I've been a "waverer" and a "lurker" for several months, but decided today that it was finally time to sign up. I want to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughts of so many of you; they have helped me immensely, as I would say I'm still pretty early on in my deconversion journey.
A brief history of my life: I was raised in a Southern Baptist household, technically not a Fundamentalist one, but I would say my parents have what I call some Fundamentalist trappings. Namely, they subscribe to a rigidity of belief that, while it (apparently) doesn't include the Rapture, it is an absolute conviction that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. My father left a church over a disagreement with the pastor because he allowed two members of the Jesus Seminar to hold a forum at the church. He maintained that because at least one of them maintained that the resurrection wasn't literal that they were heretics.
I was raised to be a Christian since birth, and I was baptized at age 9. I was a Bible-drill kid. I grew up going to all the church summer camps, Vacation Bible School, went to a Baptist college for my undergrad degree, and church attendance was compulsory from birth until I left home to go to college. In fact, I missed two Sundays in a row once due to work when I was 18, and my Dad informed me if I missed a third week, I'd be kicked out of the house. All that said, I've always had a disdain for religion, even though I considered myself to be a Christian without any doubt for many years. Part of this is probably because I've been a fan of heavy metal music (you know, the Devil's favorite soundtrack) for most of my life.
I could go on more about my (silly) Christian credentials, but I want to just touch on *why* I began questioning whether God is real in the first place. It started in 2010, when my best friend passed away from cancer at age 29. I had prayed fervently for him. I drove 80 miles each way to sit with him at the hospital several times. We believed he would be healed. HE believed it too. I put the promises of the Bible to the test--I asked for his healing, believing it would already be done for me/him/his family (all of whom were Christians, and praying fervently as well). It wasn't. This was the first occurrence.
My wife soon became pregnant with our first child. In short, this ended in miscarriage. The date when we were supposed to go hear the heartbeat was when we found out, as there was no heartbeat. A devout co-worker brought 2 of her devout friends with her and prayed over us for half an hour. One of them spoke in tongues the entire time. Nothing happened.
Then, we got pregnant again. This child was (and is!) healthy. We named him Kristian, because I liked the name. We chose to spell it with a "K" so it might be less likely that his name would be associated with the religion.
Several years later, we got pregnant again. We had been trying to give Kristian a sibling. This ended up being an ectopic pregnancy. My wife was racked with guilt because she had to choose to terminate a baby which had been growing inside her. In the week between when the doctor couldn't find the fetus in an ultrasound, and the time when she found the baby in the tube, we prayed fervently and asked God for good news. Didn't happen. But again, the Bible said if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could move a mountain. I couldn't. This was in February of 2016. In November of 2016, we found out we were pregnant again. We again prayed. My wife saw a lot of rainbows and was talking to "God" every day. She photographed some of the rainbows she saw. This, I was taught, was the sign that God keeps his promises. It also refers to a "Rainbow" baby--one born after a loss. But this pregnancy, too, ended in ectopic. We had two ectopic pregnancies IN THE SAME CALENDAR YEAR. That really led to questioning whether there was a God at all. If there was or is, surely this God is uncaring at best, if not outright cruel.
My parents graciously offered to pay for us to pursue IVF. They told us to get every test possible done to ensure a healthy pregnancy. As part of this, we were able to know the gender of our embryos and could choose which one we wanted to implant. We had one girl and three boys. We elected for the girl, and the pregnancy didn't take. This isn't uncommon for IVF, but again, we prayed and acted on faith.
This was the final straw for me. Christians might say I'm just angry because I didn't get what I wanted. But the conclusion I came to was this--there is no reason to believe that there is a God who is actively watching over us and intervening in our lives. Sure, pregnancy loss happens to millions of women. Sure, grief happens to nearly everyone at some point in life. But that's just it. These things happen, irrespective of the existence of a God. I pretty much came to the conclusion of the quote I've seen a lot lately (including here) about the world functioning exactly as you'd expect it to if there were no deity. I've come to the conclusion that everything is just random. Unfortunately, my wife and I have experienced a lot of grief and tragedy in our lives, but it is much more comfortable for me to believe that these experiences just happen because we are humans who exist, and they can happen to anyone, rather than believing some God is watching our pain over and over, who could answer prayers or act to stop tragedy and simply...doesn't.
I should note that last year, the sister of my best friend also passed away, tragically. I was a pallbearer at her funeral as well. Her parents, devout Church-of-Christers, have now lost two of their four children. I want to tell them, "guess what? You have now lost more of your children than God did." But I know it would not be well received. My wife said that about us--now with four losses of the unborn--that we have sacrificed more children than the supposed creator of the Universe.
To wrap this up, I'll say our second round of IVF has been a success so far. My wife started the second trimester yesterday, and everything is going well so far. The kicker? I haven't prayed a single prayer. And in that time, I've been reading these forums, the Godless in Dixie blog, reading and listening to Sam Harris, Bart Ehrman, Dan Barker, and others. I'm in the closet with my family, except for my sister (who is a liberal Christian, and while still a believer is supportive of my position) and my wife (who wasn't raised Christian, and has been "on the fence" for a while herself). I am unsure of whether I'll ever *really* know the truth, but I am working on becoming more comfortable with just, "not knowing." I've concluded that there just is no way for me to really know whether there is a God or not, but the more I read and watch, and the more I experience the world around me, the more I become convinced that Christianity is garbage.