Wednesday, February 9, 2011

From Christian to Atheist

I decided to start this blog to share my perspective as an atheist in a world that, by and large, believes in something which I know cannot be true.  It certainly isn't a popular position, but then again, uncomfortable truths rarely are.  Nevertheless, I have found peace and contentment in my current lack of belief; like those who discovered the world was round, I did not sail off the edge but rather grew intellectually.  Indeed, I should think that my life has become better ever since I shed my Christian beliefs.

I was not always an atheist.  I suppose I was born one; as I think everyone is born without belief.  However, I was baptized (or so I am told; I was too young to remember the event or even speak), and raised in a religious family.  I'm not talking bible thumping, speaking in tongues crazy fundamentalists.  No, my family and their church were just your typical go-to-church-every-Sunday Protestants, and I was probably the most religious when I believed.  I would always want to give the blessing before a meal, memorizing all of the great blessings I could to add variety and spice.  I sang in the choir.  I felt anger whenever I met someone who claimed to not believe.  I was not abused nor molested by anyone related to the church, and to this day I think that the ministers of my church are actually pretty good people.

The only thing that started me on my journey away from the church was when money became involved.  My money, to be precise.  As a kid, I worked very hard for the little money I was able to earn; I delivered newspapers, picked strawberries, and even toiled at a tree nursery.  I was no stranger to blisters and sunburn.  At first, I gladly wanted to add my money to the plate being passed around, to be the best Christian I could.  However, I couldn't stop wondering, what did God need of my money?  Surely, the creator of all things should be able to provide the church with what they need without my contribution.  Wasn't a couple of hours singing hymns every Sunday, a blessing before every meal, convincing others that my religion was the one true religion, and regular prayer several times a day per week enough?   I felt so.  With that, I stopped going to church on a regular basis; only going whenever there was a wedding, baptism, or funeral.  I still wanted to put the Christ back into Christmas, but like my grandfather, I felt that mine was a more "Personal" relationship with God.

Years passed, I got married and was about to have a child.  Nothing makes a person really evaluate their life like the birth of their first child.  I wanted to be the best father I could, so I put my beliefs under the microscope.  I examined other beliefs, and found that many did not worship Christ.  When I thought about it, I realized that, by accepting Christ as my savior, I was essentially allowing someone else to take the blame for anything bad I had done, intentionally or not.  Being an independent young man of 25, it seemed awfully cowardly, and not something I wanted my child to do.  I decided that if I was to be judged, I wanted to be judged for everything I had done; both good and bad.  If the things I had done in my life were so terrible as to warrant an eternity in hell, then so be it.  At once, I denounced Christ, on the basis that I did not want anyone to have died for me or anything I had done, and become that strong, moral role model that I thought my child would need. 

At this point, I still believed in God, but had no particular religion.  I examined other religions, and when I hit on Buddhism, I was introduced with a whole new concept.  God was not a central theme to their religion.  While I explored Buddhism, I became agnostic.  Did God exist?  The existence of God is unprovable, but ultimately doesn't matter, became my agnostic point of view.  I ended up becoming a member of The Church of the Apathetic Agnostic, and wrote a few things for them and even became ordained.

The thing that finally pushed me over the edge to atheism was The Atheist's Certainty.  Clearly written, I finally found that nugget of clarity and truth I had been seeking my entire life.  Once the James Randi Flying Reindeer experiment put things into such crystal clear perspective, I couldn't believe that I actually considered the existence of a god as a possibility.

There you have it.  A brief summary of my journey from being very Christian to becoming an atheist in my mid to late 20's.  No hatred, no ill-will; just clarity and truth.  In my non-belief, I find peace and contentment, and it has made me a better person.  These will be topics of future blog posts.  I'm Paul the Atheist, and this is my blog.

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