I was brought up on Christian Science, but only attended church occasionally. I hated it, and my parents were not overly forceful. I had no inclination towards religion in my youth, until I got involved with drugs and had a very traumatic repetitive flashback experience, which later led to a host of phobias. This caused me to seek security in God.
Initially I got absorbed in Christian Science, but this didn’t last long. I explored Eastern religions – TM, Guru Maharaj Ji, Paramahansa Yogananda and various others before settling on the Hare Krishna faith. Spent 4 years with them, and enjoyed the people and lifestyle. I could still be there if it were not for their crazy scriptures.
Like the Bible, the Srimad Bhagavatam (The Vedic scriptures that reveal Krishna) has areas where it contradicts science. A real problem for me was their description of the Moon – Demigods were said to frolic there amidst rivers of wine. A dark, invisible planet called Rahu continually chased the Moon trying to cut off its light. Hence the phases of the Moon and eclipses. The astronauts landing on the Moon, and it’s (unscriptural) barren landscape were easily explained by our spiritual master. They landed on the wrong planet. They missed the Moon and hit Rahu. It was a source of much amusement to the faithful. I really tried to believe this, but in the end reason won out and I had to give it up as a bad joke. Like the fundy Christians, the Hares said that you either believe it all or you are wasting your time.
I developed Bulimia while in the Hare’s (strange for a guy, I know). Food became my obsession, since we only were allowed two meals a day. And of course no sex, drugs (including coffee or tea), or worldly pleasures of any sort. We slept on a wooden floor with no padding. Our day began at 4:00 am, with a cold bath in a freezing muddy creek, and breakfast was at 10:00, by which time we were ravenous. I lusted after food, and would often shake and drool with anticipation. I became quite fat in spite of the rigid diet and became very resourceful in finding (stealing) food wherever I could. Once I left the cult, and the restrictions on my food were gone, the Bulimia and weight vanished as well.
After leaving the Hare’s, the insecurities returned and I sought God again in the only other place left – Charismatic Pentecostal Christianity. Since they were always telling us Hare’s that we were headed straight to hell, I had developed a heavy prejudice against Christians, which took awhile to get over. I joined a Christian community and did a year at Bible school. Later I married a girl from Bible School.
Over time I noticed many problems in the Bible, the Church and Christianity in general. My self-esteem took a pounding as a result of Christian teachings – you are a worm, a miserable sinner - God hates you and wants to see only Christ in you. Christ must increase and I must decrease. These led to thoughts of suicide, because I could never seem to get rid of ‘me’ and could not detect any inklings of Christ within. I knew God hated me – the Bible told me so.
After 20 years of playing the game, I decided to seek the truth, no matter what the cost. I had studied all the best Christian apologists, to no avail. They had no answers for the hard questions. Below are some of the main problems I had with Christianity and the Bible. I wrote these down at about the time that I started my quest for answers.
If Christians are Gods people, and God lives in us then ...
* Why are we statistically no different than the heathen in areas of adultery, teen pregnancy, divorce, suicide and materialism?
* Why do ALL Churches seem to have a past littered with sexual scandal, infighting, and disintegration?
* Why do so many prayers for healing go unanswered?
* Why do such things as the Toronto Blessing (and any other contentious issue) create such polarization within the Church? Some say it’s of the devil, others of God. Surely if God can speak to us, then He would address such important issues and clearly tell us how to view them. But everyone claims God is saying something different. Is this ‘relationship’ we have with Him just fantasy?
* Why are we commanded to do things that God does not do? We are told to love our enemies; God sends His to Hell. We are commanded to forgive others even though they do not ask forgiveness; God extends forgiveness only if we come before Him and ask Him. We are told not to murder, yet God does plenty of murdering in the Bible. Does God require our morality to exceed His own?
If the Bible is Gods revelation to us, then ....
* Why does it contain so many errors, contradictions and absurdities?
* Why does a loving God get so involved with killing and cursing his children?
* Why does God appear to be un-just? (Visiting the sins of the fathers on the children to 4 generations; killing innocent people for someone else’s sin, as in the case of David taking a census and God being displeased such that 70,000 innocent people had to pay with their lives.)
* Why is it so confusing that it has given rise to thousands of Christian sects and denominations, each with its own ‘correct’ interpretation?
* Why do people need to resort to such things as numerology and ‘hidden messages’ in order to prove the Bible as valid? This looks like an admission that the text as it stands is inadequate.
* Why is there a necessity for a multitude of books on Biblical problems, apologetics, and explanations of what the Bible really means? Is the Bible unable to be understood by simply reading it?
There was one deciding moment, not long after I had written the above. I was sitting outside church after the morning meeting and the question occurred to me : How would church be any different if God suddenly left and had nothing more to do with it? I realized it would be just the same. No-one would even notice He had gone, since there was no evidence of His having been there in the first place. Bible God was the ultimate Imaginary Friend. That was the beginning of the end for me.
My wife and girls still go to church. I stay home and enjoy the most blissful 2 hours of my week. It really is heaven. The self hatred has largely disappeared. It is still a bit strange not having a God I can fall back on when the going gets rough, but I would rather have reality with all its uncertainty than to be caught up in a fools paradise.
"Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so. This creed is somewhat short, but is long enough for this life; long enough for this world. If there is another world, when we get there, we can make another creed. But this creed certainly will do for this life." - Robert G. Ingersoll