I didn’t always like to read.
Deep down I prefer being lazy, honestly. Or at least I think I do. Watching Netflix rather than reading Chomsky, is much more enjoyable for most people — believe it or not.
For some reason, however, I find the feeling of not knowing unbearable. Eventually, I became so curious that I started researching my own book topic on Christianity, Atheism, and the global problems of the 21st century, or at least what I think they are.
It took me 2 years to research the book and approximately 5 months to write and self-publish! I write about the writing process in one of my blog posts.
But let me start with why reading and writing so much did not get rid of my self-doubt even though I thought it would.
My LSD Trip
When I took LSD a number of times, it really helped me understand the infallibility of human knowledge and experience. My LSD trips were a journey through 9-hour windows of intense skepticism about everything around me.
Words became irrelevant. Conversations were complicated.
Every sentence I uttered seemed to be gone forever, inaccessible.
I’d forget what we were talking about if we were talking about anything at all.
Because of my lack of knowledge, I’ve cultivated a habit of reading consistently.
I remember when I was 14, sitting with my pastor, discussing some Christian teachings, and thinking to myself, “How is it that he knows so much about these issues and can talk about it for hours without interruption.”
I was fascinated by this capability. And I wanted to be able to achieve that same certainty.
Fast forward 7 years. My 14-year old naive self thought that I would have achieved some sort of entrenched opinions by this age. I hoped to become some sort of prodigy, to be honest. Every teenager probably does. We dream of achieving some sort of greatness.
Here I am, however, more unsure of myself than I ever have been. I have written a book by the age of 23, read more books than many of my peers, and done very well at university. But … I don’t really feel like I am more equipped than anyone else. I feel more doubt if anything.
The more I read, the less I know.
I thought that by the time I have read most well-known works from Hemingway, Joyce, Sartre, Camus, Beckett, Kafka, C. S. Lewis, & Tolkien, that I’d become somewhat more capable of writing poetic and meaningful works.
I was wrong.
It was as difficult as ever. If anything, I have grown to appreciate these works so much more for the reason that their prose comes across as simple yet is complex.
I thought that if I read most Christian literature that I’d still be a believer, maybe an accomplished theologian. And so I read Piper, Chandler, Packer, D. A. Carson, N. T. Wright, Ravi Zacharias, William L. Craig, Kevin DeYoung, Timothy Keller, Mark Dever, Mark Driscoll, among many others.
I was wrong. On the contrary, I became more skeptical.
I lost my faith.
I thought that if I’d read most of the more well-known Atheists of my generation, that I’d be well equipped to discus Christianity with my acquaintances. Hence I read Sam Harris, Hitchens, Dawkins, Dennett, Peter Singer, Peter Watson, yet still — I was wrong. I realized that the art of debate is intricate and takes decades to master.
I thought that if I read enough self-help I may achieve some sort of balance in life. And so I read Timothy Ferris, William B. Irvine, Ryan Holiday, Malcolm Gladwell, Rick Warren, Daniel Kahneman, Daniel Levitin, Tony Robbins, Susan Cain, etc. And yet again I was wrong. Good relationships provide much stronger comfort than any self-help technique out there.
Should We Stop Reading, then?
The question, then, you might think is whether we should stop reading. And my sincere response is an emphatic: NO.
I have noticed that the people around me that read are simply much more interesting people than those who do not. They are able to hold a discussion for a longer period of time and are much more compelling to be around.
The depth of your relationships depends on your willingness to educate yourself.
There is nothing wrong with having set beliefs. It is important, however, to know why and how you got to those ideas in the first place.
That is why I will keep reading. And writing. And you should too!
Before you go…
ALSO, here’s a link to MY BOOK, “Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century,” if you wish to purchase it! I appreciate the support.
I’d love it if you’d share the article on Facebook/Twitter if you want your friends to benefit from it in some way at all.
Until next time, keep reflecting!