Well, maybe they don’t live there, but they seem to feel free to walk in, make a cup of tea, and pull up a chair rather often. They like to ask me questions, to challenge my take on certain issues.
First of all, 3 clarifications:
1. I do not hear voices, so no medicine or exorcism needed.
2. I am not an atheist, nor am I a fundamentalist, nor am I considering converting to either side, nor was I raised on either side.
3. Neither ‘atheist’, nor ‘fundamentalist’ are meant to be pejorative or offensive. Just descriptors of what I feel are two extremes.
Let’s start at the beginning. I’m naturally a ‘black and white’ person. I like to have the answers. I freakin hate to be wrong. I’m from ‘Perfect Country’ (DISC personality type C). I want to be right. My closest friends will attest to this.
However, I’ve come to very strongly believe that many things in this world are not in fact black and white. I won’t have all the answers. I’m most assuredly wrong about some issue. So one thing I can be sure I’m right about is that I am wrong about something. yay. 😐
So I walk though this journey of faith, stopping here and there to ask questions and consider new ideas (something my inner fundamentalist doesn’t like)… while insisting on tightly holding the hand of Jesus (something my inner atheist doesn’t like). I love ideas. I love challenging my brain. I love to think. I believe that part of God’s calling on my life is to process, refine, and challenge some of the traditional perspectives of Evangelical Christianity. But in this process, both the atheist and the fundamentalist whisper doubt- ‘maybe you are wrong’. Both companions can be rather a nuance and normally appeal to fear.
Why do I have these inner companions? Well, lets start with my personality, which, like all personalities, has upsides and downsides. I’m a questioner by nature. I like to analyze and figure things out. I’m not easily satisfied with pat answers… which, in my opinion, both the atheist and the fundamentalist are inclined to give. At the same time, while pat answers don’t satisfy, questions and criticisms do intrigue me. I’m inclined to see ‘problems’ in all different points of view, including my own. I’m also fairly aware of both the worldviews of the atheist and the fundamentalist. So, when I’m pondering an ‘issue’, I am very aware not only of my own challenges to the issue, but the challenges of the atheist and the fundamentalist. I’m very aware that someone (maybe everyone!) is not satisfied with my take on the issue, however tentative ‘my take’ might be. Ultimately, that awareness of the objections from both of those camps is what I mean when I refer to ‘my atheist and fundamentalist companions’.
In the end though, I’m learning to allow both the atheist and fundamentalist to be helpful. I’m learning to see their points of view as little reminders about how these issues look to people in those camps. Awareness of those worldviews isn’t the problem. Recognizing their questions and challenges can even be helpful- for understanding the very real and precious people who come from these camps- if nothing else. The problem is when I allow fear to guide my thought processes. It’s when I allow doubt, and not the pursuit of truth, to be my focus. It’s when I take my eyes off Jesus and look at the waves.
So in the end, my motto is this: Hold Jesus’ hand, keep asking questions, and hear the inner atheist and the fundamentalist out, but don’t take their advice… and kick them out after one cup of tea.