To summarize and perhaps clarify previous installments, I was raised in an ultra-charismatic household. Supernatural events and ideals seemed to define my early experiences as a Christian. My mother was a key component to my understanding of Christianity and world view. I was somewhat lackadaisical while growing up in my Christianity but later embraced it passionately as I tried to find answers to my suffering with OCD. I even bought the audio version of the Bible, so I was always trying to immerse myself in scripture. I was consistent with church attendance and reading up on some of the latest apologetic works of people like Norm Geisler. I understood that I was saved by grace, so this wasn't some attempt to earn salvation. I simply wanted to be a well-versed and knowledgable Christian. I wanted to also find some healing for my mental issues.
The A-Unicornist, who I became reacquainted with on Facebook, was initially someone I was trying to convert as Christ called the church to make disciples. My best arguments were no match for his well-reasoned counter-apologetics and science. I ended up de-converting in the process, and my journey as a baby atheist soon began.
I think it's very common for many baby atheists to immerse themselves in what science and other well-recognized atheists have to say. It's like getting a new toy. You just can't get enough of it, and I was no different. For someone who really didn't like to read, I sure was checking out a lot of library books and purchasing some must-haves. I may have read over 25 books that first year which probably doesn't seem like a lot to some of you bookworms, but it was quite a drastic change for me. This didn't include the time I devoted to my own blog that I started at the encouragement of the A-Unicornist nor did it include the time I spent reading other blogs, listening to atheist podcasts or checking out the latest YouTube clip by one of my favorite outspoken atheists.
As a bit of a digression, this learning process obviously continues to this day. I'm still watching videos, listening to lectures and tuning in to the weekly podcast, The Atheist Experience. I'm just pacing myself s bit more and recognize that I don't have to know everything now. As a baby atheist, most of us are so excited and exhilarated that we don't take the time to reflect. My next installment will cover the period of reflecting and reexamining my worldview. Atheism isn't a worldview in itself. End of digression
The four-horsemen became familiar to me for the first time. Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens were all voicing many of the same things I had come to believe, especially Harris. I was becoming more knowledgeable in the subject of evolution and even began reading up on Stephen Hawking. I must confess that I'm still quite the novice and intimidated by cosmology and astrophysics. It's not something that I was formerly educated on or previously interested in. It was also something that I left to God to worry about since he designed everything anyway.
During this time, I was attempting to keep my blog a secret from family which was no small task since I was enjoying it so much. I didn't necessarily want anybody to know about my atheism. What would my father-in-law believe or my wife? As you may recall, my father-in-law is a baptist preacher and then there was my mom to worry about. It seemed like I was going to have to be a loner for the time which wasn't all that bad. I never was the most sociable person to begin with. In another sense, I was so convinced that the God of the O.T. was a moral monster that I really didn't care if people eventually found out anyway. I figured that they were the ones with the problem of defending this nefarious brute.
It's amazing how I never saw what was right before my eyes. As a Christian, I never even considered that God might not be real or that the god depicted in the Bible was evil. I always started with the presupposition that he was real and omnibenevolent and any evidence to the contrary was simply a misunderstanding of his nature on my part. But after having my eyes opened, it became clear that he probably wasn't real. I never took the stance that he certainly wasn't real as a strong atheist would say but probably not real. We aren't dealing with certainty here. I'm not certain that Bigfoot doesn't exist, but I think that he/she probably doesn't.
Initially, I just told my wife that I was playing the devils advocate. She would see a comment of mine on Facebook that was not very christlike shall we say, and I'd just play it off by saying that I just wanted to see what others thought. Or, I would be listening to an atheist podcast and make the excuse that I was just wanting to know more about my enemy so I would be better equipped to handle them. I wonder how many baby atheists do this as an attempt to mask their true identity from Christian family members while still immersing themselves in their newfound identity? I suspect that there are quite a few.
I hope that you come back for my final installment as I discuss the reaction of some of my family when they found out that I was indeed a follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and how atheism has changed me as a person. In many ways, I believe that I'm a more well-grounded and stable person now. This theme needs to be expanded upon in my next installment.