I had an experience when I was a teenager, which I assigned to the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was more likely that it was the presence of a very talented Presbyterian speaker, and a crowd of like minded people, but who can be sure.
As an adult, I felt I experienced the Holy Spirit again, while being exposed to Seventh Day Adventism. This is still quite strong in my memory, and came largely from the anger generated when exposed to their clear proof that God existed, and that most of Christianity was being misled as per Biblical prophecy. This strategy seems to be quite common among Charismatic evangelical groups, and Latter Day Saints. (Just as a note, I don’t consider Mormons and Adventists Charismatic.) It was undeniable, the evidence was all there, they had to be correct, God is great.
The problem with this is that when I dug, and dug, and dug, I realised, that the arguments that hold Christianity, not just Adventism together, are often based, if not simply on incorrect reasoning, but on outright lies. I will get into the blatant lies of Craig, Habermas, Strobel, Finlay and the rest of the bunch in later posts. The reason I call them lies is because these people know better, they know what they are saying is false, or their degrees are worth nothing.
The point is, all the emotions that were God sent to bring me into Adventism were there to bring me out, praise be to God. I felt the same level and type of anger at the dishonesty which millions have been deceived by one finding out that the Adventist church was lying in the way they blamed others. As the anger slowly subsided, I felt the same sense of relaxation and relief as I had when the Holy Spirit filled me while going into religion as when coming out.
Obviously I owe a huge dept of gratitude to God for revealing by his presence that he doesn’t actually exist, it wasn’t His presence I felt, but simply ordinary human emotions brought about by natural, easy to explain factors.
Joining the church did a lot for me, for one, it really made me think about that which is right and wrong, how should we make moral decisions, and is morality reasonably stable, or simply something relative to the mind and upbringing of the person involved. Having found clear “God given” ways to do this, I realised that no deity ever recorded could live up to any half decent moral code.
I heard church leaders telling children things that are known to be false. Not because they were lying, but because someone of the likes of Walter Veith or Doug Bachelor had told them something and they hadn’t bothered to check. This goes a long way to debunking a common defence of the resurrection. I ignored it, for over 2 years, and became a baptised member and lay preacher. I wanted to believe, I’d still like to believe in a benevolent deity, but the one depicted in the Bible, isn’t that.
Now, we can do some intellectual gymnastics and try to make out that only the parts of the Bible that paint God in a good light are true, but this wouldn’t actually be honest to ourselves. This was something that I realised while searching, there isn’t a consistent way to reason through the Bible, it really just comes down to preference.
I’m doing this now, simply because I wish to focus, in the next post on the existence of God, on the Argument from Personal experience, which I feel, we have very good reasons to reject based on, a) the inconsistency on God being able to send them same message to different people, and b) things we know to be true about the world.
Of course, you could show that there’s nothing anyone could ever say to provide evidence against what you believe by blaming the devil. But the less people acknowledge the possibility they could be wrong, the less chance they have of convincing sceptics. So it is up to you how you take this.