Without wasting time, let's get to the topic of tonight, that being how I have come to be an atheist.
I would like to, first off, describe my defintion of an atheist. At one point I would have agreed that it was all a matter of semantics, but after studying the point some more, I do believe there is a fundemental difference between an atheist and an anti-, or non-, theist. When you think of an atheist, you typically think of someone who says, "God does not exist." I reject that notion. I simply believe that the case for God is unproven, not disproven. And what that means is, I'm not saying God does not exist, in fact, I'd say He very well could exist. But as of right now, there is no sufficient evidence to support it.
For example, I could propose that I breathe fire. You'd want evidence, right? Well, what if I don't do it? Does that mean I can't, or does that mean I can't right now? The antitheist would say I can't, and the atheist would say I could, but I haven't proven my proposition.
So, I suppose it all started when I was in ninth grade. Religion hadn't been a part of my life up to that point. Sure, I went to church with my father whenever I visited him, but did I ever think about God, who He was, Jesus Christ, angels? Nope. But ninth grade changed that because ninth grade was the year I had to participate in Confirmation. This meant taking notes during the sermon, visiting our pastor every Wednesday night for dinner and Bible-study, and participating in the services (ex. reading the Bible for the congregation). At first, I didn't really care. But then I started to think deeply about this stuff. After hearing some of it, I became an antitheist. I didn't want anything to do with it in large part because I didn't understand the Trinity (although now I do and agree with it, assuming God were to exist).
At this time I was taking part in a discussion on a Harry Potter fansite, where we just talked about philosophy and religion. Side note: there was a man there who claimed to see demons, and even said he had scars from them. Anyway, I talked extensively with others there who happened to be skeptics or atheists. Others were of various religions, but none of them Bible-believing Christians. Somehow I started to work my way back to a form of theism, but I had very unbiblical beliefs.
For example, I believed in reincarnation. I thought it was unjust for God to send people to hell, so I simply believed that when we died, after achieving sainthood, we'd return to be a part of God. That was because I saw a Jew on 7th Heaven express a similar idea.
Well, during ninth grade in English class I had to write what we called the Alphabetical Autobiography, and that simply meant we had the letter of the week and we had to write about a personal theme that began with that letter. Around the time I made my quasi-theistic beliefs, we came to the letter R, and I took that chance to write about Religion, expressing my beliefs. For this assignment, it had to be proof-read by a fellow classmate, so I handed it to a girl who happened to be a Lutheran. A couple days after that, she wrote me a letter explaining how wrong I was and shared the Gospel with me. At first I treated her unkindly, thinking her to be judgmental. But somewhere along the line I responded to the Gospel, at least intellectually, and claimed Christ as my Savior. For the first couple of months I refused to accept the Bible as perfectly true and hesitated to accept creation as true, but because I was studying Protestantism at my church, I fell under the sway of "sola Scripture," which, for you atheists reading this, means the Bible is the supreme source of knowledge regarding God, Jesus, and the Church. Since the Bible claimed itself true, well, by golly, it must be true! And since creation was a part of the Bible, that must have been true as well! So for the past year and a half or so, I've been trying to live as a Christian.
At the end of the summer after I "became" a Christian, I read James White's book, Debating Calvinism, a debate in the form of a book, and it set me out on the path of reformed soteriology, or, theology of salvation. James convinced me of the biblical quality of reformed theology, and that became a major force in my thinking.
I fell in love with Charles H. Spurgeon's sermons, in particular. Truly, he has a way of moving the heart. I also read stuff, mostly online, by John Piper, John MacArthur, and R.C. Sproul. I read blogs, such as the Reformed Mafia, Between Two Worlds, and Shepherd's Scrapbook.
Now I'm sure you noticed something up to this point. Whenever I talk about my "conversion," I speak of it in hypothetical terms. This is for a couple reasons, the first being because the Bible says, "If they were one of us, they'd have stayed with us, but they left us because they were not of us." So since I have left Christianity, I never truly was a Christian. But why did I leave?
I suppose that has a few reasons, if I wanted to be honest. I'm a homosexual, and with my "sola Scriptura" view of the Bible, I knew they were completely incompatible. The Bible, in both the Old and New Testament, say homosexuality is a sin. No matter how much I wish to deny it, the Bible does say it. And so I had prayed, and prayed, and prayed, and I fasted, and I read my Bible, and I memorized Scripture, and I told Christian friends about it for them to pray for me--but I'm still a homosexual. We now face a conundrum. How can I be a Christian and a homosexual? Ultimately, I can't. "Don't you know that the wicked shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" But I couldn't change. And I couldn't reconcile that with my faith. So inevitably I had to drop my faith. Because the Bible says, "Whosoever is in Christ is born anew, he is a new creation, and the old has passed away." But for me, despite my belief in Jesus Christ being the Son of God, crucified for my sins, buried, and resurrected, despite believing the Trinity, despite believing Calvinism, the old never passed away for me. My old habits didn't die, not even for a moment, when I thought I became a Christian.
Keep in mind that we are now talking about eleventh grade, last fall, before the New Year. So during that time I came in contact with Sartre, with his message that existence precedes essence. And the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with it, but I realized that it contradicted my Christian faith. I had heard about Christian existentialism, but that doesn't make sense because, as I pointed out in my earlier post on existentialism, if God exists, then our essence precedes our existence.
So three days after the New Year, I decided to recant of my Christian faith and here I am, now trying to learn more about atheism and existentialism. I still attend my church and my youth group, in part because I see no escape from it right now (I'm part of the Student Leadership Team) and because my friends at church would become too invasive in my life if they knew I left because I am an atheist, not to mention my mother (although she isn't even a Christian, so I don't know why she cares).
I don't want to die.
Sometimes I wish I'd never been born at all.
--Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody