Converts, Wed, Jan 30 2013 #(417)

Jan 30, 2013

Dear Convert's Corner,

Having had much encouragement (in my journey from fundamentalist Christian to Atheist) from people who have been along the same path, I thought I would briefly write of my experience in case it too might be helpful to someone.

From a very young age I was taken to church and never questioned what I was taught there and so had an innate belief in God for the whole of my life. In my late teens, finding that the things I had looked to for satisfaction left me feeling empty, I had a 'religious awakening' and I became a born again Christian. I jumped into it wholeheartedly and devoted my life to it. It wasn't long before I was encouraged to attend a bible college and I didn't need much persuading. I just wanted to give my life for God and work for him in whatever way he wanted so I gave up my career as an electrician and went to New Tribes Mission Bible College with an aim to train to be a missionary. To cut a long story short, though I 'tested the waters', preaching quite regularly and looking for a Christian work to enter, I didn't become a missionary, but I did find a wife at the college and we have been happily married ever since.

My Christian life lasted for about 10 years before I started to have some doubts. It coincided with the commencement of a BSc in Physics with the Open University. It wasn't what I was learning that shook my faith, it was the gradual change in my way of thinking that caused me great problems. I could no longer gloss over problems with the bible, whether ethical, textual or philosophical. I started to be convinced that if Christianity was true, it should stand scrutiny. Over the next few years, as I looked deeper into the foundations of Christianity, unearthing problem after problem, I gradually drifted away. I still attended church as I had many friends there, but the more I thought about it, the less believable it all seemed. But there was one thing that kept eating away at me and that was a fear of Hell. Even though I was largely convinced that Christianity and the bible were not true, there is still that nagging doubt when you think about a possible eternity in pain. No wonder religions that make such threats for disbelief are so successful.

It has taken a couple of years of reading and thinking before I can now call myself an atheist and feel comfortable, even proud, doing so. Reading Professor Dawkins's books on evolution have helped immensely with what had always been for me one of the strongest arguments for the belief in God, namely the complexity of life that we see around us. The more I have understood about evolution, the clearer it has become and I feel embarrassed about how eagerly I believed the twisted and distorted 'facts' I used to read so much of in Creationist books. As I have studied more, I have realised that there is so much I don't know (such a contrast to my Christian days where I thought I knew everything). I have an amazement and wonder at the world that equals anything I ever experienced as a Christian. There remain unanswered questions for me (such as the ultimate origin of life) but I no longer feel the need to resort to the power of my ignorance and use God to fill the gap. I feel confident that, as with so many other 'unanswerables' in history, the answer is out there and it is, almost definitely, purely naturalistic.

Best wishes,
Andrew
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