Skip to main content

Atheism Gave Me Hope

By Ethan ~

I grew up in a moderate-to-strict Christian household. My dad was a pastor (at first of one that was part of a chain of churches called Calvary Chapel, now a Southern Baptist pastor). When I grew up, I had a rather positive idea of God. I always thought of him as this parent-like figure that was always watching over me, and always had my back. I went to a Christian school most of my life, until 7th grade, where I was pulled out and homeschooled until my junior year of high school (HORRIBLE).

While I was growing up, I never questioned my faith. I always thought of people who questioned their faith as people who didn't have enough faith to call themselves Christian, and that those who were truly "saved" would never question their faith. I always went through most of my life just blindly following God. If I had any questions, I would always ask my dad, who I thought of as this infallible source of knowledge and had all the God answers. Whenever I heard actual profound questions about God, (Such as, “If God created us, who created God”, “Why would a loving God allow so many horrible things to happen”, “If God created everything, why is there evil in the world”, and so on) I usually WOULD have answers to the questions. However, from a logical standpoint, they just wouldn’t make any sense. I also thought that I just understood God at a level that most of these other people didn’t because they hadn’t been “walking with God” long enough to understand it at my level of knowledge (yeah, I was an arrogant prick when it came to my actually weak faith).

As I grew up with a lot of these beliefs, I had other things that came up in my life.

First of all, I had major anxiety issues when I started going through puberty, and so I would have many days when I would cry, be scared, and feel hopeless with certain things that to most people wouldn’t seem scary at all. I prayed about them and asked everyone to pray for me on the issues, but alas, nothing came about. The only thing that helped me through the issues of anxiety was time.

Another issue that I had was the fact that I was gay, and could not for the life of me fight these feelings. I tried so hard to be straight, and was always told by so many of the Christians that homosexuality was a choice, and that I needed to fight it. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school when I finally accepted my homosexuality, and even then I tried to play it off as “I struggle with this, but I believe it’s wrong, so I won’t partake.” I still considered it part of who I was, while having the internalized homophobia. It was all because of this belief that I had that it’s wrong to be gay.

I tried so hard to be straight, and was always told by so many of the Christians that homosexuality was a choice, and that I needed to fight it.Finally, my senior year in high school, I came across this ministry called YoungLife. I fell in love with the ministry because I thought it would be the key to me being able to actually enjoy my faith, and not just believe because I was scared of going to hell. So I got as involved with that ministry as I could, and went off to become a YoungLife leader when I was in college. As I went through my senior year, I was also heavily involved with a youth group at my dad’s church. The youth group was led by a controlling youth pastor who tried to take advantage of my weaknesses. When I told him about my “issues” with being gay, he told me not to tell anyone, and didn’t like me by any stretch. He used many opportunities to belittle me, make me feel less-than, and force gender norms on me. He had issues in his own life that he was using me as a scapegoat for.

Finally, my years in college came around, and I decided to lead with the ministry YoungLife, go to my own church, and become an individual (but not so individualized that I wouldn’t be able to leave my faith). One day, as I was going to church, I heard a message from the college pastor, on April 14, 2013. It was probably one of the scariest days of my life, because this message was about what it really looks like to live as a Christian, and made me believe that I wasn’t truly a Christian at all. This led me to do everything I could to save myself and become a Christian so that I wouldn’t burn in hell.

Nothing really ultimately changed, except for the fact that I realized by the end of yet another anxiety phase that I hate Christianity, the God is cruel, and that we were all essentially set up to fail with the odds against us for making it into heaven. I didn’t want to admit that to myself because I didn’t want to piss off the God who I already didn’t feel like loved me. I remember thinking to myself how scary the “reality” of a God who forces people to love him unconditionally at the penalty of hell was. It was beyond frightening for me. I had so many days where I couldn’t even get out of bed because I knew the thoughts of fear and torment and hell would flood my mind. I tried all I could. It just wasn’t enough.

I later had a few months of what was one of the happiest moments of my life. I was actually finding that the less God I had in my life, the happier I was. I still tried to maintain my faith though. Eventually, I resigned from the ministry I worked for, which was my last taste of trying to work for my salvation (even though according to Christianity, salvation can’t be earned).

It was a few months later of me having time to myself to think about what I truly believe that essentially led to me ultimately questioning my faith. I tried so hard to hold on to my faith. I’ll never forget the one day I was driving to work one day, and I actually admitted out loud to myself, “ . . . I’m agnostic. I don’t know if God exists.” It was over the summer (of 2014) when I started becoming more and more uncomfortable with the idea of atheism being my belief.

When I became an agnostic/atheist, I realized that life no longer has to be about pleasing a god who will punish you if you don’t submit to his will, rather it’s actually an opportunity to enjoy myself and do good during my short period here. That’s it. There will be no burning in hell for all eternity when I’m done, nor will there be any worshipping of god in heaven. All I really have is what’s in front of me, and now I can finally be free to live happily and do good for others without having to wonder if it’s “God’s will” or not.


Popular posts from this blog

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

So Just How Dumb Were Jesus’ Disciples? The Resurrection, Part VII.

By Robert Conner ~ T he first mention of Jesus’ resurrection comes from a letter written by Paul of Tarsus. Paul appears to have had no interest whatsoever in the “historical” Jesus: “even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, we know him so no longer.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:16 ) Paul’s surviving letters never once mention any of Jesus’ many exorcisms and healings, the raising of Lazarus, or Jesus’ virgin birth, and barely allude to Jesus’ teaching. For Paul, Jesus only gets interesting after he’s dead, but even here Paul’s attention to detail is sketchy at best. For instance, Paul says Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” ( 1 Corinthians 15:4 ), but there are no scriptures that foretell the Jewish Messiah would at long last appear only to die at the hands of Gentiles, much less that the Messiah would then be raised from the dead after three days. After his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—an event Paul never mentions in his lette

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo


By David Andrew Dugle ~   S ettle down now children, here's the story from the Book of David called The Parable of the Bent Cross. In the land Southeast of Eden –  Eden, Minnesota that is – between two rivers called the Big Miami and the Little Miami, in the name of Saint Gertrude there was once built a church. Here next to it was also built a fine parochial school. The congregation thrived and after a multitude of years, a new, bigger church was erected, well made with clean straight lines and a high steeple topped with a tall, thin cross of gold. The faithful felt proud, but now very low was their money. Their Sunday offerings and school fees did not suffice. Anon, they decided to raise money in an unclean way. One fine summer day the faithful erected tents in the chariot lot between the two buildings. In the tents they set up all manner of games – ring toss, bingo, little mechanical racing horses and roulette wheels – then all who lived in the land between the two rivers we

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two

Morality is not a Good Argument for Christianity

By austinrohm ~ I wrote this article as I was deconverting in my own head: I never talked with anyone about it, but it was a letter I wrote as if I was writing to all the Christians in my life who constantly brought up how morality was the best argument for Christianity. No Christian has read this so far, but it is written from the point of view of a frustrated closeted atheist whose only outlet was organizing his thoughts on the keyboard. A common phrase used with non-Christians is: “Well without God, there isn’t a foundation of morality. If God is not real, then you could go around killing and raping.” There are a few things which must be addressed. 1. Show me objective morality. Define it and show me an example. Different Christians have different moral standards depending on how they interpret the Bible. Often times, they will just find what they believe, then go back into scripture and find a way to validate it. Conversely, many feel a particular action is not