There are a lot of things that kept me in the faith that aren’t surprising: inspirational speakers, science-y sounding authors, the love of my family. That I was a practically born poet and loved The Matrix prolonged my theism? A little more unexpected.
If you’re a former theist, feel free to share anything that you used to justify your faith — wackiness not required, but definitely encouraged.
My Poetic Side
Smart people are incredibly good at convincing themselves of things. I don’t necessarily think of myself as a smart person, but I am pretty good at forming arguments. That doesn’t always mean that what I’m arguing for is correct, just that I’m good at arguing for things.
Though I don’t rely on poetry for my arguments anymore, my ability to draw parallels is what started my interest in better argument formation. I was able to make analogies that seemed very clever and apt, convincing myself that my position was also very clever and apt. Analogies-as-reasoning are classic religious tactics (Christians comparing the world to an airplane, anyone?) but Islam is a particularly analogy-loving faith.
In the first (and, in my heart, only) Matrix movie, audiences were introduced to the Oracle. In the *shudder* sequel, the Oracle said something that I found profound because I was a teenager:
Neo: But if you already know, how can I make a choice?
The Oracle: Because you didn’t come here to make the choice, you’ve already made it. You’re here to try to understand *why* you made it. I thought you’d have figured that out by now.
I had struggled with the seeming contradiction of Allah having predestined the world and yet people being responsible for their actions — in some cases, so responsible that they’d be condemned to infinite punishment for a finite crime. What the Oracle said seemed to make some kind of sense to me. It sounded wise and cryptic and deep. In those moments where I felt I didn’t understand it, I figured I must not be smart enough.