Rachael Slick is a non-Christian daughter of a Christian apologist. Her Christian upbringing was really full on, much more so than mine was. In her guest post on the Friendly Atheist she describes how it felt when her relationship with God ended:
“I still remember sitting there in my dorm room bunk bed, staring at the cheap plywood desk, and feeling something horrible shift inside me, a vast chasm opening up beneath my identity, and I could only sit there and watch it fall away into darkness. The Bible is not infallible, logic whispered from the depths, and I had no defense against it. If it’s not infallible, you’ve been basing your life’s beliefs on the oral traditions of a Middle Eastern tribe. The Bible lied to you.
Everything I was, everything I knew, the structure of my reality, my society, and my sense of self suddenly crumbled away, and I was left naked.
I was no longer a Christian. That thought was a punch to the gut, a wave of nausea and terror. Who was I, now, when all this had gone away? What did I know? What did I have to cling to? Where was my comfort? I didn’t know it, but I was free.”
This is how it feels to become a non-Christian. It’s not fun. It’s not that we’ve “lost our faith” or given up on God” or “taken the easy route” or “given in to temptation”. Becoming a non-Christian hurts like hell. It’s terrifying. My Christian friends thought I was giving into my selfish desires, that I became an atheist so I could get away with sin. In fact, becoming an atheist was about letting go of my desires. I desired to believe in a loving God. I wanted there to be someone ensuring that “all things to work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:23).” I wanted my sins to be atoned for. I wanted to praise Him in heaven for eternity. But no matter how badly I wanted to believe it, I had to stop lying to myself. God was not love. God did not love me. Jesus was not my best friend. None of it was not real. I had to accept that He was gone and learn to live without Him. At this time I did not know how wonderful living without him would turn out to be.
You talk about atheists being angry and arrogant, I think that’s because a lot of us are hurt. We’re trying to live by integrity, but you make us feel like we’re alone and like we’re failures. You say that this is a choice and that we’ll be punished accordingly. We have to stay strong when our families makes it clear that you are not one of them. We have to take responsibility for our actions, no forgiveness. I have to face everyday without knowing there’s someone ensuring I will be okay at the end. Don’t you dare tell me I’ve “taken the easy way out.” After living your life with God for so many years, it’s incredibly hard to let it go. It’s embedded in every part of you. Losing that rips you apart, but lying to yourself is worse. I may not have the comfort or the joy of being in love with Jesus. The life I live might be harder, but I am free and nothing can beat that.
To all the people in the same place as I was a few years ago, please read this before go clear your internet history incase your parents see that you’ve been on an atheist blog. One day you won’t have to wait for everyone to go to bed before you can read your Richard Dawkins. One day you’ll be able to change your Facebook religious views to “atheist”. One day you will come out and you’ll inspire others to do the same. Know that you are not alone, and that it gets better. Don’t give up on pursuing the truth. It’s messy and it hurts. But it is worth it.