Unlike most former fundamentalists, I’m from England. It happens over here too. I went to a school that used Accelerated Christian Education, so I knew that the world was less than 10,000 years old. ACE schoolbooks say it is “not possible” that we evolved, and “scientific evidence proved the Darwinian theory of evolution was false.” On the contrary, they said that Creationism has “unquestionable proofs.”
My PACEs said fossilised human footprints have been found next to dinosaur tracks in the same rock. Those tracks don’t exist; they’re the Creationist Piltdown Man. But my schoolbooks told me they were proof man had walked the earth at the same time as dinosaurs, so it had to be true.
I was also part of the Word of Faith sect, which preaches that Christians’ words have creative power. Just as God spoke the world into existence, anything a Christian says in faith will happen!
Because of that, I wasn’t allowed to say anything negative, because it would come true. Even if I had doubts, I couldn’t voice them. I was taught that doubts were simply the devil planting thoughts in my mind, and I had to drive them out by filling my mind with God’s Word. If I began to doubt, I felt guilty for submitting to the devil.
Mostly, I didn’t doubt because I felt God’s presence when I prayed. I knew God was real, because I experienced Him all the time, and because “science” proved it.
Then, after a massive bout of depression, I had a breakdown at school. My parents removed me and sent me to a normal school. My social skills were crippled after years working in silent cells at an ACE school. I was bullied for my beliefs about science, God, and sex.
And then we were taught about evolution. It was the first time anyone had explained what evolution taught (I thought Darwin believed a monkey randomly gave birth to a human one day). I was struck by its elegance. I was still a Christian, but it got me thinking.
I realised that if God made my brain, he must have meant for me to use it. So I bought a book on philosophy. I hated the fact that, as much as I tried to believe in God, the arguments against his existence made more sense than the arguments in favour.
It took me seven agonising years to unpick the web of lies and bullshit I was sold as a child. Sometimes I think I’m still doing it. I’m determined never to be as much of an extremist as I was back then, so I won’t rule out the possibility some kind of God exists. But I can see no reason to think there is. And that’s why I’m an atheist.