I don't remember the exact time I lost my faith. I am sure many reformed Christians can give you a date but with me, it was a process and a very slow one at that. As early as I can remember I went to church, I stared vacantly at Sunday school teachers every morning and let my mind wander. My mother dragged my brother Grant and I to just about every Presbyterian Church in this city trying to find a church that was "Right for her."
I can't even remember most of the churches names but I have lots of memories of playing with other children at church functions and gatherings. As a young child I was never concerned with god or Jesus, I believed in them but I never really gave them much thought... As much as I believed in god and Jesus, I hated church with a passion. I used to hide under my covers when I was little and hope my
mother had overslept and I would have the incredible good fortune to spend my Sunday morning watching cartoons.
In my mind I have dozens and dozens of memories of Sunday school lessons, church socials and pot lucks but all my memories of the actually church services ran together like colors in a rainbow. I remember ignoring most of it - I used to draw on the pew cards and poker my brother with my elbow and making tapping sounds trying to get a reaction. When I did try and listen to the sermons I had trouble wrapping my mind around them.
Looking back on it I realize that most sermons are basically taking a one sentence declaration of how a person should live and mixing it up with lots of vague metaphors and all but totally unrelated stores of the pastors youth. I stopped listening when I caught on that he never said anything new and even when I got too old to draw on pew cards my mind always wandered off for an hour every Sunday morning while the pastor droned on. I believed in god and Jesus up till about the middle of 10th grade.
I had religious discussions with my friends where they made me very upset by bringing science and reason into the discussion where I backed up my points by saying things like "God is beyond science, god created science." I remember my friends invariably won these arguments though we never came to any definite conclusions.
I went to Sunday school and hated it. One morning we read a story about some villagers who created an idol and god sent a boulder rolling down that smashed the big idol to pieces. The instructor’s idea was for us to paint a big cardboard cutout of the idol with a rock rolling towards it in the background. We cut out the idols head and my Sunday school instructor told us next Sunday he was going to take all of our pictures posing with our heads in this ridiculous work of "art" and post them on the internet. I was horrified. I was so afraid someone I know would see my picture and make fun of me for it I feigned illness every Sunday morning for a few weeks so I wouldn't have to go to Sunday school.
The same instructor once said that everyone who doesn't follow Jesus goes to hell. I asked him "how could natives in remote tribes in Africa go to hell just because they had never even heard of Jesus." My instructor’s response was that god always found a way to reach people. This is perhaps the catalyst that though it didn't make me lose my faith - made the crack that eventually tore it apart. The thing about that day was... for the first time I flat out didn't believe him. I couldn't even imagine such a thing, it was too ridiculous a concept for me to digest. After that I told my mother I wasn't getting along with the other kids in my Sunday school group and she didn't make me go anymore.
As I got older Christianity made less and less sense. I have a Nine Inch Nails CD that I used to regularly skip a track on called "hearsay" which had the line " And then they dreamed a god up and called it Christianity - god is death and no one cares, if there is a hell ill see you there" I remember feeling very guilty every time that song came up and I would skip it quickly when it came on.
It is important to note that from seventh to ninth grade I wore a metal back brace which covered my neck and surrounded my neck with pieces of metal and plastic. My self esteem was non existent I would break down crying in the shower and pray to god to help me. I spent all of my time on the internet and cried myself to sleep every night. I prayed to god to deliver me and god answered my prayers - he said no. This went on for 3 years, every day I came closer and closer to suicide and farther and farther from my religion. I came to the conclusion that if there was a god he didn't care. How could an all powerful and at the still time LOVING god watch me sink further and further into this hellish depression? I began to question all aspects of religion and told my mother I wouldn't go to church with her anymore and she couldn't force me.
I have been a Christian, I understand the psychology of faith. What you can not explain it is your duty as a Christian to ignore. There was a long period during the transition of losing my faith that I felt very guilty for questioning everything I had taken for granted. Sometimes I felt like praying to god for forgiveness for doubting him in the hopes that I could be spared from hell...
Only now that I have set god behind me has my life improved. I have come out of my depression - recovered what was left of my self-esteem and moved on. I have good friends, a girlfriend that I love more than anything in the world and my life is better than it had ever been. I turned my life around without the help of god. God is a crutch; I cast him aside and learned to walk.
I changed from someone who believed everything I was told to someone who picked and chose what he believed to the person I am now - a devout agnostic and vigilant enemy of organized religion. It hurts me to think millions and millions of children who are brainwashed from infancy and set out in the world with a million wrong ideas and a million pleasures to feel guilty for.
Nathan R. - Posted here March 29, 2002
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)