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Hello fellow Ex-tians. I have been coming to this site for over a year now, reading testimonials, browsing the forum, etc., and I thought now would be the best time to submit my ex-timony. You see, I've been an atheist since I was about 16, but I didn't know what 'label' to use until recently.
My story starts like many others here. I was born and raised in the deep South, in a Southern Baptist family. My uncle was a pastor at a church in the town in which I now live. The first gift I ever remember receiving was a Precious Moments Bible -- pink, with silver-lined pages. I treasured that book, and read it cover to cover when I was 8 years old.
This was the beginning of the end of my faith, at such a tender age. I read about the Garden of Eden. I remember thinking how unfair it was that Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden for eating the apple when they didn't even understand 'right' and 'wrong' UNTIL they ate it. And Noah's flood? I was obsessed with animals at 8, and had a hard time reconciling all the animals from my field guide fitting into such a small ship. Even at 8, I just could not buy all of the story of the Bible. And that's all it was to me: a story.
About the time I was starting in on Acts, my Sunday School teacher told our class about salvation and hell. To an 8-year-old who had just lost her grandmother, hell seemed a terrifying place. Why would a loving God send anyone there? So, thus terrified, I said the sinner's prayer and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was baptized in front of the whole congregation, and I remember being embarrassed at the way the wet, blue baptismal robe clung to me.
After being 'saved,' I stopped thinking about my Christianity for a while. Southern Baptists adhere to the 'once-saved-always-saved' philosophy, and it gave me peace of mind -- until I entered high-school.
There are so many memories I have sifted through, trying to remember when it was that I decided I was no longer a Christian. I think the best choice is when I stopped going to Sunday School of my own volition.
I was 14, and it was my first day in the high school group. The girls and boys split up (yeah, Baptists are cool like that) and we all sat in a circle with the teacher in the middle. We talked about greeting people, new members, into the church. Everyone was supposed to be like our own family and made to feel welcome. But then the teacher asked us what we should do if a person we knew to be gay walked into the church. I proudly raised my hand to answer: "We should greet them and make them feel comfortable, and introduce them to our Sunday-school class!" But another girl raised her hand and said we should try to point out the 'error of their ways' through scripture, as in 'If a man lays with a man as he would a woman, it is an abomination, their blood is upon them.' Yeah. The teacher said she was correct, and I lost it. I told everyone they were a bunch of insensitive bigots, and that I didn't want anything to do with them. That was the last time I set foot in a Sunday School classroom.
So at 14 I had renounced my Christianity. I took an Advanced Placement biology course two years later. That's when I realized I didn't believe in the god concept anymore. Learning about the Miller-Urey experiment and abiogenesis theories was the final straw.
Over the last few years I have done quite a bit of independent study on the subjects of faith and religion. I now call myself an agnostic atheist when the conversation turns to god (which it sometimes does here in Alabama), or a gnostic atheist when talking about the Abrahamic god. I think it's as close to 'knowledge' for me as the fact that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Like I tell anyone who asks: If objective, independently and scientifically verifiable evidence for a god presents itself, my mind is subject to change.
Reason, logic, and science are my guides. I want to make the best of my time, and dealing with reality on reality's terms seems the best way to do this.