I would first like to say that Dr. Dawkins is easily one of my biggest influences of my atheist, the way he isn’t afraid to let the world know he is a atheist and for his encouragement to come out as one and I’m very thankful for his book the God Delusion Thank you Dr. Dawkins.
Losing my faith in God was a three year process which started with me doubting Jesus, reading the bible and meeting a man called Moe who belong to the Church Of Christ. I’ll never forget the first big blow to my faith which started on a trip to Oregon to see my father, whom I hadn’t seen in about six or seven years. There I meet a Native American medicine man named Bill White Eagle who was very close to my father. White Eagle and my dad became close because my dad was part of the Native American Church and White Eagle was the Spiritual Leader. Me being a young man wanting to please my father, I decided that I wanted to go to a ‘sweat’. I was told that in these sweat lodges the Indians had visions ect. the issue came with me trying to rationalize how someone that didn’t believe in Jesus could have any kind of expression with God, at the time I was a member of the C.O.G.I.C. which is a breach of the Pentecostal church so I believed in speaking in tongues, talking to god, prophecy, and faith healing and that all this was done by the power of Christ, but the native Americans do a lot of the same thing not by Jesus but by the Great Spirit. (As I side note, I would like to add that there are Native American churches that do believe in Jesus in the why that other Christians do.) I was at a loss as to how could this be. I called my friend Chris and we talked about it for hours. Finally, with the help of Chris I decided that they were fooled by Satan and that it was best that I didn’t go but I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be wrong and that the Natives where right. How could they believe they were right and believe it with all their heart, feel god, know god and believe with all their heart that they were pleasing god, while in fact a loving God let them be fooled and lead down the wrong path! Another important part of this story is my Uncle Greg, an atheist who I was staying with on my visit and trying to convert. My Uncle said something to me that sticks with me even today. “David, the Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and all others believe they all feel God. They all believe they have the truth.” In response to this I told my Uncle I believe in my heart it’s true, In reply my Uncle simply said, “I know you do. Coming from a small town where just about everyone believes in God and are Christians these doubts and questions never really came to mind.” Having someone tell me that they know I believe that I believe I’m right but so does everyone else really got to me it made me question myself how do I know I’m right? For the time being I pushed all this to the back of my head went back home, back to church and back to trying to save lives and convert people. ‘Preach boy’ was my nick name and this lead to me meeting Moe, Moe was a worker at school. Much like me, he was into preaching. Moe is the Son of a C.O.G.I.C. preacher but Moe rejected the teaching of the C.O.G.I.C. and believed it was the teaching of man not god. GOD SAID WORSHIP ME IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH, what Moe was saying, or at least how I took it, was that if you don’t have the true version of Christianity like Moe had you weren’t worshiping God the right way and could be on your way to Hell. All of my doubts from Oregon came rushing back! I didn’t leave my church at this time: I still believed that my church was right. Look at all the people speaking in tongues, crying, jumping, and falling down because of the holy spirit, the Prophets who came to the Church that blessed us and told us the future that God had planned for us and most amazingly they were about to tell us about our life (using a technique I later learned about called cold reading) there is no way we could be wrong. There were a few things that finally pushed me over the edge. It was a mix between Moe who inspired me to read the bible, my friend Chris and the Ideal of a loving God who would let so many people be mislead who only wanted to know the truth and who just wanted to love, obey and be close to him.
The first thing that started the final blow to my belief in God was my friend Chris, Chris was easily one of the most devoted believers I have ever met and will probably ever meet in my life. Chris was loved by the Church. He was allowed to preach. He did so much and was like a older brother and hero to me and I’m sure he was looked up to by a lot of the other young man. This is important to note because what happened next in my eyes was a failure by the Church, a failure by the elders, and a failure by God to step in! I have already started that I believed that people got messages from God and sometimes the messages where for other people. At one point Chris was getting messages from God for me and others all the time. Before Chris left town he was calling people on the phone preaching and prophesying, but one night at a lock in Chris was pulled out, I didn’t find out why until later on. I found out after he was gone that Chris received some very wrong messages from God telling people that stuff had happened that was physically impossible, like two people having sex on a day that they were in different states and other impossible things, Chris moved and we didn’t talk for about a month or two when I received a phone call from Chris. He had been in the hospital and told me he had been diagnose with a mental disorder. Chris was later told by some of his friends from the church that he didn’t need the medicine and that it wasn’t a mental disorder but the Holy Spirit, and stopped taking his medicine. This was a devastating for me because here was someone who once again believed that they were doing what god wanted them to do and was just sick, and what really got to me was that no one picked up on the fact that it wasn’t the Holy Spirit. Where was this discerning spirit God that we were taught about? Why was it so easy for Chris to fall into delusions? Where was God in all of this? Once again he was nowhere to be found. Again, I was back to trying to rationalize my beliefs, but it didn’t work. One night why watching television I saw Hindus doing amazing feats and doing them in the name of the Hindu Gods, and the words of my Uncle came ringing back in my head: “You all think you’re right.”, from there I knew that all of the speaking in tongues, jumping and falling out didn’t mean anything. It was just a delusion, so their personal experience wasn’t proof that their faith was right and is wasn’t proof for my faith ether its, but it didn’t stop me from believing because that’s what Moe had been saying all along; that speaking in tongues was nothing but hype and not based on the word of the living God. Because of that I began studying the Bible. I read and read, and the more I read the less I believed, seeing how the stories in the Gospels didn’t match up, that there are about 38,000 Christian denominations that believe in the same book and the same god and are lead by the same spirit and all believe different things and are able to use the bible to justify their beliefs. And then there was the Old Testament. All my life I was taught about a loving god, then after reading the Old Testament I was disgusted. A god that would give a list of commandments, one being ‘You shall not murder’, then commending the Israelites to kill every man, child and infant, then save all virgin women to keep as sex slaves. Numbers 31:7–18 This blew me away, and a lot of things crossed my mind but I believe that Richard Dawkins said it best in his book ‘The God Delusion’: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” .
After losing faith in Christianity I studied other religions, I studied science, and spiritualism which I started to buy into, but I was saved by a man that I love and look up to as a hero. James Randi has done a amazing job of debunking paranormal phenomena and offers a $1 million dollar prize to any one that can prove a paranormal phenomena. After all of this I knew I didn’t believe. I will not lie; at first it hurt. I wanted nothing more than to believe in God, but I believe there is a “grandeur in this view of life” I love being able to search for truth, to be open minded and to be in awe of the universe and be humble about my place in it. I know that there are people out there who say there is no such thing as a atheist, that we have a secret sin and don’t want to face judgment. My first answer to this is that you would have to be insane to know that there is a god and deny it, just because you say you don’t believe won’t stop you from facing Hell. You would have to be mental ill. I think it’s hard for believe to accept that there are people out there that did believe and have stopped, and who honestly don’t believe in any god or gods. In my case it will be very hard to deny that I was a believer. You can talk to any one that knows me; I was a true believer and my life was based around my faith along with my future goals and dreams. John Loftus a ex-preacher and Christian apologist that studied under William Lane Craig sums up what I was basically doing in my head in what he calls the Outsider Test for Faith (OTF). It is a challenge to test one’s religious faith with the presumption of skepticism, as an outsider “Test or examine your religious beliefs as if you were outsiders with the same presumption of skepticism you use to test or examine other religious beliefs.”, and for about three years I fought with myself doing just that.