I became a Christian during my teen years. My mother placed me in a religious private school (Southern Baptist). At the time I said I would never become like these brainwashed kids. In the end, I succumbed to the message that all cults seem to give... undying love.
You see, as a kid, I was awkward, skinny, a geek. While others played sports, I played with chemistry sets. I was picked at, and I became a loner. That is when I finally made the leap. Oh, I was filled with love. At least I would believe this for years to come. I look back and can see why anyone would feel this. However, I can show anyone why this is all in the mind with a simple thought experiment.
So, like anything, I went into it full blast. I told people of my new faith and my "transformation." Dad was one who told me, "I don't see anything different." Well, I was convinced and for a while I tried to convert him. He remained steadfast but it alienated us it seemed. We couldn't talk about things as much because I was as hard on him as would be any Jehovah's Witness. (My aunt was one so I know.)
Eventually, my mother took me out of this school because of a scandal and placed me into another one. This time it was non-denominational. (By the way, despite the types of schools, I went to a Church Of God (Pentecostal).)
I believed in speaking in angelic languages, healing by laying on of hands, the works. Surprisingly it didn't work for me. I assumed that it was the lack of faith of others.
In my senior year, a friend said that he received a message from "God" and asked me to pray about it. It was to have me join him in ministering to the people in the city on weekends. We would go around with our bibles and tracts, and preach to people. I was always shy but I had this inner strength to try.
I won no converts and I think he only got one. But we persisted for a long while. I remember the seasons changing but could not tell you which direction. It seems as though they got cooler.
Anyway, I came upon a man in the park. I began to talk to him and he told me he was an ex-Methodist minister. He had questioned his faith and could no longer preach what he didn't believe. I told him that Jesus had plans for him and that I would pray. He asked me if I read the bible from cover to cover. Like most, I hadn't. But I had read the parts I needed to know. So, he challenged me.
That night, I began to read from Genesis, chapter one, verse one. Sometime in the future, I came across my first error. I don't remember where it was but it had to do with the number of people in an army during a war. One book said one thing and another said something else. I realized there that if I found an error, then the bible cannot be inerrant. (Simple huh?) But there was more.
I found that my god seemed to tout his power by killing an awful lot of people. He led some to come against him on purpose for the same reason. Then all these things came out. Like him being jealous for example. I thought jealousy was a sin somehow.
The clincher however was when I came across a story of a man who wanted to defeat his enemies. He asked for God's help and he said in exchange that he would sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house.
Well, supposedly God did as he said and the enemy was defeated. The man returned home and who should run out first but his daughter to greet him. The man cried because of the promise he made. He told the girl and she requested a couple of months to play and enjoy as she would never marry. He granted it and she returned in which he did as he promised.
Now, knowing that God was omnipotent, he knew what would run out of the house first. Right? Secondly, he could have excused it and said, "That's okay... sacrifice something else." Right? No, none of these things happened. The girl was sacrificed and my god allowed it.
That was all I could take. I told my god that I would rather go to hell than to worship a tyrant like him! Wow, that scared me. I expected the ground to open up any moment! However, it didn't. All was quiet. I screamed some more and apparently God was deaf.
It has been twenty-one years now since my journey began in finding the truth. I became agnostic during that time and finally admitted that I was an atheist last year to myself.
Having been on both sides, I can tell you. The ability to think and be free of the cloud that religion places one in is wonderful. I study and read scientific materials on physics and some cosmology for a pasttime. I'm still a geek after all. I've placed science against religion and religion is more holey than holy.