By Brother Jeff of ChristianityIsBullshit.com
A survey that I took the other day has had me thinking about why I walked away from the Christian faith. I didn’t walk away because I rebelled against God or because I was angry with God or because I was treated badly or hurt in the church. In fact, my church life was very good. I had good friends. I had a good relationship with church leadership. I even frequently sang solos during church services and sang in the praise and worship choir. I had a great time in church and I still miss the sense of belonging and the sense of fellowship with other believers that I enjoyed during my Christian days. There are other things that I still miss from my Christian days. I still miss the excitement and joy of praise and worship. I still miss prayer, and having intimate moments alone with a holy and righteous God. I still miss believing in an all-powerful, all-loving, Almighty God. So why in the world would I walk away from a belief system that worked so well for me and that made me so happy?
I walked away because questions built up that had no satisfactory Christian answers, and I could no longer ignore them. I walked away because I could no longer honestly believe in the claims and doctrines of the Christian faith.
I once believed very strongly in God. I never thought that I could let go of my belief in God, but it happened. My path to atheism was not an easy one. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that I no longer believed in God. The road to atheism for me was difficult and extremely painful. I really wanted God to exist very badly, but the more I learned, the more I came to realize that God is a myth - a powerful myth, but a myth nonetheless.
I once believed very strongly in the power of prayer. I used to spend at the very least an hour a day in prayer. I would often attend early morning church prayer meetings, and then go home and pray more. It seemed like I was always praying about something going on in my life! I also, of course, regularly prayed for other people, including my pastor and church leadership.
I absolutely loved Charismatic-style praise and worship. I could literally spend hours in worship if the opportunity arose, just basking in the presence of God and being awed by his holiness and love. I can remember times when I felt wrapped in JOY beyond description. I can still access those feelings. I remember how great it was. But I no longer believe that the God those emotions were directed toward actually exists. And I understand the incredible power of belief. Once the human mind is convinced of the truth of something, the incredible power of belief takes over and shields us from seeing the validity of any other point of view. The power of belief can shield us from reality itself!
I once believed that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but also that he was God Incarnate - God Himself come to earth. I believed firmly in the Virgin Birth and in the sinless nature and life of Jesus Christ. I believed absolutely that he died for my sins on the cross and I also firmly believed that he rose from the dead again for my sanctification and justification before God the Father. I never would have thought that the day would come when I would give up those beliefs, but it did. I now accept the fact that Jesus Christ is a myth. He never lived, never died, and never rose again. That is the conclusion that the research I have done over the last several years has led me to.
I once believed that the Bible was the “Word of God”. I believed it with all of my heart. I just knew that it was the inspired word of the holy God that I loved to worship and be around. It was just obvious to me. But now I realize that it is nothing but a collection of ancient religious mythology, with no God behind it as the author. The Bible clearly reflects the ignorance and prejudices of the Bronze Age men who wrote it. It is a Book of its time, not a Book for the Ages.
So, why am I no longer a Christian? It boils down to one thing - education. I know a lot more about the Bible now as an atheist than I did as a Christian. I know a lot more about Christian doctrines now as an atheist than I did as a Christian. Or, at least, I have a different understanding of them now that I no longer believe them. I have a different understanding of God now that I no longer believe that he actually exists. Education has made the difference. The education I gained reading skeptical materials has made the difference. But it’s a good difference. I know how to think critically now. I know how to think for myself. I know how to give my own life meaning apart from religion. I know how to live life happily free from the chains of religious mythology. My Christian experience was not a bad one, and I have no doubt in my mind that I was a “real” Christian. But education stretches the mind, and like a rubber band that is stretched, the mind cannot return to its original condition once it has been stretched. I left the faith primarily for intellectual reasons. I can no longer honestly embrace the doctrines of the faith, and so - I am no longer a Christian.
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)