Before I get into my own personal de-conversion story, please indulge me in giving just a little background on my life. Not that my former life as a fundamentalist is that much different than any of the other ex-fundies who post here, because I have found that, as a general rule, most ex-fundamentalist share many of the same experiences. Nevertheless, I feel as if the reader deserves some background of my own fundamentalism, even if it’s a condensed version.
I was born into fundamentalism. My mother was raised a Missionary Baptist in northeast Mississippi. For those of you who might not know anything about Baptist denominations, this particular “brand” of missionary Baptist is an off shoot of southern Baptist, with almost no discernable differences, other than being a touch more conservative and dogmatic. My mother made sure that my sister and I were in Sunday school and church every Sunday morning, every Sunday night, every Wednesday night, and pretty much every time the doors were opened. She taught Sunday school, and played the piano for the choir, and congregational singing. My father was raised a more “casual” Christian, being brought up in a much more conservative Methodist church. When I was about 10, and after years of praying and preaching on my mothers part, my father started going to church on a regular basis. And as a result, got saved and joined the church. He soon became a deacon, Sunday school teacher, and song/choir director. About a year after that, I too got saved and joined the church.
My salvation experience is one that I will NEVER forget. It was on a Wednesday night after church. I had went to bed, and could not go to sleep that night for fear of dying in my sleep and going to hell. The sermons I had been exposed to all my life were finally starting to sink in, and I become convinced that if I died, I would go to hell. And why not? I mean, it’s what I was told on a regular basis. Our stout, burly preacher who stood 6’3” and weighed 245lbs., had for years been yelling from the pulpit in his deep southern drawl, that all who were not saved would spend an eternity in HELL! I finally decided that I could not go to sleep that night, for fear of waking up burning in hell, and decided to wake my mother up. She promptly called our pastor, and a few minutes later he was at our house. We knelt at the foot of the sofa, and I prayed, admitting to God that I was a sinner, asking forgiveness for said sinfulness, and asking Jesus to come into my heart as my Lord and Savior, and save me. After I got through praying, the pastor asked me if I was saved. I thought about it for a minute….I wasn’t real sure of what to say. But I kind of felt like something had happened. I finally said I was….and he said, “You sure are son”. His affirmation kind of made it seem more real and I was then satisfied that I was truly saved. The next day at school, I was on cloud 10!!!!! I had been SAVED!!!!! I was no longer one of the ungodly. I had seen the light, and was now on the straight and narrow to heaven. Long story short, from that time, until I was 32 years old, I lived as faithful of a Christian life as one ever has: reading, memorizing, and faithfully studying the Bible. As a teenager I taught young boys on Wednesday nights, and as a young adult taught Sunday school. All in all, pretty much your basic fundamentalist.
About 3 years ago, I went through a long, and mentally tumultuous de-conversion. Shortly after I realized that I no longer believed in God, I felt a HUGE desire to write down some of the things I had went through during this process. I had recently come across a piece by Robert Green Ingersol called “Why I am Agnostic,” and felt like he had said exactly what I was thinking. So I used it as a base for what I was writing. I have since gone back and taken out all of the passages that I quoted from this piece, and what follows is what I wrote. And since it is something that I put a LOT of time and thought into, I thought sharing it here would be appropriate. It is not filled with reasons why a person should abandon their faith, as I feel like everyone reading it here could find those on every corner. It’s more of some of the thoughts that I had during my de-conversion process. Not a debate….just a narrative. It's kind of long, so bear with me please. I look forward to the feedback.
Breaking the tie that binds
Is God real? Does he really exist? This is a question that up until a few of years ago, I had never really seriously entertained. Sure, I had questions that came as passing thoughts. Any Christian who has any intelligence at all will have some questions (though he or she might never admit it) if only for a fleeting moment. Such as, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” Or, “Why did God allow me to be born into a family and country where Christianity is the norm, and where I could prosper, while there are poor starving people in other countries who have never even heard of God or Jesus Christ, nor ever will?” But, as a Christian, I had been taught and told all my life, on a regular basis, that God is supreme in knowledge and power, and that my level of intelligence was minute compared to God’s, therefore, I could never understand God’s ways or his will. Anyone who said that God does not exist was obviously stupid for not seeing the truth. I was taught (and taught other people as a Sunday school teacher), that the Bible is God’s literal word, without error, and that, God IS, and has always been, and that’s the way it was. And that is exactly what I accepted. That is until about 3 years ago, on the day of my youngest son’s birth. That day, and the 2 years that followed that day, are what I intend on writing about here.
Days when little ones are born are never normal days. And while I was somewhat anxious, I was not as nervous or high strung as the day when our oldest was born. I pretty much knew the routine and what to expect.
Several hours of waiting, pacing, fast food in the waiting room, and idle small talk with all of the waiting visitors.....grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends. As people began arriving in the waiting room, they slowly started to move into the small groups that inevitably form when people from several families get together. They congregate into groups where they feel most comfortable talking about their similar interests. My mother walked over to the table where I was feeding my sleep-deprived body a slice of pizza and told me that a good friend of our family, Bill Richards, had died earlier that morning. I was a little shocked, but not surprised since Bill had been in poor health for a long time, and was not expected to live much longer. But the conversation that followed about his LIFE is one that I will never forget.
Bill was a great man — plain and simple — the kind of friend and neighbor that anyone would be envious of. Bill and his wife, Bobbie, had moved just down the road from my grandparents about 15 years prior to his death. Bill had been a laborer in an auto plant up north for most of his adult life, and had retired to a small farm down south in northeast Mississippi to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city northern life. He and his wife lived a very simple life on a small farm. They raised and canned vegetables that looked like they could have come right out of a garden you might see in Southern Living magazine, and shared their harvest with anyone that they came in contact with. They were active in the community, always ready and willing to lend a helping hand, and regularly attended our family functions, as we had adopted them into our family. Bill was the kind of person who loved to give of himself, and did so, on a regular basis. He and his wife became the best friends that my grandparents had ever had. And when my grandfather became ill to the point of death, Bill and Bobbie were always there. Cooking a meal, cleaning the house, running errands, mowing the yard, or WHATEVER needed to be done. Never would you hear Bill say a negative word about anyone, or anything, nor did you hear him use foul language or curse. He did not drink, nor smoke and was a very hard worker, honest in all of his dealings and giving 100% of himself to whatever task lay at hand. As far as mankind goes, he was a shining example of its BEST. Bill had only one trait that differentiated him from the rest of his adopted family. He did not believe in God. Bill was an atheist.
Now.....this was something that I had known about Mr. Bill for a long time. Not because he was extremely vocal about it, because he wasn’t.
But, it wasn’t something that he would lie about, or keep secret. I personally had never talked to him about religion (or lack thereof), and had only the word of my grandparents who had told me of his unbelief in a deity. It wasn’t until this day, the day my youngest son was to be born, that I would learn of WHY he did not believe in God (or at least what led up to his unbelief). It seems that, sometime during my grandparents’ friendship with the Richards, Bill’s wife Bobbie had told this story to my grandmother, and she in turn, told it to my mother, who on this day, told it to me, and my wife’s dad, who had migrated over to where we were, and was listening in on the story.
Bill was born and raised up north. Where, I can’t say for sure, but apparently in a part of the country where Catholicism was the major religion, unlike the south where a Baptist church of one stripe or another can be found on every corner. This was the religion he was born and raised in — the religion of his parents, and theirs before them.
They were very devout in their religion, and raised their children to be very spiritual people, and active in the church. At a fairly young age, Bill became an altar boy, and began to serve his church in that capacity. Over the next few months and years, Bill was sexually assaulted and raped by a priest whom he trusted. As anyone can imagine, this deeply scarred him for life. I personally cannot imagine it, nor do I want to. To have your life forever altered by the actions of a man you trusted in for your spiritual advisor. Over the next few years of Bill’s young life, he came to the conclusion in his heart, soul and mind, that a loving God, a God who CARED for him, could not, and WOULD not let this happen....therefore he must not exist. As my mother told this, my head began to swim with unfamiliar questions. When she finished the story, she said, “What a sad funeral it would be, knowing that he (Mr. Bill) was in hell. Looking down at the floor with my head in a cloud of questions and doubt, I heard my wife’s dad speak up and say, “I don’t know. I mean, if he lived a good life, I am not so sure that he went to hell.” Neither my mother nor I said anything further, for we knew that, according to how WE believed, and how WE interpreted the scriptures, that hell is exactly where he was if he had not accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior … and by his own admission, he had not. But, this one conversation had started a chain reaction in my mind. A domino affect that would not stop until it reached its logical end. From that moment on, I began to wonder, and question, how COULD God do something like this? How could God create a man knowing that this was going to happen? Knowing, that because of a religion centered around Him, GOD HIMSELF, that this would end up causing this man to lose his faith, and ultimately spend ETERNITY
in an evil burning HELL! And in essence this is EXACTLY what happened.
He lost his faith in God, BECAUSE he went to church and trusted in
God!!!!! I thought, HOW IS THIS FAIR? How could a loving God do this?
And at the same time, according to my own beliefs, a man who has murdered, and raped little kids, and stolen, and was a drunkard, and lived the most evil life imaginable, could, on his death bed, admit to God he was a sinner, ask for forgiveness of his sins, accept Jesus Christ into his heart and be saved, and in turn be rewarded with ETERNAL JOY AND HAPPINESS AND PEACE, while a GOOD man, and a JUST man such as Mr. Bill, would be punished (for being raped by a so called man of God), with the WORST EVIL one can imagine. An ETERNITY of hell fire, and darkness, and torture, and the most wicked evil ever imagined. Is this possible? How? Why?
These were the questions I had … and I had to find the answers … no matter what they might be.
Up until this incident, I had never seriously questioned the existence of God or the authority and/or legitimacy of the Bible. I was told (and believed myself) that, all who denied God were simply unlearned fools and that atheists were all evil people being led of Satan, without a clue or purpose in life. Nevertheless, I had to find out and come to my
OWN conclusions about these questions I had. I had to know the truth!
After 32 years of blindly following the Bible and the Baptist doctrine and creed, I had begun to ask questions that demanded answers. I had opened the door to other possibilities. I had begun to think for myself. For the next year and a half, this one question, does God exist, would occupy my every waking thought.
No religion, cult, or wild-eyed atheist came to me and converted me or brainwashed me. Quite the opposite!!!!!! I had reached a point in my life where I was not going to let ANYONE — pastor, teacher, atheist, agnostic, parent or friend, book or Bible — lead me in one direction or the other. I simply began to think for myself ... something that religion (especially fundamentalist religion) WILL NOT allow you to do.
Religion asks you to blindly follow in faith, relying on what OTHERS have written about or believed before you. Sometimes CENTURIES or
MILLENNIUMS before you were born, such as the Bible. New ideas are NOT allowed. Imagine where we would be today if people had never left the paths of accepted belief, and pondered on new ideas, and new concepts. Would we still think the world was flat? Would we have electricity? Or cars? I had decided to think for myself, no longer relying on ONE BOOK written thousands of years ago to guide my beliefs or thought process.
For months I agonized over the question of God. I prayed as often as I thought I could, asking God these questions that I had. Asking him WHY he had allowed this doubt to be placed in my head. I begged him on MANY occasions to show me a sign. Give me positive proof (other than a book that had been written by many men, between 1500 and 4000 years ago), that he existed. Something! ANYTHING! Surely this request was not
SELFISH! I wanted DESPERATELY to continue my belief in God, and have no more doubts. Surely, a little proof was not too much to ask of such a big God.
My proof never came. If He REALLY loved me, how could He have created me to have such doubt???? Knowing it would send me to HELL! He created me to send me to HELL???? How could he have put something as important as my ETERNAL FUTURE into my fragile, weak mind that was now filled with doubt beyond my control?? I had yet to tell anyone of my dilemma, because I was ashamed of how I felt — ashamed that I had lost my faith in God. I didn’t want to tell anyone, partly because I was ashamed, but also because I felt like my questions and arguments were becoming SO powerful and convincing, that by telling someone else, I might cause THEM to start doubting, and at the time, I didn’t want that to happen. But eventually, the pressure of all these questions and doubts I was having, was building up to the point of exploding. So I went to a very trusted pastor friend of mine, and gave it all up. I told him my whole story about how I was having serious doubts about God’s very existence, and why. We talked for several hours. He was neither condescending nor judgmental.
He listened to me, and I to him, with both of us doing equally the same amount of talking and listening. Looking back on this conversation, I can see where it wasn’t much help at all. He used the same circular logic that most all Christians use when defending their faith. God is good, and therefore whatever he does is good … even if we can’t understand it. God’s word is truth ... but only by having blind faith in it and Him will you be able to understand it. When the conversation was over, I asked a favor of him, and told him, if he could not keep it, not to promise to it. I asked him if he would, at some point EVERY day, have a special prayer EXCLUSIVELY for me. Not included in another prayer, but just for me. He promised that he would. I asked this of him because of the promises in the Bible of fervent prayer from the faithful being answered. He said that he was CERTAIN, and had NO DOUBT, that a person who was seeking God as hard as I was, would find him. I have seen him several times since then. We have not talked further about this subject, but he always tells me before we part, that he has kept his promise. I haven’t told him yet, but ... God did not hear him ... or me.
(This is something that I am not going to address in this manuscript, but I have since found out that there are TONS of contradictions in the Bible. Some of which, I have known about a long time, but have always accepted the weak explanations for these contradictions that I had been taught throughout my life. Debate is not my strong point; however, I do feel as if this is a debate that I could easily win with an open minded person.)
I have read and listened to MANY Christian apologists, including Josh McDowell and C.S. Lewis. Both of these men are and were extremely intelligent, but in my opinion, sincerely wrong. Each makes a great case for God and Christianity, but they take too many things for granted in their synopsis, and many times lack credible evidence, using only the Bible as their source. Many Christians find great pleasure in defending their beliefs, and spend an enormous amount of time learning facts from history to back up their claims. However, when they come across something that does not correspond with their beliefs, they will simply overlook it, and ignore it, as if it wasn’t there. Either that, or come up with some long, drawn out explanation from unrelated Bible verses to explain it. They take newly uncovered scientific facts, and use them ambiguously to try and prove the inspiration of the Bible.
Again, Christians reading this will adamantly debate this, and claim that I am simply NOT looking at the facts, and comparing them to Biblical accounts. And again I say, YES I HAVE! I have read many apologists books by such greats as C.S. Lewis, Josh McDowell, Max Lucado, and others, all with an open mind, searching for the truth. I have heard all of the arguments using modern scientific facts to claim the Bible’s authenticity. But I, unlike the majority of many Christians, have looked at BOTH sides with an open mind and without bias. I have weighed BOTH sides equally, and found creationism and the Bible to be severely lacking in logical evidence or COMMON SENSE! How could God have meant for His word, that, as many Christians claim is easy enough for a 5th grader to understand, to be this complicated and hard to figure out? Most pastors, preachers and theologians even have to study Greek and Hebrew to make some of the words in their particular translation fit their meaning, resulting in hundreds of different denominations all of whom claim to have the one and only TRUTH! Couldn’t an almighty god do better than this????
I want to, at this point, give you an example of sorts as to my experience over the year and a half that followed Mr. Bill’s death, and the first time I had allowed myself to ask questions about God, Jesus, the Bible and my faith in all of the afore mentioned things. I want you to go back in your mind to when you were a child who believed in Santa Claus, AND to the moment when you realized that he wasn’t real. I was 10 when I found out that Santa was just a fantasy. But the journey to this truth had started exactly one year prior. I was nine, and just as gullible as the next nine year old. Children are like that. They believe what their parents tell them ... usually without question. This particular Christmas day was on a Sunday, which at my house was going to mean a very frantic Christmas morning, trying to fit Christmas breakfast, presents and toys, AND getting ready for church all within just a few hours. On Christmas Eve, we always went to my grandmother’s house, and this one was no different. It was (and still is) in my memory, the very essence of Christmas: all of the good food, the anticipation of opening presents from all of the relatives, hearing the weather man say that he had spotted Santa’s sleigh on his radar, and just knowing that TONIGHT would be the night that Santa would come and end months worth of looking through the wish book and circling the toys that I wanted. It was usually late when we got home on Christmas Eve, and my parents would quickly put us to bed to give us ample time to fall asleep. This particular night was different though. We left for home very early that Christmas Eve night. But to our surprise when we got home, we found out that Santa had already come! My sister and I were BESIDE ourselves! We stayed up past midnight playing with all of our toys, and went to bed just as happy as ever. The next morning (Christmas morning) we got up and got ready for church as normal. In Sunday school that morning, I and all of my 9-year-old pals were discussing all of the toys we had gotten from Santa.
While we were talking, my SS teacher spoke up and said, “You all know that Santa isn’t real ... don’t you?” Of course at this statement, we all stopped talking and sat there with our mouths open, staring at her in utter disbelief at the idiotic statement that had just come out of her mouth. Oh sure, we had heard of people who didn’t believe in Santa
Claus, but to us, those were all crazy people who just did not want to accept the truth! People who overlooked all of the FACTS! It was usually the loser kid in school whose mother let him smoke at age 7, or the crazy drunk uncle we were told to avoid. Nonsense, we all said.
I mean, look at the FACTS! Everyone we know believes in Santa: our parents, our friends, and our family. There have been COUNTLESS books written about him. Were they all lying??? What about all the MOVIES? What about the EVIDENCE?? When we go to bed on Christmas Eve, we always leave milk and cookies out for him, and the next morning they are gone!
What about THAT? little Miss Sunday School teacher?!?!?
And the TOYS!!! For God’s sake woman, the TOYS ! How can you explain all of these things??? We made a pretty convincing case for a bunch of 9-year-olds. Nevertheless, she proceeded to tell us how that, after we went to bed, our parents laid out all of the toys, disposed of the milk and cookies, and then went to bed. At which point I KNEW that I had her! I had PROOF that this wasn’t true! “Well then Miss teacher”, I said, ”explain THIS: Santa came to my house EARLY this Christmas. He came LAST NIGHT, and my parents weren’t even there! So poo poo on YOU.” She very calmly, with a smile on her face, explained that some of my other relatives must have come over and put out the toys, in order to save time on Christmas morning.
Phooey!!! This old bat was crazy as a loon I thought, and went on about my business.
But this ONE EVENT had started a chain reaction in my mind.
From that moment on, I began to wonder, (just as I had after Mr. Bill died), “How is this POSSIBLE?” How can this be??? And for the next year, I began to both consciously and subconsciously ask questions, and gather evidence in my mind, one little bit at a time. How COULD one man, assisted by tiny elves, make all of those toys in one little workshop in a place such as the North Pole, which is virtually uninhabitable? And how could he then, load up millions and millions of toys onto ONE sleigh. A sleigh led by FLYING REINDEER no less. And this team of flying reindeer led Santa and his sleigh full of millions of toys, to EVERY home in the entire world in ONE NIGHT!!??!!?? Then, magically shrink himself down, to be able to come down the chimney and avoid the fire, and gobble up BILLIONS of cookies and countless gallons of milk? How could he watch me all year long, every minute of every day, and know for sure if I was naughty or nice?? Not to mention the fact that he was IMMORTAL! Was this possible? Of course, when you see it all laid out like that as an adult, it seems asinine! How could someone believe such a story?? Yet, as I said, children are innocent and gullible — but only to a point. These are questions that my little 9-year-old brain had, for the first time, started to ponder. I had stepped out of my comfort zone ... the place where everyone I knew believed in Santa and scoffed at those who didn’t ... and had begun to THINK FOR MYSELF! (This is the EXACT same path that I had begun to take after Mr. Bill’s death, questioning how a loving God could send such a good man to Hell. For the next year and a half, I began to slowly gather evidence, one little bit at a time — both consciously and subconsciously. I say subconsciously, because for the first time in my life, I was allowing myself to THINK, which in turn allowed me to be open to lots of different subjects and thoughts that previously were
OFF LIMITS due to my Christian beliefs: a magazine here, a book there — a National Geographic TV special here, an Archeology magazine article there — a dash of Richard Dawkins here, and sprinkle of Robert Green Ingersol there.
You get the picture.
It wasn’t an overnight revelation, but rather a long and somewhat mentally torturous process that took place over many months.)
Then came the next Christmas. Christmas Eve was at my grandmother’s as usual. And while I had more doubts now than ever about the existence of
Santa, I still wasn’t fully convinced. And when we awoke that Christmas morning to an ATARI GAME SYSTEM ... well, let’s just say, I couldn’t have cared LESS about WHO had given me the Atari!!! This was THE
HOTTEST gift of the season, and I had one! As my sister and I lay in the floor playing Pong and Pac-Man, my wondering if Santa existed or not was the LAST thing on my mind. After hours of playing Atari video games, we packed up and went to my other grandmother’s house for Christmas lunch, same as every other year. After lunch, we opened presents from that side of the family. As I began to open a present from my aunt, I was very excited, as she lived in the “big city” and was financially better off than our little country family, and she ALWAYS gave the best presents. But as I opened her gift and saw what it was, a burst of energy hit me like a speeding bullet. She had given me an Atari game. Frogger. For the next 10 seconds or so, every single fact that I had been collecting over the past year, came flooding back to my memory. It was then that I realized, without a shred of doubt, that Santa did not exist. How would she have known that I was getting an Atari? I was saddened a little, but soooo happy to finally know the truth. Was it this one event that convinced me of the non-existence of Santa? Of course not. This was just the event that made me realize that, after a year of pondering on all of the FACTS, I no longer believed in Santa. I never told my parents when I found out... and never have. They just assumed at some point that I had figured it out. This story as I have told it, is EXACTLY the same journey that I took in my journey to find out if God was real.
One of the things that kept me holding on to my belief in an almighty god and creator was Paley’s watch/watchmaker argument. Many times in the past, have I heard this argument that originated with Paley. Pastors have used it in sermons that I have heard over the years. Teachers have used it. Hell, even I have used it, being that I was a Sunday school teacher of young adults for over 10 years. No one in their right mind would look at an instrument as precise as a watch and think that it just “came together” without a design or a maker. How true!!!! But the one factor that was ALWAYS left out of this argument was the most important!! And perhaps the most obvious. Yet, for 32 years, I overlooked it. How can there be a designer without a design??? Christians are to believe that God, being INFINITELY more complex than the earth, or man, or anything in it, designed EVERYTHING, yet he himself had NO designer?? When you take this into account, there IS NO ARGUMENT!!! The same logic Paley uses to explain the WATCH, he does NOT apply to GOD! In other words, it is perfectly acceptable for a Christian to say that God has “always existed”, and yet NOT apply that same logic to matter and space. Not to mention the fact that, using a watch as an example is false logic to begin with. A WATCH is NOT natural. A watch cannot reproduce another watch. Whereas a HUMAN starts out as a single cell and is GROWN inside his or her mother’s womb. From the outside, the argument of the watchmaker looks valid... that is, until you apply LOGIC!!!
Christians are very fond of making reference to how precise the earth and the universe are. How that, if the sun were only a few miles closer, we would all burn up... or... how complicated the human body is (such as the precision of the human eye). These, and many other precise intricacies of our earth and universe, are made mention of often in defending creationism and intelligent design. All of which are TRUE!! But how much more complex must GOD be? Surely the CREATOR is greater than the CREATION!?!? And yet they have no trouble believing that HE has just always been. WTF?????
Here is something else that simply amazes me. The bible insists that
God took almost 6 whole days to make the earth and everything in it... but yet he created BILLIONS AND BILLIONS of galaxies, each with billions and billions of stars, in only a couple of hours during one of these six days. This only goes to show how little of the universe the writers of the bible knew. This is not their fault. They had no way of knowing ANYTHING about the vastness of space. To them, an almighty creator was probably the most logical answer. However, in today’s age, we know SO MUCH MORE about our universe. Yet millions of people still hold to the idea of an almighty creator, and some still claim the earth to be less than 10,000 years old! Here again, I cannot blame them... at least not totally. They only believe what they have been taught over and over and over. When you are exposed to ANYTHING on a regular enough basis, you will be more apt to believe it. It is called indoctrination.
I can only urge any Christian who might be reading this, to PLEASE open your eyes!! To you, I am being led of Satan, and am under his control, and therefore I must have lost all my good sense. I know this, because at one time, reading something like this would have INFURIATED ME, and I would have said the same thing. But I beg of you to seek out the truth! To you, you KNOW you have the truth, just as I knew it. But in my mind, I feel like you should give me some credence, because I was such a devout Christian for so long. I mean, you ask this of other people! You ask unsaved people to trust you, and believe what you tell them, and what the Bible says. All I ask is that you open your mind to the possibility that all is not as your religion teaches. THEN make up your own mind.
I do not belittle ANY religion, as long as its followers are allowed to
THINK for themselves and are open to all possibilities. It is not now, nor will it ever be my intention or desire to belittle or look down upon ANY faith. We all believe as we must, and thankfully live in a country where such faith (or lack thereof) can be expressed openly and without fear.
I want to say a little something here about the thousands of different religions that exist now, as well as those which have existed in the thousands of years prior. Over the ages, there have been COUNTLESS different false religions, each having their fair share of followers. How can God condemn the followers of these different religions to hell, being Himself ultimately responsible for having created these religion AND the followers? As children are born into these religions, or lack thereof, they have no choice as to what they are taught! Christian pastors are famous for reminding their congregation this VERY POINT! — about how many millions of people are dying and going to hell EACH DAY because they do not have access to the gospel of Jesus Christ and that they should therefore give more money to missions to help save these people from hell. I agree!!! I mean, if all of these people are dying and going to hell EVERY day because God has not provided them with the message of how Jesus can save them from hell, or even with the message that they are even in danger, then, by ALL MEANS, we need to save these people!!!!
Apparently GOD doesn’t care! If so, He would do something to prevent this mass exodus to HELL!!! It is at this point that the Christian who is reading this (if there are any left still reading), will get angry and defensive, and give some long, drawn out confusing answer from the Bible to this dilemma. He or she will say that I am twisting his or her words around, and that this is not REALLY what is going on.
This is why I think that debates with a Christian on the subject of whether or not God exists are fruitless — because each side is wholly convinced that they are right. And yet it is the fundamentalist Christian who will take fact after fact and boldly deny them, using ONLY THE BIBLE as their support, claiming that they are misunderstood and that the non-Christian simply cannot understand God’s Holy Word because they are being deceived and blinded by the devil. You know, the Christian religion is founded with so called unbelievers, so it is fairly easy to find someone in Christianity who is a former atheist (Josh McDowell is a good example) or general non-believer. The Christian movement is VERY well practiced in the art of converting said sinners, because they have been doing it so long, and on such a regular basis. Their tactics are tried and true, using emotion and fear as their conversion tools. But you will be HARD PRESSED to find someone such as myself, who was a VERY devoted TRUE believer for as long as I was and has realized that all religion is false, convert BACK to Christianity.
I dare say you could not find ONE!
In other words----atheist to Christian... YES.This is because once your eyes are OPENED, you see religion for what it really is. Then and ONLY then will you understand. I love you, Christian brother or sister — dearly. But you are being deceived, and the irony is, you think I am the one who is deceiving.
Atheist to Christian then back to atheist... YES.
Christian to atheist... YES
Christian to atheist then BACK to Christianity... almost never (I might even say ABSOLUTELY never)!
You weep for my soul... I weep for your life.
Here is another point that, looking back, I cannot believe I ignored for so many years. The fact that, if God knows EVERYTHING, then he CANNOT feel remorse, or regret. How can you regret something that you KNEW was going to happen, and happened because YOU made it that way? If you KNEW you were going to regret it (not because you have a “feeling” but because you actually have knowledge of the future), WHY DO IT? The Bible says that God REGRETTED having made the Earth and decided to destroy all but eight in it, and THEN he regretted destroying the earth with the flood.
Did he not KNOW this ahead of time??? This would mean that he ADMITTED that he made a mistake, and decided to rectify it by starting over. A god who knows everything past, present and future CANNOT make a mistake. Yet this is what we are led to believe. Also... if God’s knowledge is PERFECT, meaning that He knows ALL, how can such a being THINK? Thinking is a process — a process by which one reaches conclusions. He who knows all outcomes already has no need to think. We are told several times in the Bible that God changed his mind… my dear friend THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE!!!!! He who knows ALL OUTCOMES knows this because it is how He planned it... or “willed” it. He could NOT change his mind!!!
If he did change his mind, wouldn’t he have known that he was going to change his mind an eternity ago and therefore made his mind up back then? Let me try and give an example. Let’s say for example that
God, knowing ALL outcomes, knows that, tomorrow, He has planned to take the life of a person because they are living such an ungodly life. He has known this for ETERNITY. Eons, and eons ago, God knew this, because he knows ALL. Then, the night before, this person prays to God, and asks for forgiveness, and God has “mercy on him” and decides that He will forgive this person, and allow them to live for a few more years. In other words, He changes his MIND... the Bible says that this happens ALL THE TIME WITH GOD. This, my friends, is a PARADOX!!! Something that simply CANNOT EXIST! Not to mention the fact that an “all knowing” entity is something that logically is not possible. A being with infinite knowledge would have to be infinitely big. For the average person, this is a VERY deep concept, but one that is totally understandable if one will only ponder on it. And I URGE you to do so!!!! Again, I say to my dear Christian friends, I am in NO WAY making fun of your faith in God. I am simply trying... no, BEGGING you to look HARD at what you believe and to THINK!!! Ask QUESTIONS!!! I have been where you are.
One day while driving down the road, pondering, as I often did, over all the facts that had come my way since that fateful day Mr. Bill died, suddenly, out of nowhere, it hit me like a ton of bricks, just as it had done when I was 10 years old. For about 10 seconds, every fact that I had gathered over the last year and a half converged in my consciousness at one time. It was as if I had been in a dark room ALL MY LIFE, and suddenly someone turned on the lights and I could SEE!!!
It was overwhelming to say the least!!!! And then, as if I should have known it all along, I realized that God, was a fantasy... a myth. I realized that I did not believe in God anymore. For the first moment or so, I was stunned! And then, the most peaceful feeling I have EVER experienced flooded my body and soul. I, for the first time in my life had peace.
No fear or doubt.
No being a slave to Christianity or ANY religion.
I was finally free. I TRULY had been born again!!! Born... into LIFE!
Christianity will teach you that only through Jesus Christ can one have peace. But only now, looking back, can I see that this is a myth and a lie... even if told in earnest sincerity. Religion is bondage! Real peace comes in knowing and seeking the truth. I have never felt happier or been more at peace.
I want to conclude by saying that I do not now, nor will I ever, feel ANY animosity towards any of my Christian friends, of whom I have many.
Quite the contrary, I feel sorry for them, in much the same way that they feel sorry for me after having read this.
But unlike them, I RESPECT their right to believe what they want or must!!! I have been where they are. There was a time in my life when I thought and said HORRIBLE things about atheists, agnostics, or ANYONE who disagreed with what I was raised to believe, and would have NEVER listened to anyone who had an opposing view point, REGARDLESS of how many facts they might have presented. I would have prayed countless prayers for them, hoping that God would reveal himself to them, convinced that the devil had taken over their heart, soul and mind. I also know that there are many Christians who have been exposed to this belief system for so long, that no amount of evidence would convince them otherwise, and for them, I feel more sadness than I EVER felt for a soul damned to Hell. When you are exposed to this teaching several times a week all your life, and are taught that even in your personal time, you must read religious material, and listen to religious music on the radio, and that the devil controls the TV, (especially channels like National Geographic, and Discovery), you have a bias, and it is VERY hard to even look at an opposing view point, for FEAR of what people might say about you, or what God might DO to you!
This type of indoctrination is hard to overcome... but not impossible. To those people, I only want to say, wake up. When it comes to Bible knowledge according to BAPTIST doctrine, I know just as much as ANYONE!!! I felt like it was my calling in life to know the Bible, and for YEARS, I read it, studied it, memorized it, listened to it, taught it, believed it, and lived it... just as faithfully as anyone ever has.
ANYONE who knows me will tell you this!
But one fateful day, I let my guard down, and allowed myself to THINK, and it has been the most WONDERFUL experience of my life — hands down!!! All I ask you to do is allow yourself to ask questions about what you believe. If God truly exists, and loves you, and gave you a free will, how can he object to this? Just remember, that, for most of you, once you start this journey towards the truth, it will not be a short one. It is a path that might take months or even years to reach its logical end. But to paraphrase one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, it is the road less traveled, and for ME, it has made all the difference.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
Email: truth_seeker_ms at hotmail dot com