Full Circle
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04-06-2013, 09:50 AM
Full Circle
I was born into a Christian fundamentalist home. I was baptized by the age of seven. I gave my first sermon at the age of ten. I was an ardent creationist who was a distraction in the junior high school classroom. Determined to save souls from eternal damnation, I chose to purposely fail science classes by answering test questions with biblical "truths" instead of scientific facts.

My sophomore year of high school, two seemingly harmless words forever changed my life: Cognitive dissonance. After accepting the "Bible Challenge" presented by my church, my mind was unable to reconcile the atrocities in the Old Testament with the loving God presented in church every Sunday. I went to my parents for guidance, expressed my doubts and spent the next two and a half years grounded to my room. I was only allowed to leave for school and church. All other social engagements were prohibited until I repented of my heresy. Headstrong, I chose to stand firm in my "rebellion" and finished my sentence in solitude, leaving home on my eighteenth birthday. I remained a creationist despite my doubts and I finished high school with a 1.5 GPA and the exact number of credits required for graduation.

Despite my doubts, I remained, in my mind, a Christian. I was no longer as certain of my beliefs as I had been prior to reading the Bible. I continued to study "the word" convinced that any doubt was caused by a lack of understanding on my part, not an error in scripture. I continued on like this for three years, until by chance, my wife learned of the Jefferson Bible. After countless conversations regarding my doubts and struggles to reconcile my faith, she relayed to me that Thomas Jefferson had many of the same doubts and suggested I read his writings. Reading Jefferson lead to reading Paine, and reading Paine lead to reading The Age of Reason. It was as if I was reading my own thoughts. Exposed to the ideas in Deism, I no longer struggled to reconcile the tyrant god of the bible with a benevolent creator of the universe.

This serenity was short lived. Three months into my journey through Deism, I stumbled across a YouTube video titled "Deism is D for Dumb" by user DasAmericanAtheist (aka James) that presented questions I could no longer reconcile with the Deistic god. I despised what I perceived to be his arrogance, but I had no answer for his arguments. Evidence, or the lack thereof, was becoming the bane of everything I had believed by faith, even the "reasonable" belief of deism. Having wasted my education refuting science because it contradicted my beliefs, I had no foundation for critical thinking.

I began to study the scientific method and at the age of 32, I enrolled at the local technical college determined to raise my GPA so that I could one day attend university. I began to study astronomy and post my videos on YouTube. I wrote articles that were featured on the Cloudynights.com website. I gained a cursory understanding of the universe in which I lived and how the laws of physics governs our perceptions of reality. I began to learn how to account for bias, how to ask falsifiable questions and how to present a thesis. I became able to make analogies that allowed me to communicate more complex concepts in easier to understand terms. The schooling I once fought so vehemently has become my passion.

Yesterday, this passion culminated in an event I could not have imagined just a decade ago. At the age of 34, I gained acceptance to the Professional Emphasis Physics and Astronomy Program at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. My journey continues this Fall.

This journey would not be possible without people like you. Vocal critics of religion and faith, many of whom face personal and professional peril by voicing their skepticism, debating in public forums. When locked in a tireless debate with a believer, one often wonders if it is all for naught. As a former Christian creationist turned atheist astronomer, I can assure you it is not. Not only can a mind be freed from the shackles of religious enslavement, it can thrive, driven to find the answers to questions never before considered or once thought heretical.

And so I say thank you. To all those who contributed to my deconversion and to all those who have helped liberate the minds of others. If not for your patience and dedication, I and many others like me, would not be the men and women that we now are. That thought is more terrifying to me than any threat of eternal damnation could ever be.

Front Yard Astronomy Blog / YouTube

“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”
-Ferdinand Magellan
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04-06-2013, 02:23 PM
RE: Full Circle
I liked read your story.
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04-06-2013, 02:59 PM
RE: Full Circle
Good for you! Welcome!

[Image: dobie.png]

Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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04-06-2013, 04:06 PM
RE: Full Circle
(04-06-2013 02:59 PM)Dom Wrote:  Good for you! Welcome!

Thank you! I have to say, as a doberman owner, I absolutely love your signature line. We have a 7 year old red and tan bitch that my wife refers to as our "doghter". I chose physics as a course of study to prove to my wife that the Universe does not revolve around our dog.

Front Yard Astronomy Blog / YouTube

“The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.”
-Ferdinand Magellan
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04-06-2013, 04:36 PM
RE: Full Circle
(04-06-2013 04:06 PM)FYAstronomy Wrote:  
(04-06-2013 02:59 PM)Dom Wrote:  Good for you! Welcome!

Thank you! I have to say, as a doberman owner, I absolutely love your signature line. We have a 7 year old red and tan bitch that my wife refers to as our "doghter". I chose physics as a course of study to prove to my wife that the Universe does not revolve around our dog.

But, but..... the universe DOES revolve around the dog!! Big Grin

[Image: dobie.png]

Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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05-06-2013, 01:17 AM
RE: Full Circle
Haha, when I saw this, I thought it was about the TTA user "Full Circle"!

Welcome, and thank you for your wonderful post in thia thread.

[Image: 0013382F-E507-48AE-906B-53008666631C-757...cc3639.jpg]
Credit goes to UndercoverAtheist.
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