On another forum, a drive-by Christian posted his witnessing for his faith, called Lost and Found. Amazon has since deleted those presumably due to the spamming nature of his posting (~10 identical posts in 3 forums).
Budgie responded with his story of how he lost his faith. I liked the juxtaposition. While we are inundated with witnessing stories, the story of how we unbelievers lost our faith has been largely untold. Brunumb suggested we move the discussion here, probably for the higher traffic. So here it is. I'll go first. Here's a condensed version of my story. Keep in mind that the entire process started around age 15 and lasted about 10 years.
I didn't know anything at all about God or what a church was or who Jesus was until age 7. My mom had gone back to work when I started school and the daycare was run by a bunch of Bible bangers. So we had little mini-Sunday School lessons after real school every day. They were just stories but they kept harping on this "you're all going to hell because you're all filthy sinners." I also didn't know what the heck a "sin" was.
So at age 7, they import this youth minister to baptize us. Keep in mind that our parents had no idea this was going on. So the minister explains the whole procedure to us and I'm thinking that they might as well be speaking a foreign language. I had no idea what the heck they were talking about. A couple of kids ask questions and I'm trying to follow all this stuff. It just seems like alien-speak. At one point the minister says that we have to bow our heads, close our eyes, and pray. One little boy asked why we had to close our eyes and the minister says that during the baptism, an angel comes down and puts a mark on us. Now, THIS was something I could latch onto. I thought that was pretty cool! I wanted to see the angel, so while most of the other kids were praying, I was watching for the angel. What a disappointment, the first of many.
Later, when my mom got sick, I prayed a lot for her but she just kept getting sicker and sicker until she finally died. But I kept going to church and youth group. My best friend and I would walk to church, since it was only a few blocks away. We were a strange pair: she was always tiny and I was always tall. One night I was just sicker than sick, so I called her and told her I wasn't going to youth group. She went anyway and after all the kids left, she was helping to clean up. Then in the privacy of the church meeting hall, she was raped by our youth minister (not the same guy who baptized us). She went to the hospital and that's where she called me from. I completely forgot about being sick and had my dad drive me to the hospital. I felt so guilty. If only I had been there, she would have been alright. (Truth time: I still feel guilty about it all these years later). So I held her and told her that it would be alright. And she told me it would, as soon as she *made* it right. She pressed charges against the minister and a lot of drama played out in the local papers, even with some of our "friends" claiming that my friend had been enticing the minister with her provocative dress and other such nonsense.
The final straw for me really was when the head minister showed up to "comfort" my friend and her family. He actually had the gall to say it was all part of God's plan! I could hardly believe it! Later he mentioned something incoherent about free will. I remember asking him why the free will of the other minister to rape was more important to God than my friend's free will not to be raped. There was just no satisfactory answer then or ever.
The people of the church all rallied around the minister and were busy demonizing my friend. But she taught me what real strength is. She stood up in court and told the world what had happened. The public pressure to acquit the minister was intense and caused her dad to have to relocate his business. But in the end, the minister was convicted.
After that, I started reading about the problem of evil and that convinced me, more than anything, that there couldn't be a God. I read Epicurus on this and still think he has excellent points:
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
Actually questioning what I had previously just accepted liberated from the tyranny of religion, which had been enslaving my mind. I never looked back.
Today I am a well-adjusted, married mother of 2 and am raising my children without God. My daughter, who is old enough to know, is happy, moral, empathetic, and decent. She can tell right from wrong and good from evil without the help from an imaginary supernatural entity. I'm very proud of her. If she represents my legacy, I'm satisfied. My son is much too young to know these kinds of things (he's 4 months at the time of this writing), but I hope and trust that he will follow in his sister's footsteps.
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