When I’m short of time to give a full list of descriptors for my religious beliefs, I will often describe myself as a Christian atheist. An oxymoron, I know, but I will explain my reasoning behind such, and the developement of my beliefs.
First off, I was raised Christian, and hardcore Christian at that. At the young age of seven, I was already beginning to lose faith in God and the truth of the Bible. Some of this was due to contradictions in several books I was reading due to my interest in dinosaurs and geography. I was taught the Earth was young and formed by God, while another source of teaching, science, told me the earth was ancient, and that life had been here millions of years; the difference between the two…the scientific source provided reasons to believe what it stated while my Bible simply said it was God’s will…a will I was beginning to defy.
Many kids are raised with the idea of Santa Claus, the jolly and kind man who rewards good behavior and punishes bad behavior. I was not raised with this but my brother was, so I saw the contrast in this while I was 8 and he was 6. It already seemed to me that my parents just wanted him to behave, so they told him he gets rewarded for being good. My religion seemed very similar to this; heaven for those who behave, hell for those who dissent. My father was an abusive man so I wasn’t too happy with the idea of punishment. My dad told me that he hit me because he loved me and didn’t want me to turn out messed up…it still hurt emotionally, and it seemed to be parallel with the idea of an all-loving god who sends the dissenting to Hell. These thoughts created an area in my mind that has forever hated the idea of punishment and set me towards rehabilitation in place of it.
While the next two years I was detatched from the faith, I was still learning a lot about beliefs and humanity in the Bible. My affinity for rehabilitation was just in line with the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament. There was very little talk of punishment, but much optimistic peering into the ability of man to change for the better. I was once again hooked on Christianity, despite having little interest in the Christian god.
Then, at age ten, I considered myself a Christian because I knew the moral teachings and rules quite well and agreed nearly 100% with a great deal of them as I had seem plenty of examples of them making lives improve. The 5 of the 10 commandments dealing with social morals fit directly into life, and the teachings of Christ were so gentle and loving, and most of all forgiving. I loved the idea of forgiveness; it was faith in humanities ability to better itself. To this day, I find no action in all humanity to be more powerful than forgiveness. I found it easy to forgive people for doing things to me that hurt with immense force…mainly my father’s abuse and alcoholism…it hurt, yes, but it was forgiven. Soon though, I would feel a betrayel in my mind that would take me 4 years to forgive.
At age 11, my best friend and only confidant was killed by his mother. I was told countless times in my church that God protects those who have faith and guides us through rough times. I prayed so much the next few weeks but felt so lost, I felt no guidance from God. Somehow, I was able to forgive my friend’s mom, but not God. At the young age of 11, I began searching the bible for answers. I noticed that a theme of the bible was man’s ability to choose. My friend’s mother was able to choose this action, despite my will that my friend be safe. It was at this point that I developed the belief that God cannot interfere in our lives to even the slightest extent as it would take away our free will; however, I was scared and angry that my friend had died. I wished my free will away, I wished God had been there, and I cursed God that day and cast him from my goals. The next four years I had a slowly crumbling faith in Christianity as I delved further into science. My love of paleontology, geography, astronomy, physics, biology…it all hit me with a great force, and more and more I discovered that science answered my questions better than the Bible ever had.
I turned sixteen just about two weeks before I realized my faith in God had completely diminished. I still held onto my love for forgivenes, change, honesty, and the main foundations of Christianity…but I hated the religion and its God. I hated Christians, and from this, I hated the religions close to it: Islam and Judaism. I slowly grew to hate all religion and all belief. I became the most religiously offensive person I could. I told jokes about raping Jesus, Muhammed, Allah, God, murdering children, suicide, and generally sick shit. At this point, my count for attempted suicides was nearing 10. Everytime I got near the point of ending it my body went haywire and the vital stab wound would just hit muscle. I have a 4″ scar on my stomache from a blade wound I’m guessing missed internal organs by mere fractions of an inch…I have no idea how I possibly missed with such a giant gash. I was thoroughly depressed and attempting serious suicide rather than ploys for attention. Eventually though, I made a cry for help.
In my Algebra class, in front of my sat a person who would change my life. I had known her since seventh grade, but never really got to KNOW her. She laughed at all my jokes except the religious ones, it took me some time to figure out why. She was a devout Christian. Later in the school year we went on a field trip to a theme park…long ass bus ride on the way back. I decided to talk to her about religion. For a 3 hour bus ride, I spilled out to her my life, and her the same to me. She invited me to come to her church sometime. I said I would, and got her screen name so I could talk to her sometime. The next week, Spring Break started. I was becoming seriously depressed again, typing up a suicide letter on my computer when she logged on. I talked to her for almost two hours about completely inane shit, and it cheered me up a great deal. I shut my computer off and went to bed crying. I talked to her off and on for the last month or so of school. Summer began and contact with her pretty much went down the shitter.
About three weeks into summer, I decide to go to her church. There, I met some great people and an awesome pastor. I began to go in regular attendance and absorb a lot of the sermons, but much of it still was blocked by my mind due to my childhood and my friend’s death.
Midsummer, however, my mind was fully opened and a lot of my childhood was shot away and replaced with the sermons at this church. I went on a camping trip with the youth group to Ohio, at which point I converted back to Christianity. I was happy with this for awhile, but eventually, my love of science interrupted again.
This time, my dissent from Christianity wasn’t based on logic alone however; this time, I was seeing the pain of humanity in full context. My friends were all in constant distress from life, my life was shit except for my friends and this girl who always seemed to be there for me, and I saw no reason for faith. This God was not helping me, I once again reverted back to what I had realized years ago: This God could NOT interfere with our lives, it would violate his gift of free will. With this, I believed all hope for myself was lost: I had gained some of my earlier wisdom back, but not the essential love of forgiveness and change, I couldn’t forgive myself.
On the night before my seventeenth birthday, I drove to a school across town and for several hours I was pondering how to commit suicide in a fashion that looked like murder so my friends wouldn’t be as hurt as much as if I had given in. Eventually, the only thought that stopped me was the pain the girl who saved my life before would go through at my death. The next day, I went to church and cried a great deal. Over the next month, my attendance there slowly died off as I began to value my freedom over my obligation to appease the people there.
During this period, I lost contact with the girl who had saved my life, twice now. I was depressed for a short period but recovered with my beliefs intact. I loved forgiveness, change, and the basic beliefs of human society being the best it can all for aesthetic reasons. One part was missing though, I had no position on the idea of God. I came to the ultimatum that this God has had no effect on the outcome of my life, and despite their existence in my mind, I would do what I deem correct as it appears to me only my will matters in MY life.
In one day, I ended every one of my friendships in my mind, they were all based on responsibility. I decided which to keep and built these on the basis of respect for humans and decided to let them become responsibilities if deemed worthy of it. One friendship, I didn’t deem worthy of even recreating for some time: the girl who had saved my life twice. I heard from several people how she wanted to hear from me and was really missing me. I ignored this for some time. Just recently, I made contact with her again. She’s gone through so much I could have helped her with. I love her dearly, and I am in love with her; however, my mistake of letting her slip away from me has ruined my hope of there being a partnership. My only comfort is that she is once again a friend, and that humans still have the ability to change for any means…hope is not lost.
I sit and type before you with beliefs in love, kinship, honestly, fairness, empathy, sympathy, forgiveness, peace, humbleness, honor, respect, and most important of all, faith in humanity; I consider these the pillars of Christianity. My beliefs despite my defiance of the god I believe to exist are why I call myself a Christian Atheist. I claim and worship no god, not even the one I believe to exist, my pantheon consists of zero Gods, a(without)-theist(gods). By all logic, Occam’s razor should have deleted this belief that a god exists…but humans aren’t logical in the sense of removing emotion. We logically respond to emotion and events however, and that is what I am…a response to knowledge and betrayel. I am a Christian Atheist.