vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
[personal profile] vaecrius
In response to this comment:
I’d be very interested in the atheist-to-orthodox “take” on this sort of discussion.
I'm not even sure if I count, since I was brought up as a Christian before I became an atheist (de facto in my teens, explicitly in my twenties), but it did get me to try to articulate just what might've been going on in my head in the months leading up to my visit of St. John of Shanghai Orthodox Mission on the evening of February 1, 2014.*

Of particular note were:
  1. The promise of forgiveness and repentance, where everything else in my life seemed to be (however it may be measured in terms of wordly success) a spiral into despair and vanity.
  2. Numerous events in my life that all, at least in retrospect, together pointed to some kind of metaphysical intervention to my completely undeserved but uncannily consistent benefit.
  3. Numerous other events that pointed to some kind of deep metaphysical corruption in this world that was never meant to be.
  4. The discovery of a church with a legitimate, plausible, not-made-up-by-some-19th-century-quack claim to being the true Church of the apostles, which soteriology rejects penal substitutionary atonement, double predestination and papal infallibility. (E: also young-earth creationism. I was unaware of the works of Fr. Seraphim Rose at the time.)
  5. Fr. Stephen's ministry tearing down a long-held nominalist worldview. (I considered saying "deeply held" but, looking back, I see that is false.) (E: this happened during the year that followed. Relatedly, I always remember this seed of doubt as being much more recent than it really is.)
  6. Learning just how distorted and misleading the modernist narrative is. (You know the one: Rome was beautiful and perfect, then Christianity ruined everything and plunged Western civilization into the Dark Ages, then the Renaissance and the Enlightenment freed us from the evil Church and the serpent's fruit brought us into light and knowledge and we will complete what the builders of Babel started, etc.)
  7. The very first piece of popular music I'd heard in my life that unironically framed the Lord's Prayer as a joyous thing. (Contrast: "Hallowed Be Thy Name" by Iron Maiden; numerous metal and goth works that basically just appropriate Christian words and imagery to set the macabre "old empty Gothic church" mood. The timing of this discovery - very close to my first visit to our parish - makes it a subset of 2.)
  8. Conan's Axiom of Relative Ontology plus Pascal's Wager. (It's funny how Pascal's Wager starts working once you no longer presuppose an evil God whom conscience demands that you reject.)
  9. "Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
  10. Understanding "proof" as the rationalists demand as a form of compulsion, and by extension violence: all the preceding 9 are purely subjective and each alone has a significant level of deniability, and I have no reason to believe my neighbour has all these specific 9 in their own lives. This comes together with the understanding that to believe is not simply to react passively to whatever information I consume, but that there is free will in it.
  11. The Scumbag Brain meme.
But even now, almost two years since my stepping into an Orthodox church with the intent of becoming a Christian, five months after my baptism, I am still hit with numerous occasional doubts that maybe all of it is just wishful thinking and there really is nothing behind that icon except wooden backing and an idea (and maybe a nail or two holding it up). But for numerous reassurances (including what I recall reading about Mother Teresa(!)) that this is common among the faithful and my own personal observation these doubts tend to be accompanied by a desire to engage in sinful acts that I would have no coherent objection to as an atheist, I might have already given up.

In typing out this list I notice that none of it directly engages the usual atheist objections (proof, problem of evil) at the level in which the objections are typically framed - indeed none of them make any sense except through abandoning or demolishing that frame. But for point 1, which included a deep-seated nihilism from my teenage years that I never outgrew, I might not have broken out of it myself.


*a date that I've always remembered as January 30 or 31 until I checked the day of the week just now. The reading of the life of St. Brigid I remember more distinctly.

Date: October 29th, 2015 18:14 (UTC)
pharmakeiaspring: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pharmakeiaspring
11. It makes my life better, happier and more at peace than I felt as an atheist?

Date: October 30th, 2015 13:20 (UTC)
pharmakeiaspring: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pharmakeiaspring
How about three?

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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