College essay honorable mention: My faith was built on circular reasoning: By James Harder

By James Harder

Growing up as a conservative Christian, most of my ideas were not really my own, but rather statements by people who could ardently defend what was already deemed as the “right” way of thinking.

The change came about later in my young adulthood, after watching a documentary on the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. When I saw the real arguments for and against my previous position of intelligent design put forward in a honest and objective trial, I immediately came to recognize that my whole system of thinking had been built on a deference to authority.

After my rejection of fundamentalism, I became more curious as to the grounds that my faith in God stood on. My beliefs were further eroded after a group of Mormons visited my Christian non-Mormon friends. I accepted a copy of the book of Mormon and went through it, hoping to prove the ridiculousness of the Mormon faith to the missionaries the next time we should meet. Going through the book, though, I noticed a disturbing pattern. The entire faith was built on circular reasoning. The holy book is true because its God says so. God says so, because it is revealed in the holy book. My own faith was no different.

Eventually I had to ask myself, what sort of evidence would lead me to believe in my own religion, if I hadn’t been raised with any assumptions. This process of examination eliminated the Old Testament from being able to stand on its own proof.

All I had left was the occurrence of the resurrection. And my inquiry into that “miracle” was the final nail in the coffin. No Christian apologist could made a good enough case for the resurrection without circular reasoning or probability methods that would make any professional statistician or historian cringe. My religion was founded upon grounds which were no more impressive than the dozens of religions that I believed were false.

James, 23, was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, but spent most of his childhood in Hamilton, Mont. He is enrolled in Athabasca University’s online program. He enjoys reading and strength training.

Freedom From Religion Foundation