Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(1250)

Jan 30, 2013

I should like to include my testimony here in this highly welcoming and illuminating Converts’ Corner. I was once a Christian. Indeed, I was a preacher of Christianity. As a Christian, I thought that I was born in a condition of sinfulness, only to be saved by the mercy of God because I claimed Jesus’ crucifixion as payment, and his resurrection as justification thereof. The belief that there was a God maintaining surveillance on my thoughts and actions caused me to fear him. It was difficult to reconcile perfect love with absolute dread. I found that my identification with Original Sin rendered both good deeds and evil deeds equally meaningless, both a result of my wicked nature manifested in lust, selfishness, and pride.

Contradictory premises dominated my existence, beginning with the most fundamental of dogmas, for Christianity requires us to believe the following unacceptable propositions:

1–For the evil I have not done, I am guilty–by Birth.

2–For the evil I have done, I am innocent–by Faith.

I believed that prayer would have results, only to discover that the only time I ever "saw" the hand of God in any situation was when I creatively interpreted him into events that were actually quite easy to explain in natural and rational terms. Never once did I see God answer a prayer that was offered unambiguously. I could not reconcile reality with the God of scripture, who specifically asserted himself in this world. I continued to tell others, in my capacity as a minister, that God was good and that he loved them, ever at a loss to explain where this could be seen. I claimed to be a happy man, but I was not. I claimed to love my fellow man, but I could not. I perceived as a real problem the fact that many of the religious beliefs of my neighbors throughout the world contradicted my own, that they constituted an insult to my Savior and a threat to the eternal well-being of my children and loved ones. These dangers effectively strangled my ability to "love" them.

Finally, I could no longer avoid the endless questions and uncertainties that plagued my thoughts. The need for truth, the need to escape from a surreal existence characterized by self-deception, the need for ideas grounded in reality, the need to stop lying and pretending, the need to dissolve contradictions that had ruled me, finally brought me to a point of decision. I realized that reconciliation and congruity were only possible if I admitted that none of my spiritual beliefs were true.

As I digested this thought, there came over me a gradual dawning of sweet, shining reality. I dismissed the accusing finger of conviction from my inner life. I seized upon my own personal dignity as a Man, no longer in fear of offending the heavenly dictator by my pride and self-determination. I expelled from my mind the illusion of the One who maintained surveillance over my thoughts and actions. Best of all, I discovered the freedom to explore the world again. I was not born a sinner, but was a member of an emerging species destined for greatness. I declared myself innocent.

Not guilty, by reason of sanity.

The emergence of Professor Dawkins and those to whom the appellation of New Atheist has been strategically applied was impressive to me, in that such public confidence existed in rational minds who harbored no fear of Eternal Punishment. The availability in the form of You Tube and other outlets of their many interviews and debates led to a saturation of information to which I had previously enjoyed only scant access or even awareness. The incisive nature of their positions and arguments precipitated in my own mind a completely new idea; that surrendering a life of contradiction in favor of Reason was insufficient if one were to contribute to the Human Condition–that Reason ought in fact to be promoted as vehemently as I had once promoted Salvation by Faith.

I had sought for reasons to keep on believing, afraid of knowing the truth. With that fear no longer holding me back, I surrendered my lifelong irrational superstitions in exchange for a sound mind. I awoke with the sun and felt no obligation to thank anyone for giving me another day to live. Instead I simply arose and felt good to know that the earth was beneath me again.
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