Sent in by Brian
I didn't leave Christianity based on past experiences, I had no bad experience.
Many people think that I am angry with god, that my "ideas" come from my traumatic past experiences. And that is not right. I hate nobody, I have nothing against anybody.
I grew up in a Catholic home with parents who were not very religious. You know, visiting church only on special occasions, that kind. When I was about 14, a friend of my dad brought the Jehova's Witness message to our home, and we started studying the bible with some guy and JW's (Watchtower) publications.
Even though I was young, I always thought there was something wrong with Catholicism, JW's use the fact that people are not happy in their catholic faith to lure them into JW's. However, many things the JWs taught us I was very skeptic, deep inside me I wasn't buying it, but I was not mature enough to speak up. Stuff like, only 144,000 will go to heaven, and only white American JW's were in that group, and the government body was Jehova's voice in earth, so whatever the government says, it was like god's voice.
There are many examples of things that never sunk in me. My dad, my mom and my two younger brothers got baptized when I was 17, I decided not to do it. I was getting ready to go to university in another town.
Many JWs, including elders, tried to talk me out of going to university, they said that the end was coming by the time I finish university, so I was better off dedicating my life to JW's service full time.
Fortunately I had my plans made. My mom supported me, and I left home when I was about 18. When I was in school I used to go to the JW's meeting hall just to make my family happy. I can say that I lived a double life for many years, I used to partied a lot, and, next day I had this huge guilty feeling, I felt like s... Time went by and slowly I stopped going to the meetings; none of my school friends knew about my double life. Preaching the Bible door to door on Sundays and worldly pleasures on weekends. But I did it because I did not want to offend my parents and jeopardize their support while I was getting my degree. I didn't know how to handle it.
By the end of my university studies I was not longer going to any meeting. Then I started working far from home, and I kind of stop paying attention to religion and god in general. I wasn't interested I was 23.
I married a Pentecostal-Evangelical girl who seemed like she did not care much about that. We started going to a Pentecostal church in London, ON, (crazy stuff, tongues, crying, yelling, etc). I was in an "I don't care" mood. Then we moved to a Baptist church, and they are very moderate Christians. So I felt comfortable for a while, but then I starting reasoning about that too. I started reading and thinking critically. I attended to a seminar in the same church about the history of Christianity, and I learned that there were a lot of human hands involved in all the Christianity history, and I thought, "Wait a minute! this is all BS then... How come we follow an old book full of errors where things are not even original, where everybody give to it their own meaning?" Every single Christian branch (JW, Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic, etc.) talk about the Bible like they know it. Cherry picking, that is what it is. Many people have different explanations from the same book.
How come nobody else sees that is beyond of my understanding.
Then, I decided to bring god, Jesus, Bible and religion to the scrutiny. I said let's get to know you. And I learned about them, and I decided, if there is a god and his book is the bible, then I don't want to serve him, no way, even though if he comes and talk to me. I don't want to be his neighbour.
I am an atheist in the sense that I don't believe in god, I can't be certain that there is not god, as much as I can't be certain that there is not flying spagetty monster out there.
I am 37, and a year ago I decided to speak up and came out. I only feel sorry that I wasn't awaken before.
Now, my JW family cries for me: I am an apostate, I am not going to meet them in paradise. (Talk about mind control!)
My wife's family, the Pentecostals, said that I am being used by God like He used Paul, to give testimony and someday talk about my atheism. To be honest, I laughed a lot. My brother-in-law is a way-to-crazy evangelical.
Everybody thinks I have crazy ideas when I talk about humanism and secularism and the importance of freethought and critical thinking. I feel alone.
A friend from the Baptist church gave me a book from Lee Strobel entitled "The Case for Faith." He wants to help me! I am halfway through the book, and the more I read more atheist I become. This book is full of BS and misconceptions about atheism. It's way too bad. I even laugh reading it. But I want to talk to my friend without making him feel stupid.
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)