Losing Eternity

The home for this post (and the rest of my blog) is now on the Steem blockchain.

From Wikipedia: A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view.

Not something we can easily change, right?

Whether we like to or not, we know each other by the labels we use. Both those we project and those we store as mental representations of others. The combination of all of these labels forms our worldview. These labels influence how we think which then changes how we form new labels and interpret existing ones. We make associations between labels, words, and actions. Surrounding the whole mix are emotions which lack words of their own.

Let me give you an example:

I, Luke Stokes, no longer think the label “Christian” applies to me.

How does that feel? For some, a smile and a chuckle, welcoming another adult out of the world of make-believe. To others, a tragedy of deception from demonic forces with eternal consequences and ultimately damnation. I know people in both of those extreme camps. The largest labels cause the most division. Our religion, our political party, our sex, our physical appearance, our position on controversial moral issues… these can all cause pain and separation. They form neat little boxes our brain quickly references without having to evaluate each person as an ever-changing individual.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve changed. For a little background, I grew up in a Christian family, served in Christian ministry for 6 years (which required me to raise financial support from others), and worked for a company with a Christian mission statement for almost 4 years after that. Decades of my life are aligned with the label “Christian” from my music, to my friendships, to my presence on Sunday mornings. For many, it would be hard to think of me without thinking about that label (and their various versions of what it means). My hope is for people to see me for who I am and talk to me about ideas as I see them today, not as a set of labels would dictate.

I’ve hesitated to talk about my story mainly because I’ve been trying hard to figure it out first. I haven’t blogged in over a year and a half. I know what it feels like to remove a label you’ve assigned to someone, especially if important aspects of who they are to you come from that label. These labels often shape our understanding of moral character, trustworthiness, and empathy. Changing them brings a feeling of loss, like a member of the tribe has moved on. The “us” vs. “them” mentality can take over, increasing division and alienation. Conflict arises as questions are raised which other worldviews have already settled and don’t want to revisit. Rehashing tough questions is seen as a waste of time and energy or, worse, a threat to the status quo. I now think those around me are even more confused to think of me under one label while hearing me say things which fit others.

So here I am with a new blog and a new approach to understanding myself and my place in the world. My current fascinations include voluntaryism (basically the principles Jesus preached about, minus the divinity/supernatural), epistemology, philosophy, neuroscience, morality, reason, logic, and more. I want to make sense of the life I’m living. I want to live on purpose. I want to learn about how my brain works and how it doesn’t. I don’t want to live in shame or fear concerning things which may have nothing to do with morality or human well-being.

In short, I want to pursue truth [1][2], no matter where it leads.

The problem with this approach, I’m now realizing, is the more I learn, the more I recognize how much I don’t know and how wrong I’ve been in the past. It’s a humbling and somewhat censoring process (hence no blog posts for the last year and a half). Let me give some examples.

Growing up, my “Christian” homeschool curriculum (I use air quotes there, because I don’t think the books actually accepted Jesus into their heart as Lord and savior) explained how evolution isn’t real. I now think it is real [3][4] and those who claim otherwise have some confirmation bias going on, from my perspective. And yes, abiogenesis is something different from natural selection, please don’t confuse the two. I was taught to believe false things about the nature of reality and some of it was done in very fallacious ways. That really bothers me.

Let’s go with another even more controversial example: abortion. My parents are no longer with us, but if they were, I’d probably be having some amazing conversations with my mom on this topic. We used to have the best discussions. As a child, I can remember her peacefully protesting for the right to life for what she (and most pro-life advocates) consider to be defenseless humans being murdered. I now take a more nuanced approach. If life starts at conception, why don’t we value single cell or simple multicellular life equally in all species with the potential for high levels of consciousness? Have we rationally and philosophically come to our perspectives or were they handed to us by centuries of dogma? Other than our level of consciousness, is a human being fundamentally different than an animal if we both got here through evolution? When it comes to abortion, why do we also ignore the clear evidence of (at a certain point in time) two fully-functioning conscious human beings occupying the same space? It’s somewhat arbitrary to only call it two lives once the birth takes place and the separation is more clearly defined. So we’re left with a complex question we don’t yet have answers to: When does a clump of cells become a conscious human being with its own claims to life and liberty? Why does a clump of cells have more say about human well-being than a fully-functioning human woman whose life (and maybe whose family’s life) would be forever changed (often negatively) if these cells fully develop into an unwanted child?

How about another one: corporal punishment. Is it ever okay to inflict pain on children as a form of punishment? Every church I’ve ever attended says it is. My own understanding of morality and reason say otherwise (along with many who have spent decades studying this stuff [5]).

Are human beings fundamentally evil by nature? Is authority good for humanity or does it bring about our own corruption? Can non-violent communication and the concept of violence being a tragic expression of unmet needs bring about long-term change in the world?

I could go on, but we’ll leave these questions and others like it for future posts. The intention of my old blog was to encourage others [6] and though I still intend to do that here, this blog will probably be more inward focused. A way to explore my own thinking while challenging the thinking of others and creating meaningful conversations.

So where has my search for truth led me so far? Well, let me lead with some questions I’ve been pondering over the last year or two:

  • How much of my belief system was originally determined by the country I was born in? How much of it by the beliefs of my parents?
  • Do I believe thoughts, memories, emotions, feelings, etc—things we can provably demonstrate originate as functions of the physical brain—can and will exist in an afterlife without a physical body as we know it? If so, why? What evidence do I have for that belief beyond my own emotions?
  • What are my thoughts on the God of the Gaps? [7]
  • How much of my belief system is based on an unquestioning view of the Bible without having actively pursued textual criticisms of it?
  • Do I believe a square circle can exist somewhere in the universe? (no) Do I believe consciousness without matter can exist somewhere in the universe (or outside of the universe for that matter), and if I do believe it, why do I believe it? If matter is involved (such as a miraculous Jesus), what of the “super being” argument instead of a deity?
  • What evidence or reason for believing do I have that humans contain a spirit, and do all evolved beings also have a spirit or were we the lucky primates and if so, why?
  • Given the large amount of things I previously thought I was sure about concerning Christian dogma, history, human perception, etc, how can I reliably trust the things I know now without adopting a more skeptical, rigorous, scientific epistemology?
  • What level of evidence should I require to believe things which have no known, provable representation in the physical world?
  • How do I explain the accepted theories of human evolution and the idea that we mastered fire which enabled us to pre-digest our food which led to more neurons which led to the brains and consciousness we now enjoy? [8]
  • How many skeptical views about my beliefs have I deliberately studied and considered?
  • Given the many contradictory (and changing) views on such fundamental religious concepts as the afterlife, how can I put so much assurance in it? Some argue hell is a second death, not eternal at all. Others say the concept of hell was invented later in the religion. And what of heaven? Is it on earth or not? Who are the people outside of the walls?

In short, I’ve lost my belief in eternity as taught to me in the Bible. As I started working through these questions, I listened to even more audio books, lectures, debates… always reading and learning. Looking at the world through other peoples’ worldviews teaches your brain something and fundamentally changes how it responds to new information in the future. Learning about the brain via books like Thinking, Fast and Slow [9] and Predictably Irrational [10] have fundamentally changed my understanding of what it means to experience existence.

The questions above should not be taken as a direct challenge to anyone else. They are part of my own personal journey.

In summary, my mechanisms for separating out opinion from justified belief have changed, and I think the long-term result is beneficial for myself and my family. Pursuing truth means leaving things which appear to be less-than-true behind. It means following the path, no matter where it takes you or what the personal cost might be. I’ve already lost very meaningful connections by being honest about my thoughts on these issues. Thankfully, I’ve also started some great dialogues with true friends who may not agree with me but love me just the same.

I don’t know where this road will lead me and for once in my life, I have great peace about that. I’m no longer pretending to know things I don’t know. For the things I’m passionate about, I’m now way more open to criticism, correction, and alternative perspectives (but you’ll certainly get a strong argument out of me). I’ve embraced love as a truly powerful force which can change the world. I want to be part of that change, and I think it starts by being honest with myself and those around me while removing faulty thinking and dogma. I’m still quite off in many ways because I understand computers more than people, but I am always improving.

Regardless of how my labels change over time and the emotions that may cause for those around me, I will do my best to be true to myself and continue growing. I hope you can accept me for the individual I’ll be tomorrow.

[1] WaitButWhy.com – Religion for the non Religious
[2] WaitButWhy.com – How Religion Got in the Way
[3] Stated Clearly
[4] It’s Okay to Be Smart – 12 Days of Evolution
[5] Upworthy – The science of spanking: What happens to spanked kids when they grow up? (infographic)
[6] Bestoked at Blogspot.com (my old blog) – Blogging Is the Mental Projection of Your Digital Self
[7] Ted.com – What is so special about the human brain?
[8] Wikipedia – God of the Gaps
[9] Wikipedia – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
[10] Wikipedia – Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

13 thoughts on “Losing Eternity

  1. I really appreciate your open and thorough internal dialogue. I’d be interested to see (in the future) writings regarding your journey as it impacts your day to day life. As you mention, it has been such a large part of you that I can only imagine the effect changing something so fundamental would have on the people closest to you. Best wishes to you on this journey!

    1. Thanks Jordan! It’s been an interesting ride, to be sure. I’m greatly thankful for my amazing wife who continues to patiently love me through all my changes, explorations, revelations, and future discoveries.

  2. I tried several times to post on fb but received an error message so…here goes
    You said you no longer would identify yourself as a Christian. Would best identify your belief system as atheistic, deistic or theistic (as you never really defined this). I really appreciate and champion honest investigation and the probing of ALL THINGS we “believe as true”. This includes all our religious beliefs and tenants of any faith systems (with their accompanying worldviews) we grow up in. I have, over the last few decades changed several beliefs I once held and was dogmatically taught from youth. I used to hold strongly to a young-earth position but have really had major reservations as to that possibility and am STRONGLY leaning the other way now after looking at side by side assertion & refutations/explanations (probably the best single site to visit would be at:
    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/101_evidences_for_a_young_age_of_the_Earth_and_the_universe) I have been quite consoled to discover that some of the Christian apologist, philosophers, bloggers and debaters I trust and respect the most have held an old-earth position comfortably and Biblically for years.

    Luke, I too was “I was taught to believe false things about the nature of reality and some of it was done in very fallacious ways.” But the reality is, as one of your articles makes note of Santa Clause myth, we ALL have been sold a faulty bag of goods on certain things (Santa, tooth fairy, going blind if you…, that the earth was created in 6 literal days only 6k yrs ago etc) , no matter what your upbringing has been (unless one is raised by an omnipotent set of parents with a perfect worldview). It’s up to us to “eat the hay and throw out the sticks” but not toss the entire worldview, Christian or otherwise, out as being totally flawed.

    You ask “Other than our level of consciousness, is a human being fundamentally different than an animal if we both got here through evolution?” To which I would logically reply…no IF WE GOT HERE THROUGH EVOLUTION, not only do humans have no more value than other higher animals, on what grounds are they any more important than an amoeba or daisy? If we claim that human life is more important or significant than any other, on what grounds can we claim this unless humans are made in the image of a creator God? If there is no God and authority based on His nature and character, then on what arbitrary distinction can human life be more sacred/protected at 5 yrs old vs. 1yr old vs 1 minute old vs -1 minute old vs -8.5months old? And if level of consciousness or viability is considered then comatose humans, mentally deficient humans etc should have little value as they have a low level of consciousness and a 1 year old has a very low viability or independent survivability as compared to a 5 year old. Morality becomes quite subjective and ungrounded when not anchored in the groundings of the character of an infinitely wise law-giver. If value is based on consciousness or intelligence then the value of even a particular human may vary widely over his life, being low when much younger, at its peak during his “working years” and diminishing again in old age (or perhaps rapidly if he has a stroke…the Nazis sterilized and put to death many of these “useless eaters”).

    Regarding a few of the questions you’ve been pondering:
    • How much of my belief system was originally determined by the country I was born in? How much of it by the beliefs of my parents?
    • What if the answer is 100%…the origin or your beliefs has absolutely no bearing on whether they are true or accurate or not. We must all determine the validity of our beliefs on their merits not their origins.
    • What are my thoughts on the God of the Gaps? [7]
    • Theistic arguments have progressed light years past God of the gaps arguments. Modern arguments for Gods existence are being put forth forcefully based on we DO KNOW about cosmology, biology, information, design etc…not on our gaps in knowledge. Many have put the shoe on the other foot as there is much Atheism/naturalism of the gaps” argumentation which goes subtly unnoticed “We don’t know why the fossil record is so incomplete and give little to no evidence of gradual decent, but we know it must have happened (Darwin said that time would reveal the fossils). “We don’t know where the information in DNA came from but we are here so evolution must have somehow miraculously produced it”. “We don’t know why/how time, space, matter & energy (the universe) came into existence without a cause or supernatural event but we are here and there is no God so it just happened”. And on it goes. One quote from your linked wiki footnote #8 states “One example of such an argument, which uses God as an explanation of one of the current gaps in biological science, is as follows: “Because current science can’t figure out exactly how life started, it must be God who caused life to start.” When the shoe is placed on the other foot Luke, it looks like this; “Because current science can’t figure out exactly how life started, we must just give scientific investigation more time because we pre-suppose naturalism to be true”.
    • How much of my belief system is based on an unquestioning view of the Bible without having actively pursued textual criticisms of it?
    • Sadly, I think to our shame for many Christians…way too much.
    • Do I believe a square circle can exist somewhere in the universe? (no) Do I believe consciousness without matter can exist somewhere in the universe (or outside of the universe for that matter), and if I do believe it, why do I believe it? If matter is involved (such as a miraculous Jesus), what of the “super being” argument instead of a deity?
    • I tend to think of it this way: Any being that can give rise to time, space and matter must, therefore be beyond these dimensions…timeless, beyond the space of this universe and immaterial.
    • Given the large amount of things I previously thought I was sure about concerning Christian dogma, history, human perception, etc, how can I reliably trust the things I know now without adopting a more skeptical, rigorous, scientific epistemology?
    • By all means… “when I was a child, I thought and reasoned as a child”… we are encouraged in scripture to think and reason and “put away childish things”. If Christianity and the Bible cannot stand the scrutiny of valid, logical investigation, then it must go. Nietzsche, however, was quite premature in his declaring that “God is dead”. There are numerous brilliant and logical scholars (some scientists) who hold vigorously to and competently defend Christianity and the Bible. There is a false dichotomy being propagated by many atheist that science, pragmatism and vigorous investigation are enemies of Christianity. Many of the numerous podcasts & debates I listen to are by men who have logic, reason, philosophy and science as their foundation (please let me know if you want any of my favourites).
    • What level of evidence should I require to believe things which have no known, provable representation in the physical world?
    • Faith should not be a blind leap but rather a leap once we have come to the end of the “reason trail”. Once we have investigated a matter as far as our senses can take us we will ALL make a leap of faith at some point. The atheist/naturalist must make a leap, without having logic or reason or VALID experimental evidence to prove it, that: somehow, universe(s) pop into existence from nothing, without cause or reason and, contrary to the second law of thermodynamics (yes the earth and our solar system may be an open system but the universe is not) organized itself to an a degree of fine-tuning which staggers the imagination. That somehow intelligent information formed itself (or perhaps, like Nobel prize-winner and DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick believes) got here by aliens; that the numerous irreducibly complex systems we see in biological organisms somehow “must have had” simpler precursor which are no longer around and have left no evidence of their existence. I could go on but you get the point…that faith exists on BOTH sides of the debate. This again points to the atheism/naturalism of the gaps thinking…we don’t have any idea how or why but the god of time and chance must have done it….all of it.
    You mention evolution several times in your blog and give a link (# 4) in your footnotes. To be honest with you Luke, I was in a backslidden state while working on my BS Biology/Chemistry at U.C. Irvine. Even though the whole curriculum revolved around a naturalistic, evolutionary paradigm, the more I learned about microbiology, genetics and biochemistry, the more I became absolutely convinced that there absolutely had to be a super intelligent being behind it all (which probably helped my decision to re-surrender my life to Jesus). In every one the 12 2-minute clips in your 12 days of evolution footnote there are HUGE assumptions made, numerous “just-so-scenario/stories, and many equivocations in terms. In each of the clips, the devil is in the DETAILS. If you can’t spot these (maybe my biology background enables me to easily do so), just let me know which one or two in particular seems to give the BEST evidence for your belief in Macroevolution and I will gladly do an analysis of it for you. While some people love to watch boxing and MMA contests, I am a bit quirky in that I love to watch and listen to the best of the best go to battle with ideas. The more I watch and listen to debates between Christians and “heavyweight” atheist biologists, cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, the more confidence I gain in the faith I hold (I would be interested in seeing any of the debates you’ve watched which have slanted your view towards belief in macroevolution).

    Luke, when people get burned by church and religion, they “lose their faith” based on emotional reasons. While these are painful and real and hurt (boy have I been burned by both church and faulty belief and had second thoughts about ministry and faith) they have no bearing on the reality of God and His truth. While I don’t know your story and you’ve not intimated whether you’ve been burned or not (I can’t imagine you having worked in ministry for that long and not become at least disillusioned by it) I would urge you to NOT throw out that which is pure, genuine, valid and life-giving for that which is a lie and can lead to futility, and nihilistic thinking (referring to atheism). While I hardly know you, I do have enough concern, empathy and love for you to have shared my thoughts with you. May you continue to think hard through them. I am more than happy to continue the dialogue. Todd Funk

    1. Thanks for posting, Todd! Facebook has some problems with really long comments, so that was probably the issue posting there.

      As for the “label” my current view has, I’m not sure I’m ready to cling to one. As the post above explains, I’m not a big fan of them and how they shape our thinking. Others might call me agnostic, some maybe atheist, still others maybe theist/deist and still others maybe Christian (as I do follow the teachings of Christ, minus the supernatural claims). So yeah, I’m not claiming one from the list you provided just yet.

      And yes, well said about all of us being taught some faulty things. This is why good epistemology is so important.

      Much of your post seems to come from a position that evolution isn’t really a thing. As you already mentioned, you (and I) previously believed things which we later learned were not true. I love that you linked out to RationalWiki. Have you spent much time there reading the articles about evolution? There are some great pieces there rebutting many of the claims made by creationist or anti-evolutionist thinkers.

      Morality becomes quite subjective and ungrounded when not anchored in the groundings of the character of an infinitely wise law-giver.

      If you go from “The creator defines morality” straight into nihilism, then yes, I’d agree. Gladly, I did not, and I’d argue no one should. Having a strong framework for morality is really important. My current basic overlay is the NAP: the non-aggression principle. I’m also a fan of the philosophy of liberty. I’ve further enjoyed The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris and Universally Preferred Behavior by Stefan Molyneux.

      I love that you went through my questions point by point! Thank you! I’ll number them to make things easier.

      1) Good point! Arguing the origin of something defines its truthfulness is a genetic fallacy. I was actually taking it from a different approach in that I believed something was true simply because it came from my parents and my location of birth, which is not a good mechanism for truth. Here An example of my thinking which shows how much location and breeding influences religion. Our location of birth (statistically) has more to do with what we believe than any other thing.

      2) In rebutting the God in the Gaps, you may have employed it. If we don’t know the origin of the universe (and some theoretical physicists do have some ideas), then should we automatically assume a God must exist to explain it or do we wait until we have evidence and reason to go from before we make a claim? The more I look into the fossil record, the more convinced I am it supports evolution. When a new fossil is found bridging the gap between species, creationists often reply with, “Oh, now you have two gaps to fill!” which is silly to me. Again, RationWiki and other sources have a lot more information about this and other topics concerning evolution. As for “pre-suppose naturalism to be true”, is there any other area of our lives (other than religion) where we don’t do that? The first part of naturalism means “a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes.” That’s how we address every other area of understanding from gravity to physics to invention, etc.

      3) If we do dive in a bit, what do we do with what we find? For example, what if the early Old Testament was actually written during the Babylonian captivity? What if Judaism wasn’t always a monotheistic religion? What if there isn’t solid evidence for the Exodus during the time period needed to fit the Bible? These are just some of the issues I’ve looked into and not been satisfied with the apologetics I’ve seen.

      4) I too used that argument to justify a supernatural existence, much like a 3 dimensional being telling a 2 dimensional being to “look up” even if that’s beyond their understanding. If we do someday come to realize there are dimensions outside of those we know, and that’s in fact where what we call “God” exists, this to me seems like the best argument. Until we get to that point, I don’t see the need to make up 4,200 possible religions trying to explain it (if, in fact, humans did convince themselves of and create religion via some force of nature which made it beneficial to do so).

      5) I’ve seen stats that only 2 percent of 1,700 surveyed top hard scientists (as opposed to soft sciences) are evangelical Christians. That doesn’t mean we can’t find some, but it makes sense to me if the profession is about working to disprove a hypothesis using reason, evidence, and logic, then super natural claims immediately become very suspect because they are mostly non-falsifiable. Oh, related to that topic, I loved this video by Veritasium but forgot to include it in the original blog post. I think you’ll like it a lot. As to some of your favorite PodCasts and debates, please send them my way! I’ve enjoyed being introduced to The Liturgists and some of William Lane Craig’s stuff (though some of it isn’t convincing for me).

      6) The universe as we currently understand it is a closed system, but that may not be the case. With the discovery of what they are calling “gravitational waves” as an example, we’ll continue learning more about black holes and theoretical physicists will continue to come up with ideas like the multiverse theory which could eventually explain how our universe (or any universe) did come about. Still other theories question the idea that the universe had to be created at all in that it may have always existed (sounds crazy to our way of thinking, I know, but there are some theories out there about it). To say “Well, science can’t explain this so it must be God” falls for the God in the Gaps again (which was an idea created by theists as a caution to apologists, if my understanding is correct). If that’s the primary reason to believe in God and science comes up with a really solid explanation, would you still believe in God? Having valid reason and logic to put forth a theory is different than having no experimental evidence. Einstein had no evidence for gravitational waves in the fabric of space time though his theories predicted them and now here we are observing them.

      Thank you so much for going through those and spending the time to answer them! I really appreciate that. I know these are my own questions and not yours, so they are personal to me. You spending the time to go through them and talk about them really communicates that you care and that is a wonderful thing. Thank you!

      As for evolution, maybe we should take a step back. Are you familiar with psychology and neuroscience? Learning about that influenced me more than anything else, I think. An example would be the power of confirmation bias. Two people can watch the same debate and come away even more convinced of their opposite opinions based on their bias going into it. Could it be possible, like your previous belief in a young earth, that you might be mistaken about evolution as well?

      Have you spent much time reading through these pages http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Evolution ? The “See Also” section links to many others as well. Those videos I linked to are not my “proof” in as much as they are short summary segments dealing with common misconceptions that I was confused about prior to doing more research on the topic. I found them to be a good summary of the things I know understand based on the things I learned. If you have some debate or book you find to be your favorite explaining why evolution as understood by the majority of the scientific community today is wrong, please share the links.

      Todd, thank you again for spending so much time on your reply and clearly demonstrating your concern for my well being. It is truly appreciated! I have been “burned” by the church in many ways, but always pushed passed them and continued believing because of what I believed to be a personal relationship. Failure after failure of church members and leaders didn’t change that. In fact, there was no great event leading up to this change, and I really do like the church we’ve been attending for quite some time. My decision is not (to my knowledge) based on emotional responses, but quite the opposite. I’m trying to base my thinking on what I believe to be reason, logic, evidence, some skepticism, and the like. What I previously conceived as a “personal relationship” I now think was more a psychological response in my mind. I found a lot of interesting stuff at this website about belief as well (they summarize and reference various studies).

      One last note about what you said here:

      I would urge you to NOT throw out that which is pure, genuine, valid and life-giving for that which is a lie and can lead to futility, and nihilistic thinking (referring to atheism)

      On a Facebook in a reply to my friend Karin, I get into some of this, including the scriptures I still hold to dearly. For many, a world without God automatically means “futility and nihilistic thinking” but I don’t perceive the world this way at all. In many ways, I think a world which puts reality and this life at the for-front of meaning can have more purpose and be more life-giving because we are responsible in the here-and-now to create the world we want to live in and leave for our children. As you said, you’re open to dialogue, so I’d encourage you to also be open to other mechanisms for finding meaning and purpose which may not fit your own.

      Thanks again!

  3. Great post, Luke. Brad and I have both gone through this process. Brad led the way and it was very scary for me at first. We were young and newly married with 2 tiny babies when he told me he didn’t believe in god. I was worried that he would decide that our marriage didn’t count because it was a christian ceremony. I was obviously way off because we’re still here 18 years later. It took me over a decade later to let go of religion. It’s a scary thing to part from and an even scarier thing to tell people about. I now really enjoy knowing that this is my one shot to leave my mark so I better make the best of it if I want to live on in someway.
    Also, Christmas is still my favorite holiday because it means family and warmth and giving. I love that.

    1. Thanks so much, Cara. 🙂 We just had our 12 year anniversary yesterday, and I plan to have many, many more decades together. I would be lying if I didn’t want Corinne to see things my way, but I also need her to be true to herself and come to her own conclusions. We’re working through it together and though it’s been really hard at times, I think we’re also in a good place of loving on each other through all this. The church thing (especially as it relates to our kids) is still a challenge we’re working through.

  4. Luke, thank you for putting this out there. I’ve been on a similar journey for the last few years. The questionable “Christian” practices regarding our LGBTQ brothers and sisters sent me off on a major soul-searching quest a few years ago. I found myself forever changed. Pursuing peace, kindness, and acceptance has completely altered my worldview. The place I have ended up is probably a little different from yours (I still consider myself very spiritual, I believe in a Creator, but after said creation, I think it’s up in the air as to what is true and what is simply stories handed down over thousands of years).

    Very interesting and I look forward to hearing more about your journey.

    1. Thanks Missy! I love hearing about peoples’ journey, especially when it leads to more humility, honesty, peace, and love. Thanks for sharing your experience so far.

      If you don’t mind me asking, what do you define as “spiritual”? That word has a lot of baggage and many meanings to many different people.

      1. Great question, Luke. I probably just chose my words poorly. I believe we are all “spiritual” beings, regardless of our belief of life’s origin, a God, etc. Being spiritual (to me) is being attuned to your inner being. Also, I believe that being connected to one another plays a big part, too.

        What I should have said was simply, I still have faith in a creator and faith that we are all loved by him or her (it?). 🙂

        1. Cool! Thanks for replying. I love it when people can talk about this stuff without getting too defensive. For me, I’ve come to understand “my inner being” as a function of the complexities of the human brain. The more I learn about brain stuff (and philosophy’s historical interpretations of it), the more excited I am to throw off what I now see as dogmatic thinking and embrace a future where understanding morality in the here and now becomes incredibly important. The next few decades are going to be quite interesting as we figured out artificial intelligence and what consciousness actually is. Exciting times!

  5. You won’t remember me, but I met you in line at a Jon Acuff “Quitter” event, and I always come browse your twitter when bitcoin excitement is in the news, since I know you are interested in it. I stumbled on this post just now and enjoyed reading. You and I have traveled very similar paths, all the way up to navigating the delicate waters of having a spouse that remains devout. I still haven’t “come out” to more than a half dozen people, and often feel trapped by the culture around me. I admire your post here, and your decision to be authentic. As someone who can deeply relate, I know it was a difficult process to arrive at this point. Best wishes to you, Luke.

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