So I’m an Atheist, which means so many different things to so many different people that it seems a simple definition is needed before I go further into this post. A-Theist meaning not a theist. So it doesn’t mean I worship satan, it doesn’t mean I want all religion to end, it doesn’t mean I hate you if you are religious it simply means that I see science as a much more logical answer to our existence than any form of creator or intelligent design function.
This ends the non-offensive portion of post… So if you are easily offended.
Thank you and goodnight.
Anyway, now that those people are safely tucked in let me go into a diatribe about my own Atheism. I was for a good portion of my life, an Evangelical Christian minister. As you may believe it was very difficult for me to move away from that to my current mindset. I spent years preaching the Bible and telling folks that if they didn’t change their wicked ways they would be headed to Hell. Yet I fought with my religious beliefs even back then. There are certain things in the scriptures that just don’t line up with an idea of a loving God, namely the belief in Hell and God’s wrathful nature in the Old Testament. There are numerous contradictions in the Old and New Testament that made things difficult for me, who is always one to look for logic even when there isn’t any to be found. Lastly though a couple of things really bothered me and I will go into them now.
1.) I never met a pastor that wasn’t an awful person secretly
I’m including myself in this group as when I was a minister, I was truly an awful person. In reality though we are all awful people with our own vices that we pretend don’t exist. Maybe you like to drink, maybe you like to smoke, maybe you like being hung upside down and have your balls in a vice while a filipino man swears at you from the corner. Point is we are all weird and fucked up in some way. The same is true for ministers and yet these people are those that their congregation looks to for spiritual guidance and many believe are nearly infallible(Especially in evangelical churched). My church was anti-drinking, anti-smoking, and anti-porn but guess what, I drank, smoked, and watched porn all while I was a minister and I knew many other ministers who secretly did the same. I on the other hand was very light in my evil doing, members of my own denomination were convicted of sex crimes, embezzlement, perjury, etc…many other had secret affairs with church members some of which even pretended as if their dong was the true path to forgiveness….I kid you not… So if you go to church, look at your pastor, and realize he or she is a human being with human desires and temptations and they binge on those temptations just like everyone else. Being a minister does not make you special in the eyes of God, we just like to tell you that because….
2.) Churches are un-taxed Businesses
When I first got into the ministry I was under the tutelage of another minister. I was also required to go to our district meetings of ministers once per month. It was during this time that I began to realize just how little ministers actually care about outreach and truly care about their pocketbook. I would see numbers of money flowing into churches and see exactly what that money was going to and much of it was either going into building a bigger building or straight into the pockets of ministers. This is in direct contrast to the Biblical guidelines for ministers which Paul laid out. Paul made tents because he did not feel that ministers of the faith should profit from the faith or else they would be led by profit instead of lead to do what the faith actually dictates. I was sickened by this and actually confronted the ministers at one of the meetings and told them I felt it was wrong to be making money off of people like that. I was told that I was too young to understand and that churches are businesses that have a bottom line just like any other business. Which in reality is true, except churches do not get taxed. Personally I say tax the churches and use that money for the social programs that churches pretend to really care deeply about.
3.) The bigger the scam artist you are, the better minister you are assumed to be.
Pat Robertson is nothing more than a cook who steals money from grandmothers who don’t have the proper mental capabilities to see through the scam. He sits there on a daily basis and pretend to heal people through the TV. He makes huge claims like, There is a person with cerebral palsy that is being healed right not…. yet if this were true you’d think the medical industry would be harnessing his awesome power. It’s bullshit and yet he is seen as one of the most Godly men in America. From my own experience I was nearly thrown out of my own church, had to give up my ministry license, and was horribly shamed for calling out a charlatan, who was doing nothing more than an old snake oil salesmen routine. Pretending to heal people, this woman was selling a book, for several hundred dollars, that supposedly contained very specific prayers to heal almost any ailment….even though this woman could not come up with a prayer to cure her own diabetes… If you were not healed then it was obviously because you did not have enough faith and definitely not because it was bullshit…yet she was considered the saintly one and I, for calling it out, was considered the evil one…crazy…
4.) It just stopped making any sense
I will admit that at one point I truly believed and I do mean I truly believed. I was a 99% believer because I still didn’t take all of Genesis literally but the rest of it was golden. Over time though my bullshit meter began to fill up. Do I really believe that a virgin gave birth? Does it really make sense that God would have to die so that God could forgive humans for sins, even sins not yet committed? Did I really believe that millions of people walked through the desert for 40 years without leaving so much as a soda can behind? Did I truly believe that God got mad one day, even though he knows everything, about how evil his creation had become, even though he can see past, present, and future, destroyed the world in a flood, but saved one family on a big boat, with two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal on earth aboard? None of this made any sense. It also didn’t make sense that a loving God would create a place of eternal punishment for those folks who decided not to follow him. Hell to me seemed so contradictory to what God represented that it almost certainly had to be 100%, a man-made invention. If hell was invented, then why not heaven, if heaven then why not Christ, if Christ then why not God him or herself.(Remember, even beings that almost certainly do not exist can still have questions of Gender) All of this ate away at me almost daily.
One day I could take no more, I quit. If you think telling your employer those words are hard, try telling that to an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-present being that you quit the job he or she gave you. I must have balls the size of cannonballs you might be thinking. Yet nothing happened, I have not been smitten, I have not been plagued with some horrible disease, and I have not gone blind or dumb from it. In all honesty, it was harder getting rid of old habits than it was to get rid of my belief in God. I still have times that i try to pray before a meal, or times that I consider praying for a person, times that I feel as if the words I say are getting me in trouble with the big man upstairs. This isn’t in any way saying I regret turning from the faith, just that old habits die hard and that leaving the faith is a lot like ending a relationship. You might hate the person you are with but once you end it, you go through a time of regret and sadness. You think of all the things you used to share and it brings you sadness, but deeper still you know you have made the right decision. This is where I was.
Today however, I feel much better about my decision. I look now at the silliness that I once believed and either laugh or groan. I know the scriptures that people are going to bring up before they even begin to say them and yet those scriptures bring me no sense of awe or wonder anymore. The only thing that I can compare this to is learning Santa isn’t real. You’re sad and maybe that first Christmas you still expect Santa but over time you begin to accept the truth, there is no Santa and you can be ok with that. In my mind I believe that there is no God, and I am ok with that.