So here is my story in short.
I was raised Catholic in the Midwest -- mostly going to church on holidays and random Sundays here and there. In high school some friends invited me to an Evangelical nationwide youth group called Young Life. I went, thought it was completely cheesy, but went again every now and there because the girls were cute and pretty sweet. One summer they talked me into the one week summer camp up in Minnesota and I decided to go, a little apprehensive about what they'd do to me. Aside from the weird spiritual AA type meetings each night before bed, it was actually a decent time. And, eventually, they broke down the gospel via the bridge diagram at the end of the week. Many kids "accepted Christ" then and there, but I held back. It was the first time I had heard The Message, and though it certainly made more sense than the random monk-type songs I heard at mass, I thought the idea of the vast majority of humans burning forever was a bit absurd. I figured there was probably a God, but I figured He was far beyond human comprehension and certainly didn't mysteriously write any books which would eventually be compiled through the vote of man. How could anyone ever buy such nonsense?
Well, fast forward a couple years and I'm at my first year of college in the dorms, having tons of fun and finally experiencing complete freedom. During my days of normal college life and the occasional drug adventure I continued to wonder if the gospel I heard was actually true. Looking back, this is probably due to the fact that I had an abnormal amount of Christian friends, and they would continually invite me to campus outreaches as I'd walk by eating mushrooms. So, one night after the first semester I decided to pray to an unknown God that he would reveal who he really is. And whoever that is, I would follow, even if he were Allah. I figured, as much fun as I was having, if there was a God, and I really knew who he was, I'd be a complete jackass not to follow him with the one life I had. So after saying the prayer, I assumed if I heard anything, it'd be along the lines of the Celestine Prophecy or something (I think I had just read it, as a girl into Witchcraft recommended it. Come to think of it, if I hadn't read it, I probably wouldn't have been thinking about spiritual things. Damn! If only I didn't pick up that book, all could be oh so different).
Well, after a week or so of making the prayer, I had a dream one night that I died, and after I died I was completely naked, and in a curled up position, and I was ascending upwards. I assumed it was Heaven, and suddenly, I froze midair, and felt a powerful message. The message came from God and God said, "Without Christ you can ascend no further." The voice was not audible, but came directly to my core. It was so powerful, I could not move, I was frozen in fear and awe. I immediately woke up after that and was totally freaked out. Once I recalled what happened, I came to the conclusion it must have been God. Surely, the human mind could not concoct such a powerful experience, right? On top of that, I had already at this time had a couple dreams, were some very specific things occurred and the next day they transpired. So naturally, I figured I was gifted or something. Since this day, its been a decade I believe, I've had all sorts of crazy random powerful dreams. Oh, the naivety.
Now what follows is a pretty typical story. A young man who is into woman, booze, and drugs sees the light and tries with all his might to "become a new creation." Even though the Bible says the Holy Spirit will do all the work, it seemed odd I was doing most of it. It was a struggle at first, but after a couple years I ditched it all and became the most fundamental, spirit-filled Christian you've even seen! In fact I was so dedicated and wanted to please God so much, I removed TV, the Internet, and "bad" music from my life for five years! After all, the Bible says you will have to account for every idle word on the day of judgment, and I didn't want to take any chances. Looking back, its a real shame about the Internet.
Considering I was never challenged on the Bible in reality, I may have bumped into somebody online. In addition to such crazy actions as this, I also read the Bible and prayed an average of two hours a day (read mostly New Testament of course, didn't receive too many "words from the Lord when reading the Old. I wonder why?)
So, how did I eventually see the light? Well, similar to the story of John Loftus, I witnessed and experienced a series of events over the course of a few years that brought me to a threshold. I knew without a shadow of doubt that either Christianity wasn't true, or modern Christianity was
completely off, and I may need to fly out to join Mother Teresa. The lame weren't being healed, all prophecy I witnessed was complete garble, my pastors wife slept with other men, the hundreds of people I loved destined to hell were not being saved after I prayed for them, and the girl I had to break up with because we were not "equally yoked"... Well, seven years later and I'm still in love with her. Good times!?
So, I decided to open the Bible again with objective eyes. I'll never forget it. I was in church one day listening to a sermon I'd heard a million times. I was not interested, so I decided to wander through Leviticus. I stumbled upon the rules regarding rape and was horrified to see a virgin who was raped must marry her rapist! Not sure how I missed this before, but as I read that, and looked around at the congregation, I knew it was all complete bullshit. Just like every other religion. Mere wishful thinking while ignoring the absurdities of your dogma. From there I went on to study further to give God a chance, and the more I read the more problems I found. First came the moral atrocities of rape, genocide, and slavery all commanded and/or sanctioned by the Lord. Then came the scientific errors of a flat earth, stars that are smaller than the sun, a moon that gives its own light, rain that resides higher in the heavens than the sun and a sun that revolves around the Earth. And, finally, yes finally, even meek and mild Jesus was uprooted. After reading the gospels horizontally instead of vertically I discovered it was literally impossible to give an accurate account of what occurred on the resurrection. If the only evidence God provides for this is the Bible, and the Bible is filled with contradictory accounts, than God can not be just in damning people to hell. He can still be a capricious God and damn them to hell, but a just and loving God he can not be. Therefore, the whole thing falls apart.
Now, approximately nine months after going through such a drastic change, I'm lonelier than I've ever been. All but a couple of my Christian friends have seemingly wrote me off in the same way I wrote off so many great friends from high school and college once I came to Christ. On top of that things have been strained with my wife, who remains a believer, so I've learned its best not to debate faith.
And yes, I'm still seemingly in love with the one I left many years ago because of God, and now we're both married to other people. Awesome!?!
I truly feel religion has destroyed my life. I wish more than anything I could go back to where I started and change everything, as I see no realistic way to pick up the pieces and live free from this constant regret that pulls me under.