During the Western Canadian mini revival of the mid 70's, Hal Lindsey's morbid book, "The Late Great Planet Earth" frightened me enough to enter the Christian void. Shortly after my conversion, my scientifically minded wife nearly left me, and having survived that crises, re-considered her departure a year later when my insistence on tithing became a hot issue.
Sunday services at First Assembly Pentecostal in Calgary were never missed, and Wednesday evening bible studies and sing songs both left me goose bumped and longing for more. My departure for greener pastures coincided with the unexplained resignations of both senior pastors, and gave me my first initiation into church politics. The hot new faith based ministries sounded alluring. Oddly enough, they couldn't ever get enough teaching on tithing, and the congregation were harassed every Sunday by a glassy eyed businessman extolling the virtues of giving till it hurts and then some. The church collapsed eventually, and the wandering continued, until exhaustion and cynicism quenched my thirst for communion with the saints.
Church doorways missed any semblance of my shadow for many years, but as a closet believer continually bereft and assailed with guilt over lack of fellowship and service to god, the conscience thing was also exhausting. There is no escaping the mind torture that follows any conversion to Christianity other than to immerse yourself 100% in service to god, even then you will constantly wonder if that is sufficient - after all you haven't died in the process.
Close friends of mine, well educated from both a secular and religious point of view, were going through deep studies of the origins, authorship, and veracity of the bible. Knowing my commitment, they gently left cookie crumbs which lead down the path of enlightenment and freedom in the most unexpected manner. The winter of 2009 in Calgary, horrid as it was (thank goodness for global warming) gave rise to weeks on end spent digesting books on science, creation, and bible anatomy. The lights came on February 25th 2009. Shortly afterward my beliefs swung completely atheist.
Close to 4 months later, what can objectively be said about my experiences? Freedom from guilt and oppression rank first and foremost. Secondly, having honest and scientific answers to perpetually perplexing questions. Thirdly, not having to be ashamed any longer of believing something that deep down inside you knew was fundamentally flawed, but you lacked understanding to express. This is the clearest, cleanest, most aware and open state of mind a human being could ever hope for. To be free of fear of a bad tempered, unreasonable bully of a god, and his hopelessly ambiguous son, is by far the better alternative to 32 years of enslavement to a Bronze Age superstition and cleverly fabricated fables of a water walking savior. Is this man happy? Clearly ecstatic.