This is not going to be easy to explain, since it didn’t happen all at once. But if I could sum this up, I would say I lost my belief for intellectual reasons, and also moral problems that I came across in The Bible.
Part One: The Seeds of Doubt.
Back in high school, I was a fully fledged Christian who believed I could have a personal relationship with God; that I could talk to him and he would speak to me back. It sounded pretty awesome huh? Then one day, one of my friends said people shouldn’t mock me for believing in a figment of my imagination. I was pretty insulted (and even now I think it was a bit douchey of him to say that), but it did get me wondering. If God is speaking to me through my mind, how on earth can I tell if it’s him or just my own thoughts? Later on I ended up going to churches who didn’t seem to believe that God could speak to them personally like that, but he would speak to them through The Bible or life events. Woohoo for keeping hold of my belief!
Part Two: The Break.
After high school I went to university to study earth science. For the first few years I went away from church completely, and I enjoyed it! I pretty much lived a non-Christian life, hanging out with non-Christian friends all the time, partying etc. Back then I still believed in God, but I was just happy with what I was doing. I moved towns to go to uni, so that meant finding another church. I did visit one church a couple of times, but they seemed a bit creepy and cultish, so that put me off finding another one.
Part Three: A Better Life?
After a few years, life took a bit of a downturn. There were issues going on in my family, and some of the people I lived with were not very nice either (I was flatting). My grades at uni were OK, but everything else wasn’t. One of my old friends got in touch with me to hang out. He was a Christian but he really went off the rails a few years ago with drugs and alcohol. But now? He seemed to have turned his life around for the better. He invited me to his church, and I enjoyed it. I would eventually end up going there regularly, and moving into a flat with him and some of his friends. Being able to live with people who were actually my friends was great, and I enjoyed being part of a community of Christian people again. Life really seemed to be going better at that point. I began to think, maybe I should try this God thing again.
Part Four: Looking Outside My Worldview.
Life was mostly good, but I ended up living with one guy who was a bit of a dick. He took his Bible pretty seriously, but he seemed to have some over the top views on things, like he believed you shouldn’t buy or sell things on a Saturday. That would be OK on it’s own, but he felt the need to push his beliefs on everyone else, and be arrogant which really annoyed me. I’m not sure if it was him, or something else, but I started looking up atheist videos on Youtube. To this day I really don’t know why, but I did spend ALOT of time on Youtube, and that meant I watched ALOT of these videos. I watched channels like 43alley, nonstampcollector, darkmatter2525 and Edward Current. Many of these videos were satirical of The Bible and Christians, in a lighthearted matter, but they had a point to them. I started to re-read parts of The Bible and realised how absurd a lot of it was. When you look at something with a view other than the ‘Christian lenses’ you were given, you will be amazed at what you may see differently! I also read ‘The God Delusion’ too. Funny thing is, a number of my Christian friends and family happened to catch me with the book. I just responded with the whole ‘I was just curious” trick, it seemed to work as everyone forgot about it…
At this point, I started to have genuine doubts about the whole Christianity thing. It was odd though, instead of feeling anxious and vulnerable, I actually felt a little peace in the corner of my mind, like I was coming to an acceptance that maybe the God I believed in wasn’t real, that I didn’t have to base my life on him anymore and fight all these doubts. However, I chose not to let go of God, and hang on! Why? Leaving religion isn’t an easy task for many, it’s something I will explain in more detail in a later post.
Part Five: Taking An Intellectual Hit!
I still went to church and enjoyed it. I think I enjoyed the social aspects of it, having a group of like minded friends to be with each week. I also (kinda) still believed. At times I definitely believed in God, other times I wasn’t so sure, and other times I went back to not believing like before – but I didn’t tell anyone this! Part of me WANTED to believe in God though, and like before (see Part Three), I had this attitude where I should try believing in God and see how my life goes. Over time though, it got harder as my critical thinking mind started seeing more and more problems in The Bible. See, I have a science background, and when you read Genesis it seems pretty absurd in the face of science. I decided I didn’t believe in Genesis anymore, and briefly considered believing in an old age earth AND God creating the world, but that didn’t last long. I could cover this in more detail later, but here are some of the things I thought absurd:
- Noah’s flood
- Creation of Adam and Eve and the whole original sin thingee
- A young aged earth which has NO reliable scientific evidence backing
In other parts of the Bible, I found the concept of miracles and demonic possession absurd too. I had never actually come across miracles myself, but many other people claimed they happened all the time. But there was NEVER reliable, convincing evidence that these things truly happened. It always seemed to happen in remote third world countries though, funny that!
Part Six: God Isn’t Who I Thought He Was.
If you have problems believing in many of the Bible stories literally, such as the Book of Genesis and miracles, it is still possible to believe in a God, and many people do. After all, didn’t Jesus still die for our sins etc? It shouldn’t matter how we got here, right? For me though, I began to see more problems in The Bible than just that. As a Christian, God was all loving (he WAS love) and all knowing, and supposedly knew what was best for everyone. With that in mind, I struggled to believe how an all knowing, all loving God would create something like Hell. Anyone who didn’t believe in Jesus and have him as their personal lord and savior would suffer in Hell for eternity. It didn’t matter what life you lived apart from Jesus. How on earth can a God like that be remotely loving or just? Ah there’s so much I could say about this, but I will talk about Hell in a separate entry in more detail. What else wasn’t right? Well in the Old Testament, God made up lots of weird and strange rules for people to follow. Sure he did away with a lot of those rules, but for an all knowing God to create those laws, it didn’t make sense. Some of them were pretty brutal too, like saying homosexuals should be sentenced to death (Leviticus 20:13). This supposedly loving God sounded very primitive and violent. So after a while I decided that The Bible wasn’t really the word of God, but written by a bunch of different people during much more primitive times. This would explain the contradictions and harshness of God’s character much better to me than any Christian theologian ever could. So that was it, I decided that I didn’t believe in God anymore, the straws were all falling and had now broken the camels back.
Part Seven: What Now?
Now I consider myself a closet agnostic. Probably leaning more towards an agnostic atheist now. Some family and friends know this, but many church friends don’t and I still attend church from time to time. Eventually I will tell them all, but I want to come to terms with what I believe now, and be ready with a semi-decent explanation for what I believe. To be honest, I don’t know what I believe now, except that I don’t believe in the Christian God anymore, and I’m actually OK with that. Recently I have been reading a few atheist blogs and books from other people who were religious and left religion, I find them quite riveting actually. If you’re curious, I have been reading ‘Why I No Longer Believe’ (winlb), ‘Respectful Atheist’ and ‘Leaving Your Religion: A Practical Guide To Becoming Non-Religious’. Check them out! When it comes to religion, they have really been there and done that, and decided that religion didn’t work for them anymore. They seem to be quite humble too in their writing style, and that makes their writings all the better for it. So there we go, a full summary on why I am no longer a Christian anymore.