Monday, February 25, 2008

Changing Faiths

The New York Times had an article today on people changing faiths. Click on the title to go to that article. The article's focus seemed to be on people leaving their faith and the increase of people that are unattached to a faith group.

This made me think about my pilgrimage through faith. I was baptized at eleven in a very traditional Baptist church. By the time I reached my teens, I no longer felt that I belonged. I asked questions that did not get answered or I was told were not appropriate. All the questions were about theology. I planned to be a scientist. I could not reconcile my faith and science. With no answers from my faith, I withdrew. I was no longer sure of the veracity of Christianity. I did not lose my belief in God, but he settled comfortably into the guise of the clockmaker.

I had a Ph.D. in Chemistry at twenty-five. My supervising professor had been a Presbyterian who tried in vain to get me not to do research on Sundays. I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship under a Jewish professor. I covered his classes on Jewish holy days. We never discussed faith, but I knew that except for his mother and father, all his family perished in the Holocaust. He did ask me to hold office hours for some of his Arab students who had told him they were uncomfortable with him and requested my help. I did hold office hours for him that whole semester and always had students requesting help.

Eventually, I went to work for the State of Texas in air pollution control. My paternal grandmother died after a battle with cancer. I began to search for a source of faith. I examined Buddhism, Hinduism and some of the Chinese faiths. I touched on Wiccan, then picked up a book by C.S. Lewis: The Screwtape Letters. For the first time, I was intellectually engaged with Christianity. I went on to read more books and eventually joined a liberal Southern Baptist church. I made a new commitment to Christ that continues to this day. While I still belong to a church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, I do not consider myself a Southern Baptist. I am Baptist, part of the priesthood of the believer.

If I had been polled in those years between my teens and my return to Christ, I would have been classified as agnostic or perhaps unbelieving. I doubt that I would have considered myself a Deist, just undecided. I suspect that as many of the people in this study age, they will find their faith anew.

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