have nothing whatsoever to do with evidence these well-meaning, sometimes naive, Christians show up and try to set the record straight. Most of the time they walk away still convinced that de-converts exist in spite of evidence for Christianity rather than accepting the reality that what they believe is…well…just not true.
Recently he had an interesting and ongoing exchange with a fellow blogger who is an Orthodox Lutheran Christian. This fellow sought out Bruce Gerenscer to ask questions and , in his own words, truthfully try to understand atheism. He’d believed that he could possibly say something that might turn these one-time Christians into once-again Christians.
I’m really not trying to single him out, but as a consequence of the exchange he had, and the materials they had him research this man nearly lost his faith. Nearly. And to be honest I have to admire his honesty in his conclusions. He has retained his faith, but it’s not the same faith he had before. Now he is concerned that this same information will cause more people to lose their faith. This was his exhortation to DagoodS after their lengthy exchange:
“I’m a doctor. When I first started out as a doctor I believed it was my duty to always tell my patient the truth. I have learned after 20 years of practice that the truth is not what every patient wants to hear. Some patients want to know that they only have three months left to live. Some don’t want to know. These people just want to live every day as if nothing is wrong. They don’t want the “truth” hanging over their head.
I would humbly suggest that you do the same with Christians who come to you for advice on the “evidence” that proves Christianity as false. Some of us don’t want to know “the truth”. We are happy with what we perceive to be truth, even if it may be false by the “evidence”.“
He readily admits he doesn’t want to know the truth. He wants to keep the fairy tale alive. It would be too detrimental to his family life, his personal life, and his psyche to let go of his faith. And so, because he wants to believe he does. I don’t think I’ve ever met another Christian who has been this honest with others nor themselves. It’s noteworthy that the commenters on this post don’t think he will be able to hold onto his faith in this manner. After all, we couldn’t do it. You can’t unsee what’s been seen. You can’t unknow what you know. It is for those reasons that we weren’t able to hold onto our faith, either. How can you have facts laid out before, acknowledge those facts as facts, and ignore them? How do you unring that bell?
So when it comes to honesty, how much do you really want to know? Can you handle the truth?