In Which I Went from Being a Christian Fundamentalist to an Atheist

Five years ago, I left Chris­tian­i­ty behind. It was not a deci­sion made light­ly, nor was it one which required a great deal of thought. If that seems like a con­tra­dic­tion, let me explain.

I wish I had jour­naled the sit­u­a­tion — life-chang­ing moments ought to be pre­served, I think — the date, the con­text, all of it fad­ed into the past. What I do remem­ber is that I was upstairs in my home, sit­ting at my cor­ner desk, doing some thing or anoth­er on my com­put­er. Was I debat­ing? Was I cross check­ing something?

A Bible lay open on the desk before me, the ancient words of Deuteron­o­my await­ing my eye. Why was I look­ing at that book in par­tic­u­lar? Why chap­ter twen­ty-two in particular? 

I no longer know the whys, only that across the mil­len­nia, the lat­ter por­tion of Deuteron­o­my 22 seared itself into my mind, set­ting ablaze with­in me not the pas­sion of faith but instead a cri­sis of morality.

If a man find a damsel that is a vir­gin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 29Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of sil­ver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath hum­bled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Deuteron­o­my 22:28–29, King James Version

Over and over I read those words, every time as if an ax were strik­ing at the roots of my faith. Here were laws set forth by the god whom I loved — whether that love meets the def­i­n­i­tion of those who’ll claim I was nev­er a “true Chris­t­ian” is irrel­e­vant — laws which were meant to, among oth­er things, set apart God’s peo­ple while reveal­ing God’s char­ac­ter to them.

Noth­ing about this pas­sage seemed like the god I had come to trust and to love. It stank of moral putrid­i­ty, of an atti­tude toward women which was so utter­ly demean­ing I could­n’t con­scionably align myself with it.

In that pas­sage of holy writ, my faith died. I asked myself how I, a low­ly sin­ner, could pos­si­bly be more moral than God; how could I con­tin­ue under the impres­sion that God is love!

I “fell from grace” in the fall of 2010, and for sev­er­al months I real­ly did­n’t know what I was. I had grown accus­tomed to believ­ing in a god, to believ­ing in some­thing and so I did­n’t imme­di­ate­ly become an athe­ist — or as I would come to real­ize, return to being an athe­ist, the state into which we are all born.

A few months of faux pagan­ism and vague deism passed by. By Decem­ber of 2010, I was shar­ing athe­ist-relat­ed con­tent on Face­book, albeit rarely, and not so much because I iden­ti­fied as an athe­ist but pure­ly out of curios­i­ty with what was said.

Sev­er­al years have passed, and I don’t regret in the slight­est hav­ing giv­en up on the so-called nar­row way.

Oh, and yes, I know it is cliché: I became an athe­ist by read­ing the Bible, apart from the crutch of com­men­taries, foot­notes, and oth­er writ­ings which pro­vide Chris­tians a con­ve­nient buffer between our eyes and ears and what the Bible actu­al­ly says.

What the Bible actu­al­ly says… If there is one thing I do believe, it’s that what the Bible real­ly says would sur­prise most any Chris­t­ian. I look for­ward to explor­ing those things with you, while also learn­ing about your path to, from, or around religion.

Fea­tured image: The Rape of the Daugh­ters of Leu­cip­pus (cropped) by Peter Paul Rubens, 1617 (pub­lic domain)

4 thoughts on “In Which I Went from Being a Christian Fundamentalist to an Atheist”

  1. Rick, you did­n’t become an Athe­ist because you read the Bible. You became an Athe­ist because you hard­ened your heart against God, and did not ask Him for wis­dom to know the truth.

    Not only are you an unbe­liev­er, you are the worst kind of unbe­liev­er. For you have become a mock­er of God, and a hater of Chris­tians. You can deny the hate you have. But your words reek of hatred towards God and those who believe in Him. 

    Frankly, your words lead me to con­clude that you are not a true intel­lec­tu­al, but some­one who is imma­ture and lacks wisdom. 

    If you remain on the path you are on, not only will you face the God you deny exists, you will also be filled with shame. It does­n’t have to end that way, how­ev­er. You still have time to turn from your evil ways. For your sake, I hope you turn back to God. 

    Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you won’t be able to undue the dam­age you have like­ly caused as a result of pub­lish­ing so much hate­ful con­tent about God. Nev­er­the­less, God is mer­ci­ful. He will take you back—if you hum­ble your­self before Him and repent.

    “But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has com­mit­ted, keeps all My statutes, and does what is law­ful and right, he shall sure­ly live; he shall not die. (22) None of the trans­gres­sions which he has com­mit­ted shall be remem­bered against him; because of the right­eous­ness which he has done, he shall live.” — Ezekiel 18:21–22 NKJV

    “If we con­fess our sins, He is faith­ful and just to for­give us our sins and to cleanse us from all unright­eous­ness.” — 1John 1:9 NKJV

    1. Hey, JIL, thanks for your com­ment! A writ­ten reply did­n’t seem alto­geth­er suit­able, so I replied in video, which I hope you’ll give a watch.

      Long sto­ry short, you sound a lot like Me From the Past; hon­est­ly, your com­ment is one I could have writ­ten to an athe­ist years ago, and you made all the same mis­takes I used to make too, as detailed in the video reply.

      Have a great day!

  2. Hi Rick. See­ing this post sad­dens me. I think the com­menter above “JIL” as you called them in your video has too many words of con­dem­na­tion for you. That is not our place.

    I was read­ing some of your work from pri­or to 2010 (or 12010 as you pre­fer to use now) and found it to be quite enlight­ened and well thought-out. I sup­pose that’s why read­ing this sur­prised me so much, that the pas­sage in Deut 22 wasn’t giv­en a fair shake, so to speak. It is my hope that you re-exam­ine this pas­sage with a reli­able com­men­tary that can pro­vide con­text. Of course, each of our faith jour­neys are per­son­al, and I know that God has a plan for you even in your time of doubt­ing. I know he did for me, and I look back now at my athe­is­tic time know­ing that it brought me wisdom.

    God bless you. And also I thank you for leav­ing your old posts up for reading.

    1. What would you con­sid­er a reli­able com­men­tary? Matthew Hen­ry, Gill, Scofield, and so many oth­ers are ones I ref­er­ence, and while plen­ty of them are will­ing to put the pas­sage in ques­tion into a his­tor­i­cal con­text (e.g., the com­mand was to pro­tect women because non-vir­gin sin­gle ladies had no “val­ue” in that soci­ety), none of them took the next step to accept just how mon­strous that sit­u­a­tion is, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en that it is a sit­u­a­tion designed by a “just” and “good” God as part of his “just” and “good” law.

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