Sent in by Kristine
I was raised as various forms of protestant Christian — mostly Methodist and Presbyterian — all evangelical. My parents weren't really into the church thing, but they always tried to promote Christian and traditional values — the typical Christian/conservative thing. I was taught that Jesus loved me and that I should pray. The family did drag me to church enough times and talk about Christianity enough that I did get the whole Christian experience and I did believe.
But, there were always things that bothered me about it. I was taught that Christians were the only ones that could go to heaven. But, what about the good people who weren't Christian? It didn't seem right for them to be excluded. Also, I didn't like the concept that all sins were equal in the eyes of god. A white lie or thinking bad things about god was equal to murder and rape.
Perhaps it was because of these things that I always had a problem fully embracing the faith. Or maybe it was the fact that my parents weren't that "into" it. It could also be that I am just not one of those people that are hardwired to be very spiritual. Whatever it was, I never really felt I had a "relationship" with Christ. I knew I was supposed to — I heard it described many times — but it never happened. I would pray when things were tough, or when I thought that I should be thanking god for something that went well.
There was always guilt associated with my religion. Because I didn't have any real religious experiences, and because I liked things that many Christians disapproved of (music, movie tastes, etc.), I thought that the lack of answers from god had to do with me. I thought it was my fault. All the things in my life that I liked just didn't include and mesh with the idea of "living for god."
I continued to believe in this sort of disinterested, removed, guilt-ridden way through high school. There were times that I would pray and think that I felt a holy spirit, then I dedicated myself to god and promised to be a good Christian from then on. But it never lasted long.
Community college and actually going away to school provided me with the influences that allowed me to make the final steps away from faith. It happened one night in my dorm room. There were too many questions and no satisfactory answers. Why did god need worship? Why was there a hell? Why did god consider certain things a sin even when there was no harm done to anyone? Why did god let his disciples write that women were inferior and should be submissive? Did god believe this?
After awhile I concluded that my beliefs contradicted that of this Christian god, and I was okay with that. There was no more guilt, no more rationalizations. I didn't want to be a follower of this god, this religion. So, I allowed myself to admit what I had known all along: this god didn't exist.
I didn't admit it to anyone at first; I just lived my life and kind of wondered if god would now prove his existence to me, or if my life would take a turn for the worse with some series of events that would lead me back to the fray. But nothing like that happened. I felt good, free. The longer I went without Christianity, the stronger I became. I came to realize that religion is a means of controlling people. It was devised, at least partially, as a way to keep people in line. But I digress.
I did end up telling my parents a couple years ago. They didn't like it and tried to convert me back a few times, but now I think we have reached an understanding. They still don't like it, but they don't try to preach to me anymore. I won't listen to it they learned after awhile. I am the only "one" in the entire extended family, except for my sister, but they don't know about her yet.
I have been an agnostic for four years now. I am not completely willing to discount the possibility of a god like being, but whatever might be out there does not have any bearing or any place in my life.
I control my destiny, my time here on earth is the extent of my life, and I am happy.
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)