10/20/2011 | Share this article:By Simon Gross ~
My parents are Evangelical Christians, both converted when they were around 20. They met at the same church, and Mum asked Dad to marry her because she believed God told her she should.
So from the very beginning, my whole existence was predicated by these few events. I exist because of Evangelical Christianity.
I grew up in a Born-again household. There were four kids, and we were pretty much like any family. Except we read the bible every night after dinner, and went to church every Sunday. But along with that, every single decision, every action that occurred withing our home was based on the dogma of Evangelical Christianity.
So from a young age, I was imprinted with these ideas. I didn't get a choice. Church services designed to play on your emotions, the excitement of worship, the mystery of the gifts of the spirit, praying in tongues. And the emotion of fear.
The whole premise of this belief structure is fear. Fear of hell. Apart from being incredibly frightening, it's also incredibly transparent.
The whole premise of this belief structure is fear. Fear of hell.I think I was around 12 when I started really questioning the things I was supposed to believe. I was always the one asking questions, testing things, applying logic to other people's ideas and looking for empirical evidence.
Questioning something as big as your belief when you're a kid is not easy. I was terrified. During the beginning of this, well, I guess it was a journey, as much as I dislike using that word, I honestly thought I was going to hell.
But then, I also had a brain. I would sit there in church, while everyone was praying in tongues, and just watch them. I felt like I was the only sensible one in the room. One Sunday, it was as clear to me as day. Outside of all the words, the emotional urging of the music, the swelling voices and earnest prayer, there was nothing. Nothing to base a belief on. Nothing but the words of other people.
It was during those years that the lesson of the kids' story 'The Emperor's New Clothes' become the foundation for my new understanding of Christianity. In the story, the child is the only one brave enough to actually say the Emperor was naked. Everyone else was too frightened.
There is no rational basis for Christianity. And I knew that, but it took a long time to untangle myself from that web of fear and guilt. I was 19 when I finally told my parents I didn't; couldn't believe a single thread of the story.
And it is a story. It was a story designed to make sense of the world in a time before science existed. It's purpose was to guide and inform the way people interacted in society. And also, it was a story used to control society.
I used to be very angry. Angry that my parents had forced this upon me. But I now think if I didn't have that brainwashing force to push against during my formative years, I may not have developed this appetite for critical thought, which I really enjoy.
I will not engage with Christians in discussion about their religion. They base all their arguments on the Bible. To engage, you need to accept their book as truth. Which is difficult, as the basic tenets of Christianity are both things which transgress the physical laws of nature, and which are impossible to prove.
Christians rely on the reverse argument; that these things are impossible to disprove. But that is nonsense. Science is clear about this point. So for a Christian to believe, they must take a leap of faith. In other words, ignore science.
My belief from a very young age is that it's madness to base your entire life on something you can't prove, and on events that are physically impossible. It's really that simple. Every other aspect of Christianity, all the rituals, all the guilt, fear and dogma is based on this simple lie.
I am so grateful to my parents for giving me a happy, loving childhood, and for my life. But this life is mine. And I am so glad I took it back.
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