Leaving Faith Behind

I was not raised in a particularly religious home. My mother believed in God but my father did not. All of my brothers and sisters went to Sunday School, but as the youngest I was relieved of that burden. Our family practised weddings and funerals church attendance. I recall however an old man that used to come to my primary school and tell stories from the Bible. Growing up, religion and God didn’t mean very much to me, they weren’t a big part of my life. In my early twenties however I found myself in a situation whereupon I was questioning such spiritual matters. Retrospectively I can see that this was brought on by a rather traumatic personal experience of which I could not see the significance at the time. I began “searching” and became a born again Christian shortly thereafter. I remained in the church for twenty years, and it dramatically shaped who I was. There were many times as a Christian that I did not feel that I was myself, but rather just a poor version of trying to be someone else. But I was a fully committed and indoctrinated Christian: I was baptised in water, I spoke in tongues and I performed what I considered at the time to be the gifts of the spirit. I read widely, or at least widely within the Christian framework, and I studied the Bible. Unlike the majority of Christians, as I was to discover later, I actually read the whole Bible cover to cover. Ten years into my Christian experience I began to teach at a theological training Institute where I would lecture on biblical studies, theology, leadership, discipleship and philosophy. A few years into this I embarked upon four years of formal study in which I completed my postgraduate qualification in theology at an accredited tertiary institution. This was the beginning of the end, or more accurately a whole new beginning. I should also mention at this point that throughout my entire Christian life I have suffered from a debilitating chronic pain condition that has effectively defined my life. This condition gradually worsened over the years and has prevented me from working and performing the simplest of day-to-day tasks. Undoubtedly this has factored into my decision, but in all honesty I lived faithfully under the all seeing eye of God for twenty years while suffering through this, and I am certain of the fact that it is theological and not personal issues that provided the ultimate nail in the coffin of Christianity for me.

The more I studied theology the more I recognised a number of fatal flaws. Firstly, the Bible that I held in such high esteem for so long is rather less impressive than I initially thought. In the study of hermeneutics I discovered that one must go to great lengths to arrive at the doctrinal nodes which make up modern Christianity. Everything must be interpreted, and the average person, without training, cannot possibly interpret the Bible correctly. This makes Christianity, at its heart, a religion of the elite. Don’t get me wrong, many lay-people think that they can interpret the Bible correctly, but there are a huge number of misinterpretations in the modern church. The methods of interpretation are also highly suspicious. One must ultimately depend upon and trust in the interpretations of “experts” unless they are intent upon devoting their entire life to the study of ancient languages and interpretive method. There are also many questions around the legitimacy of Bible passages, and many passages which are taken for granted by the modern church are likely later insertions. Even the codification of the Bible as a finished work of sixty-six books is questionable, at the end of the day it is simply the collection that was decided upon by majority at the Council of Laodicea in 363 A.D. They also excluded the book of Revelation at the time which was not canonised until 419 A.D. if that seems arbitrary to you, it should, and this is the supposedly living word of God we are talking about here. Theology is another area which shines light on the gaping flaws of Christianity. I originally thought that it was interesting that there were a number of “grey” areas within Christianity. However, as I studied theology I realised that every area of Christianity is grey. There is no area of Christianity which is clear and concise, every part of it is subject to great debate even the area of salvation. Essentially, there is no firm ground to stand upon within the Christian faith. At the superficial church level, people believe that they have answers to just about everything. But once you dig down into the true contextual, theological level there is no firm ground, and there are no substantive answers. It simply becomes a case of what you would like to believe about the Bible. So we have a religious belief in a super being that is based on a belief that an ancient religious text can be interpreted in a specific way. That is far too tenuous for me. But I am only scraping the surface. For many years as a Christian I had struggled with the divergence between what was written in scripture and what I observed in the real world. The faith that was supposed to be active, living and personal had no reflection on real life. It’s easy to interpret events as being divine in nature, but there is no evidence for this. Christians attribute many occurrences to God, but those same occurrences can easily be explained by other means. The big question that I asked, and one of the most ancient is “if God is good why is there so much evil in the world?” This started me down the rabbit hole. Sure, I had asked this question before, but only really investigated it on a superficial level; only really looking at Christian sources for an answer. As I looked at what non-Christian sources had to say about this problem everything changed. I came to realise that not only is it not possible for Yahweh to be good, but if the Bible is accurate, Yahweh is in fact the most evil being ever to have been conceived. I’ll provide this link as one example:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Underlings

If you have ever asked yourself, and I hope you have, “how can a good God send people to hell?” Then you have faced one of the dilemmas of the Christian faith. Theologians have come up with a number of solutions that tone down the idea of hell and make it more palatable for believers, but doctrinally the evidence of the Bible points to a literal hell. This means that a perfectly good and loving God has deemed it just to sentence a person to eternal punishment for temporal sins. If you think that this is okay then I pity you. This, among an ocean of other concerns has drawn me out of the Christian faith.

This process of moving away from God did not happen overnight, it took me about three or four years of investigation and serious thought before I realized that even if God was real, and the evidence for that is dubious, I refuse to worship an evil God. I made this decision around 2012, and since then have continued studying and discovered even more evidence showing that the Bible is highly questionable, it is very unlikely that there is any God at all, and that all religions are a barrier to the forward advancement of the human race.

Since leaving the church I have not missed it. I feel like I am me again and can attest that there is freedom outside of Christ Jesus. I am regretful of how much of my life was wasted in pointless church services, prayer meetings and administrative meetings for the church. It is truly a relief to be emancipated from the all-seeing cosmic overlord. I would encourage you if you are a believer to investigate some of these issues with an open mind, as ultimately, knowing the truth is more valuable and rewarding than a futile belief in an eternal afterlife. I would also like to apologise to all of those people to whom I have taught theology and biblical studies in the past. At the time I believed I was teaching the truth, but I have now come to realise that I was imparting falsehoods and deceptions, so please accept my sincerest apologies. Why has it taken me so long to “come out?” Because this has been a process, I wanted to be certain before I definitively stated my atheistic position. I have taken this decision extremely seriously and spoken with a number of people who could be considered experts in these areas of Christianity in order to find some resolution. I found a sad absence of answers and even people who are cited as world experts in areas such as the theodicy provided me only weak responses to my questions. So only now that I am sure of my position do I feel comfortable in officially severing my links from the imaginary god of the universe.

Below I have attached some links to videos that I have found useful in my journey. If you want to contact me to find out more, please feel free to do so. I don’t bite and I was always taught to hate the sin and not the sinner (Christianity being the sin!). I know that many Christians might claim that I was never really saved or that I fell into sin, or some rubbish of that ilk, but rest assured that my decision was not motivated by a desire to do evil deeds. In fact, the opposite is true. It is my hatred of evil, and those who claim to do good in the name of evil, that has led me to where I am today. In closing I’ll just say that I wish you all the best and hope that you put truth first in your journey of discovery.

Resources:

A debate between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott Armstrong on Suffering and Evil

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkVfvzpKreg

Dr Richard Carrier discussing whether Jesus actually existed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwUZOZN-9dc

Sam Harris on Free Will

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCofmZlC72g

Six way debate on Religion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWOZi_OUQL8

I intend to post a number of articles on this site outlining a variety of subjects around Christianity, religion and the psychology of belief. These will help clarify the deeper and more specific reasons as to why I arrived at the position that I hold.

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