Atheist at Wheaton College September 26, 2007

Atheist at Wheaton College

Well, this has to be slightly awkward

There are some times when I feel absolutely delighted to be an atheist hidden among thousands of Christians. This is not one of those times.

The (anonymous) writer is a senior at Wheaton College outside Chicago — the alma mater of Billy Graham, Rob Bell, and our own Mike Clawson.

The name of his her blog is Leaving Eden.

I used to be a very committed Christian. I was in love with God and full of faith, and I loved my first two years in the community of a Christian college. During my junior year I walked away from Christianity and became an atheist. As I finish out my last year at Wheaton, I’m mostly in the closet, constantly surrounded by Christians and Christianism.

The reasons for my rejection of Christianity and acceptance of atheism are manifold, and I will try to cover all of them in this blog at some point. Ultimately, it is a matter of integrity, of truth. I value truth so much that I had to find it, at the cost of comfort, community, relationships, assurance. Atheism and more specifically naturalism is the most truthful truth I’ve found. (To date, that is. Because truth seekers must constantly examine themselves and guard against complacency, no story is over until it’s over.)

“Leaving Eden” captures the quest for truth at the cost of comfort. If the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is available, we should always eat from it, no matter the consequences. If the whole world is there, why should we stay in one corner?

What is it like to be in his her position?

I walked across campus today after a conversation that signaled the end of another friendship. Thinking, this is what it feels like to be alone. It sucks.

Though I’m still in the closet, I’m no longer pretending to be a Christian. That means I don’t take part in a large percentage of what goes on on campus. I can feel people mentally shrinking away from me, even people who were perfectly fine with my questioning of Christianity a year ago.

I can’t imagine being in that situation and having to remain in it for several months. But it’s apparent he’s she’s coming out to his her friends. That’s a good start.

Hopefully, he she knows he she has a huge support group waiting for him her when he she graduates 🙂

(via Conversation at the Edge)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian, Jesus, God, religion[/tags]

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  • HappyNat

    Should be an interesting read as the year goes along. Thanks for the link.

  • I can relate very much. Those of you “out-atheists” not living living in the Bible-belt (south Mississippi for me) and not coming from religious families (Southern Baptist for me) really don’t get how traumatic this can be. It’s damn hard and lonely. I’m lucky enough to have a great wife (Christian, actually) who supports me, but that’s about it for real life. At times I really think I should have stayed in the closet.

    Good luck to him. I’ll be following his blog.

  • kate

    That poor guy needs a hug.

    Also, I hope he understands that he’s doing a good job with exposure. Simply exposing those sheltered people to an atheist takes away the, “I’ve never met an atheist before so therefore, I’m going to make up creative myths about them!”.

  • This is not that uncommon. I had several friends at Wheaton that walked away from their faith during their time there. It happens… especially at a school that does encourage students to think for themselves and test their faith openly. Odds are that at least a few will decide they no longer believe.

  • bipolar2

    ** Expect individuation to hurt **

    The word ‘islam’ means submission. Obviously submission to the will of Allah, as prescribed in the five pillars of faith. The big-3 monotheisms are alike in dismissing the individual’s will, “not my will but thy will done” as we’re shown in the poignant scene at Gethsemane in the NT.

    Self-assertion, and doubt is just a form of it, takes on the character not of honest questioning, but of insubordination and rebellion. With characteristically combative verve, Kierkegaard grasped the nettles of fideism only to fling them in the face of all the “insubordinate” who employ reason:

    “They would have us believe that objections against Christianity come from doubt. This is always a misunderstanding. Objections against Christianity come from insubordination, unwillingness to obey, rebellion against all authority. Therefore, they have been beating the air against the objectors, because they have fought intellectually with doubt, instead of fighting ethically with rebellion. . . .So it is not properly doubt but insubordination.” (Lowrie 122) Thus, Kierkegaard.

    Once you’ve made “the leap of faith” into hyper-religious space there is no return except by self-assertion. It’s not surprising that even attempting to leave a religious culture which demands ‘subordination’ or ‘submission’ to someone else’s interpretation of an alleged “will of god” adversely affects the psychological well-being of the “apostate.” Prometheus vs. Jesus —

    Self-assertion dominates the popular culture, the “secular” culture. Tolerance, that wide band of “permissible” behavior, lies between anarchy and rigorism. Trying to navigate in that band requires years of training and making a lot of mistakes. And, there is no end to learning until life itself ends. Most people never become individuals — they remain herd animals.

    copyright (self)asserted 2007

  • Joe Kay

    I lived in Wheaton, IL for close to a year, less than a mile from the College.

    I put up a bunch of Kerry ’04 and Obama for Senate signs in my yard. I noticed one day, there was a Wheaton College van full of people suspiciously driving around the neighborhood. They parked in front of my yard for a whole minute and stared first at my signs, then at me. Then they drove off.

    The next day, my signs were gone, stolen in the night. Now I’m not going to say it was the Wheaton College people what stole my signs, they being good Christians and Obedient to the 10 Commandments and believing their God to be so Omnipotent that they needn’t worry about how we worldly humans go about electing officials. Nor am I calling Republicans a bunch of thieving jackals.

    But dammit, some yellow bellied somebody was shit scared enough to go around and steal lowly election signs from peoples’ yards?

    Congrats to the anonymous writer!

  • Jen

    For a supposedly dry town too religious to drink, the Wheatonites sure buy a ton of alcohol. That’s all I am going to say about that.

  • Calvin

    I don’t know if anyone still reads this post, but if anyone finds it, like I did: I also go to a Christian college, and recently de-converted. For anyone else out there, anyone at all like me or this poor girl, I just wanted to say I know how lonely you feel, how scared to talk to friends and most importantly family about this loneliness because of its sensitive cause. For all others here who live in communities where it is okay not to be a Christian, just remember that some people are in situations that feel so hopeless…
    When those who you love believe that you are going to hell and pray everyday for you to change your mind so that you can be with them in the heaven you don’t believe in, that is true pain. I’m really sorry for anyone else who has to go through it.

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