On the Engel Scale, I Don’t Exist
I try to give Christianity a chance, I really do. I don’t know of any reason to think that Christianity is special compared to other world religions. But it was the religion that I was exposed to growing up and is also the professed religion of most of the people I know personally. So while I peruse other religions for kernels of wisdom, Christianity I treat a little differently. I read Christian literature to try to find out if maybe I’m missing some key evidence or reasoning. Something that would make me think that maybe there is some reason to think that it might be true. I haven’t found anything, but for some reason I keep looking.
In this quest, occasionally I run across something that causes me to pause. Recently I was reading an apologetics text. In it I saw something I had not heard of before now, the Engel Scale. This tidbit was developed in the 1970’s at Wheaton College by Dr. James Engel and Viggo Sogaard. It is reproduced below using an image from this site. This scale is supposed to be show the continuum in which every person is located.
This most immediately obvious thing to me about this scale is that I don’t fit. In fact, it’s not just that I don’t fit neatly into a category, but instead that according to this I don’t exist. The scale starts with the lowest level of damned souls being at a value of -8, where they have awareness of a supreme being, but no knowledge of the Gospel. As a soul proceeds to a better place, they go through levels -7 through -4 where they learn about the Gospel and grow a “positive attitude” toward it. The fun is just getting started, though, because in level -3 they decide they are personally screwed up. This is supposed to lead eventually into their new birth as a Christian, where they are no longer tagged with negative numbers and progress toward high levels of communion with God.
As I said, I don’t show up on this scale. Despite being sold as a scale evangelists can use to place anyone, I don’t see myself. In the past someone would probably have put me in the good positive numbers, but since then my study has led me to the conclusion that there is no supreme being. No God to commune with. That faith in Jesus cannot be expected to lead to eternal life. So where do I go?
I no longer have faith in Jesus so I’m relegated to the negative values. I acknowledge that I have personal issues, though now I don’t think that they are the ones that Christians think I should worry about, so I’m probably at least at -3. I have studied the Gospel during both my initial recruitment, my life as a Christian, and most strenuously in my realization that it was malarkey. So I should be at least a -5. Right?
But here’s the rub, I can’t be because I don’t even meet the qualifications for the lowly -8, the bottom rung of heathens. I have no awareness of a Supreme Being. I am very aware of the concept, like I am of the concept of the tooth fairy or unicorns. But just like unicorns I find no evidence in the world for a Supreme Being. In fact it looks to me very much like there isn’t one around.
So here I am, a person that can’t exist in this scale. I’m not too worried about myself, as I’m pretty sure I actually do exist. But I do worry for Christians who are taught such a simplified and wrong model of humanity.