Yesterday's post, which provided a possible contributory evolutionary explanation for modern Man's extraordinarily maladaptive behaviours, reminded me of what it was that led-up-to my becoming a Christian:
I found that there were several cultural phenomena which led me to recognize the necessity for religion - and in some instances Christianity. In sum, I recognized that Religion was necessary to Man - which took me to the doorstep of Christianity as the best religion.
This did not, of course, make me a Christian - but it led me to recognize that some kind of religion was necessary for even a minimally sustainable society - and Christian society seemed to be better than any other alternative when it came to some of the things I most valued.
1. Dishonesty in science (and in public discourse). Anything less than complete honesty about everything seemed obviously wrong, dishonesty was obviously increasing - yet the only acceptable secular criticisms were remote, abstract and ineffective.
2. Subfertility. The fact that all modern societies in the world were sub-fertile and en route to chosen extinction had a big impact on me. That religion was the only effective antidote for suicide-by-sterility I found to be a very impressive fact. I still do.
3. Children. Related to subfertility, I sometimes found myself talking about the question of having children in a way that was - on later reflection, or even at the time - shocking, repulsive and utterly false to my own deepest feelings; I would sometimes discuss matters as if children were simply a part of 'lifestyle' - to be evaluated as (merely) a means to the end of whether they enhanced or detracted-from one's own sense of happiness and fulfilment; or in terms of potential risks and benefits...
4. Human Accomplishment. This book by Charles Murray suggested that without a strong belief in transcendental values (Truth, Beauty, Virtue) sustained by religion - most of the greatest achievements in human history never would have happened.
5. Tough decisions. I noticed that people could seldom make tough decisions - decisions where a good long term outcome required short term suffering or risk, or when overall advantage entailed significant problems and disadvantages that would attract criticism - even when they seemed to know that these decisions were right and necessary.
6. Saying no. This is perhaps related to 'tough decisions' - but I can recall a number of situations in which I found I could not find any reason for saying no to something, or disapproving something, despite that I knew in my heart it was wrong. I realized that without religion, there was, no basis for principled action - and I saw very little indeed in the way of principled action among my secular acquaintances.
7. Transhumanism. I was for a while generally very positive about transhumanism - and excited by the possibilities of abolishing human suffering, abolishing ageing, extending life and so forth. Then it dawned on me that the logical conclusion of this agenda included changing humans to something different-from humans; and a perspective that it was better to be dead (or never to have lived) than to suffer - yet suffering was, in real life, universal and inevitable - so transhumanism was close to being a kind of death cult. And, related to children, I found transhumanism encouraged me to discuss families as if they were purely a technological mechanism for reproduction that could (probably should) be replaced by some reproductive technique that was more efficient, less risky; more controlled and controllable - scientific and rational.
Such considerations took me, as I said, to the threshold of religion where I swiftly recognized Christianity as the best religion for me. So I got to the point where I regarded Christianity as 'a good thing' and acknowledged that I wanted to be a Christian; then it was a matter of waiting to see whether I believed it.
What got me over the edge? I think it was a combination of negative and positive factors - the negative factors included that I realized there was no reason why I should not become a Christian - that there was enough positive evidence of the truth of Christianity that it was rational to be a Christian.
The positive factors included daily prayer, and then a couple of personal (and private) miracles amounting to answered prayers.
So then I was a Christian. It took me absolutely ages to get to that point (a zig-zagging route across the decades); but almost as soon as I was there I realized it was merely a single step over the line, the easy bit; and all the difficult stuff was just beginning.