I posted this on my personal blog I just started recently and thought I'd share it here too. Since it was written as an introduction to myself as the first post there, I thought it fitting to use as an introduction to myself here an A|N as well.
It isn't very poetic and probably not even well written. I've been cursed with the ability to have a ton of ideas flowing through my head and being unable to put them down on paper... even virtual paper. None the less, here it is:
I’ve been sitting on this domain name for a while now. Daily I would ponder what I should write about for my very first post. What subject should I begin with? In the end, I just continued going back and forth on different ideas, spinning my wheels and getting no where fast. So here I sit, the day after Christmas. It is unusually warm today (80 degrees) and I’m actually considering turning on the air conditioning. As a matter of principle though - it’s late December! - I’m sticking with a floor fan.
Fair warning: I tend to ramble.
So first, an introduction to those who do not know me: my name is Douglas Christensen and I live near Dallas, Texas. I’m 28 years old and work at the University of Texas at Dallas. Not in any educational way, I work for their police department. I work public safety up there and also work on tech related issues around the department. I also maintain (and designed) their website. (http://www.utdallas.edu/police/
) I’m also an avid atheist. I scripted and run the website Global Atheist
So, during the last five minutes as I was writing this I’ve decided I would write about my deconversion. I was raised in a semi-religious family. My father never mentioned anything regarding religion at all, and my mom was a pentecostal but didn’t go to church. I never went to Church when I was young, but was required to when I was in my teens. When we moved to Michigan from my child home of Maryland we moved next to my Grandfather who is a super religious Finnish pentecostal. We’re talking hardcore everything-is-the-devil religious. My mother forced us to go with him to church in Canada every Sunday. Mind you, we lived right along the border so Canada wasn’t that far of a trip.
It was during my teens that I got my first dose of real religion. Before that it had always been a mysterious thing. God was a being that was far away but somehow there watching over things. I didn’t understand it and no one explained it. It was what it was. When going to the pentecostal church my grandfather went too, that is when I finally heard and discovered what exactly it was the Christians where believing. I hadn’t even really put much thought into the Bible at this point. This is also the time I discovered that the Holy Book left a lot to be desired. By about 15 I was having serious doubts about what was going on. However, living in remote Upper Peninsula really didn’t leave much opportunity for outside information. This was 1995, and I seriously was having a crisis of faith. From 1995 on I was living a lie: going to church but not believing what was going on, I figured there was a God somewhere but I was lost. I lived like this for nearly 10 years. The whole time believing that it would pass, that this was something that I had to fight through and then I would be back to being a whole person, a good person. It was a slow process to be sure. By 2003, the year I left Michigan and moved to Texas, I was like countless other people in this world. I believed in a God, but didn’t really act on it. It was there, somewhere. I didn’t concern myself with it.
I think the first real big step forward I took in my complete deconversion was after the 2004 elections. I still listened to loud mouth conservative radio heads like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh. Two years of living in a large city caused me to open my eyes to the world in ways that living in my previous locations did not allow. I learned that gays were not evil, they were not people looking to convert the world to some gay agenda. It was at some point around this time that it also occurred to me that I had been lied to my whole life. God, this mysterious force in the world, was as fictional as ‘The Force’ in Star Wars.
For me to see this, all it took was for me to really read the Bible.
Before this point I had always assumed I knew the Bible, though I had hardly ever picked it up. I went to Church on Sunday’s and occasionally on Wednesday’s. I just knew the Bible. All I really knew is what the preacher had told me during those times. The Bible verses were just things we would ramble then he would tell us what they meant. Of course they would leave out the parts of the Bible that aren’t good. Reading through the Bible myself showed me that the good book wasn’t all that good.
So, around 2006 it finally all clicked and I finally knew that something was really wrong. How could this be the infallible word of God when it made no sense and even I - someone who was just reading through it - could see the glaring contradictions. I didn’t know at the time that I was actually an Atheist. That word: Atheist… it was an evil word. Not believing in God was one thing, but an Atheist! I too was victim to the after effects of the bigotry pointed at Atheism. They were evil and amoral people. I couldn’t be one of them!
While there was no single moment the defined my path to disbelief, there was a single moment that defined my discovery of my personal Atheism. July 9th, 2008. I was by this point already way past believing anything. But I still wasn’t sure where I was in this world. Funny to think, it was only 5 months ago. ‘Crackergate‘ as it has been called. Somehow, and I don’t remember how, I stumbled upon PZ Myers blog Pharyngula and his comments about college student Webster Cook and the tale of the Jesus cracker.
From there I started reading Pharyngula, and before long I was reading all the blogs that I could regarding this hyperbolic controversy. I continued reading those blogs past that and still do today. They opened my eyes to the possibilities of the world, and the fact that Atheism isn’t a bad thing but the only natural logical way to look at the world. If PZ Myers introduced me to accepting Atheism as an ok thing, it was Richard Dawkins that made me realize that it was my world view.
So in mid-July of this year was when I finally accepted the inevitable: I was an Atheist. I’ve been freer and happier than I have ever been in my entire life since. Living in disbelief since the mid-nineties, living free for five months and counting.