I grew up not really knowing what it meant to be religious. I just accepted a belief in god as if it was a social norm. My dad was, as he putsit years later, a “non practicing atheist,” while my mom, being a proud Armenian, always told my brother and me that we should always have faith that god will provide. There was some nonsense about the bible here and there, but we never went to church or anything. Still, I thought simply believing that there’s a god gave me the Christian title. So for years I identified as a Christian. In 2002 I met and began a relationship with someone. She was from a devout family and her dad expressed disapproval of our relationship. He explained to me the Christian belief of Jesus being the sacrifice as though he was some sort of bridge. It didn’t make any sense to me and I immediately rejected it. Still, I believed in some sort of god. But as I thought about the beliefs people held within their own religion, such as the Jesus myth, I started to feel uneasy that people could actually believe these sorts of things. I started to study philosophy and gained a new perspectives on morality because of things like the Euthyphro dilemma. I also picked up Sam Harris’ first book, The End of Faith. I was at odds with my girlfriend’s family, and, despite having deeply religious views of her own, she knew I was right. This drove a wedge between us and there was an unspoken ultimatum: Either I become a Christian or we can’t be together. I loved her deeply and I didn’t ever want to lose her. I set aside all logic, I ignored the arguments against religious belief, disregarding all I had learned from my studies of philosophy and readings from prominent atheists. In a state of irrationality, I whole heartedly surrendered myself to Jesus. Even after the relationship ended, I pursued Jesus. Suffering from heartache, for days I didn’t sleep or eat much. I focused all my energy on praying and hoping god would lift me up. If ever in my life I were vulnerable and open to god, it was at this moment, in August of 2008, in a field, all alone. There could not have been a more opportune time for god to reach me, touch me, lift me… anything. But nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. I was like a wounded bird in a field hoping my wing would magically heal so I could fly again.
What happened after led me down the path of skepticism.
I was shown a light, not from the clouds or a burning bush, but from my phone. I scrolled through my contacts and started to call friends. The ones who came through for me weren’t the religious ones; they were the skeptics, the atheists, the secularists. Whereas I was abandoned by a religious family, a girlfriend who swore to love me forever, I was shown real love by people who lacked religion. Each one showing genuine concern for my state and wanting to help.
If there were a god, it definitely wasn’t there when I, as a mortal with finite time (I always hated that “On His Time, Not Yours” crap), needed belief the most. I went down a path that led me to rely on those who are there, those who actually care. Some have shared the thought that maybe this was god’s plan. That, or maybe god just doesn’t exist at all. Either way, for me, belief in god is completely useless.
Belief in what’s actually there is crucial.