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Posted by on Sep 2, 2011 in Essays | 4 comments

Andy Carrington

Name: Andy Carrington

Born: May 1975

Location: Gosport, UK

Label: Atheist, Humanist

Former Religion: Christianity

To God and Back Again: The Story of a born again Atheist

My name is Andy, although I was baptised Andrew. I grew up in a stable home with a permanent mum and a sometimes aloof dad; dad was a military man and so often travelled during my younger years.

I grew up predominantly on the south coast of the UK, in and around Gosport and Fareham. I attended public schools of a reasonable calibre and left with an average education. From the age of sixteen I was myself serving in the Royal Navy as an aircraft engineer.

During this entire time I was a devout atheist, I had no interest or inclination toward God of any name. For years I lived a rather selfish life and this suited me fine.

On July 27th 2002, I married my beautiful wife Helen who was pregnant with our first child. My selfishness had started to erode and I had already left the navy at this point, and I was holding down a successful career in information technology. In September 2002 our first child was born, we were the proud parents of our daughter Lilly.

My wife and I ambled along for 2 years, and then from nowhere came the urge to go to church. Was it the amazement of child birth, was it a deeper calling…we will probably never know, but off to church we went regardless.

We have been in and out of church ever since, with the last 4 years being the most involved. We have had two more children, both boys.  I have served in “the house” in many roles that involve everything from speaking from the front to setting up the stage and equipment; I have also attended a two year bible college and a one year biblical course. I even have the certificates to prove it.

But there is a problem…I’m just not convinced anymore. This short story is the tale of my Christian faith and the eventual lack thereof.

 

The First Doubt

I had been a Christian for a little under seven years. I had been a good and obedient Christian. I had read my bible and attended bible courses, I had prayed faithfully and sought god’s guidance on all aspects of my life, I had even preached. But sometime in 2010 my faith faltered.

Looking back it’s impossible to know what first triggered my doubt but it was there, burning away like a small ember at the back of my mind. Perhaps it was the logical engineer’s part of my brain crying out against the illogical aspect of faith.

One thing is for certain, I had started to doubt the so called irrefutable word of god. This had led to me finding my way back into literature concerning one of the fundamental arguments in the science versus faith debate, the debate over evolution and creationism.

You might argue that just because creationism is false and that we were not created exactly as written in the bible that this leaves room for god. Sadly this only leads to intelligent design which is how many people justify their belief in god when their intellect denies creationism. My mind wanted to take it a step further, evolution is the true creation story and so if we were not created by god then there is no god. We are not his children but rather a unique and amazing species of the planet earth.

Oh sure I tried the old ‘but it’s only a theory’ argument to convince myself it might not be real. But then I remembered my old science teacher. She said that nearly all science is theory, as any scientist worth his salt would always be open to new evidence as it was discovered using newer and more reliable techniques.

The more I thought about this the more I focused on other theories…such as relativity or gravity, neither of which I was that eager to put to the test. Sure, I could jump out of the top floor window of my house; however my confidence in gravity far outweighed my urge to test a theory.

The once burning faith I had was now failing fast so I turned to the only place I knew, church. I was welcomed back with open arms and offered help getting settled back in. I remembered the many times that we had been told that when things get to their worst, you need to press in closer to god and he will help you through.

Oh yes of course, just when I feel like running away from god I should get closer. This works rather nicely given the fact that when things are going well the place to be is at gods feet giving him thanks. It seems like god is onto a win win situation. So I faithfully threw myself back into church life, pretending that all was well and only speaking out what I wanted to see come to pass. I was denying my doubt and focusing on a false faith, oh sure it’s easy for you sitting there with cold hard reason, but when you are blinded by faith and by the promises of the faithful it’s easy to get drawn back in.

Over the next few months this continued to be the norm, I kept faithfully praising god and deliberately focused on god and church in the vain hope that my doubt would pass and my faith would be rekindled. However this was not what was happening.

 

Continued Delusion

I continued to walk in faithless faith. I did just what everybody was telling me to do; I pushed on regardless of my doubt because god rewards the faithful. However, the more I tried to ignore the logic of the situation the more cracks I saw in the faith of it all.

This is a very strange experience as it almost feels like you are walking in someone else’s body, it’s as if you are fully conscious but someone else is controlling your actions. If this sort of behaviour is seen in other areas of life it is often considered fraud…but with religion it’s far darker than that.

Blind faith in a religion (which is often what is required of you) does nothing but limit your experience and knowledge, if you don’t look up from the daily doctrine that you are following then your sense of objectivity is diminished. In essence you begin to turn away from the rational and start relying on the irrational, I am not too afraid to add magical as a descriptor too.

So it would appear that from my first doubt to the point that I rejected religion I had actually been a total hypocrite. I had been telling others about the power and love of god while not seeing any evidence of it; I had spoken from the front of church about the importance of giving to the lord while not believing in it myself. The very religion that had taught love, honesty and integrity had turned me into a hypocritical fraudulent conman!

But I had come to my senses, I knew that I should not and could not continue to advertise a product that was not fit for purpose.  I had rejected god and religion in favour of science and logic, but what specifically brought me to this conclusion?

 

Removing Confusion

I would like to say that my enormous brain and startling intellect served me well and brought me to my senses, but this is not how it was.

I can’t claim that my intellect was the key to my un-salvation; admittedly it played a role in allowing me to recognise the truth of it all, but it was the observation of truth that brought me out of faith. Observing my life as I put my faith in something that ultimately failed to deliver, now this was the key that unlocked the shackles of religion.

So what did you see? Well I am glad you asked, let me tell you. However it does get a bit biblical from here on in…However stick with me, as we will need to understand what the bible tells us in order to expose the myths of it.

Creationism
The church that I called home for the last four years are devout followers of the bible. They believe the irrefutable word of god in all its fullness, this includes the story of creation as it is written. Now I have a few issues with this, not least of which the staggering pile of supporting evidence for evolution.

Did we really just appear on earth, if so how do we explain dinosaurs, the clear evolution of apes and the inevitable link between us and other animals, including shared segments of DNA?

First of all we have to agree that dinosaurs were real, we have physical evidence of their existence which is irrefutable. Sure there are Christians out there that say dinosaurs did exist but only for a short time, based upon the timeline of the bible. I think that this can easily be rebuked by the significant step forward in science…carbon dating. Essentially all living things contain carbon, a specific type of carbon (C14) breaks down at a predetermined rate. So based upon the rate of breakdown we can determine the age of living matter, or matter that was once living. Essentially we can date dinosaur bone based upon the carbon content of it.

Now let me be clear…the carbon dating results are not even close to the timeline suggested by the bible. In essence we can prove that the timeline of the bible is inaccurate…so where does this leave the rest of god’s irrefutable word?

But what about the existence of mankind, were we placed onto this earth by god? Given the additions to the evolution science, no we were not. Newer fossilised remains of human beings have been found, links have been made using rational scientific principles. Sadly there is not enough room in this narrative to dig into them all, but look at the references at the back of this script.

The science is sound and rational, it holds up to scrutiny. Whereas the existence of a magical being that populated the earth for his own companionship does not.

Original Sin
God as portrayed in the bible is far and above what we as human beings will ever be, apparently he is a far better father than any one of us earthly men could ever be.

So given his amazing paternal power combined with the fact that he is timeless, the alpha and omega, the author and the finisher. We are safe to assume he can already see the entire story as it is about to unfold.

So why did he put a tree in the garden for Adam and Eve to be tempted by, why did god put an object of temptation in the garden of Eden at all. God had already banished a sinful angel to earth and rather than using his power and authority over all things to simply extinguish the angel from history, he allowed him dominion over the earth! Had he removed this angel from existence perhaps temptation would not have befallen Adam and Eve and we would not have fallen in the first place. Why, given his foresight into the future events, did he not anticipate his children’s fall from grace?

Instead, if the bible is to be believed, he allowed his most precious creation to fall. In the process man lost their never ending life, was open to disease and suffering and would have to toil for ever more. I am but an earthly father, but even I would not treat my most prized possessions this way…my children are too precious to me.

So instead perhaps it is man’s way of explaining the hardships he faces in his life. Maybe it is simply a story to explain the unexplainable, penned by men far removed from modern science and understanding.

Healing
This subject is closest to my heart. I have personally asked god to heal my body, the church believe that god is our healer and that the miracles of Jesus’ time are available to us in the present day. The word of god is now and forever, unchanging…therefore the miraculous should still be miraculous now.

In the bible’s New Testament there are many examples of miracles, especially those that involve healing. For example there are blind that see, crippled that walk, lepers cured and bleeding stemmed. Much of this was reportedly done directly by Jesus, but rather interestingly much was done by the faithful disciples themselves. These men were just like you and me, normal run of the mill working class people. Fishermen, tax collectors and tent makers that simply had faith in Jesus.

Now the bible says that through prayer and by their touch people were healed, in one instance just by one of the disciple’s shadows passing over people…they were healed. Amazing stuff right?

Yes, it’s all very inspiring but a lie. How do I know? I know because in spite of my prayers, my faithful following of god and the prayers of others…I still have not been healed. I have two damaged knees, a bad back and a skin condition that means my finger nails are lifting from their beds. All of these ailments have been prayed for by more than me, by the faithful men and women of god. Still god has done nothing in all this time.

There is a woman at the church I used to go to who has cancer. Her body is full of tumours and our church, other churches and even so called healers have all prayed for her healing. She still does not have her healing years later. Thankfully she is still on her medication.

When people were healed in the bible they didn’t have to wait for years, months or even days. They asked for their healing and it was given to them, but it seems it takes god a little longer to get round to it these days. Maybe he is too busy, maybe he isn’t quite as powerful…oh no wait, I have it…maybe he doesn’t exist?

So what is the overriding fact that I can take from this, the fact that modern medicine is the answer to my issues and not some words cast upon nonexistent ears. Thank you to all the doctors, nurses, surgeons and scientific advances in medicine that mean we can live longer and healthier than our ancestors.

If you are sick, stop praying and start looking for and trusting in medicine.

 

These are just some of the realisations I have about the fallacies of religion, specifically in my case Christianity. There are more, and even as I write this I know that there will be scientists all over the world making new discoveries, tying up losses ends and rethinking theories as they become more adept and accurate.

You see, science adjusts its beliefs based on what’s observed…Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.

 

Conclusion

I think by now that you can probably guess what my final conclusion could be. It’s not quiet…in fact here it comes thundering over the horizon link a wounded bull looking for the matador.

God does not exist!

Wow, I actually said it. A few months ago I would never have thought that this would be my reality, but never the less here I sit in complete confidence of this fact. I feel lighter, free and unshackled, I feel clean and without guilt or condemnation.

My interest in science, logic and rational thinking can be rekindled; I can read books that would have otherwise been taboo. The full range and beauty of music and film is once again open to me and I can talk about evolution and dinosaurs without feeling like it should be behind closed doors.

In my humble opinion, faith in god is misplaced but more importantly for me, Christianity is a thief that has stolen much more than it has given me.

 

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