I'm Taking a Much Needed Break

This will be my last Blog entry for a while. How long, I cannot say. Maybe it’ll be just a few days. Maybe it’ll be for a month. Maybe more. There are pressing concerns I have to take care of that I’ve let slip because I’m here Blogging. I should be doing some of those things right now, but here I am writing again.

Let me give my readers a history of what led me here, and why I’m less interested in Blogging right now.

I have always liked to write. Like any artist, I like looking at the picture I create when I craft something with words. While I have never kept a daily journal of my life, I have written articles, church newsletters, letters to the editor, and handouts to my students. What I’ve created is an intellectual history of my life.

I decided to compile what I had written into a book, and be done with it. I wanted to put the past behind me, so to speak, and move on. So I did that. I placed all of my key Christian articles, class handouts, and letters to the editor into a spiral bound book. I wrote something about why I changed my mind, and I concluded with what I believed at the time I compiled it. I sold it in a local bookstore.

But it didn’t look very professional and I kept rewriting it. So I found a self-publisher who would publish this book of mine for at $1,299. They would hand me 40 copies to send out for reviews and to sell. They would also put it on amazon.com and borders.com.

At that point I added several sections to it. It was titled From Minister to Honest Doubter: Why I Changed My Mind. I sent a few out, and got some good reviews from it. But it wasn’t my best work. I initially just wanted it to sell to people who knew me. I just wanted to explain to them why I had changed. If others liked it, then that didn’t matter too much. It was aimed at people who knew me, and most of the church people I had in mind to read it were not intellectuals. So I didn’t feel it was necessary to cover several objections to what I had written. It was a general survey, for the most part. At the time I was a “soft agnostic,” or if forced to choose, an existential Deist.

I sent out some emails about my book to people who I thought might be interested in it, and Ed Babinski responded very positively. He noticed I was a former student of William Lane Craig’s, something I had merely mentioned. I didn’t think listing the professors I had studied with was that important, but Ed jumped on that and was very interested in reading what I wrote. So we traded books and began an initial exchange of emails.

Ed encouraged me to discuss my book at Theology Web, so I did. I was so unfairly and grossly treated there that I quit in a huff. Then being the stubborn person I am, I decided to come back with a vengeance.

There I cut my teeth on my first Christian forum, and it was ugly. I had naively expected a fair discussion, but I was verbally assaulted. Until then I had not done anything on the web. I was new to it. This reaction intrigued me, and I wanted to see if I could break these barriers down. I wanted to see if I could present my arguments in ways Christians would understand.

This experience got my argumentative juices flowing again. And rather than leading me closer to Christianity, it led me to become an atheist.

After awhile I tired of this. I still wanted a reasonable discussion of the ideas. At the suggestion of Ed Babinski I started this Blog. For some reason it took off. I revised my book, and renamed it “Why I Rejected Christianity: A Former Apologist Explains.” I geared it to people who didn’t know me, covering more territory and more arguments as an atheist. I was still curious to see what arguments would work and which ones wouldn’t. I was also testing my own arguments against what Christians might say in response, and I learned some things in the process.

I issued a challenge for someone to debate me on the problem of evil, and David Wood accepted the challenge. We debated, and since that time we have continued to debate the merits of the case. I am once again frustrated with the results, since I don’t think he’s willing to meet the problem of evil head on, and since he continues to mischaracterize what I have said.

I need time to think. I had initially written my book to end a period in my life, my former Christian life. But it seems as though it only led me into a continual waste of time in defending what I wrote against objections.

Now I want to get on with my life. I’ve got other things to do. Today I feel like my wife is right. I am wasting a great deal of time. I have said all I wanted to say. It doesn’t make me feel any better about myself to continue anymore.

The other team members here will still be blogging, so stay tuned to what they say. I’ll still be reading and moderating things. But I am taking a much needed break.

If what I've written has helped you, then it wasn't a waste of time after all. Sometimes it just feels as if it is.

But whether people agree or not, thanks for reading.

Please stay tuned and please continue reading.

21 comments:

exbeliever said...

John,

Best wishes from a former blogger who also had to give it up.

Heather said...

John,

I wish you well. :) Hopefully, you'll be able to use the time to be refreshed. I've noticed on the comments I've posted that it's very easy to get sucked into stuff, and since you moderate and post, that's no doubt even more true for you.

Rich said...

I think my last one didn't post so I'll try again.
Best wishes John, from a current Christian who respects you views even though I may disagree with some things. I hope our exchanges have been mutually repectful.

David B. Ellis said...

I think all internet debaters experience "debate-fatigue" from time to time and take a break. I've had three bouts of it so far myself.

David B. Ellis said...

The most important thing to keep in mind is that the effect of our efforts on the hardcore believers we debate are less significant than the effect of those discussions on the person's honestly questioning their religious/supernaturalist beliefs who stumble upon them in their search for answers to their growing doubts.

Lok said...

Hey John,

Glad to hear that you are taking a break. I wish you best for whatever you are doing. I have learnt a great deal here in DC.

While I will be happy to see you to write again, I do feel that moving on would probably make life better. From time to time I feel that I never "left" Christianity, because I still have to talk and think about it all the time. Sigh, I wish I can go back to a time when I was free from religion.

Sandalstraps said...

John,

As always, I wish you well. As much as I enjoy reading your work here, I think that it is very wise of you to recognize that you need a break.

exapologist said...

Take care, John!

I'm going in the same direction as well. My short stint as a blogger has made me amazed at how others do it consistently for any length of time. Although there are many positive aspects to it (meeting new people, developing and exchanging ideas on a global scale), the negative aspects can outweigh them over time (substantial loss of time that could be better spent with family, friends, and working on other important tasks and projects).

Hope to talk with you some time down the road!

Best,

exapologiist

Anonymous said...

John,
I came upon your blog at a time when I first thought I might be atheist, but was still afraid to admit it to myself. I had been roman catholic for 29 years with the last 14 or so of it off and on. I was searching for the stories of others who had left Christianity and their reasons. It was definitely the title that caught my eye. If Christianity could be debunked, I need look no further. It was already half way there in my mind anyhow. This was about 5 months ago, and I've been a frequent visitor since then. This is my first comment, and I'd like you to know that for me, your time was not wasted.

Thank you and have a good break.
Vince

Troy Waller said...

John

Yeah wives never get it do they? LOL!!! Some simply don't understand the male ego and our need to knock swords, even intellectually. I am gonna take a knock for being sexist now aren't I? ;P

Having debated on forums on and off since 1996 (even as a Christian) I have taken time off at numerous stages. Sometimes you need to. You might find that when you're ready to write again, you will actually choose a new medium, one that better accommodates where you are at.

One piece of advice though...its not a real break until you pass on the moderation as well. Otherwise you won't truly get away from it. Think about that. I am sure there are people ready to handle that on your behalf for a few months.

Take it easy John. You deserve the rest.

TROY

Jamie said...

John, I just started reading this blog and exchristian.net a few weeks ago and they've been a lifeline to me. Thanks for all you've written. I'm glad to have found it.

Like someone said, the good this writing does isn't for the hardcore unswaying christian debater. It's for those of us who are doubting and have these huge blind spots that we somehow stopped questioning by the time were were twelve. These kind of sites cause the blind to see, so to speak. For me, it's reactivated that part of my brain and the questions surface like crazy now.

Thanks for your hard work. I do hope others continue to contribute. I'll keep checking back.

Jamei.

Calvin said...

John,

Maybe during this time off you will come to your senses and become a Christian again and realize that David Woods spanked your ass. I'm just kidding.

Seriously.

This is a quite a neat place you have here even though you are wrong about what you believe. That Shygetz is quite a force to be reconed with. I'm stearing clear from him for a while.

Do what you want to do man.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi John,
I hope you get a chance to recharge. You've done a great thing here, you have made a mark in the world. I believe this is an important project to give people like I used to be some reassurance that they are not crazy if religion doesn't make sense. I appreciate the chance you've given me to participate. I hope you come back stronger than ever.

DagoodS said...

John, I wish you well on your break. Live life, and live it fully.

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks everyone. A burden has been lifted off my shoulders. DC will remain strong.

Danon said...

Ok dude, good luck w/ your (other) endeavours!

MiSaNtHrOpE said...

It's not a waste of time, though it appears to be hopeless. I wish for the same thing: An honest discussion where politics is irrelevant. I've yet to find it, and, it seems, so have you.

It often gets me discouraged and hopeless (I think I've discussed it before, but here goes) when I look at what I'm up against when trying to do what is right. I look at civil rights leaders and their opposition, such as the KKK, who know not WHY they believe what they believe, and will stop at nothing to silence them. I look at people like Ann Coulter who called John Edwards a "faggot," I look at the leaders of the Christian Conservative Movement I look at our government,

I see millions upon millions of invertebrates who have no idea why they hold their beliefs and will stop at nothing to silence anything that threatens to change them.

But we are not wasting our time. I often feel that I am, that no one is going to want understand what I have to say, but I keep posting. If we stop, these strange creatures from Ayn Rand's nightmares will win. They have kept humanity hostage for far too long, and we cannot afford to give them credence.

openlyatheist said...

I used to imagine having a blog of my own, so I started keeping a journal on my computer. Then I discovered that I didn't even have time for that!

I will continue looking forward to the 12+ contributers of this blog.

See you soon JWL!

Daniel said...

John,

Everyone needs a break now and again, but it's damn hard to quit entirely: this medium is addictive.

Shygetz said...

John,

All my best for a speedy recovery. I enjoy your writing, and hope to see you active again.

Randy Kirk said...

I can't guarantee a different experience, but to date I would say that the discourse is probably far different than your experience over at http://Godvsnogod.blogspot.com

It was begun out of a correspondance between an atheist and myself (a believer.) I have been debating my good friend Michael Shermer for over 20 years and we are still friends.

The new blog is specifically designed to allow both sides of the debate to feel free to be open and honest without fear of being ... well ... you know. I have had some of those bad experiences on atheist sites.

Come visit at least. Today's post is on tipping points, a subject which seems very near and dear to your heart. I would even be interested in a 3-6 paragraph guest post from you on the subject.

email Quixote77@sbcglobal.net