While I was growing up, the son of a charitable, liberal priest, remaining at ease within a sheltered Christian ‘reality’ was not difficult. But later, as a young adult and undergraduate student of Theology, I had to work harder and harder in order to sustain and defend my belief. I was clever enough to keep going for a while: I confined my reason to the narrow parameters of biblical discourses, or ‘language games’, and I successfully made my beliefs cohere on those terms. But it was no use, and eventually I was unable to resist a peek from ‘outside’, from alternative, more empirical perspectives. I let go of my efforts to make sense of the senseless, and discovered a rational humanism that felt infinitely more secure and legitimate. When my family and many friends remained steadfastly religious I asked myself “why should I care?”
Why do I care? I am not sure that I want to be ‘dogmatically anti-dogmatic’, and if faith in a deity makes my loved ones happy why not just let it go? After all, to quarrel with a child’s right to believe in Father Christmas would be petty, and some of the much more involved beliefs sincerely held by religious individuals often appear no more threatening. So what is it about religion that keeps niggling? And, writing as someone who has been baptised twice, can I explain and justify my unease about Christianity?