My friend The Failed Atheist has posted his testimony on his blog. Some of the phrases might be a bit unfamiliar, because he grew up in the UK. I always thought that the UK was filled with Christians who loved England and all wanted to be knights when they grew up. I didn’t grow up in the UK, but my room as a child was still filled with books on knights and chivalry. Some of them with scribbled drawings in them! I also knew about the Battle of Britain and Spitfire airplanes were pictured on my wall posters. Anyway, I digress.
Here are the first 3 paragraphs of his story:
Within the next few months I would have been a Christian for ten years and that seems like a long time. Not only did my life go in the direction I had never expected but I’m also the sort of person I never expected I’d be. Over the last ten years I’ve often been asked how and why (two very different questions) I became a Christian which to most people seemed an obvious and embarrassing mistake. I suppose this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise because most people post 9/11 and Dawkin’s ‘The God Delusion’ have gone the other way.
I could write a lot but I will try my best to stick to what I think are the most salient points and not ramble. So, I grew up in a secular non-religious single parent family and as far as I can remember like most British children I was in the school nativity play (I was a shepherd) and was occasionally read the odd Bible story by a neighbor. Although the only one I can actually remember was the wise judgement of Solomon found in 1 Kings 3:16-28. I spent one year at a Church of England primary school and if I’m honest the only thing I can remember is that the Priest was a bit of a weirdo.
My Early Doubts
My interactions with anyone I knew who were religious amounted to the JW’s stopping by to give me a copy of the Watchtower which I probably fed to the dog. I also happened to live very near to a massive Mormon temple but it was years before I even knew what a Mormon actually was and why they wore magic underwear. I remember a friend of mine in Biology class when I was about 13 asking me whether I thought there was a God, I can almost remember verbatim what I said to him, “I like the idea of there being a God but there is no evidence for one”. If most people are brutally honest I reckon most people would prefer to be born in a universe where their existence mattered to the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent creator of the universe. The reverse being what Bertrand Russell so eloquently summarized the astronomers view of the human life to be “...a tiny lump of impure carbon and water crawling impotently on a small and unimportant planet…“. Of course I should point out that the degree to which we prefer something to be true has no bearing on whether it is in fact true. I digress.
So by 13 I was persuaded that the universe I inhabited was not created by any deity, and that evolution alone explained life’s journey from the single cell organism to complex carbon based life as reflected in natures pinnacle creation the ‘wise man’ Homo sapiens. Most people I grew up with were either atheists or agnostics although my next door neighbors were Roman Catholics but if I’m honest I didn’t have a clue what that even meant. I just remember my mate coming back one Sunday with tons of money telling me it was his ‘Holy Communion’. I didn’t know what that was and I didn’t think to ask but I remember being jealous, I could’ve done with people pinning cash to my tracksuit bottoms.
His blog has an excellent list of recommended books, as well, separated into categories.
It’s funny how people remember the little opinions they had when they were very young, one way or the other. I remember feeling very protective of God from the beginning, and thinking how he would not be very happy with my parents or the mean kids in school. We were always on the same side, and everyone else was on the other side. Sometimes I wonder if Christianity is easier that way, when you don’t think of your parents as God or exemplars of godliness, then when your parents fail you then think that God is a failure by extension. I remember showing my mother hard verses of the Bible as a child, (e.g. – Matt 10:34-38), and when she said they were false (she is a Muslim-raised atheist), I remember thinking “well, so much the worse for you when you meet him, then” and “well, I don’t even know how I ended up in this family of insolent God-haters”. I remember thinking that my real parents were probably angels and my human parents had probably stolen me from them. I was just a kid, so all this made sense to me then. I was so different than anyone in my family – I am the first Protestant and almost everyone else is Muslim or Hindu, with just a few Catholics and atheists. I’m very happy working alone, though.