Messing with the Missionary Man
Just joined. Nonbeliever in gods, ghosts and the like from the UK.
As a child in primary school, an older kid broke the news to me that we all die eventually; we do not live forever.
I was quite upset. My stepmother told me that after all I had a long way to go yet before death which was a little consolation although not quite everything I wanted.
Later a priest at school was talking about the afterlife and after quizzing him to make sure that I was understanding him right, I had found new hope of eternal life. Anyway, that was the Dr Jekyll of Christianity.
I must have then heard about Hell for I remember asking my Dad what is Hell? He told me it was a place where bad people are supposed to go and get burnt forever in fire.
£$%@! I didn't know that. I was thinking I better watch my step. Gradually I was learning more about this Jesus character, how he was all about helping the poor. In school assemblies the headmaster would regularly tell inspirational stories of Christianity, about people helping others such as living in a mud hut in deepest Africa or something like that. This quite depressed me since it all didn't sound much like fun yet it looked as if I would need to do something like that in order to get my ticket to heaven.
Being a gullible sort of kid, I was reading about how you could astral travel and that sounded quite fun. I was reading a book by Lobsang T Rampa. He said also that hell did not exist as it would not be the sort of place that a good God would condone and belief in hell would be to kind of insult God. That seemed to make sense and it was a source of immense relief.
Then at university I met this girl and invited her back to my place for a coffee hoping for things to go a certain way and she invited me to accept Jesus in my life. I got the impression that my life would turn round dramatically if I did this and was a bit skeptical, but I thought okay I'll just give it a try, why not, so I prayed to Jesus saying Um hello God if you're out there, I would like you to come into my life. Then I said to the girl yes well so now I'm on the right side of everything? This was being a little ironic since I was thinking that it was all too easy. I had not done years of research establishing the truth of Christianity and what you need to do to get a ticket to heaven even assuming the data necessary was available. But the girl said in reply yes, isn't it a wonderful feeling?
Then the girl invited me to a born again Christian sort of student conference at the University. I went and what I saw made me cringe. There were songs sang to guitar music with repetitive lyrics just something like I love Jesus and Jesus loves me. There seemed to be an obsession about Jesus and the implication seemed to be that it was a duty to think about Jesus all the time. Every aspect of life had to have Jesus involved somehow. This would do my head in. It all struck me as terribly uncool and sad (although I was not aware of the colloquialism 'sad' at that time.) The worst of it was that they said that hell did exist after all and basically you needed to be like them in order to get into heaven and thus avoid being burnt forever in hell. So it seemed I had to be some kind of sad £$%@ or else I'd be screwed. I thought would a good God really allow the psychological torment that would put me under? I thought no. But then there was no revelation of any God as far as I knew that did not involve hell. So it seemed that religion was just a human delusion which meant all hope of eternal life was gone. Further evidence that religion was a human delusion was my own wishful thinking on the matter. I decided then to reject all religion including that espoused by my family since the grounds for it seemed to be equally weak. It was kind of like believing in Santa Claus. So I became an atheist but not an especially rational one. I still believed that the paranormal could exist although I thought that there would be an as yet undiscovered science behind the paranormal. I was however reading up on physics (I wanted to see how to build a TARDIS like in Doctor Who) As I learnt more about physics (including taking an Open University degree course in physics) and having personally investigated the site of a haunting according to a TV program and finding a big nothing, I thought it more likely that ghosts and the like were a bit like religion, fanciful ideas sometimes reinforced by puzzling events with undiscovered natural causes such as hallucinations. After developing schizophrenia I was later to discover how convincing auditory and visual hallucinations can be.
I was still ignorant about Christian apologetics. I thought Christians based their beliefs on mere faith or some facile argument such as God exists because the Bible says so , so I thougt that they could be easily refuted. But then I came across a website supposedly proving the Resurrection of Jesus by eliminating various naturalistic explanations of the New Testament data including the Legend Theory and it did worry me somewhat, although I thought that there was an argument from ignorance fallacy here and I also suspected that some further digging would undermine the Christian claims. So I've been reading what I could get my hands on and I am still digging at the moment. In my view there is clearly some stuff which shows that the gospel evangelists are not to be trusted such as Luke and Matthew concocting different stories to get Jesus to be born in Bethlehem to support the claim that he was the Messiah. I suspect that there is something in the notion that the evangelists drew inspiration for their stories in the NT from the cultural resources of the day, although I'd like to look into this further just to be relatively sure about this. I'm registered on the CFI two month Examining Christianity Course at the moment with John Shook and Robert Price as tutors. While trying to find a transcript copy of a debate between Dan Barker and Dr James White, I came across this site and thought I'd join and bore you with my life story.