When I was young I loved Jesus. I thought he was the fuckin’ bees knees. I was passionate about Christianity, and lived my life as a devout Independent Baptist. I believed the earth was 6000 years old, and created in a literal 6 days. I believed every word of the Bible was God breathed into the minds of the men who wrote it without any input from them at all, and the only English translation of the Bible that was relevant was the King James 1611.
So what happened Duke? Why’d you decide to join a group of baby eating, amoral, heretics reviled the world over?
I’m glad you asked that, because that’s just what we’re going to talk about today.
I began having doubts in my mid 20’s. Those doubts did not come to fruition until my late 20’s early 30’s but somewhere in the depths of my brain was a small voice saying: “you know this is bullshit, right?”
I’m often asked by concerned believers: “What happened? Did someone die? What caused you to be so bitter towards God?” It wasn’t anything so dramatic as that. For me it was a simple lack of his presence. It was the countless nights of crying out into the darkness, and getting no reply.
And the voice started getting louder everyday:
“8 million species of animals in groups of 2 and 14 on a fucking boat? For how long?”
“The majority of the stars we see are way further than 6000 light years away.”
“Dude you’ve read the Old Testament, you know God’s a viscious cunt right?”
At 32 I had moved to being a deist, which quickly progressed to agnosticism before the year was out. Around that time I discovered Penn Jillette. I had no idea what being an atheist meant. I had no idea where to look for information, but I was looking at Penn’s Wikipedia page (I don’t remember why now) and saw that he is an atheist, so I googled his name, came across his YouTube channel, and started watching.
Through him I found Hitchens, and through Hitch I found Sam Harris, and I rather quickly became an atheist. I heard arguments I had never heard before, and they hit on all of my points of concern with pinpoint accuracy.
I did, however, still talk to God. Mostly when I was angry at him about something.
That’s an interesting part of my atheist journey. I was so used to just talking to God when I was hurt, scared, or just plain pissed off that I just kept doing it. Then one day, I was just about to start up when I said to myself: “Why are you doing this? He’s not there.” And a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders.
Up until that point I had been in abject misery over the loss of my faith and I desperately wanted it back. My marriage was falling apart. I was mostly hiding my beliefs for fear of reprisal. I felt betrayed and lied to by every person I loved, and worse I had led quite a few people to Christianity (including 3 confirmed atheists).
In that one moment all of that disappeared. My fear, and anger melted away and for the first time in my life I felt saved.
I went straight home and changed my Facebook status to atheist, and confirmed the fears of everyone I knew.
That was the beginning of the end for my marriage. It resulted in one of the worst fights my ex and I ever had. We were never the same. It took about 5 years to finally end. We fought the whole time, and if I’m honest I don’t really miss her. I miss having my daughter, but not my ex. I remember her looking me dead in the eyes the night of that fight and saying:
“Now all my friends are going to know they were right about you.”
And I suppose they were. I learned that day that love, perhaps, can’t conquer all.
Since then I’ve been an out of the closet atheist. I don’t necessarily broadcast it where I live (bum-fuck Florida) but everyone who knows me, knows I don’t believe. And I wouldnt change that for the world.
So that my story, or I should say the short version of it. One life saved from an existence of meaningless servitude to a God that’s not there, and not a moment to soon.