I grew up in an evangelical Christian home. Attended church at least 3 times a week (two times on Sunday and Wednesday nights), often times even more than that. I can’t remember when I was first saved, but I must have been in elementary school at the time. Then, of course, there were several re-dedications throughout the years to follow.
I feel I wasn’t given the opportunity to think for myself back then. I remember asking questions to my Mom as a kid, and I do remember thinking that the answers never really made a whole lot of sense. For example: I specifically remember asking how old the world was. And I remember my mom saying “according to the bible, it’s 6,000 years old”. Which led to a follow-up question from me “So, when did the dinosaurs live on Earth”. It was at that point that the ‘demonization’ of science started for me. I believe the response was along the lines of ‘Scientists believe that they lived here 65 million years ago, but the bible tells us that’s not the case”. I was, needless to say, confused.
There were, also, the inevitable questions about the Noah’s ark story. I think even small children can see the obvious flaws in the story. However, when you start with them young enough, i think they eventually store away the questions and just accept it. I mean, when an adult (let alone hundreds of them) is telling you something is true, when you’re young I think you generally start to accept that. The problem is, I think some adults never find the critical thinking skills to question it fully and they continue to believe these clearly flawed stories.
I guess I still have a lot of ‘demons to exercise’ about the various parts of my indoctrination as a child. I’ve made a lot of progress, but there’s still a lot of things like the above that I haven’t been able to fully resolve. It’s hard to look back and realize that a lot of the struggles that I’ve had in life are because I don’t feel that I was given the opportunity to fully find my potential. I want, desperately to be able to be at peace with my place in life, but I’ve not found the path there completely yet.
I hate the way this all sounds. I hate having this bitter tone. But I guess the reality is that it’s there. It’s not overwhelming or all-encompassing, but it’s there. I hate that this sounds like I’m blaming things on others. I’ve always tried to own up to things for myself and take responsibility, but I think when you’re so sheltered and restricted as a child you’re helpless at that point to really do anything about it. My hope is that by addressing these issues, maybe I can make steps towards being at peace finally.
Well, I figured it was about time to just post an update as to the state of things in my own head. Kind of a ‘milestone’ marker for me to look back on and see how far I’ve come and how far there is left to go.
I’ve looked back recently on some of my earlier posts and just had to have a bit of a chuckle at some of the thoughts. When I first started this whole ‘Pursuit of Truth’ thing that I find myself on now, I obviously got sucked into a whole lot of conspiracy theory type BS initially. Ideas that the whole world was organized to destroy everyone in it except for an elite few. Or, if nothing else, enslave us all. The ‘New World Order’ bullshit if you will.
I now know how silly that all is. While I’m sure there is some level of secretive stuff going on in the world, I no longer believe that there is a global organized effort to bring on tyranny and keep all of us as peasants or slaves. The information that I found myself believing was based on blind assertions, non-sequiturs, and slipery slopes that had no real evidence to back it up.
I’m really starting to be proud of myself in the way that I am able to critically assess topics now and get to the root questions of their validity. Obviously, there’s always skills be to learned. There will always be practice needed, and I’m certain that at some point I’ll find myself believing something that didn’t really have all the evidence to support it. Hopefully, though, I now have the tools to recognize it and be able to re-think accordingly.
Most of my progress has come as the result of the various outlets that I’ve been reading and watching lately. The biggest help to me was reading Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World. His ‘Baloney Detection Kit’ seems to be the single most effective set of tools for getting to the crux of most claims and assertions. I hope to be able to apply more and more of these tools to my thinking arsenal for future use.
The other huge help to me has been listening to the podcasts from Point of Inquiry (http://www.pointofinquiry.org). There doesn’t seem to be ANY topic of human interest that they haven’t discussed with the leading thinkers of our times. It’s been an amazing journey to go through all of the archives and listen to the discussions. Hearing HOW these amazing minds dissect topics and tear them down to their bases is very impressive and very helpful.
Also, the Atheist Experience TV show (www.atheist-experience.com) and the Non-Phophets (http://www.nonprophetsradio.com) are two shows that I really love. I look forward to each week of hearing what they will be discussing.
Anyway, that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I’m FINALLY reading The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins (way overdue), and thoroughly enjoying it. I believe this may give me the confidence to no longer feel like I have to hide my atheism and stand by silently while the religious majority tries to force feed their beliefs to the non-believers.