I was raised in the "Deep South", where the existence of God isn't up for debate. It is beaten into your brain from the very beginning. If you have any questions, you should just keep them to your self. Despite all that, it's petty fair to say that my existence, up until the past couple of years, has been a see-saw of varying degrees of belief. Some years I would recognize that no evidence of a god existed and that prayer was 50/50 at best. Other years, I would "feel" God all over me and walk the narrow line of non-questioning faith. I even went to college to become a minister, but after a year, I realized how uncomfortable I would feel fielding questions from curious congregation members when I had so many questions no-one could/would answer for me... At least 90% of the questions I wrestled with were regarding how scripture could be so blantantly illogical - especially if written by an all-knowing, all-everything, god. The standard answers were usually something like "god works in mysterious ways" or "you just have to have faith" or, my personal favorite, being told to undertake the infallable process of praying for an answer. Of course, the answer never came.
Two years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Being told to "enjoy walking while you can" has a way of shattering life-long illusions and tearing down the walls you've subconsciously built to keep the truth away. At first, my bible-belted friends and relatives were sending me scriptures about how god would heal me - if I only asked. Some asked me to go to church, which I did for a while. I felt weighed down by the walls and enraged by my "father's" betrayal. Whenever the pastor would say "bow your heads," I would close my eyes and whisper in my mind, "I thought we were pals". One morning, in church, surrounded by the blessed and the healthy, it suddenly occurred to me why I was so angry. As insane as it sounds, I realized I was absolutely furious at god for not existing... that I was on my own, so to speak. It was like I had always known, but never allowed it through. Like I was never brave enough to accept the absolute end that would, without a doubt, some day come my way .
I immediately started searching for scientific evidence of god's existence to extinguish my recent epiphany. None. The few friends I told about my recent awakening would send websites filled with tons of "evidence". Only problem was, of course, their evidence was completely juvenile and had no basis whatsoever in reality. The one person who was most passionate about keeping me in the fold actually contributed the most in securing my exit. Stories of how evolution shouldn't be taught because no-one has ever seen a monkey turn into a man was one... That Neanderthals were not a separate species, but actually really old humans was another (I wish you could've heard him stuttering through being asked to explain the fossils of neanderthal infants)... The world is only 6,000 years old... You get the gist.
I remember when it finally officially happened. One day, on the way home from work, I realized that all hope of ever returning had been vanquished. I had read myself sick for a year. I had thought myself sick for the same amount of time. I had grappled with the mind-numbing number of souls that are all talking to the air at the same time and realizing no entity, no matter how miraculous, could possibly hear all those cries.
- The earthquake in Haiti had just happened - millions of innocent people lost absolutely everything and had nowhere on Earth to turn.
- The Crusades had happened - Christians, filled with the holy spirit, had tortured their religion into world dominance.
- The Holocaust had happened - Millions massacred, beaten and starved.
- The entire continent of Africa is suffering from and is slowly dying of AIDS.
- We were supposedly created by god, in his own image, mind you, and are judged for being what he made us to be.
- This all-loving, ever-caring god actually had the capacity and malignancy to invent a hell.
- Being punished for a distant ancestor eating an apple is like punishing puppies because their great grandmother peed on the floor.
- And etc. And etc.
I had looked and looked for even a fraction of truth that a god existed. All I found was evidence he couldn't possibly be there. And even if he were, I had officially and comfortably seen enough to step away. I can't remember ever saying this before that moment, but I simply whispered, "Going... Going... Gone." My mind instantly settled. My heart fell in love. And there was peace.