My conversion, or deconversion depending on perspective, began in February 1991 as I was attending the funeral of my 10 week old son Joshua. Josh died of “complicated” Sudden Infant Death Syndrome which means he didn’t die in his crib, he died at Johns Hopkins Hospital two days later after life support was removed.
In those two days he spent at Johns Hopkins, I can honestly say I prayed as I never had before in my life, nor ever since. As “god took” my son for reasons that no one can comprehend, my outlook toward Christianity changed radically. In the following months I rationalized that the only explanation that made any sense at all was that the god we worshipped was an absentee deity, no longer involved in our day to day lives, no longer hearing our prayers. This was the only consolation I could take away from Josh’s death – because if god was an “active,” participatory god – then he was a son of a bitch worthy of my hatred. At the time, my Christian sensibilities wouldn’t allow for that level of heresy, so I stuck with the former construct.
As years went by, I made attempts to strengthen my “bare bones” Christianity. I tried going to church, I read the Bible, spoke with pastors and sought spiritual counseling. I studied the Gnostic gospels, and delved deeply into the origins of historical Christianity, reading just about anything I could get my hands on. At the end of this period it became crystal clear to me that the Christian doctrine in which I had put my faith in throughout my life was a myth.
I was looking for reasons to believe, I was looking for answers and what I found were a series of more questions with no answers available.
I’m a historian by education and an analyst by profession. These two traits in conjunction are not truly compatible with religious dogmas. Historically the bible fails as an accurate measure of history and analysis of the formation of the bible clearly shows that the books selected were cherry picked to serve the doctrine of the early church and Roman emperor as a means of controlling living souls with the promise of eternal happiness in the next life.
Take for example the gospels of the New Testament. Although attributed to Mark, Luke, Matthew, and John, each of the gospels was in fact written anonymously and literally generations after the death of Jesus. The earliest of the gospels, Mark, was not written until after 70 AD – an important date as that was the year the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. If you remember your Old Testament, the temple was basically the Jewish phone booth to god. No temple, no phone. You should also remember that early Christianity was not for Gentiles – it was a natural extension of new Judaism. The Christ myth was created en lieu of the availability of the temple to continue the personalized relationship with god.
I should point out that although many (significant percentage of) Christians view science as an enemy of their religion (especially those that adhere to the belief that all of earth’s history has taken place in the last 6,000 or so years), science never once influenced my lack of faith; however, it certainly has revealed even more tragic inconsistencies with fundamentalist doctrine.
I use the word tragic with purpose – this creationist view of science, even under the guise of Intelligent Design, is just another factor in the dumbing down of America.
Of course, none of this matters to the faithful. Belief is not about facts – it’s about faith in the face of facts, which is why I continue to think so highly of my Christian friends and the strength of their faith. Despite “accusations” that I am an evangelical atheist, that could not be further from truth. I have no desire to deconvert Christians. My only goal in being so outspoken is to demonstrate that atheists are among you, that we don’t wish to eat Christian babies, we are not Satanists (no god, no Satan, no heaven, no hell), and all we’d really like is to not get that look and expression of regret and sadness when we say we don’t believe in god – not your god or any god. And while some may see it this way, we are in fact not less than. If you’re right and we’re wrong…Well, I’ll close on that topic.
Suppose for a moment that I’ve been seriously led astray (by knowledge, I mean Satan), and the Christian god of the bible is indeed real. If you’ve ever truly read the bible, especially the Old Testament, then you might understand this stance – if Yahweh is real, then I want no part of him, nor do I think him worthy of praise or my respect. His morality is severely lacking, even by fundamentalists’ standards. I can’t even begin to document the immoral acts committed by either Yahweh or his earthly representatives – fortunately, someone else has
And here is the last joke played. Even in Christianity, there exists such incredible schisms among the many different sects that many believe the other isn’t doing it right and therefore, won’t be heaven bound – Mormons and Catholics just to name a couple based on good Protestant understanding. How is it you can believe in the right god, but practice the wrong doctrine – as my 16 year old would say, “Epic Fail!”
If you got to this point and you still are trying to understand where I’m coming from – please take a look at this video clip. It sums up my thoughts much more eloquently than I could ever hope to do…