If you have heard or read my testimony, you know that I was professing atheist for a few years in my early 20’s. I was raised in between two conservative Christian churches, studied and memorized scripture daily and attended church and mass twice per week while I was growing up. Much of my early experience with God and religion was based on rituals, guilt, obedience without question, religious head knowledge and a list of Do’s and Dont’s. In my teens, I started asking skeptical questions about my faith but was often told “I shouldn’t think these things” or simply given looks of disappointment rather than logical answers to my faith struggles. Thus, in my early 20’s, I decided God was man-made, religion was used to control the masses and usurp resources and money using guilt and ultimately walked away from God and my faith.
Before I continue, please understand that this post is not meant to be an argument or debate on God versus atheism or logic versus faith, or anyone of the other debates that both Christians and Atheists love to spend hours in forums going back and forth on. This is simply my journey from religion – to atheism – to faith and how atheism ultimately failed to work for me personally. For those of you looking for hours of debate and discussion or if you are struggling and in need of answers, please visit RZIM, Probe or CARM for hours of answers and debate.
I was the prototypical atheist – male, above average intelligence, favored logic and the sciences and had some angst towards authority and societal norms. I wanted to be unique, innovative, and I wanted to be accepted for who I was and how I acted.
I was first exposed to Objectivism which ultimately led me to Atheism. My core beliefs were that rationality, intellectual honesty, and objectivity were needed in all areas of my life and this would ultimately lead to the betterment of myself and humanity through the advancement of science, logic, reason and technology. I believed the universe is a natural system, not created or guided by God and not containing supernatural beings; a universe that can be explained by science, because it consists of material objects operating according to physical laws. Since I disregarded God and the Bible, I would follow a code of conduct and morals which would be defined by our societies cultures, laws, and ethics and I believed this code would give the best possible results not only for myself but for anyone I interacted with.
In my mind, I had discovered the secret to success while most of the masses were walking around like zombie-sheep, relying on magical stories and the promises of things that could never be proven or substantiated during human life. Almost immediately, I became more confrontational and would often search or contrive opportunities to debate believers. I would talk Christians into corners or into areas that they had no knowledge of, thus making myself appear intellectually superior and more rational. I argued that God could not be proven by the laws of science, the Bible was full of erroneous contradictions and obviously written by man to bestow power on those who controlled it and it’s followers.
During these years, I was a cold, cruel person to anyone who did not agree with my philosophy. I lived my life solely for my own personal happiness and the pursuit of success. My new idols become personal success, power, logic, fame, and beauty. My life became a quest to make myself happy and better mankind in the process. At first, I believed that “survival of the fittest” involved being strong enough, smart enough and sly enough to obtain personal fulfillment and happiness for myself, in doing whatever I wanted as long as I did not violate any laws. My study of modern moral theories like existentialism, situation ethics, and sociobiology allowed me to violate morals that I did not believe were valid or applicable to me. This left areas like lust, business practices, infidelity and coveting open to debate as religious rules did not apply to me.
Within a year or so of my new-found beliefs – my marriage, my finances, and my relationships with people all began to suffer and take a turn for the worst. I believed this was because these people where not subscribing to my new worldview and I simply needed to educate them with more debate, logic and science in order for them to finally see that I was right and they were wrong. I wanted the world to change in order to accommodate my personal views and opinions and if you didn’t, I would label you as hypocritical, irrational or illogical.
What I soon learned through some painful life lessons, exposure to the Gospel instead of religious dogma, scientific evidence for Christ and the Bible and years of retrospect – was that although my ideas on logic, science and ethics were great in theory or within the constraints of the laws of science – human beings as a species are incapable of consistently rational thought or behavior. The flaw in my atheism (and even societies/countries who tried to govern with atheism) is our human ability to rationalize any behavior (at a given time or often after the event) and our refined ability to evade personal responsibility for our actions.
Plus, my logic, science and reasoning did not stand up to the tests of my life experiences involving emotions like love or events I experienced, fully cognitive that could not be explained by the laws of science. Due to our recent scientific advances in understanding the complexity and specific information coded within our human DNA, the amount of intelligence required to piece all this together to form life supersedes our current human technological capabilities not to mention that it defies all mathematical probabilities of something this complex forming randomly without intelligent design.
Based on this continued research and understanding, even the most adamant atheists like Richard Dawkins have recently conceded that life may appear “designed” because if you look closely in the cell you might see a “signature” of a designer.
In Part 2 – I’ll dive specifically into why my atheism failed me and ultimately why what I really struggled with, was religion, not God and faith.