My personal journey to atheism was a rather bumpy ride with smooth ending. My parents were not particularly religious. In fact, I never remember going to church as I grew up. Instead, weekends were spent with family at a small lakeside cottage where we would fish for bass, bluegills, and perch.
As long as I can remember I had always been vexed by the deep questions of life: “Why are we here?” “What is God like?” “Is there an afterlife?” “What about reincarnation?” I truly wanted to know.
When I became an adolescent I came into contact with a rather virulent strain of the god virus. In retrospect, I now know that it had been attempting to permeate my intellectual defenses for quite some time. However, not being raised in a religious home, I was an easy target. Before long, I found myself surrendering to all sorts of strange ideas: The infallibility of the Bible . . . The atonement of Christ for sin . . . .rejection of evolution . . . .and a host of other beliefs that are both bizarre and anti-intellectual.
As I continued to pursue knowledge I decided to enter the ministry. I attended a fundamental Baptist Bible College and then went to Chile as a missionary, my wife and children in tow. Bible College was a real pressure cooker: Behavior and belief were intensely molded to create willing vectors for the god virus. Later I would have flashbacks to this experience while watching Star Trek “First Contact.” I had been completely assimilated.
My time in Chile was the first time in a very long time that I was able to examine things without my denomination watching over my shoulder. I began to read books that were forbidden by my denomination, and very soon found that I no longer believed. What a conundrum! I had to preach a message I no longer believed in order to feed my family. Instead of propagating the virus I began to teach simple relational principles from the pulpit with just enough Bible to disguise them as sermons. This went on for 18 months until my wife and I decided we could stand it no longer and returned to the United States.
I am now very open about my Atheism, though at times the god virus rears its ugly head. I agree with Mark Twain that religion, if taken at all, should be done so in moderation.