I was raised a Christian, I got the hellfire and damnation stuff like a lot of kids did. I recall at the age of about 6 or 7 of being petrified of being killed, by say a bus or whatever and not having had time to repent any stray thoughts I may have had. I was also terrified that I may have committed a sin of thought or deed without realizing or remembering it, and that I would suffer for eternity because I had an outstanding sin hanging on my tally sheet. Needless to say I thought a bit too much about metaphysics as a child.
Then happily, I was introduced at the age of ten to Douglas Adams' work, I read the four part trilogy of the hitchhiker series in the summer of 1988 when on a long summer road trip with my family. To say that this summer changed me is an understatement. It shaped much of my sense of humor, and in that respect significantly changed the way I thought.
But sadly It was not enough, I stopped going to church at the age of 16 I didn't really lose my religious beliefs, I just learned to make them more flexible cause really, all I had to do was pray for a general sin forgiveness, operating on the assumption that God was in fact omniscient and would know the sins I was talking about. I carried on in this rather agnostic state for quite some time, until at the age of 28 in January of 2007. At this time, I was very unhappy with the way my life had been progressing or failing to.
(I can attribute this failure to a portion of lingering Christian dogma, I believed that this life was sort of a waiting room for heaven so as long as I didn't screw up too badly I would be ok. No need to prosper, because heaven is around the corner and that's where the good stuff begins.)
So in my despair, I looked around me and it seemed that the Church-going Christians were generally better off in terms of happiness and prosperity. So I began attending church again, trying to get a part of it back. I sang and I prayed, trying to get that feeling of being full of holy fire that will hold me through the week. As it turned out, no matter how vigorous and uplifting the service was, or how good the church Bass player was (when did we get Bass players in church? I wondered) the feeling never lasted until Monday morning. So I began to drift away again.
I was working as a proficient but untalented graphic artist and printer, saving up for paramedic academy so I got hooked on audiobooks, they made the day go smoother.
This led to my introduction to Your work. It began with Douglas Adams, I procured his works in audiobook form and when I was listening to the salmon of doubt, I heard the Puddle analogy from digital Biota, and your own memorial for him. Then a friend showed me the “root of all evil” series, I still had a little silver cross around my neck when I saw it. I decided to find the God delusion after hearing of the books existence from your interview on the daily show with jon stewart.
I downloaded it illegally, and have since purchased it in both audiobook and printed form. If my impression of you is anywhere near correct you would care more about the effect it had on me rather than the 4 dollars I may have defrauded you of at the time.
When you dedicated the book to Douglas Adams, you immediately had my undivided attention, I actually had a couple days off work and I sat down by the river and litstened to the audio presentation.
At the end of It I pondered a bit, and my thoughts were “Wow so there is no God .SWEET!” followed by “Aww crap I've wasted so much time waiting for heaven, Id better go do something!”
Thankyou for the swift Kick in the ass Richard, Atheism as explained by you has helped me to quit smoking, get in better shape, has cured me of depression and given me motivation to Go forth and see and learn all I can during my brief stay here in the sunshine.
I am however no longer an atheist, I must say that after reading Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris, and the bible start to finish, I am firmly In the camp of antitheism.
I wish I could say I was outspoken about my beliefs, I have come out to my brother (the youth pastor) but I cannot seem to bring myself to Tell my parents yet. They are both very active in their Presbyterian church and through the course of the past several year have been very kind and generous to me, at times I think this was exclusively due to their Christianity.
I don't know how to tell them How silly I think their view of the world is without breaking thier hearts.
Soon, hopefully, I will.