Monday, April 23, 2007

My Testimony, Becoming Atheist

I was raised in a Baptist church from birth. My family changed churches every few years due to different reason, preacher left, got offended, divorced, or just did not like the people. My mom was even a Sunday school teacher for a while. I got saved when I was twelve. I remember my mother crying in the pew, she was so happy. My sisters soon followed. I am sure they wanted to make mom just as happy. On the way home from church, on the day I got saved, I told my mom I did not feel any different and asked how I could be sure I was saved.

She said “You have to have faith.”

After a few months I asked my step father some questions about the bible and after numerous answers that did not satisfy me he said I needed to have faith. That faith was a good thing and showed God I loved him and that we can not understand God. I was 12, so I took him at his word and vowed to never question God again and prayed for God to forgive me for questioning him.

After high school I joined the Navy and I went to church on Base. I dated a girl who was not a Christian and eventually broke up with her because of it. No other reason. She was wonderful. But I thought it was what God wanted. I dated lots of girls growing up and I always asked them if there were Christians and made that a priority. Soon after I got out of the Navy I met my wife.

She was a good Episcopal girl and invited me to her church. I went even though I did not know anything about Episcopal. It was a really boring service and they recited a lot of memorized lines. I felt out of place. They offered a new comers class. I took the class and learned all the new stuff.

I eventually became a chalice bearer. That means I passed the cup of wine. I was also an usher. My wife and I got married and had two kids. Our kids were in church every Sunday. I helped out in service and my wife worked in the Nursery.

Four years go by and the church has an issue with the pastor and people start to leave. The congregation dropped to less than half. Then the Gay bishop issue made another half leave. So we were down to 25% of the original congregation. Most of the staff got laid off. Everything in the church changed to volunteer. I helped on weekends with yard work and fixing things for the church.

After a couple years of that my wife and I felt God was telling us to change to a new church. We saw a billboard for a new church and decided to give it a try. It was a non-denominational church and did not have any ceremonies. It only had 100 members. We were quickly welcomed in and I started playing guitar in the band. It was the most fun I had in church. I was doing something I loved. The people were great and the fellowship was wonderful.

Now my whole life I was a skeptic about everything but religion. I thought it was a sin to question religion. I would always check my sources on every subject and any rumor I heard. One day I realized that it was silly to not apply that same reasoning to my religion. So I started reading about the history of the church and the other books of the bible that were left out.

I read about evolution, and anything by Richard Dawkins. After a couple of month of studying I went to my preacher and asked him to explain a few things. He said the same thing my parents told me when I was twelve. "You need to have faith." This time I was not convinced.

I soon realized that I did not believe anymore. I continued reading and I found the video of Richard Dawkins on “The God Delusion” and “The Virus of Faith.” I decided to show these to my wife. I hoped it would help here understand why I had changed. We watched the video together. At one point she turned to me and flat out asked me.

“Are you an atheist now?”

I was amazed at how she had picked up on it. I told her I no longer believed the Bible and was an atheist.

She cried.

It has only been six months since I told my wife. She is worried. I was worried she was going to kick me out. My kids are 5 and 7 and they are asking why daddy does not go to church. I refer them to their mother. I think she tells them I am just going through a hard time believing and eventually I will come around.

I try to explain to her that I am not going through anything. This change is not an emotional response. I just looked at the facts and the evidence and my mind was changed. I am not sure what the future holds for me now. She says I am not the same person and the people at church talk to her all the time. I love my wife and want her to understand. Christmas was rough. Her father came to visit. He has been an atheist for years and we had a lot to talk about since we have a lot more in common now. I told him that we need to talk about it when my wife is not around as to not offend her. I am trying to be sensitive to her. She decided to come into our conversation and she seemed to enjoy learning. On Christmas day we started another discussion and she could hear us. She started crying. She said she just could not take it on Christmas day. I don’t bring it up unless she asked about it now.

Life is much harder now as an atheist, and I miss playing guitar in the band. Guess I need to find another band now.


Rational Atheist Star said...

Wow. What a sad story. This is a very tough issue that you all are going to have to get through. I can only imagine your pain. YOU know how your wife is feeling, but it's hard for her to see YOUR perspective. You rejected people in your past because of their beliefs, and now you're hoping that your wife won't do the same to you.

When I was a teenager my best friend was a Mormon. Her father was an atheist. Her mother was an ardent follower of the faith and taught her daughter the religious beliefs. They struggled with their relationship because of it, it was a constant struggle - the only way they were able to seemingly cope with it, was for the husband to allow the wife to rear their children in the faith...Which is not really a solution. But what can you do?

Family is the most important thing, but your individuality shouldn't be crumpled because of it. I wish you a lot of luck.

Jamie G. said...

Your story is very close to a dear friend of mine. He was also in the navy, but met a good baptist girl when he got out. They went to the Methodist church (another dry boring denomination similar to Episcopalians) and then went to a non-denominational Word-of-Faith church, with me and my wife. But...

He's not an atheist yet....he is still struggling. His wife is actually the one who is leaning more towards atheism, but she can't get over the question of morality outside the bible. She and I have been talking back and forth.

However, I became a full-blown atheist also in the past six months, after my wife and I were hard-core fundys. Although she struggled with it at first we were able to work it out....long story!

Anyways, I won't bore you anymore. I wish you and your family the best.

nuno.calaim said...

Hello complete stranger! I was watching your vids on youtube, (I'm from Portugal and my name is Nuno). well just dropped by to say that your videos are interesting specially the last line! well just wanted to say this: "Felizes os que usam de misericórdia para com outros, porque Deus os tratará com misericórdia" (it's in portuguese)

Anonymous said...

I'm very sorry for your difficult time. Wishing you the best with your family.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner said...

God blessa youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

randomyoutuberonyoutube said...

"I read about evolution, and anything by Richard Dawkins. After a couple of month of studying I went to my preacher and asked him to explain a few things. He said the same thing my parents told me when I was twelve. "You need to have faith." This time I was not convinced."
That's too bad.

Anonymous said...

Not buying into Christian assertions is not necessarily the same as saying there is no God, or subsuming consciousness. It is not the same as being an atheist. Why use the word atheist? It implies (at least to me) that you are saying you KNOW there is no God. I'm guessing that you don't mean to imply that. I'm guessing that your only beef is the claims Christianity makes about God -- that's all. Maybe say to your wife "Dear, I certainly think there may well be a subsuming consciousness that we can try to align ourselves with -- we can call this God; however, I can't accept the Christian explanations about this. They just don't make sense to me. I want to find better explanations."