Agnostic Testimony 11
If there really is a God, I’m so going to Hell for likening God to a pair of Beer Goggles
By: Evan D
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It has been some time since I have reread my original apathetic testimony, and I must say that I was surprised to see that discussion has been opened on it. Here, and in Debate and Discourse following the original article I will try to answer the various questions.
Kristen Pope wrote:
Thank you for posting this article on your website.
Would it be possible for Evan B to explain why in particular he "fell away from Jesus"? The article promises to help a "freethinker curious about why a man would leave his faith" to understand the cause of his apostasy. However, none was provided.
My essay was written as a testimony, to appeal to the emotions and not the logic of my readers. You are, however, correct in saying that I should be clearer in defining specific reasons for my apostasy; my hope is that this essay will fill in all the holes of my last one.
From the time I was four, I was taught that my relationship with God was the most important thing about my life. People in my church would refer to Christianity saying things like, “It isn’t just a religion. It’s a relationship”. After much reflection concerning my deconversion, I believe that the corollary of this superstitious principle is most responsible for my apostasy; “Take away the relationship, and you will lose the religion”. I like to refer to this as the “Beer Goggles Principle”.
For those of you not familiar with beer goggles, they are a fictitious piece of apparel that many college students wear after a long Thursday night of drinking __(you name your favorite drink)____. Beer goggles have the magical ability to turn the most hideous looking fat chick into a gorgeous, long legged, classy blonde and the most hairy, disgusting guy into an immaculate looking stallion with flowing mane. The next morning when you wake up with your newly found lover, the beer goggles have worn off and the real appearance of your partner in drunken debauchery becomes all to apparent to you.
Now, I can honestly say that I have had the beer goggles a few too many times, and from my experiences I can honestly say that the effect of the beer goggles is precisely the same as being drunk on the Spirit. When I was religious, I was one of those people so drunk on Jesus that I couldn’t see the reality of things clearly. Everything in my world happened for a reason. If the closest K-Mart parking spot was available for my use, God was being faithful to me. Praise God. If I instead got one three blocks away, God was telling me that I needed to learn patience today and exercise more. Praise God for the bad and Praise God for the good. I was trapped in this deluded worldview of superstitious thinking for about five years.
So now you might ask how I removed these religious beer goggles from my life. That unfortunately becomes a bit more difficult to answer. I will try my best to guide you through my deconversion.
The Guide to Deconversion
(Permanently remove those religious beer goggles from your eyes because the world has more to offer)
(Warning: This may prove to be a 12-Step program):
Step 1: Stop being an ignoramus and realize that there are people in the world that think differently than you.
I grew up in a small community where there were two kinds of people, Dutch people, and very conservative, very religious Dutch people. The latter were the most prevalent in my community. When I was quite a bit younger, I thought that everyone was a Christian because I didn’t know any different. Probably about the time I was in middle school, I figured out that there were people in the world that were not Christians.
Becoming aware of other views was therefore the first step in losing my faith.
Step 2: Leave the nest
When I left for college, I was in control of my life. I ate dinner when I wanted to and played video games until three in the morning. For the first time in my life, I was also able to choose my own views about the world, although they still very much mimicked my parents’ very conservative, religious views.
Step 3: Become a Christian apologist
In my opinion, many Christians are ignoramuses when it comes to world religions and other worldviews. Christians think they have a special predisposition to the truth, so why should they waste their time worrying about all the lies. This is where I was in my thinking when I came to college. I remember asking my Christian friend, Pat, which classes he was taking, and he responded that he taking an Eastern Religion class. I was appalled that a Christian would want to study a religion other than Christianity.
At the beginning of my freshman year, I met a guy named Josh who got me very interested in apologetics, or defending the Christian faith. He would often debate against very intelligent Geology professors over issues like evolution, which gave me a ton of respect for Him. He gave me some resources to study and soon I was defending Christianity along with Him. What apologetics did for me was send me on a quest for knowledge which would eventually lead me to disregard faith altogether.
Step 4: Become a tolerant evangelist
At the start of my sophomore year of college, God had given me a lot of love for those I believed were still lost. I spent most of the year evangelizing to the guys on my floor, with whom I became very close to over the course of the year. My dorm floor had weekly discussions about God in my room which would last sometimes four or five hours. I prayed fervently for those guys to come to Jesus, and eventually two or three of them did; at least one had been an atheist up until that time.
What I did not anticipate was the fact that I learned just as much from my unbelieving friends as they did from me. I learned that there were other worldviews out there that were just as logical as mine, and I decided to learn as much as I could about those views so that I could be a better evangelist.
Step 5: Seek religious, historical and mystical knowledge about Christianity
I began taking university level classes on religion, history, and philosophy to gain a better understanding of my faith in the world. The first class that ever really challenged my faith was a 500 level Philosophy of Religion class which was ironically taught by a professor involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.
During this time, I learned about the Cosmological and Ontological arguments for God’s existence; which were hardly convincing to me. Although we spent very little time with atheistic arguments, my mind started developing my own arguments, which at least opened me to the possibility that God did not exist.
By the end of the semester, I was relieved to be done with philosophy and considered myself a weak theist because I believed in God, but understood that He could not be proven with evidence. This was a giant leap for me because I now based my entire faith on my relationship with God and not logic or rational evidence.
Step 6: Talk to very smart, liberal Christians
I found that my philosophy course was conducive to arguing and found an outlet for my newly found logical knowledge; I began debating with an atheist on an Internet bulletin board and eventually also started posting with a psychologist who happened to be a liberal Christian.
To make a long story short, I eventually came to the conclusion that some very important Greek words in the Septuagint had been mistranslated or had gradually assimilated different meanings that they did not originally have. For instance, the concept of Hell was later added to Christianity. The words Hades (the pagan concept for an underworld pool of souls) and Gehenna (a refuse pile outside
Two very important things happened to me in this stage of my deconversion. First, my faith in the Bible as the literal word of God was somewhat undermined. I also learned about the Christian Fundamentalist movement, which made me doubt that Christianity has been the same since Christ died. Secondly, I became very much more liberal in my political beliefs. I now considered myself very much a Christian, but a very liberal one.
Step 7: Date beautiful, loose, Christian girls
There is nothing like a very pretty Christian girl to lead you down the path of sin. For the longest time, I believed that God had someone special picked out for me to marry. I read all that predestination, love bullshit by Joshua Harris and believed every word of it. Well I prayed for a special someone for about four years without dating and finally started courting, with the intention of marrying, the most beautiful woman I have ever met. We were on the worship team for Intervarsity together, and we had so much in common that we really hit it off and were very serious about each other. I never doubted that this was the woman I would marry.
My beliefs were that premarital sex was wrong and we had a long discussion about it when we first started courting. Eventually though, I began to compromise because I thought I loved her so much and we ended up almost having sex. Actually, it gets kind of shady there since I don’t really know how to define sex, so let’s just say I lost my virginity at the age of 22 while dating this particular girl.
Step 8: Ride the Rollercoaster of Love
The Chili Peppers had it right when they called it a love coaster. I literally went from being naked in the shower with a pretty girl to being in the dog house by myself in less than a week. I got clingy and possessive and she pushed me further away.
For the first time in my life, I doubted whether God was actually there for me. Getting married to the right person was the most important decision I would ever make in my life and I wanted God to be a part of it. God had told me that this was the one, yet she had dumped me without a second thought.
I doubted everything that God had told me through prayer during the last five years and my faith was on very shaky ground. One of my thoughts during this difficult time was “If I can’t have normal relationships with the people I can see, how am I supposed to have a relationship with an ineffable God who I can’t see?”
Step 9: Find out you have psychological problems
Breaking up with my girlfriend was the final straw that sent me over the edge. Emotionally, I could not handle the rejection and entered into a severe, suicidal depression. I read a book on depression and learned that my life was a time bomb waiting to go off. The breakup had only been the detonator. I realized that many of the things that I had done up until the age of 22 (Christian self-denial being a majority of those things) had set the stage for my depression. Later, I learned that I also have general anxiety, manic thoughts, obsessive compulsive tendencies, and all sorts of delusions.
Step 10: Strap beer goggles to your head and get yourself raped
The number one way to solve your problems, or so I thought, was to drink them away. Doc called it self-medication, but I thought it was just some good old clean fun. I started drinking heavily during the months following my breakup. I was on depression meds as well, but they didn’t do the job quite as well as the boozing.
I started hanging out with one of my ex’s friend quite a bit; I honestly thought that she felt sorry for me. We quickly became drinking buddies and drank heavily together a few nights a week. This went on for probably four months, until one night she invited me to go to the bars with her. We were waiting for other friends, so she gave me many pre-bar cocktails to drink while we waited. Eventually, we went to the bars and after about 15 drinks she had me shit-faced enough to sleep with her.
She drove me back to her apartment, did her thing with me, and then accused me of raping her so that she could get some much needed attention from her family and friends. After thoroughly defaming my name to everybody we both knew, either she or her mom went to the police and unsuccessfully tried to press charges against me.
All the while, I was wondering where God was. I was severely depressed, wanting to kill myself. Many of my former Christian friends correctly thought that I was an alcoholic and incorrectly thought that I was a rapist. None of those friends knew that I was a rape victim because they could be called to testify against me if I shared any details. And on top of it all, my very Christian parents not only knew that I wasn’t a virgin, but they were helping me pay the legal fees. I felt confused, helpless, guilty and alone.
Step 11: Unintentionally persuade your ex-girlfriend to tell you that you have psychological problems that you already know about.
For about six months after my breakup, I occasionally tried to get back together with my ex. I would call her and when she stopped taking my phone calls, I would email.
Soon after Step 10 occurred, she lost it and emailed me the most horrible email I have ever received in my life. Although it hurt, she correctly told me was that I was delusional, and I knew she was right. I was delusional about believing that we would ever get back together and delusional about my non-existent relationship with God.
Step 12: Give God another chance and watch God’s people reject you. Stop giving a shit about God and Christianity. Immediately become an agnostic.
I decide to give God another chance by joining Campus Crusade for Christ, but by this time I was already a 5th year senior in college. During the whole semester, I met almost no one, became disillusioned and eventually stopped going all together. I truly felt alone because in my darkest hour, God sent nobody to comfort me.
During the month of November 2004, I switched depression meds and immediately noticed a difference in my thinking. It was almost as if I grew a healthy, undepressed brain, but not quite. Thank you creators of Zoloft .
At this point two things happened. I felt less delusional and depressed, and I stopped giving a shit about God and Christianity. My anger toward God magically morphed into a short-lived anger that I had just wasted 18 years of my life serving a nonexistent God. For about a week, I was unsure about what I had done, but I quickly grew more comfortable with my agnosticism.
I eventually realized that I had already been an agnostic and a weak theist since my philosophy class, but was now an agnostic and a weak atheist.
I honesty cannot point to one event in my life that has led me to reject God, but rather a gradual process of dumb luck. This essay was not written to gather your pity, so please do not send it. While my life is not perfect right now, it is much better than it was with God, and I am content as an agnostic. Do not ask me to give God another chance; I believe that Jehovah, in all His formulations, is a logically impossible, cruel deity. For the sake of the Bible, which you Christians so cherish, men have split the blood of the innocent and silenced the mouths of the brilliant. I refuse to ever again submit myself to such a ruthless despot. For those of you wishing to read the testimony of another great Christian led down the path of apostasy, I recommend “Losing Faith in Faith,” by Dan Barker.
Thank you for your question. I hope this has helped you in your own spiritual journey or lack thereof.