Atheist Pastor

sent in by Jim

Thanks for the many, and extremely bright, people at this web site who take the time to encourage those who are struggling to see. Really see.

Just as a way of encouragement (if it in fact is), let me say I really bit into the apple. I have three theological degrees, all from very expensive schools, I am a Christian pastor, but now have no reason at all to believe. In other words, I now have a mid-life crisis the kind of which I never, ever envisioned. It's true I used to say that if belief in God were shown to be less viable than non-belief, I would choose the latter.

The thing is, I really meant it. But never for a moment thought it could be possible. On the other hand, even while I say this, I think at some strata of the sub-conscious I always held reservations. I was one of those people who wanted to believe all I was told about God, faith, etc.

I can remember even sharing with an Unitarian Universalist friend all about my miraculous, mystical experiences. Including a very powerful conversion experience. Amazed, he replied by saying he'd give anything for that. And though I went on to explain that psychological studies, etc., had undermined much of it for me, he nevertheless continued to suggest I'd known something priceless. Oh, that it were it so simple!

For though science and philosophy had already done in creation arguments, etc., and historical research continues to demolish the bible, some, even among UUs, continue to hope religious experience can validate their belief in God. I guess they haven't heard!

Anyway, what a dilemmna. I need to support my wife and family. I have no other skill or training capable of supporting them. To be sure, I have thought about seeing my job as a strictly professional service. Trying to visualize what that'd be/look like for the next 25 years until retirement. Still, I don't like the idea.

Of course, most of the clergy no longer believe in a traditional notion of the Judeo-God, though they can never admit as much. And I, too, could think of god as love, or universal consciousness (as Brahman) or energy, etc. Some impersonal notion of a god. But, I'd rather not do that. Sure, it's all ficticious and a childish game. And, I can do the job better than most.

On the other hand, I'd like out. Even though my wife (with some struggle I note) continues to believe. Which means I will "play the game" in some form or another for some time to come. But at least I'm free on the inside. Free at last. A guy who has read the bible through around 70 times (some parts more, some less), used to pray an hour a day, seen the "miracles," and all the rest. Just like every other one-time religious fanatic who ever lived.

But I made the mistake of taking the apologists' pepsi challenge. I looked in to it all. Everything. Science, biblical criticism, the study of other cultures and religions, all of it. Wow! Did faith ever come out looking sick, pale, infantile, neurotic, delusional (perhaps pathological)--completely mistaken.

Joined: 14
Left: 40
Was: Baptist, Methodist
Now: Buddhist
Converted because: Feared judgement, wanted to please family
De-converted because: Duhh?

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