My process of De-Conversion

(Via Richie MacCool)

I have had so many Christians write me and comment on my blogs over the last few months to the effect of questioning my ever being a Christian and also to try and make their case for Christianity based on their own experience. I have decided to take a break from my usual blog style of presenting Christianity's lack of facts or at best conflicting facts in order to present to you a Tale of two Richards.

The first Richard was the Richard I was born to be. I was born in 1969 into a Christian family. My parents were Youth leaders at their church and from the best of my recollection, I never missed church on consecutive Sundays until I was 34 years old. From the earliest that I can remember we said a prayer before every meal, said our prayers before we went to bed at night, went to church every Sunday and usually on Sunday night and Wednesday also. Although most children who grow up in church like myself don't say the prayer of salvation until they are somewhere between 5-7 years old, as you can see church kids are taught to just accept the faith as reality long before they ever have the capability to reason it through. By the time I got to five I had already been saying my prayers to God/Jesus for at least two years. It was not a jump for me to accept Jesus as my savior, it was just a reasonable conclusion for a poor little 5 year old to make. I was taught that it was real, so for me it was real.

I spent most of my time growing up in Christian schools. These are private schools that focus on the spiritual state of the student as much as the academic state. I was taught the bible every single year of my school life from third grade until my senior year in high school. After high school I worked for a couple years while I saved up enough money to go away to The University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii. I was 20 years old now and still had never had a moment in my life where I doubted the existence of God. I was taught how to better understand the Bible. I was taught how to share Christianity with others. I was taught how to follow the instruction of my spiritual leaders. All of that was before I was even old enough to drink!

Quite frankly, at the age of 21 there was no one around me that could teach me anything new about the bible or Christianity so I decided that the best course of action for me would be to start teaching it myself. That is exactly what I did. I took a part time job at a church as a youth leader making $200 a month and quite honestly I had no idea what I was doing. I knew the Bible and I believed it but I really had nothing to base it on other then just the way I was raised. Over the course of the next 12 years I worked in 3 different churches for little or no pay because I really believed in what I was doing. The best part of this story though is in the evolution that was taking place in my mind. I was so bored with the Bible I had to start reading other books. I started reading everything I could from Bible commentaries to history books to science texts and everything in between. This of course started to prove to be a challenge for me because much of what I was now getting interested in was in absolute conflict with what the bible teaches. I did my best to weave together bible stories with historical and scientific fact. All the while, the more I read the more I began to doubt the validity of the Christian claims that the bible is the word of God. The more I read the deeper I had to look into the history of the church, the history of Judaism, the most likely authors of the bible, the reason the books of the bible were chosen and the ones that weren't chosen. I had to study Constantine and his council at Nicia. I had to study Augustine of Hippo. I had to study Justin Martyr. The deeper I looked the more I began to realize that my whole life had been based on a lie. I finally made the break from the church about 2 years ago and I can tell you that I have never been happier!

I think it's so interesting to hear from Christians who before they "Got saved" were drug addicts or alcoholics and believe it or not I have actually met several Christians that have spent time behind bars for, among other things, child abuse and sexual abuse. Their reasoning to me as to why God must exist is that before they "got saved" their life was a mess but after they got saved and started going to church things got much better for them. I have no desire to delve into the logic, or lack thereof, in this kind of reasoning but instead just to offer this alternative view. When I dedicated myself to trying to prove Christianity was true, I found out that I couldn't. When I decided to stop paying tithes to the church, I found out I had more money. When I realized that "sin" was a cultural wrong or taboo that depended on God to police it and not a commandment from God himself, I lived guilt free and happy. When I realized that the world has many intelligent people who have dedicated their lives to better understand our history, our universe, our place on this planet and the role that religion has played; and that none of these scientists, teachers or professors actually hate God, they just refuse to accept the suggestion that he is real before seeing the evidence: I decided I wanted to be more like them and less like a Christian.

My conclusion is that God isn't real and if he is real, he didn't want me in his club. In fact, he wanted me out so bad that he paid me to leave. He paid me in intelligence. He paid me in happiness. He paid me financially. And he even allowed my wife to come to the same conclusions I did so that my family wouldn't have to be separated by some silly religion. So for every Christian who reads this and tries to tell me that God is real because they stopped doing drugs, I say God is not real because I dedicated my life to his cause and he didn't want me. I worked for free for him and he wanted me out so bad that he offered me a better life if I would just leave the church. So I did! For every Christian who comes to me and asks me to prove that I was ever saved I say to you that my salvation took place two years ago when I left the church for good. And I can say that this kind of salvation is the best salvation I have ever tasted!

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