God Is Dead...And I Killed Him
All my life, I had been a believer of the casual sort, with occasional visits to church and Sunday school but no real sense of commitment. As I approached the age of thirty, I suddenly decided to dedicate myself more completely to the life of Christianity, and to become "closer" to God. I began studying the Bible, going to church, praying, tithing and even fasting once a week.
Yet, even from the very beginning, there were little red flags and troubling questions. But I either ignored them or rationalized them away. For example, why did I feel nothing when I sincerely asked God to come into my heart when, for every other Christian it was supposedly a life-changing event? All my life, I'd been promised that I would immediately feel God's love, and would be instantly transformed, so I struggled to understand why I wasn't having the same experience those "saved" believers claimed they had.
I suspected that I hadn't done something right -- or more fundamentally, that there was something wrong with me (I now understand that this feeling is very common among those who seek out God. It's no accident that "conversions" and "rebirths" usually happen in crowds of enthusiastic believers, where atmosphere and shared experience can overwhelm the senses and convince one of something that isn't there).
Looking back, I can now see that this was when the intellectual dishonesty truly began, where I started to earnestly rationalize this and other failures of my faith. The more deeply I looked, the more the contradictions and inconsistencies rose to the surface. The more questions I had, the more contrived and convoluted the answers became.
After struggling for months trying to reconcile my religious beliefs and personal sense of sin with my intellect, integrity and intuitive sense of morality, I began to wonder why my prayers for help were never answered, when the Bible clearly states they will be. Why did it seem I was completely on my own, when I'd always been taught that God would be there?
I often reminded myself of the story of the "Footprints in the sand," where a person dreams of his life's journey represented in footprints on a sandy beach: his and those of Jesus, who walked beside him. In his times of trouble, the two sets of footprints became one, where Jesus supposedly carried him. I reassured myself that, just like in the story, Jesus (or God) would come to my rescue and help me carry my burden. He never did.
Inevitably, I was forced to consider the most important, provocative -- and ultimately, liberating -- question that a believer can ever ask himself: What if God doesn't actually exist? The very approach to the question can feel like edging toward a cliff over an abyss, the first timid steps compelled by an unsettling mix of desperation and hopeful courage.
Yet, as I began to honestly contemplate the issue of God's existence for the very first time, I also began to realize how misguided my initial fears had been -- that they had been a figment of my own self-deception. Eventually I began to understand the same about God. In the end, when I reflected on my own "footprints in the sand," I had to recognize that there had only been one set of steps all along...my own. The problem wasn't that my prayers weren't heartfelt enough. The problem was that there wasn't anyone listening.
Ironically, it was my newfound commitment to becoming a better Christian that, in the end, made me a non-believer. I finally had to admit that I could no longer maintain the delusions that had perpetuated my faith. I had to accept that I was an atheist. When that realization finally crystallized in my mind, it was as if blinders had been removed from my eyes. I finally felt that joy that was supposed to come from God, but it had come instead from a new, sublime sense of clarity and self-discovery, and a reaffirmed love for truth and reason. And I wanted to share it with EVERYONE!
The road to atheism is littered with the hopes of people who sincerely sought out God, only to be met with stony silence. The only reply they ever get is in the whispers of their own delusions, interpreted or deciphered through the rose-colored glasses of faith. For me, like so many other ex-believers, the truth is that God only ever existed in my head. Once I removed those rose-colored glasses, whatever remained of him died. In a way, I'd gone looking for God and ended up finding myself.
That was more than twenty years ago. Since then, I've become even more convinced in my atheism. I've re-examined the "evidence" of God's existence and found it wanting. I've reconsidered and deconstructed all the apologetic arguments I could find. And now that I recognize all the errors, repetitions, inconsistencies and self-contradictions in the Bible, I now understand why I once struggled so much trying to read and comprehend this absolutely horrible piece of literature.
Today, as a committed ANTI-theist, I've learned much more about the negative influence of religion and blind faith, now and throughout history. I focus my efforts trying to free others from the same delusions that kept me in the dark for so many years. I now do what I can to chip away -- one piece at a time -- the sinister and malignant deceptions of religious and supernatural faith that hold humanity hostage.
It's often said among atheists that you can't reason somebody out of something they didn't reason themselves into in the first place. But I disagree. I believe (perhaps naively) that, deep down, every human intellect cherishes truth. My goal is to appeal to that particular part of every believer -- however deeply it may lay buried beneath layers of religious or ideological nonsense -- giving them the key to eventually free themselves (as I finally did years ago). That's my gift to them, and to the world.