Small Town Atheist
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03-09-2013, 07:02 PM
Bug Small Town Atheist
Dear Seth,

My journey to atheism began in probably one of the strangest places ever devised. A theist would conclude that I had been dabbling in "worldly" interests and brought on myself my descent into ungodliness. I have always been an avid reader, and though I had been a happy-clappy-born-again-evangelical-Christian, I never actually got around to reading the bible more often than once a week after being prompted by my pastor on Sundays. I found bible reading tedious, but I never let my believer friends know this. I knew just enough scripture to appear Christian, and let the religious leaders do all of the interpreting. I would spend hours every day nose-deep in literature of all sorts.

I had heard vaguely of the book, The Di Vinci Code, and had heard that it was a great book, and I picked it up at the grocery store one day. If I could backstep in time, I would have skipped grocery shopping that day and found something else that would have kept my head safely away from the oncoming train of life changes and self-evaluation. Being told what to think can be very comfortable, as most Christians might know. No matter how noxious the thoughts might be.

When Dan Brown laid out his argument, I felt my mouth falling open. I went and found one of my husband's art book and looked at The Last Supper and saw the female figure next to my Lord and Savior. After finishing the book, I read the book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Then I called a random pastor out of the phone book because I didn't feel comfortable calling my own pastor to ask questions about what I read. I guess I was lucky that the pastor I called was rather "secular" because he recommended reading the book Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time, which I literally read in a single night, and that book proposed a non-holy version of Jesus. For the first time in my life I questioned the divinity of Jesus.

I was not ready to give up on god at that point. Instead I began interviewing, if you will, applicants for another belief system behind which I could throw support. I talked to a rabbi, a Mormon, and then I talked to a Unitarian. It was with deep fear and trepidation that I began to investigate atheism.

I approached my husband with everything I had learned, and I was astonished to find out that he had heard of the married Jesus years ago and had not thought anything of it. To me it was the pivotal point from which the entire structure of Christianity was based. Don't ask my why the image of Jesus in the married state so freaked me out, but it did profoundly. It brought me to do something I had never done before in my life: I opened my bible and began to read it critically.

Ultimately it was the bible itself that convinced me that the entire establishment of religion was based on garbage and nonsense. I started looking up atheist websites, videos, biblical references, and listening to your podcasts. I was astonished to find that Christianity, the thing from which I drew my identity, was nothing like what I had been told. I could not find a single brick in the structure that wasn't tainted by greed, opportunism, acts of cruelty and violence, persecution, exploitation, and down-right fraud! It was like finding out that for decades someone has been daily serving me dogshit and telling me it is chocolate.

It took me several more months for me to step out of the closet and let my family know that I no longer believed in god. My husband, whom I have since divorced, said it was okay for me not to believe in god, as long as I didn't become an atheist. Both of my daughters, I discovered at that point, had stopped drinking the kool aid years before. One had simply never really bought into the religion, but went through the motions to please her believer parents. The other had come to the conclusion during her second year of college studying micro-biology, and she just could no longer buy into the "god did it" argument. My daughters welcomed my atheism warmly, you might guess.

Today, I am living with the man I love who is a professed pagan, but he has strong atheist leanings. He and I live in a tiny town in East Texas. At home, he and I enjoy listening to your weekly podcasts and regularly discuss religion vs. secularism. But every time I leave my home, I walk around with my tongue permanently clamped between my teeth. I hear religious references all around me. We have one friend who makes it a point to mention the end of the world or Jesus coming back in every conversation, it seems. Most of the time it doesn't bother me when people are talking about their wonderful sky-daddy. But I know the moment I am challenged for being an atheist, I will politely ask them how important their faith is to them. If they believe it very important, I will tell them that they do not want me to show them exactly what the bible says, because I will. The consequences of reading the bible critically can be hazardous to your absolute certainty.

Thank you, Seth, for your show. I hope you continue to help bring the light of reason to the masses.

Constance in Texas
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03-09-2013, 09:17 PM
RE: Small Town Atheist
Welcome to the forum! That story is familiar to mine. And to a lot of folks here.

Good to have you aboard! Thumbsup

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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