Jamie Guinn's Story

(Via Jamie Guinn)

I wasn't raised in a religious home. My parents divorced when I was five and my dad, my little brother, and I, moved to Chickasha, OK in 1990. I can't say that I ever thought about a god or religion, at least not until I started dating a girl who went to church. Since I really didn't fit it socially to any group I had a lot of fun at church, and so I got saved at 14.

Looking back I think if I would have had better critical thinking skills I never would have bought into religion, in the same way my dad didn't. Unfortunately, I didn't have those skills, and I bought into all the fascinating claims about Christianity right off the bat.

Thinking that it all was real I couldn't think of anything more important to pour my life into. From the beginning I was hardcore and lived the life. I also dived head first into reading my Bible, or reading only books that supported the Bible. My world view focused to the precision of a laser, I narrowly blocked out anything else.

The next year I told my dad that I believed God was calling me to be a pastor. It was one of the few times my dad voiced his extreme disappoint with me. He later came to accept it, but we never talked about religion.

For the next few years, especially during high school, there was no doubt that I was a ''Jesus Freak''. I occasionally did suffer a few questions after experiencing cognitive dissonance. There were some things I couldn't wrap my head around, but that made me want to dig deeper.

I started in the United Methodist Church, but couldn't get over the fact that they were about to condone homosexuality in the leadership. I moved to the Assemblies of God after getting ''baptized in the Holy Ghost'' and started speaking in tongues.

I was there a few years until I felt that they weren't doing everything that God had wanted them to be doing, so I moved to a non-denominational Word-of-Faith church that was starting up in my town. I got plugged into people like Kenneth Hagin, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, and Jesse Duplantis.

I was there a few years until the new pastor and me just couldn't get a long. I thought he was a bully, so my wife and I went to another similar church 45 miles away.

It was during this time that I began to have some serious cognitive dissonance. It got to the point where I couldn't stomach any sermons anymore, it all just sounded rediculous. I loved the praise and worship (the music and the emotion), but everything else just got obnoxious.

I basically started thinking that the only ''real'' Christianity had to be how Jesus and his disciples lived in the 1st century. They lived Jewish, so I started looking into Messianic Judaism. We dived into that for about two years until I started questioning the deity of Jesus and how the Jews of Jesus day, and even today, viewed him and what they were expecting in a messiah. I also started looking more into biblical criticism and early church history.

I ended up doubting that Jesus could even be the Messiah, and so I left Christianity and started considering Judaism. I still believed that there had to be a god, so I figured since I went back to the roots of Christianity I should keep going back, back to the roots of Judaism. I ruled out Orthodox Judaism, my wife wouldn't go there, and thought about Reform Judaism, but it seemed too syncretistic so I didn't go there. I also found out that Judaism had hidden polytheistic roots.

It was during December of 2006 that my whole worldview came crashing down. I don't think I ever felt so hollow and numb in my life. I didn't believe in any gods and was confused about my purpose in life. I wanted answers to some really tough questions about my existence. So I turned to the internet, and started reading about atheism, since I knew that was what I was now. This lead me to all kinds of different places and resources. I changed drastically not only religiously, but politically and socially as well.

I would have to say that I have a deep appreciation for science and reason. I consider myself not only an atheist, but a secular humanist, philosophical/metaphysical naturalist, objectivist, freethinker, Bright, scientific skeptic, and even a libertarian to a degree.

My wife, though no longer a Christian, takes an agnostic theist position....for now. She has told me that she thinks that I am so much a better husband now. That makes me glad. It has been difficult for our extended family, but so far it has been okay. I am glad we have made this change since we are expecting the birth of our first child next month.

The only challenge now, now that I have slowly settled into my new found position and am not so angry any more, is how much should I be active in atheism/secular humanism? I am looking for that balance, but I am interested in start going to the monthly AOK meetings, especially since there is so much that needs to change in Oklahoma.

I left out quite a few details, but I'll keep it short. The longer version is on my blog. Thanks.

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