How I became an atheist
I grew up with religion. My father was a Pentecostal preacher, not a noisy kind of hell preacher, but very much a literal believer. I was a very sensible young man and religion really scared me a lot and I had often nightmares about the devil.
The atmosphere was very intolerant even towards other Christian groups. Catholics and Orthodox Christians were considered idol worshippers and so on. Not even other evangelical believers were accepted as they did not teach and pray the same way as the Pentecostals did.
Over time the teachings and dogmas were changed and what once was considered a great sin for which they could be excommunicated, like women who cut their hair and for wearing jewelry. Today even divorce and premarital sex are more or less accepted although not recommended. Most often these churches put a blind eye towards it.
I went through many different so called Bible Schools, very short studies with no teachings about the early Church, as the Fathers of the Church in the first centuries were considered heretics and apostates.
This thin theology made me think if this was the whole truth and started to read Martin Luther and others. This gave me an apetite to learn more, so I left the Pentecostals and joined the Lutheran Church of Sweden.
After some while, I realized that most priests where liberal theologians and relativists. Nothing that was written in the Bible was to be taken litteraly but symbolically. And some bishops even questioned the Bible in general. The Virgin Birth was not to believe in and much else, for that matter. I left that Church and converted to the Orthodox Church and became after some years of theological studies of Byzantine theology, church history and alike, an ordained orthodox priest.
Very soon I found out that the Holy Canons from the Ecumenical Councils were neglected and that many priests and bishops did not care very much. Just the same negligence as I have seen earlier in other places. For short, nobody seemed to care about what they teached and how they lived. I found all what I saw very superficial and hypocritical. So I left that church too.
After a while I realized how much in the Bible that was incompatible and contradictory to reality. First of all how the teaching of the Christian churches contradicted itself. Trinity according to the follwing part of the Nicean credo: "And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages", was neglected, as Jesus was supposed to be influential first after his first appearance, and in a way that was very much contrary to the the revenging God.
According to this and also from the Scripures that says he was from the beginning and completely in accordance with the will of God. "I and my Father are one", John 10:38.
"Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father". According to this part of the credo, Jesus was very much present in the Old Testament and part of the brutality and cruel decisions comanded by God. An example of the evil God could be found in Deut. 28:15-68, and in many other placess.
All these examples reminds too much of other religions with a good god and and an evil, or at least very demanding god.
All the excuses made by Christians, that we must see this symbolically or see it as an adjustment and a fair punishment towards the human race. Such simplifactions are very hard to believe in and also very insensitive towards all the victims. A psychopatic pattern found in many fundamental churches. We all have good and bad things in us, no matter what we believe or not. It is very much a question about what circumstances in which we find ourselves and other social situations. This is something that the police forces and others should deal with, not expect any extraterrestrial or divine powers to handle.
Another rather funny thing is the telling aboat Noa and the ark. According to the Bible he only took some animals in the ark to survive. And all the others should perish and thereby be unable to bring new generations to the earth? If so, how come that millions of species have survived the flood?
The story about Jesus in grave for three days and three nights, gives us a very odd picture if we consider Friday night as the first night and Saturday night, the second and ultimate night. Early on Synday he was risen according to the scriptures. This makes two night and one day, if we consider one night and one day twentyfour hours. There are many excuses how to count these days and nights. However, it is all speculations and makes no sense.
Lots of speculations have also been around the apocalypse. "Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time", 1Jn 2:18. This statement shows us a very vague idea about the end of the world. Still there have been many prophets over the centuries who have proclaimed the very soon return of Christ and the upcoming apocalypse. So far, no of these prophets have been nothing but fakes.
The creation in six days is maybe the one of the greatest humbugs in history. And then it does not help to say that: "But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day", 2Pe 3:8 . If so, why have Cristians and Jews celebrated the seventh day as a day of rest, no matter they disagree which day in the week it is about?
And day and night are considered one day in the Bible.
"And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day ", Gen 1:5. Today we all know that the universe is much more complex and that it take billions of years for a star like our own sun, to become a star. With the knowledge we have today we also know that our planet is billions of years old and that species has developed under hundreds of thousands of years.
No matter of how complex the micro- and macro cosmos are, there is no eveidence what so ever, that there is any god behind it. Religion is invented by man over the history and varies a lot depening on cultural backgrounds and so on. It is only to pick and chose. And most often the churches have been opposed to science. In later years though, some churches have tried to adopt to science, but is there really a need for religion at all? Well, it has mabe been so, as to explain things we do not understand like life and death. But although all forms of life still bewilder us, there is no real need for a supernatural explanation. To this end Hollywood and science fiction, and others, are really good about that. But we certainly do not need it for an explanation of what the real world is about. Fantasies and myths have always been around where people are. But it does not make it more trustworthy or make any sense.
So, let us stay with the facts that science supports us with, and enjoy and support those who work for it, as religion has a strong tendency to twist peoples minds and scare sensible people, no matter how bright they are in other areas. Religion is a philosophic and social disaster. We all know about the wars and terror that have taken place in the name of religion.
Well said, Stephan. To go from a childhood filled with strict doctrine and nightmares about the devil to becoming an atheist must have been hard. Congratulations on achieving what many people refuse to even contemplate.
Good for you, great story! Welcome.
That's one heck of a first post! You may have set the bar a little on the high side for your future post. Just kidding! Thanks for the post. I always find it interesting how someone arrives to his/her present philosophical stance. The ones that take longer in time are usually more interesting.
Thank you for a very thoughtful autobiography of your path from religion to a place of enlightened reason. It shows a sincere man in search of knowledge.
Now THAT is how to make an introduction! Probably the second thing (after realizing how at odds science and religion are) to make me entirely skeptical of religion was that I was being raised as a reformed Jew, rather than the quite conservative breed of my grandfather (and quite unlike the Orthodox). As I have always been fond of saying since, if you are going to do something, you should do it right. What is the point of having a belief in a supernatural deity that is supposedly pure good and omniscient if you are not going to do what he commands? So you seem to have gotten this point right off the bat as well. Either believe with all your heart, or believe something else with all your heart, but how can you live not really caring either way? And anyway, religion isn't like science in that you can have a healthy amount of skepticism anyway, either you have complete faith or else you fail to live up to religious ideals.
You have a good mind and you are completely right, religion is a disaster to our minds and to our societies. Glad to have you aboard. Welcome to the site.