I was born into a culture that embraced Christendom. Because of this, I was indoctrinated into a Christian worldview. I believed, because I was taught belief, that the Christian god was the only god and that anyone who did not believe this was to suffer an eternity in hell. This alternative to belief helped to put to rest many of the questions I had about the subject, rather than the answers I received when I asked them. I discovered early on that people really couldn’t answer basic questions about the reasons we believed the way we did. “Why did god have to kill his son to forgive people? He’s god right? God is love. Why couldn’t he find a less violent way?” Or “What happened to the people who died before Jesus?” These were all questions of a child. They were never answered with any satisfaction. However, Hell awaits the nonbeliever, so just have faith. And so this would be the accepted position for the thirty plus years.
Eventually, as many of us do, I began to realize that I didn’t feel fulfilled by my beliefs. I felt that this feeling of unrest was “god calling me to come into his service”. So I began to study. I studied and studied. I prayed and prayed. And yet, I wasn’t getting any closer to feeling like I was on the right path. Perhaps my life wasn’t in order. So, I put my family on the “right track”. We all went to church every time the doors opened. We removed anything spiritually unhealthy from our lives. I restricted any “worldly” influenced materials into our home. We had “Angel TV”, we pray together, and my wife and I spent nights, every night, praying together and reading our bibles. And this is the path that led us to the next chapter in our lives.
Because my wife and I wanted to be “good Christians”, we felt that we should read the Bible as it was written, from front to back. I had read the NT several times through, but never the tedious OT, at least not front to back. So we began. We started each reading with a prayer to the “Holy Spirt”, so that our reading would be god led. Each of us took turns reading aloud. We began to see major issues right away. The creation story brought about several questions. One verse said god brought forth all of the creatures from the dirt, another said he brought them all forth from the sea. Plants were made a day before the sun, but light was several days before the sun. We began to justify why things didn’t make sense. We didn’t want to get too bogged down with those details that surely someone has already answered. We would push on. Then we get to Moses and his stories. We get into the violence, and it’s just the beginning. We get into Kings and the violence just gets worse. The god of love begins to seem more like a god of war. And the doubts piled upon themselves until I looked up in the middle of reading and said aloud, “I think this might all be a lie!” I spent the next year trying to prove that Satan was the source of my doubts. I had somehow let him in and he was leading me astray. But finally, after exhaustive attempts to prove that god was real, I gave into what now seemed obvious. It was all a lie. No one out there could prove that god was. I desperately wanted to find the proof. However, it was all just weak conjecture.
There was light at the end of this tunnel. Once I shed the anger of the deception that had plagued most of my life, I began to feel more alive. The realization that life is finite made it become more precious to me. I became happier and more fulfilled, as I began to look at the world from a new perspective. My world was special, not because it was created by some deity, but because it was a rare happenstance. I am because I am. There is no other reason needed. Enjoy being while you can, because being will end. Some people think that this means you just do what ever feels good, because there are no consequences. This is a very shortsighted unintelligent view. All actions have consequences. And while you may obtain temporary happiness from an action, it could lead to a prolonged period of suffering. Therefore, you can be a dumbass and seek cheap thrills. Or, you can seek meaningful and lasting happiness by attempting to improve the choices that you make. Maximize rewards by weighing risk. Which, if we are honest, is what we do regardless of beliefs. For me, being good simply for the sake of being good, and not for the promise of some eternal reward, made me understand what it really means to be a moral person. As such, I became happier than I ever could have been in religion. I became a better person. Becoming an atheist made me a better person. (To be continued.)