This is an outline of how I went from believing in the Bible, Jesus, and God to believing in evidence, facts and science.
When I was a Christian, though it was for a short time in my life, it wasn’t enough for me to simply have faith. I felt a very strong desire to know for a fact what the truth was, no matter what it might be. I wanted to know that what I was believing in was factual truth, because I didn’t feel comfortable claiming that I knew the truth otherwise.
There were questions I had about things in the Bible, and I had a hard time getting straight answers. The tougher questions always boiled down to “Well, you must have faith” or “God works in mysterious ways and we can’t ever understand”. However, it seemed to me that God could, if he was omnipotent and omniscient, help me to understand him, or at least have his word be lacking in contradictions and vagueness.
I started to think about where the Bible came from. I was told that God wrote it, but we know that historical figures wrote many of the books. I wanted to know who wrote what and when. I also wanted to know how the Bible came to be in its current form and how the various books were selected to be included, because I knew there were gospels outside the Bible. I wanted to understand basically how the Bible we have today came to be.
The more I researched, the more I found intentional editing, mistranslations, changes, removals, and unethical selectivity. Any delving into the history of how the Bible came to be in its current state made it clear that I could not trust the Bible as a source of truth. Although I knew there were truths in it, like some historical places and events and universal truths such as treating others the way one wants to be treated, there was too much in there that didn’t make sense or was simply physically impossible, such as the Noah’s Ark story.
I started to read science books to find out what science really said about evolution and various other claims of the Bible, and kept finding time after time that science won out through evidence. I didn’t want to believe what I was reading. I dearly wanted the Bible to be true. However, in order to be honest, I had to admit that I had believed in impossible things.
I also found that many of the things my fellow Christians had been saying about evolution and other scientific things were completely erroneous. They were arguments that science wasn’t even making, such as the idea that human evolved directly from apes. There were so many false arguments being brought forth by Christians that I became embarrassed and ashamed. How could Christians stand a chance against science if they were making up false arguments in the first place?
The more questions I asked, the more I found answers in science that were either vague, fantastical or absent in the Bible. The Bible simply didn’t hold up, ever.
I had a choice. I could continue to believe in things that had either no evidence to support them or had actual evidence against them, or I could believe in things for which there was evidence. Since my desire for truth was stronger than my desire to be comfortable or feel “right”, I had to choose the side of evidence.
There were some amazing books along the way that truly opened my eyes. Authors such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, David Mills, Christopher Hitchens, and others laid bare the fact that my previous beliefs were inaccurate at best, and were often stark lies. The documentary “The God Who Wasn’t There” proved wrong my assumption that there was all kinds of evidence for the existence of Jesus.
Of course, there are still twinges of sadness, or of a desire that my previous beliefs might somehow be credible, but I take comfort in the fact that my current beliefs are supported by evidence. I’m not afraid to say “I don’t know” where there are gaps in knowledge rather than assuming things that have no evidence.
I have a profound sense of freedom where I no longer fear that God is watching me, ready to punish. I can do as I please, yet there are direct consequences to my words and actions. The real world has enough consequences that I don’t need the fear of hell to make me moral. Good works have their own rewards, and bad ones have their own punishments. Nothing supernatural needs to be added.
I don’t feel any longer that I have some mysterious “path” or destiny, and instead live according to my own choices.
I must add that there was a very long stretch of many years where I had adopted various forms of spirituality and other belief systems in my search for truth. I used my newfound scientific understanding against those beliefs as well. They were rife with subjective symbolism, which could be interpreted in as many ways as the Bible could, if not more.
I had been subjecting myself to psychosomatic experiences where I felt that I was having profound experiences that were very real. However, when I was younger and a pathetic, goth, wannabe vampire, I felt at the time that those experiences were just as real. Since I now knew that I never was and never could be a vampire, then the other “experiences” were equally suspect. My belief in being a vampire was just as strong as my belief in reincarnation and “spirit” or god. There was no difference in how much I felt that I “knew” that such things were real.
It would have been dishonest and hypocritical of me to claim that some of them were suspect and not others. If some were obviously wrong, then continuing to believe in the others simply didn’t make sense anymore. Might they be real? Who knows? Maybe; however, I can’t claim to actually believe in such things anymore as there’s simply no evidence outside my own head.
© 2015 William Suphan
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