after reading a lot of your stories here, I realized that maybe it was unfair for me to know you guys without allowing you all to know me.. so here's my "testimony".
my parents split when I was still in the oven. so, I was raised by a single mom who was (and still is) very religious. i don't blame her, after my father left, religion was all she had. my extended family on my moms side also all became "born again" around the same time; early 70's. before this, they were Catholics.
I was sent to a Christian private school until the 7th grade. I bought it all. the church I grew up in was of the pentecostal charismatic mega church persuasion. (the kind with its own indoctrination center disguised as a "school".)
in my teens I moved to a new state (where I met LifeCycle, we had similar life stories) and got really involved in the youth group there. getting close with the leadership there I saw and heard things that got me to start thinking... just a little bit.
fast forward to my twenties, its the early 90's, I'm playing in the "rock" worship band at this new emergent seeker sensitive church and really enjoying it. I loved it. I loved the community, I loved the rebellious attitude the church had towards "traditional" church, I loved being on stage in front of several hundred people a week. it was great... and all for selfish reasons.
it was while "serving" at this seeker friendly church that I too began to seek. I wanted to make my moms faith my own. my spiritual journey really began when I asked my self this question: "do I believe that jesus is god because it is the truth or because that is what I have been told my whole life?". I prayed that god or more specifically the holy spirit,
would guide me in this quest and would not lead me astray. this is how I gave myself permission to be open minded to viewpoints that were opposed to the viewpoints I had grown up with.
finding the answer to that question took me over 10 years to come to. I studied, read, and yep... even prayed. the first belief to go was the absurdity of hell. being a parent myself, there was no "sin" or affront that any of my children could do or think against me that would warrant eternal torture. that is a fate worse than death. shit, eternal ANYTHING is worse than death. is my earthly carnal love greater than that of the creator? certainly not. god is love,
i got into theology. it started with reformed theology, then trinitarian, then unitarian, and so on. while participating in an "accountability" group with my pastor and two friends I discovered that they didn't like talking about theology. i was dumbfounded. they preferred to talk about the evils of porn an masturbation. (the two things keeping my marriage together)
I grew tired of the same old self help drivel sprinkled with scriptures torn from their context to fit that weeks "topic". as I learned of other world views my faith slowly slipped
away... and suddenly the world
makes sense. it's when you try shoehorn an all loving omniscient being into this random existence that confusion sets in.
I started calling myself an agnostic, but I think only because the word atheist carries so much baggage. a few months ago I read "god is not great" by hitchens, and I couldn't disagree with anything there. it was a real mind opener. a few weeks later, the god delusion by dawkins has really pushed me even further into the atheist camp. unlike the bible I studied and memorized, those books just make more sense.
as far as my old friends and extended family go, I'm still in the closet as an atheist.. kinda. I'll come out eventually, but I'm sure it won't be pretty. thankfully my wife is open minded, if only because over the past two years she's been reading the bible straight through and discovered for herself how fucked up the old testament really is. (but god never changes right?) ugh.
i left out a lot of details, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.