semantics

Faith vs. Trust

Loss of faith vs. De-conversion

What you say matters every bit as much as how you say it. I have noticed subtle (and not-so-subtle) shifts in the way I speak since I have begun to question my previous beliefs. Even that sentence holding the words “previous beliefs” indicates that I no longer hold them… which is true… but still a little awkward to admit. Although it feels more honest (which is a good thing), it also feels too honest (self-disclosure = eeeeep!).

These two examples are specifically interesting to me. The first one came up in a “The Thinking Atheist” podcast that I was listening to yesterday. Faith and trust are not the same thing, though we seem to use them interchangeably with startling frequency. “I have faith that my relationship will last.” Well… probably not. If your relationship has given you any proof that it will not collapse at the first sign of trouble, if you have overcome any (even small) hardship in your relationship, then you have something tangible to trust in. Those occurrences have given you a past history or a reasonable expectation that gives you an assurance to trust in. The concept, or the meaning, or the implied intent of the word faith, is that it is based on something totally unknown or magical or unproveable (unproveable is not a word). If there is something concrete to back up your “faith”, then it seems to me the word you are looking for is trust. Very different.

The second one- Loss of faith vs. De-conversion. This is a big one for me, the reason I wanted to write this. I think it is important to remember the impact that our words have. To remember the emotional response that people have to our words that we may or may not intend. Why do you think the the anti-abortion movement started calling themselves pro-life? Because it sounds more positive to say you are “pro” something as opposed to being “anti” something. People like that better. I feel the same emotional reaction to the words “loss of faith.” That just sounds negative to me. It sounds as though I am somehow deprived. That I have misplaced something precious, or that it has been stolen from me. This is just NOT SO. 

You cannot be angry at something that does not exist. You cannot lose something that is not real. Perhaps “loss of faith” might be an acceptable way to describe part of the journey that I have gone through. But it is not an all encompassing descriptor for the change in my views. I have gone thru this process of questioning and searching and ultimately I think the best way to describe it is de-converting. 

Think before you speak. Words are so powerful.

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