I was not brought up in a religious home. My mother and stepfather never went to church or talked about it or God from my memory. I never remember thinking about religion when I was young other than when I was with my real father on weekends. He would drop me and my sister off at a church for Sunday School class every now and then. He would drop us off and then leave and come back and get us afterward. He never went to church.
I really don't know why he took us to this day.
In the summertime he would take us out of state for the two weeks we spent with him. We always went to one of his brothers house. He and his wife were very religious Baptist. I remember them speaking to us about Jesus and a place called HELL. They told us about Hell and if we did not believe in Jesus we would go to this horrible place when we died. I was very young and don't think I ever really took it very serious but it was always in the back of my mind as I got older.
Many years later I meet a wonderful girl that happens to be a Christian. She lived with her parents and they all went to a Christian church. They introduced me to the minister later on, and he goes straight to work on converting me. He talks to me about God and Jesus and the reality of the story and then follows it up with the HELL story. Again he tells me without truly believing in my heart that Jesus is really real and the son of God and then being totally immersed in water baptism, my soul would spend eternity in this horrible place called HELL.
Now I am much older and take it serious this time.
He seemed to be a trustworthy man and had a lot of credentials in the field of Christianity and apologetics and religion in general. I wanted to trust he knew what he was talking about and also the fact I was now scared stiff about this place called HELL. I was converted and immediately baptized into Christ.
I am not sure if I actually believed it all then or was simply scared not to go through with it. After all he hammered the fact that if I did not believe and got killed today after leaving I would spend eternity in this horrible place called HELL. Pretty intense scare tactics I must say.
A few years go by and we had been married and were really involved in this church and working hard for God. I had small questions arise at times but never went too far with them until one Sunday in an adult class taught by one of the church elders. It was about the creation time line. He taught grown adults it was approximately 6500 years from the time that God created everything to the present time. I asked in class how he knew it was fact and he said because the Bible shows it without doubt and the bible is truth in everything it says.
I did not come back to this class because I just knew it could not be fact. I started thinking, "If the Bible teaches this, then what else does it teach that is not truth or fact."
I started having all kinds of questions, and they went unanswered. I was told not to question the few things I brought up. Some things were answered with nonsense replies and based on some scripture in the Bible. Things went downhill and we ended up leaving this church and going to another where a few friends attended. It ended up worse there and we later found the preacher at this church and his wife lost a previous church due to adultery. They were each married to other people and he was the preacher. They started the affair and were caught. They all divorced and the two ended up marrying and starting this new church.
After we got out of that place we later moved out of state and tried one more church where we moved. It was a Methodist church this time. I soon set up with the minister a one-on-one meeting. I needed some things about the Bible answered. You see by now I had actually started reading the Bible. Before I was like 90% of Christians and just peeked in it at church and carried it around with me. The ones that do read it I found only read bits and pieces and mainly from the New Testament or Proverbs & Psalms. This is what is taught from my experience. When you really open the Bible at page one and start reading in the Old Testament, you really start seeing some crazy and horrible things.
I asked him specifically about the genocide God commanded people like Moses, Gideon, Joshua, and others to carry out. Also I wanted his view on this thing God seemed to desire every now and then called burnt offerings. He did not know much of what I was talking about other than the flood and the wiping out of Sodom which he said God had to do because the people were sinful. I couldn't believe it. He really did not know about these other things right there in the Bible. He had graduated from the Methodist college and had not even read all the Bible even up to the present time.
He did not know about God telling Moses to go wipe out large amounts of people saying don't leave anything breathing not babies pets or even livestock. He did not know God said only bring back the young virgin girls and let your armies have them. He did not know about the thousands wiped out by other elite men in the Old Testament all ordered by God. He did not seem to know that God at times needed to have animals slaughtered and burned because he loves the smell of the burning flesh and also this thing called atonement. What about when God said not to pillage from them. But...do bring back their silver and gold.....WHAT? Nope he didn't know about that. Well, I did not have another meeting with him and we ended up leaving this church too.
We have not been back to a church since and that was six years ago. A couple of years after leaving that church I was in contact with my first minister where I was converted. I asked him specifically about all the pagan god myths and all the similar things those myth stories had with the Jesus story in the New Testament. All those myths were pre-Christian era as far back as at least 2000 years prior in a couple of cases and farther possibly in a couple of others. It seemed there were several similar writings and sometimes almost mirror images with the mythical god stories and the Jesus story. He said he knew all about them and the reason for it being that way was that "Satan" put all those mythical god stories throughout history before the real son of God came to earth. Satan did all this he said to confuse human beings and make it hard for them to believe in the real Jesus. He said it has worked out very well for him because many people throughout history were confused and did not become Christians or left the faith just as I had.
That's a pretty lame explanation if you ask me. I did find though later on that this is the explanation taught in seminary and Bible colleges and has been taught to Christians since about 100 years after the Christian faith began. I wonder why? Because it was obvious way back then to people because they were still in some cases worshiping the pagan myth gods. I found out awhile back my first minister lost his church due to a big split because of doctrinal disputes between him and the music/youth minister and the members were all divided and the church split. After that it just dwindles down from what I was told and he and his wife moved so he could take a position teaching as a Bible college professor.
At this point in my life I don't believe in Christianity being true or even truthful for that matter. I believe the Bible is like all religious books throughout history all over the world -- man made and man conceived. I think man wrote these things in different time periods for different reasons for the times. There are many reasons but it does not make it real or truth. I am a truth-seeking person and if it was real and the truth I would take it serious and to heart because it would be important.
I think I am like many of our founding fathers in America -- a deist. I am open to there being a supreme being somewhere, but these hundreds of religious books written over the centuries is not him. If so they would all be alike and in unison and direct humans to a common good creator. Instead they have caused horrible things in human history and hundreds if not thousands of wars. The Bible teaches slavery is good in Gods way of thinking and other stupid things like that. It also teaches God promotes war and genocide as in the Old Testament. I don't like that and I believe it is just the ancient warlord mentality writing things and saying "Thus sayeth God."
My wife has not searched or studied as I have. She understands and thinks I am mostly right on my views but at the same time still believes in a creator that is all good and wonderful but that some time in history whenever it was, started it all some how and then pulled back. Then said "There you go, you have what you need to make it and have a good life so do as you will." Then what happened after that has happened.
It is very evident a god does not control what we do, but we control what we do and always have. A God does not control the events of the earth because if so it would mean that God is a horrible hateful entity because of the horrors that take place in nature at times.
SO, here is my testimony. I know it was long but I needed to say it this way. I hope I did not bore anyone. I appreciate your comments if there are any. Take care and just be a good person and do the very best you can in this life. That is all we can really do I believe.
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)