As I've said before, I would consider myself a reluctant athiest. Why reluctant? Because being an agnostic and at least believing that there was some sort of purpose to our little lives causes much less existential angst. However, the way my brain works logically has resulted in my atheistic thinking. I do consider myself an athiest with a lowercase "A" though, as I'm open to the possibility of there being something more than this, but would need some sort of evidence in order to justify a shift in my beliefs.
I am one of the Faithless.
A lot of factors contributed to this, and I ended up moving away from Christianity in much the same way I figured out there was no Santa Claus.* The more I learned about the world around me, and the more questions I asked that seemingly could not be answered by the Bible or my fellow Christians young and old, the less I felt connected to God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
The doubt definitely began when I was around 10. My family had never been really religious to begin with, but we considered ourselves Christian even though we didn't attend church often, if at all. A friend of my mom had a daughter in a Missionettes group at a local church, so I ended up joining too. Missionettes are a Christian variation of girl scouts. You earn badges and take part in activities, but obviously it involves more praying and Bible reading. In fact, to move through the different levels of Missionettes (whcih were all named after women in the Bible; I can only remember that one level was called "Ruth"), you were required to read certain sections of the Bible, and tick them of your list as you went. By the time you made it to the top level, you most likely had completed reading the whole thing.
I had a King James version of the Bible, which is written in the same type of language used by Shakespeare. Keep in mind, that while I was a bright kid, I was only about 10. I wasn't aware that there were several versions of the Bible, including version that were written in modern English, which would have been easier to understand.
I sat down to read the chapters I was assigned many times and struggled. When I asked for help from the Missionette leaders and assistant leaders because I was having a hard time comprehending, I wasn't given any. I've only been left with the vague impression that I was supposed to understand it all without any trouble, and that my questions were not welcome. This, and my time at a Missionette camp weekend when I fearfully witnessed a good many people "speaking in tongues," was definitely the beginning of the end for me.
I moved from a Christian, to a sort of agnostic-Christian, to a shameful phase as a wannabe Pagan in high school, to where I am now. I wanted to believe, but found that I couldn't.
As a part of my new educational adventures, I've decided to give the Good Book another go. I'm not setting out to become a born-agan-Christian, but I feel that if I'm going to live in a world where Christianity is ever present (especially in my country of origin) I should really learn more about it than what I picked up as a child and as an adult in art history classes that cover the middle ages.
My friend Rach is being kind enough to lend me a copy of a CEV (Contemporary English Version) Bible. I'll be making future posts as I read my way through it. In the future, I'd also like to read other religious texts, like the Qur'an, the Book of Mormon, Mahayana sutras, and even Dianetics. I'm sure I'll find a lot out there, but if you have any suggestions, let me know!
*Here's the story: I had long since figured out that my parents wrote the gift tags on my presents from Santa, though they had claimed to be helping him out as he was a very busy man. This made sense in my childhood logic, of course. It wasn't until I'd learned that there was no actual land at the North Pole (thanks, Where in the World is Carmen San Diego!) that I realized Santa probably wasn't real. Nevermind the fact that the ice is most likely solid enough up there to support a toy workshop and reindeer stable, I didn't think of that.
And if you're American and grew up about the same time I did, you now have the theme song from Carmen San Diego stuck in your head. Isn't Rockapella awesome?