My exodus from Christianity: I can’t go back, can I?

April 18, 2007 at 8:30 am 30 comments

From The Matrix:

Morpheous: At last. Welcome Neo. As you no doubt have guessed, I’m Morpheous.
Neo: It’s an honor to meet you.
Morpheous: No. The honor is mine. Please come sit. I imagine that right now you are feeling a bit like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole?
Neo: You could say that.

Morpheous: I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees because he’s expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate, Neo?

The MatrixNeo: No.
Morpheous: Why not?
Neo: I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.
Morpheous: I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know, you can’t explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. There’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there. Like a splinter in your mind… driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I’m talking about?
Neo: The Matrix?
Morpheous: Do you want to know what it is?

Neo nods.

Morpheous: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheous: That you are a slave. Like everyone else you are in bondage born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit whole goes.


Neo takes the red bill.
He wakes up. He’s disoriented. He feels wierd.

Neo: Am I dead?
Morpheous: Far from it.
Dozer: He still needs a lot of work.
Neo: What are you doing?
Morpheous: Your muscles antrophied. We’re rebuilding them.
Neo: Why do my eyes hurt?
Morpheous: You’ve never used them before. Rest Neo, the answers are coming.


Neo’s hair, clothes, and overall appearance are different. He’s more rugged.

Morpheous: This will feel a little wierd!

Morpheous plugs Neo into a loading program. Suddenly, Neo’s nice clothes, hairstyle, etc. are back.

Morpheous: This is the Construct. It’s our loading program.
Neo: This isn’t real?
Morpheous: What is “real”? How do you define “real”? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, taste, and see then “real” is simply electrical systems interpreted by your brain. This is the world that you know.

Neo is shown images of his ‘dream’ world then images of the real world.

Morpheous: WELCOME TO THE DESERT OF THE REAL. What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a .. generated dreamworld built to keep us under control.

Realization begins to set in for Neo.

Neo: No. I don’t believe it. That’s impossible.
Morpheous: I didn’t say it would be easy, Neo. I just said it would be the truth.
Neo: Stop! Let me out. Let me out. I want out!

Morpheous calms Neo down.

Neo: I can’t go back, can I?
Morpheous: No. But if you could, would you really want to? I feel I owe you an apology. We have a rule: We never free a mind once it’s reached a certain age. It’s dangerous. The mind has trouble letting go. I’ve seen it before and I’m sorry.

But if I could, would I really want to?

Entry filed under: agnostic, agnostic atheism, agnostic atheist, atheism, atheist, christian, christianity, faith, freethinking, matrix, Religion, skeptic, skepticism, spirituality, theology. Tags: .

Ok, if I want to believe in God, what’s next? I may be an agnostic atheist but I am an adevilite

30 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 6:18 am

    aA,
    I’ve struggled with this over and over. I’m struggling with it right now. A part of me wants to take the blue pill and continue my dream. The other part keeps nagging at my consciousness, forcing me to confront facts. Sometimes I wish I could go back “in” and mix among those who are still “asleep” but I can’t. And that makes me sad. :-( Good post! Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  • 2. HeIsSailing  |  April 18, 2007 at 6:51 am

    MysterofIniquity sez:
    “I’ve struggled with this over and over. I’m struggling with it right now. A part of me wants to take the blue pill and continue my dream. The other part keeps nagging at my consciousness, forcing me to confront facts. Sometimes I wish I could go back “in” and mix among those who are still “asleep” but I can’t. And that makes me sad.”

    having never seen the Matrix movies, I don’t understand this article. But I completely sypathize with MysteryofIniquitiy’s reply.

    Reply
  • 3. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 8:10 am

    HIS,
    OH! You MUST see the Matrix! Of course, I love SciFi but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a very good movie about what we all perceive as reality.

    Reply
  • 4. Rebecca  |  April 18, 2007 at 8:10 am

    As one who has deconverted I can tell you that from my own experience and what I know of others, this wondering, the struggle , is a normal part of the process of leaving.

    And why not? Everything that we are, that we were and that we would be was wrapped up in our Christianity. Family, friends, community, employment, recreation, sometimes even where we did our business. Need a load of top-soil? Get it from the guy who goes to church with you. Choice between grocery stores? Chose the store who’s manager is the deacon at your church. Hairdresser? Plumber? Contractor? Lawyer? Are they born again? The list goes on and on.

    Coming out is not easy. It’s not like we can go to an Agnostic Atheist church and find other Atheists to network with. I think this may change in the future as more and more of those who leave religion behind whether they continue to hold to a god out there or not recognize the need for community. The internet certainly appears to be helping those who have left, or are asking the hard questions and need a place to discuss things respectfully. You have a great blog here.

    Can you go back? Sure you can. We can make the choice to do whatever we want to do, believe whatever we want to believe. I think the question is not whether you can go back. The question is, once back, can you believe it again?

    Reply
  • 5. agnosticatheist  |  April 18, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Rebecca,

    Great points. Thanks for sharing.

    MOI,

    I stayed on the fridges of Christianity for years after more or less deconverting. I’ve even stood in the pulpit in this state (and would do so again).

    I was able to do so by focusing on what I believed Christianity should have been about in the first place, the authentic teachings of Christ. Of course, I was the judge and jury in determining what those teachings were. In the end, what I came up with was a great philosophy of life. To me, Jesus was not God who died on the cross for my sins but a great philosopher who supposedly said some pretty damn good things (most of it not original to him).

    So there I was – a true Christian because I followed Christ’s teachings. In fact, I even convinced myself (self-delusion is a wonderful thing) that I was a true Christian and all the fundies around me had it totally wrong (and I set out to influence them :)) I figured if we all left, who would help bring balance to the madness?

    The reality is there are people who need faith in order to make it through life. Is that a bad thing? Not really if they can find a faith that’s also not intolerant, bigoted, discriminatory, hateful, and a menace to society. Modern day Christianity actually has a hope of being this faith if they can shed themselves of the fundamentalists.

    They’ve already evolved past the let’s kill people in the name of religion phase, there are many circles where men and women are treated equally, they’ve thrown out many of the scriptures that do not fit modern thought (like marrying a divorced woman= committing adultery), etc. In fact there are certain denominations that are quite tolerable.

    Traditions are also a very positive aspect of religion. Humans need traditions. Now, I may at times consider myself a Christian based on tradition NOT beliefs.

    I could never go back to the beliefs of Christianity and a belief in the God of the Bible. At this state, I have no desire to go to church. I have not been in almost 2 years (when I preached actually :)). However, I have atheist friends who are still a part of churches (for the culture). I even have atheist friends who are pastors and they focus on helping those who need faith in order to change their lives.

    Sorry for the ramblings…

    aA

    Reply
  • 6. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 9:54 am

    aA,
    No, great ramble. It’s comforting to know I’m not struggling alone…. Hi, my name’s MOI, and I’m a churchaholic! I think it’s cool that there are atheists in the pulpit and I think Christianity will get along quite nicely without fundamentalists. :-)

    Reply
  • 7. Mike C  |  April 18, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Great quotes! They’re a great metaphor for this kind of spiritual/intellectual journey. I think that’s why so many people connected with that movie in the first place.

    Ironically, as an agnostic theist myself, I’ve often used this exact same scene as a metaphor for the journey towards Christian faith. (When I was a youth pastor I even did a whole youth retreat around this theme!) I guess which direction you apply the metaphor in probably just depends on what you think is “reality” and what you think is the “Matrix”. :)

    Reply
  • 8. agnosticatheist  |  April 18, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Mike,

    It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

    BTW, I left the whole Christian scene before the idea of the “Emergent Church” (if I’m using the term correctly) came on the scene. Can you give us a quick summary of what this is and how it relates to fundamentalist Christianity?

    Thanks,

    aA

    p.s. The Matrix is organized religion :)

    Reply
  • 9. mary  |  April 18, 2007 at 11:31 am

    I never thought of that section of the matrix in that way, but its ages since I’ve seen it. I know exactly how you feel though, in fact I did a ‘theism’ experiment a month or two back to see if it is possible for me to believe again (I have a few notes about it on my blog). For me believing in God was such a lovely thing, I felt there was always someone there for me, someone to protect me and since I was a child for most of my christan life, that was a very comforting thing.

    I think its all about balances, you could choose to go for the comfy cosy christian/religious life where you choose not to ask too many questions in return for the knowledge that there is an almightly power that loves you dearly and it’ll be quite nice when you die or you can go for the agnostic atheist route where you know what you see is what you get and you are completely free to think and explore the world you like, but you’re on your own.

    Excellent post, it was a real eye-opener for me.

    Reply
  • 10. pastorofdisaster  |  April 18, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I also missed the Matrix. So now there is another cultural reference that I am ignorant of!

    I do like the discussion that has emerged from it. Aa I enjoyed the rambling. I just erased a long ramble. There are a lot of people that fall into the different groups that you outlined. It has also been my experience that there are a lot of people leaving the evangelical/fundamentalist world. So, there are plenty of opportunities out there to help people damaged by psychologically damaging religious practices.

    Reply
  • 11. Radec  |  April 18, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    I think a tougher question to ask is once you don’t believe, how long can you stay?? Basically can you take the red pill but stay in a world you don’t believe in? Rebecca was right on because for many of us our entire lives are built around our church. Giving up on a christian belief may mean risking giving up much much more. I, personally feel I can’t risk that–my family and friends just mean way too much to me.

    Reply
  • 12. mary  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Well Radec, I’ve solved that problem the easy way, I simply don’t tell my family I’m atheist, as we don’t discuss religion a lot it doesn’t affect me that much but I do realise there will porbably come a point when I will have to tell them… but not yet.

    Reply
  • 13. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:18 pm

    Radec and all,
    Well in the movie Neo and everyone could go back into the Matrix at any time to fight “evil” in the form of Mr. Anderson. Even one of their own number struck a deal to stay in the Matrix because he was tired of the constant fight. So, even though they’d all taken the pill to “wake up” they now had the option of knowing the truth and going between worlds, going back to “sleep” in the Matrix, or choosing to defend Zion (the free city). It was risky to go back into the Matrix, but they did it to help others wake up as well. Excellent movie. I would recommend it highly.

    Reply
  • 14. Radec  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    mary- do you ever feel uneasy or uncomfortable, almost like you are lying about yourself?

    MOI – true, but Mr Anderson still gave up his life, he basically had no communication with those in his old world. That’s what I couldn’t give up.
    (yes it is a great movie; one of my favorites :) )

    Reply
  • 15. agnosticatheist  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    The big question is this: When in the Matrix, they thought the steak was real and it was wonderful! Now they know the steak isn’t real, if they go back, would they enjoy it as they did in the past?

    Reply
  • 16. agnosticatheist  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Radec,

    Here’s an earlier discussion on the subject of “coming out” as an atheist:

    Atheists “coming out” to religious friends and family

    aA

    Reply
  • 17. nullifidian  |  April 18, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    Radec said:

    I, personally feel I can’t risk that–my family and friends just mean way too much to me.

    So, it’s not because you believe in the eternal torment of a hell if you question the claims of your religion, it’s because you might have an tiff with your family or friends?

    I think that’s the most pitiful excuse I’ve ever heard. Basically, what you’ve just claimed there is “I refuse to question the magical claims of my preachers and the stories in an old book just in case it upsets my friends and family”. Pascal’s wager, as pathetic as it is, has more backbone that your reasoning.

    Reply
  • 18. Radec  |  April 18, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Gee Null, thanks for being easy on me and summarizing my situation with an analysis of one sentence of mine.
    I think it could do a lot more than just “upset” my family. You are acting like it was like I just walked in the house with muddy shoes on when in reality it could have a much more damaging effect. So you think the solution is to just invite everyone over for dinner, then when they ask to say grace, just spill the beans and see what happens. Watch as my wife questions our relationship; questions me as a father to my kids, basically questions everything. Yea, losing a great relationship with my family, all because now, like you say, I have a backbone. Good advice.

    Reply
  • 19. agnosticatheist  |  April 18, 2007 at 3:44 pm

    Null,

    I don’t think Radec said that he’s going to believe in “magical claims” because of his family. I interpreted what he said as he doesn’t feel the need to share with them that he no longer believes the “magical claims.”

    aA

    Reply
  • 20. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Radec,
    Actually, Mr. Anderson was a new program created by the Architect of the Matrix to ward off the newly awakened people from reaching the center of the Matrix and destroying it. He had no real counterpart. No the one who chose to return was the Joe Pantoleon character. He chose to go back to sleep.

    Reply
  • 21. mysteryofiniquity  |  April 18, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    …But was killed before he had the chance. (sorry, didn’t finish my thought).

    Reply
  • 22. radec  |  April 18, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    aA is correct; what I believe and what I choose to share about my beliefs can be 2 very different things.

    Reply
  • 23. Karen  |  April 18, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    Radec and Mary,

    Take your time with the “coming out” and don’t let anyone dictate the process to you. It’s a personal thing and you will know when/if the time is right to confide in your Christian family and friends about what you are thinking and feeling now.

    Meanwhile, I do encourage you to make friends with people who are outside the religious circles you normally associate with. Not only will they give you a broader, more realistic perspective on life, but you’ll already have relationships with people who won’t judge you if someday you choose to be open about your change of beliefs. (Not to mention they’re more fun!) ;-)

    Reply
  • 24. MTran  |  April 19, 2007 at 2:39 am

    I think a tougher question to ask is once you don’t believe, how long can you stay?? Basically can you take the red pill but stay in a world you don’t believe in?

    Are you staying or are you simply visiting?

    There are a number of people who no longer believe in the supernatural elements of Christianity yet they are “Cultural Christians” and may very well look to Jesus as a model to follow in life. The phenomenon of the non-beliving but “Cultural Jew” is probably better known, though.

    You know your family better than any of us do, so perhaps all we can say is: Good luck!

    But as to “Saying Grace,” that’s an easy one for me. All my friends and family have known about my atheism from way back, but some of them think they’re manipulative enough to get under my skin by asking things such as “Would you, as our honored guest, say grace this evening?”

    My grace is a simple thanks-giving to all the people present and absent, known and unknown, who have contributed to the day, the meal, or anything else. So I say something like:

    It’s important to recognize the good things in our lives, few though they may seem, and to be thankful for them, too.

    Then I give a looooonnng list of people who I want to thank: Aunt So-N-So, who drove all the way from (insert place) to join us, Uncle So-N-So who brought a lovely ham for our Cousin to bake, and on and on till I get to:

    And we mustn’t forget all the people, the strangers, who helped us along the way. The gas station attendant who worked this holiday so I wouldn’t run out of gas, The grocery store that maintained the holiday ham at a healthy temperature, the farmers who grew the corn on the cob, the laborers who made this table cloth, all these people who don’t even know us but on whom we depend, I want to thank them, right now.

    I can keep this up a long time. And I actually mean every word of it.

    Reply
  • 25. nullifidian  |  April 19, 2007 at 3:13 am

    aA: I didn’t say that radec had his beliefs because of his family, I said that it seemed that he refused to question magical claim because of a perceived friction with family and friends.

    Radek: my apologies, I read that back and can see that it seemed quite hostile, it certainly wasn’t meant that way. My point was the truth does hurt, sometimes, but do you think it’s honest to hide in a shadow of sincerity? If the truth will out, do you think your family and friends will understand the deception (as they may see it) any better than they would if you expressed that you were having doubts about your faith?

    Have you even, obliquely, sounded them out with a hypothetical or talked to them about others who may have gone through this?

    Sorry again for the harsh words. However it goes, you know them, and yourself, far better than I, so I wish you luck.

    Reply
  • 26. radec  |  April 19, 2007 at 9:38 am

    Null-no worries; I just wanted to point out that for some it could be a lot tougher than just speaking out what you believe in one moment. Honestly, I’m definitely not there yet as my beliefs are still a bit unclear.
    To answer your question about what I have said so far, I have vented about my displeasure about our particular denomination and some of the differences of what they preach and what I believe, but I’ve really never questioned the existence of god. Like I said before, I’m not there yet as that question is still one that I am trying to answer myself. You are correct, sooner or later my beliefs would come out, but I think my “coming out” would be a process over a period of time. Throwing a few hypothetical questions out there isn’t a bad idea.
    R

    Reply
  • 27. Karen  |  April 19, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    I can keep this up a long time. And I actually mean every word of it.

    LOL! I bet that will teach them not to ask you to say the grace next time. :-)

    Actually, what you summarized sounds like a very nice – and very relevant – humanist appreciation for a gathering. I’d far prefer that to “God is great, god is good … “

    Reply
  • 28. Mike C  |  April 19, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    BTW, I left the whole Christian scene before the idea of the “Emergent Church” (if I’m using the term correctly) came on the scene. Can you give us a quick summary of what this is and how it relates to fundamentalist Christianity?

    Wow, that’s a tough topic to summarize quickly. The EC is in some ways a reaction to fundamentalist and conservative evangelical Christianity (one of the early books was called “The Post-Evangelical”). But it’s not just a wholesale move towards liberalism either – since both ends of the spectrum can at times be too dogmatic about their own interpretations of the faith. The EC is rather more “agnostic” – they’d fit well into your description of an agnostic theist. They have faith, but they hold their beliefs lightly, and are open to rethinking and re-imagining them as necessary.

    However, while they may not be as concerned with orthdoxy as most conservatives, they are very passionate about “orthopraxy”, that is, in living their faith as a way of life (not in a legalistic “follow the rules” sort of way, but more in the sense of practicing the way of love and compassion and reconciliation and justice that Jesus taught. Thus you’ll often find many ECers involved in various social justice causes, since we tend to believe that the “gospel” of Jesus isn’t just about where we go when we die, it’s also about the present reality of God’s kingdom in the here and now.

    We also tend to be very experimental and creative when it comes to forms of church and modes of worship. Just as there’s not just one right way to believe, there’s also not just one right way to do church.

    Anyhow, if you want to know more, I’ve written two short articles at my blog:

    What is the Emerging Church?
    and
    The Converging Church

    Hope that helps. I’m happy to clarify further if you’re interested.
    -Mike

    P.S. The Matrix is the Theocapitalist Empire that rules contemporary Western society. :)

    Reply
  • 29. ламинат  |  August 24, 2008 at 11:03 am

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    Reply
  • 30. Maro  |  September 4, 2012 at 6:19 am

    Thanks, this post about the Matrix was ok, eventhough, I think the Matrix is a OK movie, it was truly just a wake-up call to a lot of people and for the most part, I love movie’s that make you think.

    I never thought that this movie had anything to do with faith, since the outcome of faith has to remain unseen for it to be considered faith in the beginning. But, I thought this movie, “The Matrix”, was just a cool movie about a guy being in the twilight Zone. I mean, who wants to be in a computer program ran by bugs trying to destroy you when you find out “the truth”.

    I don’t know, but what I do know is that – I found god again, its not the conventional christian god, but it is the christian god, and its from the point of view of an angel, but I come to find that were all angels, that the bible was “old directions”, that the book I am writing is a revisement of the old directions but not directions at all, because its all just a game, strangely, a christian-fiction game.

    I’m writing a novel because thats what I was told to do by the voice and I only stumbled upon this story by typing word: christian, so I thought I’d leave a record of my present, maybe you’ll see me in the funny papers soon…maybe I’m crazy, but I have to ask myself —, is this how a prophet felt???

    Reply

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Agnostic Atheism Wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God, you will be judged on your merits and not just on whether or not you ignored the lack of evidence of his/her existence and blindly believed.

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