Name: Ken McNutt II
Location: Sugar Hill , GA
Label: Atheist (the absence of the belief in God purely based upon the lack of evidence)
Former Religious Affiliation: Various Christian denominations (mostly Catholic)
My first religious memories are of going to Sunday School at a Lutheran church a half block away from my home in Detroit when I was six years old. There was no reason to doubt any of the stories from the Bible that I was told. Why would they lie? At that age, it seemed possible that God could read every thought I had or that a man could live for three days inside a whale. Why not?
Fast forwarding a few years, I entered 5th grade at St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in St. Clair Shores Michigan. Since I was nine years old and hadn’t taken my First Communion, I was given an “accelerated” course by the school librarian. That’s when something very interesting happened. The nun made a statement which really took me by surprise. She said, “If God didn’t exist, I would lie, steal, and kill people. If there was no Heaven or Hell, people would just do whatever they wanted.”
Even at that young age I thought she was wrong. I believed even if God didn’t exist, it was still good to do good things. It made me stop and think, “The only reason this person is being nice to me is because she is expecting to be rewarded for that later.” That thought was disappointing to me. Why couldn’t someone’s default stance be, “Let’s be nice to other people without the expectation of a reward.” Couldn’t she understand that it is good to be good anyway?
During the four years of Catholic school I attended, I read large chunks of the Bible in my free time, attended Mass usually twice a week, went to Confession a couple of times, and was Confirmed by the Cardinal. For the amount of time and effort I put into it, I wasn’t getting much out of it.
Again, fast forwarding a few more years, during 10th grade a friend told me, “People believe in religion because that’s what they want to believe.” Her statement hit me like a ton of bricks. It seemed so obvious that she was right. It didn’t matter to the average person what was actually true. All that mattered was what felt good or comforting. It was at that moment that I became Agnostic without knowing the term or the definition. I instantly became unsure of everything I believed in the past about religion and God. That was the biggest moment of apostasy in my life.
Throughout my life after that moment, I would occasionally search for the truth just because I was curious. If religion came up in random conversation, I didn’t try to avoid it. I gave my opinion without having any “proof”. I tried to educate myself about all the religions in the world. If a Jehovah’s Witness knocked on my door, I let them in. I was always able to poke holes in their logic without much effort.
Then something unexpected happened this past year. A couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked on my door and I let them in as usual. We sat down, started talking about the Bible, and I asked them my usual nagging questions. Surprisingly, no matter what question I asked them, they instantly gave me a chapter and verse reply. Granted, they weren’t giving me answers that made me all of a sudden believe that everything they said was right, but it did one very important thing. It forced me to find the answers to the questions that had been nagging me almost my entire life. What do I really believe in and why? “Not being sure” was suddenly not good enough anymore.
I dug deeper into the Bible than I ever had before. Who wrote it, when, and why? How was the whole thing assembled? What books were not included and why? I went through every argument for and against the existence of God that I could find. The more I dug into it, the more it shocked me what I had not known my entire life. The very foundation of Christianity was built upon a lie. Christianity throughout history and as we know it today has more to do with Paul than Jesus himself. Ironically, Paul never even met Jesus while he walked the Earth. Mistranslations, insertions, contradictions, and a lack of historical evidence affect the entire theology of the Bible. I found answers, but not necessarily the ones that I was expecting.
So now, using the information that I’ve found, how do I label myself? Can I prove that God doesn’t exist? No, but that is not how I define Atheism for myself. My definition of Atheism answers the question, “Do I believe in God?”, and that answer is no.
In the future, when thinking about the universe, I will use logic instead of superstition as much as humanly possible. I believe human progress would benefit if religion faded from existence.
If you don’t believe in God, please consider sharing your story with the world if you haven’t already.
Tagged with: 1967 • catholic • Ken • Lutheran • Sugar Hill