sent in by Piprus
I thought about not bothering with telling my evolution to unbelief, but then as a new poster I thought it might be better to at least introduce myself somehow. It's a boring uneventful story, no doubt shared by many others here. An evolution, not a revolution...a gradual process.
I came from a small family. Two parents, two sons. My father, and his family were agnostics who never went to church, and didn't incorporate any religious beliefs into their activities or lifestyles. My mother's side was southern baptist, although my mother herself was very liberal and tolerant in her beliefs. She was never a regular churchgoer either. She was a "nominal" Christian. I was introduced to church and Sunday school by my maternal grandmother and aunt, at the age of 10. Well, when I got my head filled with a typical hellfire and brimstone sermon every Sunday, it wasn't long before I became so scared I might die "unsaved" and end up in hell, chained, burning for ever. So, I answered the altar call one Sunday morning, and thought I had everything taken care of.
My parents reacted mildly, no condemnation or anything, but simply accepted it. I quickly became a little evangelist, preaching, singing hymns, carrying a bible around, the whole nine yards. When I got carried away my mother, whom I will be forever grateful to, would lovingly but firmly teach me not to condemn other people, that the bible was full of contradictions, that god would probably not be so quick to send everybody to hell, but would consider everyone's basic goodness. My grandmother, although a true fundamentalist baptist, was likewise a tolerant, caring, loving person every moment (too bad so many fundies aren't like her).
A couple of years after my conversion, we moved to a new location, too far away for me to go to the same church. So, I stopped attending altogether. At age 12 I was starting adolescence anyway, so a lot of changes were going on. At age 15 my aunt, who was now married, and my uncle lived nearby and started taking me to their baptist church. It was much different than it had been. Now, it was more of a social scene than anything else. I didn't take the preaching and the doctrines too seriously, but I did enjoy hanging out with friends and singing in the choir. But when I got my driver's license at 16, things started changing again. I had wheels! It was the end of churchgoing for me. I still identified myself as a baptist, but was now, like my mother, a "nominal Christian", in name only. I had better things to do than go to church.
Like the typical teen, I was developing not only physically but intellectually, and I saw the contradictions of the "perfect" bible, the nonsensical aspect of the message. "If god is so loving, why is the whole religion based on terror?" I studied history, other cultures, and concluded that religions are built to support cultural beliefs and keep communities together and stable. Christianity offers a hope for a better life to those in despair, offers comfort to those who have a tough time accepting that life on planet earth is just plain ugly, sometimes.
I married a young woman who was the granddaughter of a pentecostal minister, and who was, like me, a renegade but still a nominal Christian. Her mother still attended a COG church, and one Sunday, just for fun, and curiosity on my part, we went to her church. Well, I got treated to the whole show. Speaking in tongues, prophesying, interpretation of tongues (by the pastor, of course), rolling around in the isles, the whole shebang. Needless to say, I found it absurd. The baptists consider this kind of thing heretical and non biblical, but nowadays I don't care. That was the last time I went to church, now about 25 years ago.
Over the years, besides my own musings on the absurdities of Christian doctrine, I read essays by other great thinkers: deists, agnostics, atheists. People like Robert Ingersoll, Joseph Lewis, H.L. Mencken, Mark Twain, Thomas Paine, and others. And, gradually, Christianity became for me what I believe it to be. Just another human religion, built around myths and fantasies. There is no evidence to believe in a god as portrayed in the bible, Jesus is a mythical character perhaps built around the life of an ancient evangelical Essene, there is no evidence for any afterlife, etc. For years I was a nominal Christian, an unbeliever who still identified with my childhood beliefs, until I finally faced the fact that I was actually an atheist. So, I may as well be what I really am.
And I feel much better that I do. It's been a long time ago.
So, my leaving Christian beliefs behind was a gradual process of intellectual growth and accepting what makes sense, rejecting what does not. I was never abused or condemned by any fellow Christians, or anything of the sort. I simply went my own way. And I have nothing to be ashamed of.
Left: Circa 18
Was: Born again southern baptist
Why did you become a Christian? Scared into it
Why did you de-convert? No longer made sense
russw51 at earthlink dot net
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)