I did not grow up in an extremely religious family, but as a Baptist, I was raised to believe in God. I was taught that God was the creator of the universe; that his son, Jesus Christ, died for our sins, and that the Bible was a sacred book; the infallible word of God.
Growing up, I often attended church whenever I had the chance. As adolescents, my siblings and I regularly attended Sunday school each week and Vacation Bible School during the summer. There was about a 5 year hiatus, from about the age 10 to 15, in which I never stepped foot into a church. However, my faith and beliefs remained intact and strong as ever, and after starting junior high, church going became a regular ritual once again.
During my junior year in high school, my school had a guest speaker. Classes were suspended and all the students gathered in the gymnasium to listen to this man speak. He had come to talk to us about Jesus, and the rewards we would receive by accepting him as our Lord and Savior. Being a believer that Jesus was the messiah, I found the sermon somewhat interesting, and listened intensively as he preached the gospel.
After his little sermon, he invited everyone to come and know Jesus as their Savior. He said that anyone who wanted to be saved, and to have their sins washed away, that they should repeat the prayer that he was about to say. He began praying, and I began repeating the prayer under my breath.
After he had finished, I just thought to myself, 'Cool, I’m saved', and that was about it. I didn’t feel this spirit move through me, or have this feeling of great joy come over me. I went home after school that day, feeling the same way I felt when I first attended school that morning.
I did however feel that I should try to lead a Christian life, the best that I knew how, since I was fairly new at it. I started attending church and Sunday school every weekend. I even began reading the Bible every night before going to bed, starting with Genesis.
At first I tried reading as much as I could before I got too sleepy and had to turn in. The book was so boring, it took every ounce of strength I had to stay awake long enough to get through a few verses. I was determined to read the Bible, no matter how boring it was, so I decided to dedicate myself to one chapter a night. This worked out fine for a while, until I got to a section that mentioned everyone that begat an offspring.
So and so was 800 years old and he begat what’s-his-face. What’s-his-face lived 750 years and he begat numb nuts. Numb nuts lived 890 years and he begat . . . Well you get the picture. Needless to say, there was a whole lot of chapter skipping.
Eventually I realized that this Christian thing wasn’t working out. Although I was new at being a Christian, I felt there had to be more to it than this. Where was this great feeling of euphoria that went along with it?
Upon graduating high school, I started attending a Freewill Baptist church. Not that I was looking to find religion again, but because it was abundant with the female persuasion. After attending this church for a couple years, at about the age of 21, I decided to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savoir again. I made this decision after viewing a film about Hell, and the consequences of not asking Jesus to forgive your sins. Once again, I became a devout Christian and a witness for Christ.
This phase of my life lasted approximately 1 1/2 years, at which time I started backsliding to my wicked ways once again. I have not stepped foot into a church since, except to attend weddings and funerals. I felt that Christianity just wasn't all it was cracked up to be, but still believed in the existence of God.
I have always had a fascination for science, and there was always this conflict of what science taught and what the Bible taught. Science said man evolved from a lower life form; a process that took billions of years, where as the Bible states that God created man from the dirt of the Earth in one day. Science also states that the universe is at least 12 billion years old, yet the Bible can only place the age of the universe at a mere 7,000 years. I suppose I always thought that there was some sort of logical explanation of why religion and science contradicted each other; of course now I know why.
I have always been a skeptic when it came to such issues as UFO's, Bigfoot, Psychics, The Bermuda Triangle. . . So why wasn't I a skeptic when it came to believing in an unproven God? The idea of God contradicted with everything I knew about the sciences, (i.e. Astronomy, Physics). I never questioned the existence of God, because I knew he had to exist. How did I know this? Because I was told so, and for no other reason.
I started questioning my beliefs one night, while I was out observing the cosmos with my telescope. As I looked upon the many wonders the universe had to offer, it dawned on me that they served no real purpose; they were just there. I had an epiphany if you will. If God created the Heaven and the Earth, as described in the first chapter of Genesis, and we are unique in the universe, then what was all this other stuff out there for?
Slowly, things started to fall into place. I began questioning the existence of the universe. I realized that the matter in the universe served no purpose. Not only was the universe immense, it was old. Much older than what the Bible described. I started to question other things that I observed around me; things that didn't make sense if one true benevolent god actually existed.
Why was there so much pain in suffering in the world?
Why did some people prosper in life, while others struggle?
Why are there so many different religions in the world?
Why does Christianity have so many different denominations?
Why does the Bible contradict almost everything that science has to say?
After these and other questions, I realized that everything I was brought up to believe could not be completely true. I was agnostic at first, and after further research, I apostatized my faith and became a strong atheist. That was about 15 years ago, and my life is no worse off now, than when I was a Christian. Frankly, it's actually gotten better.
It is hard for Christians to accept the fact that one of the sheep had left the fold voluntarily. Some Christians would say that I had become disappointed in my faith or that I blame God for some terrible event in my life and this is why I turned away from my religion. Well that is simply not the case. The fact is...My eyes were opened. To say that I blame God for something bad that may have happened in my life would be like a child blaming Santa Claus because he didn't get anything for Christmas. It is pointless to blame someone or something that doesn't exist.
Other Christians have said that I was never really a Christian, or I was never a "true" Christian; just because I went to church on Sundays. Well sorry; I was just as much a true Christian as Billy Graham.