Friday, May 24, 2013

Instant atheist: Just add knowledge

Okay, maybe not instant in all cases. My deconversion certainty wasn't. With this being my one-hundredth entry, I thought I'd share the story of how I went from just another Christian to thr free-thinking atheist I am today.

Many believers think that I must have had something terrible happen to me to cause me to 'turn from God'. Others claim that I'm going through a phase, or that I'm simply 'angry with God'. None of these are true though. The truth is that I've actually had a pretty uneventful life. No terrible Earth-shattering happening to crack my faith. I can't be angry with God either, as I don't believe in his existence. I can no more be angry with God, than you can be angry with the Easter Bunny. Rebellious phase? Nothing of the sort! So, how is it that I lost my faith then.

I can tell you that it wasn't anything that happened all of a sudden. There was no ah-ha moment like those that the religious like to throw around stories of. In my case, it was a slow process that I was unaware of until after it had happened. Allow me to explain...

When I was younger, I was a Christian. Catholic to be more specific. I was a believer through and through, and didn't question the things that i now can't believe I once accepted on mere say-so. So was it that I didn't want to believe? The exact opposite actually. My path to atheism was paved with my wanting to believe and the will to prove that belief as justified. I'd say that it all started when I started learning about things that didn't match up with the Bible. Ideas or facts that simply didn't jive with what I was taught in CCD or in church on Sundays. I was in of the mindset that if there was a contradiction between the church's teachings, and those from another source, it was automatically the church's that were correct, and the other that was doubted.

And that's where it all started. I can't remember what it was exactly, but the start was when I learned or heard about something that was in contradiction to what the Bible said on the matter. One day I decided to prove the Biblical view once and for all. So I pulled out my Bible and started reading. But a funny thing happened. As I read, I was left more confused than assured. The Bible that is talked about in study and church is very different that the actual Bible when you actually stop to read it. There are all manner of shocking stories that you will never hear about in your weekly service. But while I was left seeing a different Bible, I still opined that it's words were the truest of them all. Looking back now, I would say that reading the Bible with an open mind is one of the easiest ways to 'make' and atheist. But consider that I was reading to confirm my beliefs, yet my intellectual honesty still found a way through and in hindsight, probably planted seeds of doubt.

So, Bible read, my next step was to read up on the things that I automatically rejected, so that I could show where these counter-claims failed. And so I did just that. I dug into these topics with a ruthless desire to discredit them. But a funny thing happened... The more I looked into them, the more sense they made. But they didn't just make sense, they also had evidence to back everything up. I was left having to accept that these things were true if I was going to remain honest with myself. At first, I would go back to the Bible and try and twist an turn passages to make these new conclusions fit. But the more I learned the less that became possible. I continued going back and re-reading the Bible with an open mind, and one day it dawned on me that I no longer believed.

I didn't know when it happened. When it actually was that I had lost my faith, but it happened and in that moment I knew I no longer believed in God. Yet I was still a few years away from identifying as an atheist. If pressed, I probably would have told you that I wasn't religious. Quite frankly, I didn't know that I was an atheist. That's because the time or two I'd heard the word, it was pinned in the same breath as devil worship. For years, I took the word 'atheist' to mean something it didn't.  Leave it to the church to make up definitions... Then one day I happened across another atheist that self identified as such. I remembered the term, but this time I actually looked it up. At the moment that I saw that an atheist is simply someone who lacks belief to a god/gods, I realized the fact that I had been an atheist for some time now. I simply didn't realize that my position on religion had such a title.

As you can see, my deconversion was anything but a simple and sudden one. It started with a defense of my religion, and ended up with me disbelieving in the religion I once clung to. Reading the Bible played a roll, but so did good old fashioned learning. Knowledge really is the greatest threat to religious faith. You don't even need to be a logical genius. In my opinion, being honest and open-minded are enough. If I can come to non-belief by way of trying to bolster my belief, that should tell you something. While atheism was not my intended goal, I must say that I'm quite pleased with the final result. My eyes have been opened to an amazing and beautiful world, and I intend to make the most of it.

-Brain Hulk

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