12/25/2011 | Share this article: View CommentsBy the Coffee Shop Atheist ~
I wasn’t raised in church. My dad, a divorcee on his second wife, had been ostracized from his church at the announcement of the divorce, his status as a deacon was revoked, and those who had called him ‘friend’ turned to enemies. My father had been raised religious, but this trickle-down barely got to me. I heard whispers of Jesus thanks to private Catholic school, but knew little of the bible stories, and thought them to be untrue, until about 16.
I grew up awkward. I was smart, scrawny, and didn’t quite understand social conventions as easily as the rest of my peers. As such, I was picked on, insulted and degraded, and as I didn’t go to church with any of these other ‘good Southern kids’ (south Carolina by the way), I had no outside contact. I had tried a few churches with my mom (who has much of her current happiness thanks to a church) but found everyone to be rude, self-centered, and general stereotypical southern Christians. Then after my freshman year of high school everything changed.
I visited my sister who had just had her first child, and got my first guitar. I loved that guitar. Then I went to school and got my first girlfriend. She went to church; so naturally I followed. I stayed at that church until my junior year of high school. The second church I went to was a good group of kids, that were really freakin nice to me for no reason! Didn’t they know I was weird and bad at jokes and everything? Nope. They didn’t care. They just wanted to be my friend. I dove headfirst into their youth group, into praise and worship leading, and falling all over myself to make up for the years I’d spent without Christ, and got saved the winter of my junior year, baptized in the spring; raised to walk in newness of life. There was also a girl(friend) at that same church but would be extremely lustful after church. Thus the beginning of my hypocrisy and sexual repression… And I went off to college with the assurance that I would be a famous praise and worship leader someday, to study music education and electrical engineering (my two passions) with a new girlfriend that was not promiscuous, but was a pastor’s kid, encouraging (manipulating) me to think that I was destined for god’s work.
I don’t half-ass stuff. I study and work and understand. As an engineering student, I wanted to understand why Christianity worked. I studied the origins of the Bible, using Josh McDowell’s books as a resource. I read about the Council of Nicaea, about the objections, and I had functional answers to everything. I believed that if Jesus could turn water into wine, then he had absolute grasp over time by creating something with the appearance of time (wine). God created dinosaurs and the ideas of evolution to give us something to discover, and to give science a framework, but not because it was just that way. I believed most of Answers in Genesis was incorrect, as it was incompatible with science; the dinosaurs never existed; just their bones. God, after all, could create time, and create an earth with a long date, though it may not be that way. I researched Islam, the Koran, its inception, about the Zaid codecies and the destruction of it, and scoffed at the “stupid Arabics’” holy book, full of errors. I didn’t understand how people were so blind. I studied Mormonism, Scientology, Calvinism, Arminianism, the early church fathers, everything.
I was the president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes. I participated in CRU (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), Baptist Collegiate Ministries. I worked as a youth intern at a local church, and was a college group bible study leader in another church. I changed churches because I thought one was focused to much on Armenian ideas of salvation by works, and not enough on the glorious grace of Christ. But, I still took every opportunity I could to allow God to make me the praise and worship leader I prayed so diligently to become. This never happened. I was made the president of FCA, when I wanted to be the leader of the band. I led worship for a youth group of about 11 kids. I never led in front of anyone of note. God was blind!
Parallel to all this, my other face was that of struggling with lust and sexual sin. I would keep it at bay for a time, but would always come back to it, pornography, and girls, girls, girls. I was constantly guilty and ashamed. I blamed myself for ruining two girls’ lives, who got pregnant with guys that they dated after me, because I felt like I’d pushed them towards sinfulness instead of holiness. I would date girls, be promiscuous with fondling or lustful thoughts, and flee, as it says to do in the scriptures, leaving tens of girls with emotions and frustrations. This all came to a bit of a head when a girl I kissed on a date contrived a story about assaulting her to her bible study leader at my old college church (the one I’d left). This went around the chain of command and came back to me, removing me from stage. This was one of the biggest steps in my deconversion. Christians were supposed to forgive, not invent stories that consist of defamation and slander. I’m probably going to thank her someday for helping my emancipation. I started doubting. I went to bible study and church, but I no longer cared. I showed up to help out, but nothing more. I started reading evidence to the contrary:
Karen Armstrong's book, "A History of God", as videos from Evid3nc3 and Qualiasoup from YouTube helped me gain perspective on what I believed. God never came through on his promise to make me a praise and worship leader, or to help with sexual sin. The biggest resource game-changer was a book from an atheist friend (that I wish was still nearby so I could thank her for everything) called The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, and it is an introductory book on evolutionary psychology. The explanations it gave for everything: sex, interpersonal relationships, anger, envy, altruism, group think… everything about my Christian worldview and everything in it… were better. Christianity made less sense than this book. I still believed, but I couldn’t quit thinking about it. Sex and religion were natural consequences of evolution, not of a myth about a creator god that got angry about eating a fruit.
There was no final straw. Over the course of two years, I figured this all out, and finally came out to my bible study. To protect my musical interests and a few paying gigs, I haven’t been public about it, besides silently changing my religious views to Pastafarian and telling a select few group of people about it. I simply tell people I’m ‘evaluating other sources’ when asked about my absence. There is no more guilt, only the freedom of my mind. Where there was unrest, angst, and shame, there is now only sober truth, and that truth has set me free.
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