At night, when we first crawl into bed, I often get a spurt of energy and start blathering on about interesting things I read about that day. Obviously, with yesterday's post, I had been reminded of quite a few interesting things about ancient cities. So I casually asked my husband if he knew that Damascus has had people living in it since 9000 BCE? I told him I had watched a lecture (I did) about ancient cities and that was one of the things I hadn't know. I knew it was old, but was unaware how old. Then I talked about Eridu and Uruk and Ur, all information I had known. He asked a number of questions concerning what kinds of societies they were (where they really cities?) and whether the cities existed at the same time. Finally, after laying there silently he says, "I really need to read some more stuff about ancient history. Scholarly stuff that isn't religious." Really? Why's that? I asked. Then he talked a bit about how all the information he knows about antiquity has always been viewed through the lens of the Bible. He doesn't remember going into a lot of detail about ancient cities when he was in public school, but all the suplemental information he has read since then has been completely rooted in religion. These books talked about places like Ur and Damascas, but told a Biblical narrative that obviously didn't always fight actualy archaeological findings.
Now, my husband is not a young earth creationist and never has been. He accepted fairly early on in his life that science had already answered the question of how old the earth was. The Bible was answering the why. His parents, although certainly more literalist in their Biblical interpretations, never refuted this. So he grew up feeling like God, evolution, and the Bible were completely compatible. Yet he was also taught that all the stories in the Bible were true. That there was a real Adam and Eve who had only two sons, one of which was murdered, and the story goes from there. A flood that covered the entire earth seems a bit silly, but perhaps one that covered the entire region. But if what I am saying is true about these early civilizations then even that cannot be accurate.
See, what I have learned in the past two years of being non-religious is that when you talk about these things, you just leave religion and the Bible out of it. Nowhere in our night time conversation did I say, "Well, Damascus is super old so obviously young earth creationism is out. As are some of the Bible myths." That would have immediately put him on the defensive, as it should. When my mother now says that God completely changed her, I ask, "How so? I mean I know you quit doing drugs but you still had some pretty bad anger management issues." Well, she sputters, no one is perfect. Sure, but that's not what you said. You said that you completely changed and became a different person, yet you still struggled with many of the issues you struggled with before you converted to Christianity. I am not denying her conversion story only asking a very simple question to which she doesn't have a good answer for. Her response was an immediate, "I'm telling you, I was completely changed." I am not sure if she actually believes this or if she is just trying to convince herself that it is true.
Also, one of the plus sides of being in the closet with most of the people in my life is that I can ask questions about religion and people aren't on the defensive because they assume I am coming from the same place as them. So I can question things like slavery in the Bible without coming across as an atheist trying to poke holes in religion. I can talk about prayer and healing, which makes me seem like a religious person who is just seeking answers. But within that, it makes the other person think as well. But one has to be patient with these things, just like the Christians who evangelize, one cannot expect these nuggets of doubt to work right away. And the deeper the person is entrenched the harder it will be for them to climb out. If they never fully climb out, like my husband, this is okay with me because at the very least he does not deny science and doesn't take the whole Bible literally. That will have to be enough.
This is a personal, but secret, blog archiving my deconversion from a Christian to a non-believer.