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An Introduction

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AN INTRODUCTION…

I have been threatening for a long time to pick up my life story where I left off back in 1988, after those dark days of my divorce from my second wife. Those were the days when I needed God the most, but he just never showed up. What venue to tell the story? Well, I weighed all the options: write a book, continue a personal journal or start a blog.  Obviously the decision has been made and off I go into new uncharted territory.

In my posts I want to explain who I am now as opposed to who I was back then and why…  how I became the person I am today… a very happy card carrying atheist,  stripped of all the baggage of a brainwashed kid.  It’s a story full of lies and disillusionment, bigotry and racism. But it is a story that does have a happy ending. It is my hope that my story will help others who may have lived a similar childhood and right now may be sitting on the fence as far as their own religious views are concerned. Maybe what I have to say will help them climb down off the fence on the rational side,  joining the millions of free thinking humanists like myself with no more guilt, no more betrayal, no more living a lie.

My folks were not particularly deeply religious. They used the church the way a lot of  “grown-ups” use it,  as a social club of sorts. Human beings are a social animal after all, and I believe religion was born out of this inherited drive. It’s right there in our DNA.  But I digress. Deeply religious or not, my siblings and I were dragged to church kicking and screaming by our parents every Sunday all through our “formative years”.

Eventually I came to accept certain parts of the dogma: Love thine enemy as thyself, turn the other cheek, help those in need, do unto others, all of that good stuff. I was taught to accept my fellow man no matter what the color of his skin, his place of worship or his social status. As my young and formative brain sopped up all of this “information”, I slowly became the dangerously altruistic softy I am today. I was never exposed to the old testament ‘dark side’ as a child and for that I shall always despise the church- and it’s congregation.

My adolescent troubles  began when I started noticing the adults around me acting under a slightly different set of values than the ones I was being taught in Sunday School.  I must have been all of 11 years old. I remember my favorite Sunday school teacher having to leave town suddenly. Evidently she had a tryst with the preacher’s son and became very pregnant. I remember that it seemed like every time a preacher came along that I liked, he only lasted about three months and then the church board of directors would can him. I remember the sermons they gave about how great society would be if we could all just get along regardless of what color our skin was. A bouquet would be a boring thing indeed if all it’s flowers were the same color. (an analogy for the world and it’s many races.) I particularly liked the one based on another popular analogy, how science and religion were like the wings of a bird- which obviously could not fly without both wings working in perfect harmony and how Jesus got pissed at the church hierarchy and drove out the money changers. I bought it all hook, line and sinker.

However It wasn’t long before I learned that in the real world, all was not as the preacher had led me to believe.  At a very young age I became aware of the “Great Double Standard”. I discovered the definition of  hypocrisy long before I ever became familiar with the word.  I remember thinking: “What is up with this?”  Evidently all the values I learned in Sunday school were to be  discarded or at the very least altered somewhat as  a child grew into adulthood. Or maybe those lofty values were to be used selectively, when  convenient, when it suited me?  My problem was, I couldn’t just discard those values. I was stuck with them. I liked them and I stubbornly held on to them even when they worked against me- and that was usually more often than not.  Thanks a lot lord. You turned out to be the the worst role model a gullible child like me could have ever had.

Now please, don’t get me wrong. This is not to say that those values were not right, they were- they are.  It’s just that everyone has to go along with that game plan if it is ever going to work. They have to be switched on all the time, not just when it seems appropriate. Could it be that just like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, good old fashioned honest values are a fantasy as well? The answer I came up with was “yes”- as near as I could figure being limited by the brain of an 11 year old boy. I wrestled with these revelations along with all of the other lessons in life that happen to young adolescent humans. I held on to those values through Puberty, discovering the opposite sex, going through the usual phases that we chalk up to “growing pains”…  Then came the terrible teens.

I started hating my father for his attitude towards people of color.  I  didn’t understand why Dad never thought Jerry Lewis was funny. I remember sinking down out of sight in the back seat of the family car in embarrassment as we drove through the Black section of Flint, Michigan on the way to our Grandparents house in North Branch. He would yell at the top of his lungs “We’re going through nigger town!”.  All I could do was hope that none of the residents of that neighborhood were within ear shot.  Much later on in my life I discovered that my folks had quashed a teenage love affair between myself and a girl I met and fell in love with while attending a trade school in Milwaukee- because she was Jewish. Evidently my mother had had a few alcohol inspired antisemitic words with her mother over dinner one  evening and that was that.

I wondered for years after she broke off our relationship why it had happened. I would call her on the phone and ask but she just would not speak to me.  She truly despised me and at that time I was clueless as to her reasons. Then, many years later, just prior to my fathers death he admitted to me what had happened on that fateful night.  Then it all made sense.  I remember vividly one of the last things my mother said to me as I was preparing to leave for Hawaii.  She said: “Now don’t you  go getting hooked up with one of those Asian girls, David!”  But of course, that was one of the first things I did when I got there.

For me, leaving for Hawaii was not only the result of an overwhelming sense of adventure, but more so I believe now, it was just me trying to get as far away from the place of my childhood as I possibly could and still stay in the United States.  The year was 1967. My parents were divorcing and the four of us siblings were taking our shock and dismay out on each other. The family exploded into all parts of the country. One went south to Miami, one ended up in Seattle, one stayed in Jackson, Michigan and I, as I’ve already let on, made it all the way to Maui and only now, 40 plus years later, are we beginning to make an effort to patch things up and bring the family back together. It may happen eventually if my atheism doesn’t become a barrier.

I don’t know if I’ll ever finally grieve over the loss of my parents. I did love them and I am grateful to them for giving me my chance to shine in this life, on this planet. I know they put up with a lot of crap from me, my two younger sisters and one younger brother. Yet, I had to learn all of the “hard” stuff on my own- how the world really operated. If I only knew then what I know now. (What a beautifully honest truth that statement is!) If it hadn’t been for my books, my acute altruism would have killed me. I read all I could get my hands on about rational thought. How human beings think, believe and behave. I needed desperately to know what had happened to me and my family and why. Eventually I found the answers and I will discuss them all right here in the days and weeks ahead.

As I add to this blog, I will take you along on one of the most revealing journeys I’ve ever undertaken, where along the way I learned why most folks never really find what they are looking for, or even realize that they are missing vital information. Yes, I was one of the lucky ones. I found the answers I needed before my confidence in humanity was completely destroyed, before I reached a point where it may have even destroyed myself.  It is my hope that these stories will help those of you who are as confused as I was and perhaps help you  find clarity and resolution along your own personal journey. You really do have to let go of a lot of baggage you picked up as a child. One of those lead weights you are going to have to drop is a fictitious old legend called Yahweh.

Believers would have you think that I am possessed by the devil. That I am a confused and godless heretic without a clue as to the true nature of life. But I know I am the enlightened one and they the ones who are blind. I chose to undertake a search that would take some  40 years of my life hunting for the answers I needed.  I’ve read the Bible several times cover to cover. Indeed it was the first time I ever read the Bible all the way through that I decided that yes, I really was an atheist.  I’ve studied the great philosophers like Aristophanes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russel, David Hume and so many others. I’ve read the biographies of our founding fathers and the writings of more contemporary thinkers like Micheal Shermer, Daniel C.  Dennett,  Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.  I’ve become quite the History buff while in the process of digging for any factual evidence of the existence of Jesus in some of the best known books on world history ever written… and I found very little. In fact I found no direct historical eveidence at all that a man called Jesus Christ ever existed. You’d think with all those miracles he supposedly performed, there would be better documentation. Some sort of historical documentation.  I’ve read the offerings from our greatest scientific minds like Darwin, Einstein, Sagan and Dawkins and the more I learned the facts, the less I saw for a need for a supreme being.

Unlike my hard core christian friends I now know there are always facts that underlie any truth. Without facts the word “truth” becomes a relative term. It can mean anything we want it to mean. A big break through for me was finally coming to the realization that I will never be able to convince the evangelical  believer to see my way of looking at the world. All the answers they require are found in one old book, written centuries ago in an era where there was no science, no knowledge of the world outside the two or three hundred mile radius of where most of what happened in the Bible took place. The the world was flat and dragons waited at earth’s edge for those who were foolish enough to venture beyond the unknown.  The difference between us is that I rolled up my sleeves and did the research myself.  I studied hard and long and the learning continues to this day.  And not just one book but several.  I really worked at it. I found that the truth is out there and easily found if one would simply look. Maybe That’s why there are so many believers out there. Humans are just naturally lazy. It’s easier to rely on others for the truth than it is to go out and discover it for ourselves. To make matters worse there is a truth that is being spoken that is both easy to believe, ultimately damaging and hardly the truth at all…

It was difficult fro the longest time to sort it all out. There is so much MIS information out there that stood in my way, but I eventually found out why so many people believe the most ridiculous things. These many undereducated over zealous people live their lives believing that there is a better world waiting for those who will simply believe without question, believe in completely unprovable things, imaginary things. Myths, fables and fabrications.  Some just can’t wait for this life to end so they may enjoy the wonders of heaven. The difference between me and them is that they decided to take the easy way out and just join the club. They took that “leap of faith” as opposed to getting their hands dirty and finding the answers for themselves like I finally ended up doing.  The lazy bastards…

In this blog I intend to extend a helping hand to  anyone who might have had a similar childhood, to those who feel they were duped by the very people they counted on for guidance as I was.  I have a gut feeling that there are many more people like myself out there who are suffering for the truth.  I intend to give as much aid and comfort as I can to those whose lives, like my own, just happened to turn out to be nothing more than one giant snipe hunt…  I want more people to become curious enough to begin to explore what is real and wonderful in the natural world and then hopefully the same thing will happen to them that happened to me. Perhaps a day will come for them as it did for me when all the lights got switched on enabling my eyes to open wide and begin gazing out upon the world for the very first time.

A reading list for those who wish to pursue this further with me:

The Believing Brain – Michael Shermer

Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer

How We Believe – Michael Shermer

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

Breaking The Spell – Daniel C. Dennett

The Demon Haunted World – Carl Sagan

Atheist Universe – David Mills

Godless – Dan Barker

Losing My Religion – William Lbdell

God- The Failed Hypothesis – Victor J. Stenger

Quantum Gods – Victor J. Stenger

Farewell To God – Charles Templeton

Irreligion – John Allen Paulos

God Is Not Great – Christopher Hitchens

Arguably – Christopher Hitchens

Written by ldreynolds

October 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Posted in General

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