At the always excellent God of Evolution blog is a guest article from Kevin Long, a former fundamentalist Christian. Unlike most former Biblical literalists whose faith was forever shattered by the struggle to reconcile a fundamentalist view of the Bible with the real world, Long has now rediscovered his Christianity, but the pathway was tortuous and painful:
"Over the years, however, I became more and more aware that the evidence was stacked against a literal interpretation of scripture. I had to do intellectual backflips to allow myself to continue to learn, and maintain my viewpoint. Gradually, these backflips became more frequent, and more elaborate, and I had to do them while squinting, if you’ll allow the metaphor. In any event, this kind of continual conflict between facts and faith caused a great deal of psychological stress — as it does in pretty much everyone — and it just got worse over time. This was not healthy..."
"Three years into college, the breakdown came: Evolution. Was. True. There was simply no logical way around it. This then led to me completely losing my faith, and a brief, terrifying slide into atheism. Why? Because I had it drilled into me that if something wasn’t literally true, then it was a lie. My own fanaticism turned against me, I was forced to judge the Bible by that same standard, and I no longer believed anything."
"But this, too, was a logical fallacy, of course, and I was eventually able to resolve it (I am a Christian, as I said at the start, so obviously, I got my faith back), but it was a long and arduous process that lasted decades. All that hell I put myself through for a small-minded, shallow interpretation of scripture that didn’t even logically proceed from the text." (Emphasis in the original)
This is the legacy of fundamentalism. This is how it creates atheism.This is the intellectual suffering that the zealots who read the creation narratives blindly and literally are inflicting on the next generation of believers. If the hermeneutical madness they promote does not rapidly become an embarrassing footnote in the history of Christian exegesis, there will be precious few generations to follow them.
Editor's note: Amen to that. :)