Growing up in a church going christian family, I learned as a child that the greatest good was an obedient child who was so well diminished you'd hardly notice he was there. I succeeded. Virtues of meekness and humility contorted over the decades til it meant choking down my own sense of self-worth, thoroughly convinced that I was an awful, despicable human being, and meanwhile getting trampled by whomever I met on a daily basis. Repressed and bitter, abased and humiliated- as a christian, I was living out the ideal.
Moreover my empathy struggled to grasp the flippant manner christians dehumanized sinners and shook the dust from their feet and gave them up to hell with nary a shrug. When I believed, I believed wholeheartedly.
"This place, [hell], is by definition THE WORST realm of existence, BAR NONE." I did my best to empathize with those I imagined burning, and it brought me to tears.
"How many? How many burn, lord?"
What's more, did they deserve such a sentence? ...Did anyone?...Really???
Now try stretching your empathy to a global level, then throughout the entire history of humankind.
Needless to say I began looking for explanations, since the ones I created weren't sufficient, and I feared that an honest god would see my manipulations and punish me accordingly.
But at that point, I didn't care QUITE as much. The possibility of christianity being false loomed in the horizon, and the mentally-ingrained spectre of hell stood in the way.
"If I were to meet that biblical god face to face, and he could read my heart like everyone says, then he'll know if I'm lying, believing to escape hell, and he'd know that I've spent my life lying to myself and thus him if I pursued this doctrine by way of lip service any longer." So I made it my goal, to live out my life in honesty. If it matched what I could 100% verify and proclaim as true, I'll stand by that. And THAT little category of things were shrinking by the day. It was like sitting on a melting iceberg in the ocean.
One evening, I couldn't deny the lack of evidence on one side, and the opposing mountain of evidence on the other- I had to say it out loud: "This whole notion of a god simply disproves itself."
In the time that passed- I'm a recent convert mind you- I have watched relationships with believers dwindle to cold apathy, restrained hostility. It has brought me low, and still I struggle looking back, at all the years I haven't lived.
And now, here I am, trying to find my voice.
Thank you all who listened.
Congratulations sir, you have the courage to seek the truth. This is rare in our species. Apparently our highly developed imagination is a survival strategy that enables us to work together through common beliefs.
The video is where I go when I need a kick start...
Alas in the end, he didn't beat the odds.
And if it happens we are wrong, and he ended up meeting St. Peter at the pearly gates, I've no doubt he Hitchslapped ol' Pete.