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My Extamony

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What Do I Know

As anyone knows that's ever debated with a coworker, friend, or family member, we all have opinions. I have my opinions and you have yours. You don't get too far into life without forming ideas about the world around you. So, where do we get our ideas? Generally speaking, we first get our ideas about the world from our family. Whatever I was told by my mom was an absolute certain fact. How did I know it was a fact? Because my mom said so, and she wouldn't lie. As I got older, my teachers gave me

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Fear

My grandparents had a poster I used to look at when I visited them. I believe it was a reproduction of a Renaissance painting, but I’m not really sure. There was a scene from the Garden of Eden at the bottom of the poster. After, what looked like a depiction of the fall of man, you could see two paths split. One path, on the left, led to Heaven, the other path, on the right, lead to Hell. Both paths winded up towards the top of the poster. On each path there were various people, who I assumed we

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Atheistic Faith

When I read articles online by Christians, sometimes I see accusations that atheist's beliefs are the same sort of belief that Christians have in God. I think it's important to recognize the different kind of faith one can have for something that is demonstrated verses the kind for that which is un-provable.   I've heard Christians give examples such as sitting in a chair being an exercise in faith, or expecting your car to start, or even riding in an airplane. When you compare all these examp

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The Moment

I had a conversation recently that brought me back to thinking about those first few moments when I first accepted that I had been wrong about God all along. I remember those were some pretty scary thoughts. My whole life, I had always thought that God was watching over me, protecting me. I'm not saying that I felt invincible. But, I really did think that there was a God that had a plan for my life. And, that made me feel safe.   If you don't want to be spoiled about the movie, Crash, feel fre

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Dialog

On the most recent podcast of This American Life, the hosts interview people who have completely opposite political views from their family and friends. Talking openly about these opposing views have been met with such disdain that some of the people who they interviewed have lost friends and family members. As I listened to these stories, I couldn't help but think about the same divisiveness we have concerning religion.   I know ... it's not the middle ages. At least, in America it's not. The

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Reasoning

It's been about three weeks since I sent an email to Dave, a close friend, telling him about leaving the faith. Dave's a smart guy, and I have wanted to talk to him about skepticism for a long time, but I wasn't ready to talk to anyone about losing my faith. Now I'm ready. He's been sending me messages every other day, but I don't think that we've been too productive in our communication. What we really need to do is get together and talk in person.   This past week, I also got a message from

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Reflection

[14] I ask myself if it was worth going through everything I did with religion. I hear that a lot of atheists want people to stop believing in religious ideas. They argue that all magical thinking is inherently dangerous. Some Christians argue that even if Christianity turned out to be false, even though they don’t believe it is, that just having faith is a comforting thing and for that reason it’s good. Maybe hope is a good thing, even false hope. I don’t know for sure. I do know I can’t f

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Aftermath

[13] I agreed to go to marriage counseling, and I continued to go to church. It took almost a whole week before we started talking again. We had a few blow up fights, but we did start talking. I think in the midst of those fights, we might have been more honest than we have ever been before.   It took months, but things did return to normal. Laura began to see that I was still pretty much the same. At least, I think she did. Religion was still difficult to talk about. But, I think we bega

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The Letter

[12]   It took me two years to come to a place where I felt like I could openly discuss this with anyone. I tried to find the right time to explain this all to Laura. I sat down and wrote a letter. I tried to explain why I didn’t believe anymore, I went through various issues, one by one, trying to explain what I believe, and why. I really don’t know how successful I was in explaining myself. How do you explain such a 180 to someone? I tried to tell her that I’m still the same person and I

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Leaving The Matrix

[11]   What this new perspective on faith left me with, was an insatiable desire to read as much as I can on the evidence for God. And, with any honest investigation, I had to look at the claims that both sides were making. So, I read through Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Carl Sagan; as well as, Normal Geisler, Ray Comfort, and C.S. Lewis. I amped up my podcast listening with Reasonable Doubts, Reasonable Faith, and the Atheist Experience. I would download debates between athe

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Skepticism

[10] I was totally cool looking at “pseudo science” claims and seeing how the evidence doesn’t hold up. Those weren’t my beliefs anyway. But, I loved the science process. And, I enjoyed the examination they would do on Skeptics Guide. I’ve always loved science, and there is something to be said for using the scientific method to address these kinds of questions.   Here’s the rub. For me, faith wasn’t something that could be examined by evidence. You can’t weigh faith. Can you break down t

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New Media

[9] Laura became pregnant with our son, which meant that I had to find a new job. The old one didn’t pay enough, and I had earned an Associate’s so I felt I had more to offer. The new job was similar to the old one. And, just like my last job, I could listen to my podcasts all day. But, the thing was, I had to go back and try to find the podcasts I had on my computer at my old job.   When I was looking for my old ones, some podcasts that showed up were atheist critics of Christianity.

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A New Life In Christ

[8] Reading through the whole Bible took somewhere between eight to twelve months, and in that time I had, actually finished my enlistment in the Army and moved back home. Within a year I began dating Laura, who I married. We both went to the same Christian High School. And, when we started dating we began to go to a new church together. This church called itself a “non-denominational” church. I still had issues with all the different sects of Christianity, and apparently, so did a lot of

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Bible Study

[7] When I came to think about it, I wasn’t really sure that I had read through the entire Bible to begin with. So, I started in Genesis and attempted to read the entire Bible from front to back. I picked up a commentary to make sure I knew what the Scripture I was reading was supposed to be saying. I was using a NIV, but even with that, it’s not exactly easy reading.   I was pretty sure in my Christian schooling I had gone through the whole New Testament. But, as for the Old Testamen

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Ghosts

[6] The thing that pulled me back into seeking questions in my own faith, wasn’t the various discussions I was having with my friends, they always ended with, “Well, you have your opinions and I have mine. And, we’ll leave it at that.” It was a Specialist that worked under my supervision, whose name was Martin. One day, we had a field mission. After we got all our equipment set up, we’d generally sit around and start talking. This day, Martin brought up a story about his grandfather taking

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Others

[5] For, the rest of my Christian education, I learned all the Bible stories. I went to Church three times a week, twice on Sunday, and once on Wednesday. A lot of the sermons were repetitive … we’re bad people, we need to repent, and at the end of every sermon, an alter call. Most of the time, I kept feeling, “Hey, I’m already in the group. You don’t need to keep up the sales pitch. Let’s get into the heavier stuff.” Week after week, year after year, the sermons didn’t change much. We’re

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My Salvation

[4] When I was about 12, it was discovered that the pastor had been embezzling money from the church for his own personal use. There are good and bad people in every religion and sect of life. And, I don’t think most pastors are like this one. So, I don’t hold it against Christianity in general. But, it turned out that my first Baptist church was run by someone who was a crook. That was when several members left that church, as did my family. Our new church was less Hellfire, and a little

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Baptist Conversion

[3] Shortly, after my dedication, my mom stopped going to Catholic Church. Instead, we went to a Baptist Church. I had already been going to a Baptist School, which was never explained to me, and now we were to go to a Baptist church, as well. Now, I guess, we’re Baptists.   Looking back, the pastor of my Baptist church reminds me a lot of the warden from the Shawshank Redemption. What I do remember from the sermons is that they were, what many refer to as, “Hellfire and Brimstone” prea

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Ccd

[2] Originally, I was raised in the Catholic Church. Until my first communion, I found it virtually impossible for anyone to explain religion to me. When I asked my mom questions that she didn’t know how to answer, she would dismiss me with, "Quit being so analytical." When I was 10 I was sent to Catholic Communion Dedication, CCD, classes. I was so excited to go to CCD. What I thought was going to happen was that I was going to go to a class to learn all about this religious stuff. I was w

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Missed Heaven By A Cubit

[1] I was in the fourth grade. I remember that it was a cold morning, just before the onset of winter. At the beginning of class, we all stood in front of our desks and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. After that, we recited the Pledge to the Christian Flag. And then, we had to recite the Pledge to the Bible ..."I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God's Holy Word, I will make it a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path and will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God

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