sent in by Joey JoeJoe Shabadoo
Well, it's been a long road and I imagine it will only get longer. All of this started when I was very young and as far back as I can remember my parents took me to the local Lutheran Church every Sunday (Missouri Synod - very traditional). The only way of not going was to be deathly ill. I don't remember ever being thrilled about going to church except to play with a couple kids that also went there. Going to church on Sunday morning was so ingrained into me that to not go just felt weird and strange. As I reached school age I was put into a private school that was pretty much run by Southern Baptists. So at that point religious instruction was an everyday thing (except on Saturday of course). My home life wasn't great but I have to say I miss those days (anyone remember Tom & Jerry cartoons, those were awesome, it was great to be young and innocent).
When I reached the middle school years the religious stuff started getting heavy. I had Bible class every day at that private school I was still going to and our teachers tried to not only instruct us in Protestant doctrine but also turn us into little loyal Republicans. At the time my mom voted Democrat and that didn't mean much to me but when I mentioned it one day there was an uproar at school. I made a note to never mention politics again. It was during this period (middle school and early high school) where I would say the most damage was done. The damage I'm referring to was to my critical thinking skills. All logic and reason were twisted beyond belief and sometimes I feel very angry that someone didn't help me. I know that would have been difficult at the time especially since I was steeped in a religious environment almost everyday. Even today I have some animosity towards my father because I feel he failed me as a parent to provide me with the critical thinking skills that are necessary to discern fact from bullshit.
Somewhere around 14 or 15 I became a very committed Christian and there was even a brief moment where you might say I had a religious experience. Not only did I believe everything about the gospel but I also bought the whole creationism bit too. I truly believed that 200 years of geological investigation were in error and that I was right. My faith was such that it didn't bother me a bit that I didn't know a thing about geology because I was sure I was right! I even believed that Catholics weren't real Christians and that they were going to hell. At this point, my faith was pretty much fundamentalist Southern Baptist which I'm sure you all know is almost beyond description (to someone not steeped in it).
After graduating from high school and spending some time in college off and on, I slowly became a little less religious and was more accepting of non-fundamentalist people. I started attending a covenant church and to this day I was never quite sure what they believed, but it was a friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I lapsed back into a very fundamentalist church again which unsettled me since sometimes they would preach things that I thought was bullshit (for example, babies, less than 1 year old, can go to hell). Somehow, what little critical thinking skills that were left slowly crept forward again and I started to think!!! I would formulate arguments in my head for both sides and run through the consequences. Some of these internal debates were again unsettling so I decided to research some of these things. I began to look into how the Bible was put together, who was involved in selecting the books, what manuscripts do we have today, etc. Over the course of a year or so I pretty much came to the conclusion that a lot of stuff in Christianity is bullshit and the rest consists of grand claims that are untestable. Also, in terms of form and function, Christianity is very similar to many other religions and the psychology of belief is pretty much the same for all religions. I am now an agnostic and hold the opinion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As far as I can tell, there are no deities and no grand plan for the universe. So I have decided to create my own purpose for my existence and hopefully contribute at least a little bit to our knowledge of the universe.
I just remembered what the trigger was that brought my critical thinking skills back into use. I was at the library and I read something by Richard Feynman and it was different than anything I could recall reading and it really got my neurons working again. Its a shame I didn't discover his writings earlier.
How old were you when you became a christian? 15
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Baptist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Agnostic
Why did you become a christian? Really believed it was true
Why did you de-convert? the light of reason plus research
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)