Posts filed under ‘Josh’
As I write this final post, I realize that I have two difficulties. First is length. There is so much to recount! Second is sincerity and privacy. How can I be honest about my experiences and protect the those who played a major part in my becoming an atheist?
To solve the first, I will not focus as much on arguments, because I think this would be wasting my breath. There are plenty of good posts already on the arguments against the faith (resurrection, fall, existence of God, etc.) Instead it is my focus to pay close attention to my story – those sequence of fortunate events that lead me to realize that all my problems were slowly being solved by reason and evidence. [The "non-essential" parts to my story are enclosed in brackets, feel free to skip them.]
Secondly, I will do my best to hide the identity of those individuals who played a major part in pushing me furthest from the faith but I cannot hide everything. If they ever read this they will most likely recognize themselves in the unfolding drama, but I feel it is only fair that I keep their names private. Beyond that it is difficult to hide them.
Please do not feel like you need to read this entire story, I have carefully included [tangents] in brackets. Feel free to skip them and read them later – or not at all.
Following the dreadful years of my teens, I was confronted with a period of milder Christianity. I just ‘believed’ everything, ‘believed’ I was saved, ‘believed’ God had a plan for me, and ‘believed’ in the inerrancy of the Bible and that any problem passages could just be resolved with enough research and devotion to the Word (as the Psalmist so often sang)…
In my previous post, I recounted my childhood years and the wonder and awe I felt at being a child of God. True, there were my moments of doubt and darkness, but they were always trumped in those early years by the moments of rapture and ecstasy as I read the very living Word of God and soaked up Christian teaching like a deer to water.
I cannot even begin to describe what followed my twelfth birthday. My love for Jesus turned into a living hell that words cannot describe. Most of my teenage years I just wished I could die to just relieve some of my doubts. I contemplated suicide. I had a loving family, loving friends, I was intelligent and insightful, wise beyond my years (as many told me), was far beyond the learning and knowledge of my peers about my faith, and was intelligent and had the potential for great success in life. By the time I was fourteen or fifteen I had to have read the Bible at least six times completely – not including the countless thousands of times I had poured over certain texts and their associated commentaries. I would often spend an hour or more in Scripture per day, trying to understand what passages meant. But I was an emotional wreck beyond words.
To help people understand the depth of my curiosity about Scripture, I should probably describe the black and white way in which I viewed the living Word of God. In my little teen mind, it occurred to me that if all 66 books of the Bible were inspired / God-breathed by the almighty, fearful, just and holy God of this universe, then it was in my best interest to understand every verse and line as much as I could…
My de-conversion story is one that will probably leave many of you appalled and shocked at just what religion can do to someone. My story is not simple – it is extremely involved, intense, and complicated. As such, this small (hopefully only 3-part) series will relate my detailed journey from fundamentalist, six-day literal, biblical inerrancy believing, calvinistic, highly spiritual Christian to atheist. I will cover my reasoning, my spiritual experiences, and my the internal hellish torment that my faith gave me. The first part will cover my childhood, the second will cover my teenage years, and the final portion will cover my recent de-conversion at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago at the age of 23.
[Please forgive me for the length. I want to make it as clear as possible that I was as deeply into the faith as one can imagine, because most accusations made against de-converts have to do with the fact that we were never a "true" Christian. Well, if I was not a "true" Christian, then I cannot imagine what one is!]
As a child I never knew anything but Protestant Christianity. My parents were not forceful in their beliefs, but it was certainly obvious they took them seriously. My dad was born into a pastor’s family, and my mother grew up in the same church as my father. Both of their immediate families were extremely devoted Christians.
I was extremely intelligent for my age as a young child around the age of 7-10. I can remember some of the things I pulled off and the arguments I concocted and even now I wonder where I got that stuff from…