When I graduated high school, I was a Christian who wanted to be a theologian. After researching and visiting many Christian colleges, I finally settled on one. And the fall after Graduation, I started attending a Lincoln Christian College (now Lincoln Christian University) and Seminary. And it was through the year I attended Lincoln that helped me to question and challenge the beliefs of modern Christianity so that I could be released and accept a more rational view of life, the universe and everything.
At Lincoln Christian College, as I knew, the few theologically liberal beliefs that I held (acceptance of Evolution, belief in only a temporary Hell) would make me a minority in the school. Having talked to my Senior Minister and Youth Minister, who both attended Lincoln Christian College, I realized that it was an extremely conservative school that would frown on some of my beliefs. My youth minister, himself a religious conservative, had started pulling further away from me since I had confessed my acceptance of the Theory of Evolution, so I knew it would probably be much of the same at Lincoln.
Most of my other views took a back seat as the people there tried to understand how one could be a Christian and accept evolution. It seemed like everyone at that school equated evolution with Atheism. I sat through many classes and listened to professors berate my views on what I considered a very beautifu, poetic and majestic way God created the universe, Earth and man. I got to the highest point of frustration that I had ever felt. One day after I returned to my dorm from a lecture where my professor had, once again, discussed the evil and satanic ways of Evolution, I took out a dry erase marker, which I kept so I could make notes on my mirror, and I wrote in large red letters across the mirror opposite of my desk, “Evolution does not equal Atheism”. When my roommate and friend arrived back at the dorm, he saw what I had written. He looked at me and said, “Yes it does.” When I tried to get him to further explain his position, he simple said, “The bible tells us so.”
On top of that, there were many more irrationalities at that school I could not comprehend. During a lecture in my Principles of Bible Study class (Known throughout the body of students as “PBS”) my professor, who had seemed like a pretty outstanding guy up until this point, started praising God for Hell and for all of those evil sinners who would burn forever in the fiery depths. This caused me to see my professor as a man who might have been a little disturbed. And I had seriously given it thought to go to the Dean, Keith Ray, and ask if this is a man sane enough to teach college students, but that thought left me as soon as I looked around. The whole class was smiling and nodding. When one thinks of a leader giving a speech to the members of his cult, they might think of the members as nodding with a blank, ignorant look on their faced that truly showed a lack of understanding in anything relevant to humanity or life on this planet. That was the smile and the nod I saw in the faces of these young college students. It was at that point that my heart broke. It broke for what I had started referring to the “Irrational side of Christianity”. I did not realize it, but it was at this very point that I would start heading away from the center beliefs of Christianity and towards a more rational and naturalistic philosophy.
Amanda, my Christian girlfriend at the time, never liked to think. Thinking always just got in the way of the blind faith that made her feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And when I would ask her a question like why do you believe Jesus was God incarnate, she would get angry that I would even have to ask such a silly question and tell me she accepts everything the bible says.
That was my first, but not last, run-in with the Christian logic known as Circular Reasoning. The irrationality from Amanda did not affect me as much as those at my college did. She was still only a senior, and of course, did not have the maturity level of an esteemed college student as myself and those around me. And I would repeat that little bit of false information to myself nightly so I could look past the lack of rational thinking within the person I called “Boo”. But no matter what I told myself, I could not look past all of that in my college. It was at college that people were supposed to accept reason! It was at college that people were supposed to give up their foolishness. As the apostle Paul once said, “When I was a child; I talked like a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” This was what was supposed to happen, yet it did not. Even the professors continued to shout down evolution as an Atheist’s attempt to steal Christian souls.
The last day of School could not come fast enough for me. I said my tear felt goodbyes to my friends and drove the three hour trip back to Lawrenceville, IL. A month after I returned home, I was able to get a job at Wal-Mart Tire and Lube Express. The three breaks that I received while I worked eight hours at Wal-Mart gave me ample time to think about the things I had experience the past school year. The more I thought about it, the more depressed I became. I knew that this faith that I had accepted the majority of my life was coming to an end for me. The irrationalities of the Christian religion had finally become apparent to me. I dreaded the moment that I would finally have to confess to myself that I no longer accepted that Christianity had any bearing on reality. Even more, I dreaded the moment I would have to tell the girl I had been seeing for a little less than a year. I knew, with her mind closed off to all questions of her faith, that it would be the end of our relationship. I had no idea that it would also be the end of many more of my relationships.
When, one day as I was sitting in the break room at work, I came to that final realization that I no longer accepted the Christian scriptures as more than ancient Hebrew myths I knew I had to tell Amanda. The problem was, every time I tried to think of a way to tell her, I saw myself avoiding the topic. I knew I could never tell Amanda what I had realized to her face. I knew I was not man enough. So, I decided to take a few extra minutes worth of a break as I got out my cell phone and sent a very nervously typed test message to her. Her reply was a little different than I thought it would be. It simply said, “You think too hard, Dean, Just give in.” And while I knew I could never do that, I had hope that maybe we could continue this relationship. But I was only kidding myself. When I finally told her face to face the decision I had come to, she broke up with me, though it took her a few days. We continued to hang out for the next couple of months as friends, though I knew it would never last and I knew that I was only making the situation worse for myself. When the time finally came that Amanda found a new boy toy while on a mission trip in Kentucky, my heart was broken. But I went to talk to a good friend who I loved very much. This friend had been my Youth Minister growing up in Lawrenceville, Matt. While I was telling Matt that Amanda had put an end to us once and for all, he told me he knew. While in Kentucky, Amanda had told him her plans. Then, Matt started explaining to me the reason Amanda and I did not work out. It was all me. I had caused the relationship to split. It, according to Matt, was my entire fault. It was, of course, me who had left the one true religion to off gallivanting with Satan, The father of lies (whom I call the father of freedom). I have talked to Matt only once since then.
At this point, I wanted to deny the existence of God all together. The philosophical problem of Evil had embedded its sharp point directly into my heart. This was cause enough for me to consider myself an Atheist, for a short time, at least.
Once my mind cleared and my month long intoxication ended, I rethought my stance as an Atheist. I decided that even if the mythologies of Christianity were irrational, did that make the very existence of a God irrational? For, I thought, if a god does exist, he would be quite embarrassed by the things Christians claim about him. And so, I began to ponder the very existence of as an agnostic. Through the studies of Richard Dawkins, I decided that Atheism was no less dogmatic and irrational as Christianity. So, I thought to myself, where does this leave me? As an agnostic, I felt like a naked man with no home. No idea of God to call his own. That is when I came upon a book by an English Philosopher named Anthony Flew. The book was called “There is a God”. As I read it I was amazed at Flews’ long conversion from Atheism to a natural philosophy of God called Deism. I was, by the time I started read, convinced a God does exist. Flew showed me that while religions may blur the character of God, Deism does not. It is a simple philosophy based on acknowledging the creator through his creation with no special revelation (Scriptures, prophets, messiahs) to darken our perspective of God. A philosophy based on the nature that God has created.
Since that point in my life, I have continued to accept Deism as truth. While I no longer have contact with the friends who left due to my sudden realization about the religion that, apparently, held us together, I am happier then I have ever been. I am now able to see God through my own eyes, rather than through the eyes of men who lived thousands of years ago. I am happy to say I have discovered a philosophy that shows me there is truth in life, the universe and everything.
There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind
Deism: A Revolution in Religion - A Revolution in You