I was a Christian from birth for 32 1/2 years of my life. When I was born my parents were in a non denominational church which followed the teachings of a Pentecostal (Ex Baptist) divine healing preacher. Several years after I was born my parents left the church over doctrinal disagreements and started house meetings. This continued for some years with the group being a lose affiliation. After sometime my father felt the leading of the spirit to become the pastor of this small group and thus founded the church that would influence my entire adult life up to this point. Over the years the church dynamic has changed, but has maintained its basic identity as what is best described as a non denominational Christian church heavily influenced by the doctrine of the afore mentioned Pentecostal preacher.
While I would have never considered myself a very religious Christian e.g. I have never religiously read the bible or prayed every-single-day-without-a-beat. I did, however, whole heartedly believe in what the church taught. As I grew older and was exposed to the odd outside bits of information I became aware of worldviews and scientific facts that didn’t correspond to my ‘biblical reality’. However, for the most part I put these doubts aside. After moving into town and taking up university level study I was exposed to even more outside information.
The first real cracks, however, were from inside the church, from the pastor in fact. For whatever reason we moved on from previously held beliefs about the divine healing preacher and the ‘truth’ of what he said were questioned and overturned. An important note, the church still held he was a man of God, just not quite the Prophet we were for many years led to believe. This started a questioning in my mind of, well if we, or God, or the pastor was wrong about him for all those years what else are we wrong about? This moving away occurred when I was about 21. I would once again put aside doubts and trust in God up until around October 2015 when I was 32.
In October 2015 the entire family would go on a cruise ship for a holiday. There was one particular day that was very rough, we were not allowed out on the upper decks so I went to the library. There I found and read a book by Z. Sitchin who proposed that ancient writings of the Sumerians about the Annunaki were telling actual events of an alien species that created humans long ago. Further research proved that Sitchin’s assertions were largely incorrect, but it did let me know that there were ancient writings out there – writings that contained stories similar to the ones in the Bible. I got very interested in the Nephalim, the Annunaki, the planet Nibiru etc. and how they related to the Bible. If you have no idea what I’m talking about at this point, don’t worry you are not missing out on much. This all lead me to a lot of researching and watching documentaries surrounding the subject. These didn’t impact on my belief in God, because for the most part it was mumbo jumbo nonsense. What did happen however, as does with the internet these days, is I ended up watching some scientific documentaries about archaeology in regards to ancient Israel. As a believer I fully expected any archaeological documentary about Israel to confirm Biblical history, which I believed was the most accurate history of the earth as well as God’s word to his chosen few. What I found really rocked me. As I now know, there is very little archaeological evidence to support anything in the Bible.
The Debates Stage
A few months after the cruise I started watching formal religious debates on youtube. The first debate I watched was an Intelligence Squared debate titled Is Islam a Religion of Peace with Ayaan Hirsi Ali debating against the motion. What was important about this debate was it opened up knowledge of another major religion and the method of critical thinking the debaters against the motion used. What applied here, if one was honest, should also apply to Christianity. This brought me to Christian vs Atheist debates. Frank Turek vs Christopher Hitchens debating Does God Exist would be the first of many, and introduced me to the powerhouse that was Christopher Hitchens. I would go on to watch many many debates, and over time noticed that when pushed for answers the Christians would fall back many a time to a logical fallacy. Special pleading, God of the gaps, begging the question, false dichotomies etc were employed time and again by Christians.
During this time I began to probe deeper looking for answers. The account in Genesis had been thrown into doubt so I looked at scientific explanations. I would discover that there was no scientific evidence for Noah’s flood, or any archaeological or historical evidence for 2 million Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt. Furthermore calculations showing what would be necessary for some events recorded in the Bible to be real were staggeringly improbable. I came across questions I had never thought to ask. How much water would be required to cover the entire earth to the height of Mount Everest? How much water per day would be necessary for 2 million Hebrews in the desert? The answers to these cast even more doubt on the inerrancy of scripture. I also started studying ancient mythologies, discovering many similarities between both the stories told, and the development of the various religions around the world. At the later stage of my de-conversion process I would look into the history of the New Testament and Jesus. This would at the very least throw serious doubt as to whether what was recorded in the Bible actually happened.
The Realisation (That I didn’t believe) and De-Conversion
At some point in May/June of 2016 while at work thinking about the information I came across I had a gut wrenching realisation that I no longer believed what was written in the Bible. My first thoughts were that in my search I had lost my faith and that the fault was mine. I became terrified that God would judge me for being an unbeliever and would punish me. At this point I was having something of a crisis of faith, I hadn’t unequivocally lost my belief in God. I kept searching for answers, something that would provide information that would get my belief back. But the more I dug, the more I realised that there was no basis even for the New Testament. Very few Christian apologetics made any significant points that countered the growing evidence against the Bible. Peter Hitchens made a few great points during an Oxford debate that were not Bible based, but his own conviction, which up to that point I felt was one of the best arguments for Christianity. However Peter failed to make a strong case for God. Around September/October 2016, while still not having a solid opinion on all that I had learned, I accepted that I didn’t believe the Bible, or God, the Devil, Angels, Demons, Heaven, or Hell. Not the Christian version, the Islamic version, the Hindi version or the Greek version. I concluded that they are all religions made up in the minds of humans, propagated via religious leaders to the masses who taught their children that their religion was the truth, the one true and only truth.
This will naturally be an on going tale, but for this section, this is the immediate after affect, telling the family, and hopefully a few enlightenment’s for those who find themselves in a similar position. Telling the family of my non belief and leaving the church was I think the hardest most painful thing I have ever done, and may ever have to do. What possibly didn’t help was the fact I just told my parents over dinner. There was no hints or warnings or suspicion that I might be having doubts. Perhaps they were blind to it, because in my mind I thought I had laid in hints over the months that I was having doubts. Apparently this wasn’t enough and it was like a frag grenade going off. Some family members were quite hysterical, claiming they were having chest pains because of me as if their reaction was my fault. As I would later learn, this is a common defense mechanism to a challenge to dearly held beliefs. It was a rough few months, but as often happens time heals, or at least allows an acceptable existence. My family and I have largely come to the agreement that we don’t discuss religious matters. They don’t try and reconvert me, and I don’t tell them why their beliefs are wrong. During this time I joined certain forums and support groups which helped immeasurably. For a person who had no decent contacts outside of the church group it was a lonely time and the online communities helped ease the pain. As of writing I am still involved with various groups and seek to help others. Like me, they having lost their faith and started their journey out of religion need support. I hope this story helps someone else on their journey out of religion as they realize they were not born a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, but that they were free born.