Skeptimus Prime » Life story One atheist's thoughts on politics, religion, and philsophy Wed, 22 Apr 2015 06:30:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Why I became an atheist instead of a liberal Christian. Tue, 29 Apr 2014 01:26:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> While I usually find myself addressing the more fundamentalist/evangelical Christians on my blog and elsewhere online, I also often find myself discussing religion with liberal Christians. While in the conversations I often find myself confronted with the question of why I rejected ALL religion instead of rejecting my particular fundamentalist brand and embracing a more liberal religious outlook. To be honest I’m only occasionally asked this question directly by liberal Christians, but it seems to undergird a lot more of conversations with out being asked directly, perhaps because the person in question can’t think of a way to ask the question that doesn’t seem impolite, even though I can’t imagine I would take offense at the question as long as it was asked with a genuine desire for an answer.

I actually wish more of them would ask this question because I think, given their own experiences, their confusion is reasonable, but I do have an answer for them. As for the reason for said confusion I would start out by pointing out that many liberal Christians and I have quite a bit in common. Many of them, just like me, were either raised in more conservative religious homes or have at least had quite a bit of experience dealing with fundamentalist view points. They understand why I rejected much of the ideas in those groups because many of them went through a very similar experience of disillusionment with fundamentalist/evangelical religious teachings.

Indeed, if you look back on the experience I had leaving Christianity my first points of disagreement were over things like biblical inerrancy, and the treatment of women and LGTB people within the church, which are all points that many liberal Christians would agree with me on. For instance, most of my liberal theology professors in school recounted similar stories of disillusionment when they were younger. So when it comes to these experiences we have a commonality that allows us to understand one another to some extent.

So I think that often the confusion they have with me removing myself from the conversation entirely is largely due to the fact that they were able to make both their belief in Christianity and their new found support of things like Feminism and gay rights fit together. We discuss those issues and find ourselves largely in agreement so they wonder why I could not make that same compromise work as well. Occasionally some will be obnoxious about this disagreement, and simply assume that the people who made the transition to atheism instead of liberal Christianity just didn’t understand liberal theological ideas, but most of the time it’s simply a matter of not understanding what caused the transition in the first place. They might well understand a person who was raised without religion not finding anything particularly valuable there, but have trouble understanding how someone who previously valued religion could become one of its loudest critics.

The answer to this confusion is complicated and requires us to look at several things. First off, while my rejection of fundamentalism started in a fairly similar place to that of many liberal Christians, they stopped at issues, that while important, are to some extent surface issues, and landed in a set of ideals that I personally find logically contradictory. Take as an example the notion of biblical inerrancy, most liberal Christians would join me in rejecting this concept, yet they still believe in things like salvation. I spent some time as a liberal believer on my way out and one of the issues that repeatedly bothered me was that without inerrancy I could find no way to sensibly justify a belief in Jesus as savior any more than I could justify an anti-gay marriage stance. Yes the first idea is more emotionally palatable, but that was not a justifiable reason to believe something. I had rejected theological claims like inerrancy because they were not supportable by facts and reason, rejecting those ideas but then continuing to hold other beliefs for reasons just as flimsy seemed hypocritical to me.

Further, it should be noted that I’ve studied a good deal of liberal theology, and can’t shake the feeling that a lot of it seems based upon word games and semantic tricks, and many of the more liberal biblical scholars I’ve read, like Elaine Pagles, have often engaged in the exact same sort of “just so” justifications for various interpretations of biblical passages and theological ideas that fundamentalist engage it, except that they serve a different goal. The fact that I find the goal more agreeable doesn’t make the argument they use to reach it any better. Which brings me to my last point.

It’s not enough that I just don’t believe, I’m an activist for the notion of dismantling religious ideas at their root, which I think further confuses liberal believers. They understand why I would oppose fundamentalism, they often do as well after all, but why would religion as a whole be a problem since many religious people, like themselves, often hold very similar views on a variety of social issues as I do. To understand my problem here lets imagine we put a liberal Christian and a fundamentalist one in a room to discuss a controversial topic like gay marriage. The fundamentalist would likely start by quoting Leviticus 18 or 20 or perhaps Romans 1, the liberal Christian would counter that the fundamentalist has improperly interpreted those passages and bring up passages about love and acceptance, maybe the passage where Paul says we are all the same in Christ.

If you notice that this conversation does not seem to ever reference any gay people and how they feel about this they you start to understand my issue here. Both groups are defining “the good” in terms of what god wants for us. They don’t agree on what that is, but both think it is of paramount importance. The liberal Christian has taken a position that I’m more likely to agree with, but it’s based upon a rational which I totally reject. A rational which, by the way, differs very little from that of the fundamentalist. Both are still appealing to an extrinsic source to understand things like meaning and ethics. I not only think this is wrong, I think it is incredibly harmful to a real and productive discussion of these things. A few years ago, after I had already become an atheist I started thinking about these questions and came to the conclusion that religion, by trying to find meaning in extrinsic sources, was selling us short and hampering real progress on these issues. I couldn’t leave this alone because while it’s important that we believe the right things it is even more important that we believe them for the right reasons. Which is ultimately why I became an atheist rather than a liberal Christian. I didn’t just reject the fundamentalist position on gay marriage, I rejected the entire system of ethics and ontology that they used to reach those conclusions in the first place.

You can read more about my de-conversion in the following links.

My life story, Part I, My life story, Part II, My life story, Part 33 and 1/3…..err….I mean Part 3

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My opinions on dominionism and the religious right when I was Christian Thu, 14 Nov 2013 01:09:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Goldwater-WarnsWhen I entered college back in the distant past of 1997 I was a fundamentalist Christian. I was proud of this fact, right down to my young earth creationism. There is an assumption that atheists often make that fundamentalism and some form of dominionism go hand in hand. It’s true there is a lot of overlap, but they are not necessarily the same thing.

First let’s be clear about what I mean by dominionism, because there is some debate about what this means. Dominionism is often thought of as some uniform group of people conspiring to push their religious ideas into politics. This is not entirely true. Dominionism exists more or less as a continuum of beliefs that people hold about the role of religion in politics. A few on the fringe would like to see an outright theocracy, but most have less ostentatious goals. Christians who argue that Christian teachers out to have the right to compel their students to organized prayer are an example of a relatively soft dominionism, and are much more common.

I would even argue that examples like “in God we Trust” on our currency and as the national motto are examples of a sort of soft dominionism. Many Christians of course disagree, and would argue that “in God we trust” is not an imposition of Christianity through the government. I’ve been told that I’m being over sensitive on this one.  Many people I would consider dominionists don’t like the term dominionism.

Here is the thing, when I was a believer I was a fundamentalist, as I said, but I was actually not a dominionist. I was, in fact, incredibly a-political, and I viewed many of the preachers who overtly pushed dominionist ideas, like Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson, with suspicion. This was actually occasionally a point of contention between me and other theists I knew, but I was hardly the only fundamentalist who thought this way.

See, as I reasoned when I was a Christian, there were only two reasons to push religious expression and religiously based laws into politics. One either wanted to use the power of government to convert people to Christianity; the other was to force them to obey Christian morality for their own good, even if it was against their will.

The first argument I found problematic because I believed that in order for Christianity to flourish in someone’s mind they must make a free choice to accept the propositions in Christianity. Using the government to mandate belief was obviously wrong, but I also had a problem with giving Christian propositions special position in politics because, inevitably, some would just go along for the ride instead of truly believing. If people are to truly be free to be convinced of the merits of an argument on it’s own strength then we must make sure that all arguments start on equal footing. Promoting one belief through government gives in an unfair advantage.

I rejected the second argument because it seemed irrational to force non-Christians to comply with Christian moral ideas. Fundamentalists teach that in order to truly understand the moral propositions in Christianity you have to be a believer, and thus inhabited by the holy spirit. God dwelling within you gives the capacity to understand the inherent correctness of the moral propositions according to traditional theology. So it not only struck me as illogical to try to force non-believers compliance with these laws, it struck me as totalitarian.

Quite frankly, when I was a believer other believers tried to get me to involve myself in politics and I would refuse them. I didn’t even vote for most of my Christian life. When Christians would ask me if I opposed things like gay marriage I told them that I while I thought being gay was sinful, I could not expect the unsaved to understand that so I no opinion on whether or not the government should legalize gay marriage. My goal was to convert people through fair honest dialog, not political force or emotional manipulation. I believed that once conversion happened then the changes to moral values would happen automatically. This is why dominionists baffle me so thoroughly. Though in all honesty it may have been my dedication to having honest conversations that led me to be an atheist, since I now think that in a fair and equal marketplace of ideas Christian propositions fail spectacularly. Perhaps that’s why dominionists are so persistent?

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My personal experience with relationships as I came out of religion. Wed, 15 May 2013 02:49:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> When I left behind my religious beliefs about ten years ago I was at a loss at how to live in a number of ways. I had organized much of my life around bible studies, church, religious conferences, etc. I was even in the process of looking for a job as a youth leader after college graduation while I was in the middle of my doubting process.

Dating was particularly frightening to me. To be fair, I can’t blame religion entirely on this situation. Brace yourselves for this revelation, but I was something of a socially awkward nerd in high school and thus didn’t get a lot of dates. In fact this lack of popularity was one of the things that made me susceptible to religious conversion in the first place; I was lonely in high school and a ready made social group was a pretty attractive selling point for me.

Unfortunately, being socially awkward tends to create a feedback loop, especially in high school. You need experience in social situations to get over your awkwardness but high school students are not notorious for their willingness to forgive perceived social faux pas. I was actually the brunt of several jokes in high school where people wrote notes pretending to be from a female student who liked me.

I wanted to believe things would change when I got to college, but what I didn’t realize was that my social situation was only part of the problem. I had been through enough negative experiences with the opposite sex effectively kill my courage to act on any attraction I felt towards most women I knew in college.

Of course my freshman year of college was when I got involved with a campus ministry and my “I kissed dating goodbye” came out. The author, Joshua Harris, goes a step further than the traditional positions on purity and dating within Christianity and suggests that people not kiss until they are married, and give god complete control of your dating life. He also advocates for more traditional dating rituals like asking a father’s permission for dating and marriage, which I now recognize for the sexist nonsense that it is.

To be fair, a lot of Christians have criticized parts of Harris’ approach, and for his naivety. After all he wrote the book in his early 20’s while still single. However, excepting the whole no kissing rule most of the ministry leaders I looked up to in college echoed many of the same sentiments. Of course like Harris most of these leaders were in their 20’s and either single or had only been married for a few years. Perhaps not the best people to take relationships advice from but like a lot of people early 20’s we were full of fire and convinced that we could fix the worlds ills if only people would do things our way.

Looking back on this I realize that part of the reason I was so willing to buy into this argument was that even then I was terrified of dating, or perhaps more specifically I was terrified of asking women out on dates because of the rejection I had faced in high school. Perhaps without the specter of religion I would have gathered up my courage and asked more people out than I did in college or perhaps not. What I do know is that this approach to dating allowed me to justify my unwillingness to pursue relationships as being submitted to God’s authority. If I was too scared to ask someone out I could rationalize it not being His will instead of just admitting that I had low self esteem.

I remember one situation clearly, one of the few times in college I decided that god had told me to ask someone out. I took action this time, abet nervously, only to be rejected. I spoke with a friend after this and expressed confusion because I knew god had told me to ask her out. (which I naively thought guaranteed  I would not be rejected) “If god told me to ask her out then why didn’t he tell her to say yes,” I wondered in this conversation. I look back on the response I got and realize it was one of the first times I harbored doubts about religion. My friend told me that perhaps god only gave me permission to ask her out, not to actually date her. Even at the time I remember thinking that seemed more like a rationalization than a sound conclusion.

Of course, I didn’t pull a 180 on all of my sexual mores when I stopped believing, but suddenly I was left with the uncomfortable situation of choosing for myself. I had to decide if things like premarital sex were actually allowable, and if so in what contexts. I felt as if I was stuck between two worlds for quite a while, many religious people I knew would have thought I was pretty horrible for even entertaining that question, but I knew that most secular people out there had settled the answers to these questions when they were years younger. I felt out of place with fundamentalist Christians and woefully inexperienced with everyone else.

Even after I had settled most of these questions on a philosophical level to my satisfaction I was still left with several problems. First as I have previously shown I was still incredibly inexperienced with dating in general. Second I was doubly clueless when it came to the rules of dating outside of Christianity. I had spent years being told things about who non-religious people were, and what their motivations were. I knew enough to know that a lot of that stuff was wrong, but I had no idea what parts, or what the right answers were. I had no idea what an atheist woman wanted from a relationship or from sex, nor was a sure what I wanted from those things.

I was particularly afraid that any of the women I might date would be more experienced than me, both in handling relationships in general and sexuality.  What kind of person did i want to date or marry? My main requirement from a woman had been that she be a strong Christian. I had no idea what I was supposed to look for now. What kind of things did I want sexually? Would I be bad at it because I was inexperienced? Would I be dumped me because I was bad in bed? I had no answers to those questions. Luckily without the excuse that god would just provide a relationship for me I eventually pushed myself out there. Dating a few people gave me a better idea of what I wanted, and the realization that there were women who found me attractive and sexually competent built up my self esteem enough to get my out of that spiral of self doubt that started for in high school.

To be sure, when I first started dating I did have some bad experiences that I might have avoided if I had been more experienced, but that would simply mean I would have had those bad experiences a few years earlier than I did. It’s rare that a person doesn’t have some bad experiences, and in fact sometimes it is those very experiences that allow you to succeed in future relationships. Christian apologists often warn of the dangers of secular dating and premarital sex, but honestly from my perspective there are at least as many dangers and pitfalls in their solution. A little more than six months ago I met great woman through online dating, we are now engaged and have moved in together. If I followed the advice of my campus ministers I’d wager I’d still be waiting on “the one,” or I would have rushed into marriage with first person who showed the slightest interest out of a desire for sex. Relationships aren’t about some deity or mystical force fating you to be together, they are about people choosing to share a life together, and in my book the latter is far more meaningful than the former.

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Found an interesting note sent to me when I was a Christian. Thu, 02 May 2013 00:13:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> I’ve been cleaning up for moving and I found a note that was sent to me back during my senior year of high-school by some fellow campers at a religious summer camp I went to.  I attended Methodist church in high-school and they would have us break into small groups, the last day of camp everyone in the small group got a note in which everyone else in the group and written things about you on it.

I was surprised this even still exists since it’s from about 17 or 18 years ago. Clearly I am a very different person than these people knew me as.

Edit: Realized, after looking at the note more closely that this was actually from just after my freshman year of college at a camp called Kaleo. I would have been 20 at the time, so it’s only 15 years old.

Anyway, thought you guys might enjoy this:

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My life story, Part 33 and 1/3…..err….I mean Part 3 Wed, 09 Mar 2011 01:37:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]>

As I mentioned last time, when I graduated college I had no job and ended up moving in with my parents.  I was jobless, I interviewed with several churches for youth minister positions, but my heart was not really in it.  Either because they could tell or for some other reason I was not hired for any of the positions I interviewed for.  So I ended up working in numerous bad jobs, a 12 hour shift at a factory for about 6 months, Wal-Mart for about a year.

During my first year out of college I had a lot of time to think and reflect on things.  I had steadily become more liberal in my theology over the last year of college.  Biblical inerrancy had gone fairly early, which led me to doubt quite a bit of my religion as time wore on.  If college only did one thing for me, it made me good at research so I began reading a lot, both on other religions and on science.  I began to realize that many ideas I had taken to be true for years had no basis in reality.

I had read many anti-evolution books written by apologists that had told me that evolution was unscientific, was a lie, was nothing but a creation story for evil unbelievers….etc. I wondered if this was as true as I was told, so for the first time in my life I actually started reading the science.  What I found was astounding.  I had been told constantly that there were no good scientific answers for many of the “problems” that were put forward by apologists.  Not only were their good answers, many times I found that that the very questions that were being asked by apologists made it painfully obvious they were totally ignorant of some of the most basic ideas in the theory.  With even a small amount of knowledge most of the anti-evolution rhetoric did not even make sense, much less make a coherent case against the science.

To put it mildly, I was angry, I felt I had been lied too, but I still had to admit that this in itself did not mean that Christianity was totally false.  I had already abandoned the idea that the bible was scientifically inerrant several months earlier, but perhaps it was still valid as a spiritual/moral guide.  However, the more I read the bible the more I doubted its quality as a guide for anything.  Just as with evolution I began reading works by various people who took issue with various teachings within Christianity.  I wanted to disagree with them, but I could find no counter-arguments against any thing I read.  Instead I began to see passage after passage full of “moral” laws that would seem harsh in communist China.

About a year after I had graduated I remember being up at about 3:00 A.M. working through my thoughts and trying to figure how I was going to continue believing after all I had learned.  All at once a thought occurred to me that I had not considered.  I did not need to keep believing.  In fact, I was pretty certain I already did not believe.  I prayed for the last time ever on that night; I asked god to give me some proof or reason to believe.  I felt nothing, then I said to myself, “well that’s it then,” and went to bed.

After that night I realized I had no idea who I was anymore.  I had spent the last 6 or 7 years of my life defining everything I was by way of my religion.  I ended up getting back into a lot of hobbies I had previously denied myself, gaming, anime etc.  I also tried looking into other religions, but invariably found that they had the same unfounded assertions and questionable beliefs.

At some point I realized that most of the reasons I rejected Christianity could be applied to every religion I studied.  They all contained bald assertions which they offered no proof for.  I began to read a lot of information written by atheists and agreed with most of what they said, but I was a bit skeptical of the claim that one could know there was no god.  Eventually, I realized that being an atheist was not about rejecting the possibility of a god, instead it was simply an rejection of the unsupported claim that he does exist.  I realized at that point that I had been an atheist for quite a while without knowing it.  This was a rather shocking revelation to me.  My liberal religion professors viewed atheists as narrow minded, and my conservative back ground in religion had drilled into me the notion that all atheists were immoral, or at least had no reason to be moral.  As someone who had rejected Christianity because I found many teachings to be immoral I wondered if being an atheist somehow defeated my own argument. 

I wont go in to detail here about how I settled those issues in my own mind, but reading my regular posts should reveal that anyway.  In any case, I did settle these things in my own mind, and eventually became the well adjusted, awesome, genius guy that I am today. (also humble)

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My life story, Part II Tue, 01 Mar 2011 03:29:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Me in college

As I said in my last post, my parents decided to take me back to church.  We started attending a small Methodist church, and not long after my parents discovered a local Christian radio station that rebroadcasted many things from Focus on the Family.  They slowly started becoming much more conservative in their religious beliefs.  When I was eighteen I was baptized in the same church we attended.

Not long after that we moved, I ended up doing home school my last two years of high school because we had to move several times and it would have been too much work starting new schools every couple of months.  This hurt my science education, but at the time I really didn’t care, nor even realize I was being shorted.  I still managed to get into a good private college, Hendrix, in central Arkansas.

Yes I am in this photo, top row 6th from the left

During freshman orientation I met several people who were involved in a campus ministry called Student Mobilization. This group was heavily focused on mission work and evangelism.  I became increasingly focused on religion, I even decided to major in religious studies, with the plan of becoming a pastor or something along those lines.  My first two summers I went to a summer retreat with Student Mobilization to teach me how to be a better evangelist.  I stopped playing video games very much by the end of my sophomore year because several people in the ministry thought it was a waste of time that could be better spent sharing the gospel with other students.  I gave up listening to secular music and only listened to Christian rock, which except for 3 or 4 bands is almost universally horrible. I ended up giving up many things that made me who I was in a effort to fit in.

During this time I believed myself to be happy, after all I had friends that I fit in with, a group to belong too, and, of course, I was “saved.”  However, there were a few dark clouds.  I occasionally felt like I didn’t fit very well, like religion was the only thing I had in common with many of my friends.  I still “struggled” with pornography from time to time.  (there is a masturbation joke waiting to be made there but I will resist the urge) Also, I had niggling doubts about things, particularly theology.  These issues would occasionally make me depressed but I mostly ignored this stuff.

My first real doubts about religion came after my third year of college.  I did not attend Student Mobilization’s camp that year, instead I decided to go on a mission trip to India, and I did this by going through another group that some people in Student Mobilization recommended to me.  I ended up in Calcutta for the summer, and as it turns out more than half of the group I was with came from a charismatic Pentecostal background.  I had, of course, read about these groups in classes and had talked with a few before.  However, as a guy with a background in Methodist, Baptist, and Non-denominational churches I had never been in the middle of a large group of people charismatic Christians.  The way the approached religion was so different than I did that it was hard to relate to them.  For instance, I believed in demons, but was rational enough to know how germ theory worked.  Therefore, when I got sick I went to the doctor or took some medicine.  I didn’t blame demons for things that were caused by completely natural causes.  However, most of these people did blame demons, and wanted to pray over people, and preform faith healings on them when they got sick.  I thought it was common sense, we were living in a strange country with all sorts of germs we were not accustomed too, it was more likely for us to get sick than back home.  I felt like I had stepped 400 years back in time while speaking to some of my fellow missionaries.

Furthermore, some of them had prayed over me to receive the gift of speaking in tongues.  I felt nothing, but eventually I just started speaking gibberish because I was rather uncomfortable and wanted out of the situation.  I was certain they would see through the ploy, but instead they fell for it.  I knew I was not doing anything but spouting nonsense, there was no mystical experience.  There was just…nothing.

These events gave me pause, especially when I got home and had time to reflect.  The position they took would have seemed perfectly reasonable a few hundred years ago, and in fact seemed scripturally sound.  My thoughts on these things were more scientifically based, and they had thought I was not a faithful enough Christian because of it.  The question that came to my mind was how much of my own beliefs were might seem just as crazy to someone else.  I didn’t have a good answer, but I did not like the implication of my thoughts.

The year after I came back from India the ministry I was involved in had a change of leadership on my campus.  They guy who took over had been a friend of mine for several years so I was naturally supportive of what he was doing.  However, he ended up being rather controlling and making massive changes to the ministry.  Many of these changes ended up pushing me out much of my active role there, the biggest of which was the shut down of the meeting in which I played guitar for the worship band.  I felt a bit put out by this, but still tried to support him.

I ended up staying in college for a 5th year for various reasons, at this point the new leader became almost hostile to me, he told me outright that I was “not submitted enough to the authorities that god had placed in my life,” and told me that he would not write any recommendation for me to join any ministry upon graduation. (which was still a career goal of mine at this point.)  I can only guess this was because I was developing a habit of asking uncomfortable theological question, and because I did not share certain personality traits he found were needed for being a evangelist.  At the same time he decided to start a new weekly meeting for the ministry, and unsurprisingly he did not ask me to be in the worship band.  He instead picked a “disciple” of his that he clearly liked better than me.

Of course since I was a 5th year student most of my closest friends who would have defended me had already left, so with no one to turn to I was quickly ignored.  I became depressed, stopped attending church, barely paid attention to my classes and as a result almost didn’t graduate.  I ended up a credit short and had to take a summer class to get my diploma, and on top of that I had no job prospects when I graduated since any ministry was going to ask for references, which I knew I would not get.  Plus I was having serious questions about my religion which no one, not even God, seemed to be able to answer.  By the time I finished college I was an emotional wreck.

I’ll leave this to be finished in part 3, don’t worry, it will end on a happier note.  Haven’t you guys ever been to the movies?  Trilogies always look worst for the protagonist at the end of part 2.

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My life story, Part I Fri, 25 Feb 2011 02:26:00 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Me at around thirteen.

My blog has been up and running for well over a month now, and I seem to actually be getting a few readers.  I am happy about this, though I doubt I will ever be as well known as blogs like Pharyngula or Atheist Experience, we will just have to wait and see.  In any case, I mention over in the “about me” section that I was once a fundamentalist Christian, which is something that I am sure will leave some readers curious about how I got to where I am today.  This being the case I thought I would write a few posts explaining the journey that got me here. 

In this first part I am going to talk a bit about my early life, before I became a Christian, leading up to why I converted in the first place.

In my preteen years I did not get along with people my own age very well, and often hung out with adults.  From a young age my parents cared about education, they read to me, encouraged me to read and told me to use a dictionary if I didn’t know what a word meant.  I was reading books like “The Lord of the Rings” by the time I was twelve so it should not be surprising that I had a college level vocabulary before I started Jr. High.  Don’t get me wrong, I did normal kid things as well, but I often did not fit in well with other people my age.

Since I was picked on a lot I became even more introverted throughout Jr. High, and high school.  When I was about fourteen I started learning computers which didn’t much help my status as a nerd, since this was back in the early 90’s when very few people knew much about them.

Through most of this time I gave very little thought to religion, I would have said I believed in god, I also would have said I believed in evolution, but I knew very little of religion or of science, nor did I really care about them.  I had my fantasy/sci-fi books, my video games and my computers so I didn’t really care about any of this.

Things changed when I was around sixteen, my parents caught me reading some pornography.  *gasp* *shock* a sixteen year old male reading porn?  Say it ain’t so.  Well, to much of the world this might have seemed rather innocuous, even expected, but to my parents it was a sign that I was on the proverbial highway to hell.  My parents had been more religious when they were younger, and in their wisdom decided they needed to take the family back to church so they could “fix” me.

I resented it at first, but at the same time the church offered a place to belong and fit in.  Christianity even often sells itself in this way, and for a social misfit like me this appealed to me greatly, so I gave it a chance and over a period of a year or two I came to believe in Christianity.

I will end here for part I.  In Part II I will speak about my religious experience, and my descent into fundamentalism.

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