Tuesday, March 8, 2011
My life story, Part 33 and 1/3.....err....I mean Part 3
As I mentioned last time, when I graduated college I had no job and ended up moving in with my parents. I was jobless, I interviewed with several churches for youth minister positions, but my heart was not really in it. Either because they could tell or for some other reason I was not hired for any of the positions I interviewed for. So I ended up working in numerous bad jobs, a 12 hour shift at a factory for about 6 months, Wal-Mart for about a year.
During my first year out of college I had a lot of time to think and reflect on things. I had steadily become more liberal in my theology over the last year of college. Biblical inerrancy had gone fairly early, which led me to doubt quite a bit of my religion as time wore on. If college only did one thing for me, it made me good at research so I began reading a lot, both on other religions and on science. I began to realize that many ideas I had taken to be true for years had no basis in reality.
I had read many anti-evolution books written by apologists that had told me that evolution was unscientific, was a lie, was nothing but a creation story for evil unbelievers....etc. I wondered if this was as true as I was told, so for the first time in my life I actually started reading the science. What I found was astounding. I had been told constantly that there were no good scientific answers for many of the "problems" that were put forward by apologists. Not only were their good answers, many times I found that that the very questions that were being asked by apologists made it painfully obvious they were totally ignorant of some of the most basic ideas in the theory. With even a small amount of knowledge most of the anti-evolution rhetoric did not even make sense, much less make a coherent case against the science.
To put it mildly, I was angry, I felt I had been lied too, but I still had to admit that this in itself did not mean that Christianity was totally false. I had already abandoned the idea that the bible was scientifically inerrant several months earlier, but perhaps it was still valid as a spiritual/moral guide. However, the more I read the bible the more I doubted its quality as a guide for anything. Just as with evolution I began reading works by various people who took issue with various teachings within Christianity. I wanted to disagree with them, but I could find no counter-arguments against any thing I read. Instead I began to see passage after passage full of "moral" laws that would seem harsh in communist China.
About a year after I had graduated I remember being up at about 3:00 A.M. working through my thoughts and trying to figure how I was going to continue believing after all I had learned. All at once a thought occurred to me that I had not considered. I did not need to keep believing. In fact, I was pretty certain I already did not believe. I prayed for the last time ever on that night; I asked god to give me some proof or reason to believe. I felt nothing, then I said to myself, "well that's it then," and went to bed.
After that night I realized I had no idea who I was anymore. I had spent the last 6 or 7 years of my life defining everything I was by way of my religion. I ended up getting back into a lot of hobbies I had previously denied myself, gaming, anime etc. I also tried looking into other religions, but invariably found that they had the same unfounded assertions and questionable beliefs.
At some point I realized that most of the reasons I rejected Christianity could be applied to every religion I studied. They all contained bald assertions which they offered no proof for. I began to read a lot of information written by atheists and agreed with most of what they said, but I was a bit skeptical of the claim that one could know there was no god. Eventually, I realized that being an atheist was not about rejecting the possibility of a god, instead it was simply an rejection of the unsupported claim that he does exist. I realized at that point that I had been an atheist for quite a while without knowing it. This was a rather shocking revelation to me. My liberal religion professors viewed atheists as narrow minded, and my conservative back ground in religion had drilled into me the notion that all atheists were immoral, or at least had no reason to be moral. As someone who had rejected Christianity because I found many teachings to be immoral I wondered if being an atheist somehow defeated my own argument.
I wont go in to detail here about how I settled those issues in my own mind, but reading my regular posts should reveal that anyway. In any case, I did settle these things in my own mind, and eventually became the well adjusted, awesome, genius guy that I am today. (also humble)