Fairly frequently I hear from true believers who ask me, in so many words, "Brian, how could you?" Almost always my reply is "There's no way I couldn't."
Meaning, my nearly lifelong search for the way things really are necessitates leaving aside the way things aren't.
The fancy philosophical term for this is Via Negativa, the negative way.
Religions love to blab on about how God, or ultimate reality, is this or that, and demands that we do such and such to show our devotion to him, her, or it.
Mystics, poets, lovers of mystery, and others who bow down before the altar of "Who knows?" reject the notion that the beating heart of the cosmos can be hooked up to a concept machine and have its nature explained.
Intuition, sometimes sparked by walks under a full moon, tells me that religious dogmas can't begin to encompass the wordless wonder of the universe.
Which, naturally, includes us.
There's no way I can describe who I am. Nor can you. So what monstrous act of egotism allows anyone to claim that he or she is able to talk about God?
Logic accords with my intuition.
Religions explain the cosmos as God's creation. OK, now we have to ask, "Who or what created God?" If the reply is "No one; God is eternal" (which is the only way to avoid a never-ending series of creation questions), then this answers nothing.
Why not simply say that no one created the cosmos, as it is eternal? Either way, one ends up with an insoluble mystery: that the world exists.
A sense of this mysterious "thatness" is, in my quasi-humble opinion, the most genuine Godly feeling it is possible to have (using "God" as synonymous with the Big Question Mark).
It took me quite a few years to come to this realization. Old habits die hard.
For a long time I enjoyed an illusory (in retrospect) belief that the holy books I read, and the holy person I revered, were able to describe the nature of what lies at the farthest reaches of reality.
I believed this, even though the teachings I followed spoke of the need to go beyond form so the formless could be embraced. So does Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and the mystical side of the monotheistic religions, including Christianity.
Thus my answer to those who question how I could become a heretic: an honest search for God demands heresy.
Luther Askeland says it well in his wonderful "Ways in Mystery" (one of my favorite books):
We can define the negative way as a twofold process. First, the mystic tries to become consciously aware of the various ways in which the intellect presumes to approach God: all the statements, concepts, words, and images that may be thought to enable one to know something about God. We note the logic of this enterprise as well as the enormity of the task.
Let us also observe that the logic of the negative way inevitably leads the mystic toward a denial of the most fundamental teachings and concepts of the very tradition to which the mystic belongs. In fact, it is precisely these teachings and concepts that form the heart of the mystic's particular "misconception" of God: They are the subtlest and also the most deceptive layer of the blindfold.
For this reason, DIonysius and Eckhart single out the most orthodox conceptions of God -- God's existence, unity, wisdom, and goodness -- for the most explicit and vehement denial.
Become a heretic: a lover of God.