Hardened hearts, part 2

A while back, I wrote a post about how the God of the Bible occasionally hardened people’s hearts, thereby preventing them from employing their free will.

I’d like to view the hardening of hearts from a different angle here. Since I became an atheist, I’ve occasionally had believers express their disappointment that I have “hardened my heart” to God. This idea misses the mark, and to explain why, I’ll first try to describe what the phrase “hardening my heart” means to me.

To “harden your heart” to an idea is to have an emotional reaction to it. Specifically, it is a negative reaction, perhaps involving anger, resentment, or plain stubbornness.

Conversely, rejecting an idea through the use of reason, in a calm, thoughtful manner, is not a “hardening of the heart”.

Here are a couple of examples.

A man cheats on his wife. Immediately feeling regret, the man tells his wife what happened, and begs for her forgiveness. But the wife, outraged by his infidelity, stubbornly refuses to hear his case. Her heart has hardened against him.

A woman works in an advertising company and is asked to promote a certain product. As she begins her research into the product, she realizes that it does not perform as it is supposed to. She realizes that, in good conscience, she cannot stand behind this product, and she resigns from the project. We would not say that she “hardened her heart” against the project, we would say that she made a calm, reasoned decision about what she felt to be right.

My deconversion from Christianity has much more in common with the advertising example than the infidelity example. I did not leave Christianity because it aggrieved me in any way, or because it let me down. And it was not an emotional reaction.

Instead, I left Christianity because the more I investigated it and studied it, the harder it became, in good conscience, for me to maintain my belief in God.

My heart, then, is not hardened.

Indeed, I’m quite open to the idea that, if God exists, he might want to speak to me. And I’m quite willing to listen.

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3 Responses to Hardened hearts, part 2

  1. You said:

    “We would not say that she “hardened her heart” against the project, we would say that she made a calm, reasoned decision about what she felt to be right.
    My deconversion from Christianity has much more in common with the advertising example than the infidelity example. I did not leave Christianity because it aggrieved me in any way, or because it let me down. And it was not an emotional reaction.

    Instead, I left Christianity because the more I investigated it and studied it, the harder it became, in good conscience, for me to maintain my belief in God.

    My heart, then, is not hardened.

    Indeed, I’m quite open to the idea that, if God exists, he might want to speak to me. And I’m quite willing to listen.”

    I said:

    You hardened your heart, according to what the bible tells us hardening one’s heart is. You “left Christianity,” you rejected Jesus Christ. You rejected believing in the God of the Bible. Your reasons are your own and are not under judgment or speculation by myself. I simply stated that your heart had become hardened, whether through yourself or through God Himself; I can’t know which has occurred, but essentially both are the same thing with the same end result.

    That you did so in a reasonable, calm manner is not something I debate. Your reasons are certainly valid in that they are your own and are more than understandable/acceptable.

    What is not acceptable (to me) is the decision itself. I accept the decision as your right to it, your free will and free choice, and respect it because it’s yours and you’re entitled to it, but I think it’s a mistake and a decision you will regret eternally *one day.*

  2. Just thought I would make you aware that I’ve written a little about this topic from my own perspective and included the perspective of others more learned than I am, in my last two posts. I hope you’ll have a look and find the posts intriguing. I found another blog as well that I referred to that really went into some fine, very lengthy details about this condition, the hardened heart.

    I wanted to share this with the blogging community because I really feel that this is a seriously important topic, and obviously you are not alone in feeling as you do about Christianity/religion/God.

    I think a lot of people will benefit from this discussion we’ve been having on the hardened heart from both of our perspectives.

    Thanks for talking about it with me so far, Kpharri.

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