I was born and raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and grew up in rural Canada. It wasn’t all bad- I learned how to speak in public, and a lot of basic teaching skills which have helped me in the workplace. But I was queer. This was problematic. This lead to night after night of terror, of frantically asking “what if it happens tomorrow?” Reading the book called “Revelation: It’s grand climax is at hand!” did not help much. The witnesses have a gleefully terrifying picture of the impending end of the world…
In any case, I got so depressed with the bible that I decided to look to alternative belief systems. After all, I knew that I was going to perish in Armageddon anyway, so what harm would come from trying to summon an Incubus in my bedroom? (I was fifteen. Summoning a Demon to have sex with you can seem perfectly logical at that age.) I got way into Demonology for a while, until I actually started reading some “occult” tomes. I thought I was going to get Dungeons and Dragons with a little Lovecraft, but ended up with The Secret meets Count Chocula. And don’t even get me started on summoning… But the Demonology forums I visited often had subforums about aliens and UFOs, which seemed right up my alley!
I was horrified by what I read! Reptilian shapeshifters? Government conspiracies? Parallel universes and Lovecraft-style horrors seeking some aperture through which to invade our cosmos? This was the good stuff! I felt like I was part of a movement- An underground resistance! I balked at the skeptics who posted on various paranormal boards. How could they be so blind? There was so much evidence out there! This was so much bigger than Jehovah and Satan’s cosmic pissing match over the servitude of our species, this was real science-y stuff! I could argue about the true nature of the Mothman, or why the Greys kept on abducting us, and why they were at war with the Reptoids and Nordics. I could have told you all about Bohemian grove and the cult of the NWO. I thought I finally had all the answers, as well as a cause to believe in.
At this point, I still believed in the bible, but subscribed embarrassingly to the ancient astronaut ‘theory.’ I was debating a skeptic on the merits of this hypothesis, and in a fit of self assured superiority, challenged said skeptic to “give me one book- any book- you skeptics have, and I will debunk it page-by-page.”
They gave me The Demon haunted World. Really, it was that simple. I read the book and realized that the way I was thinking was illogical. After examining ancient astronauts, I had to look at the rest of my beliefs.
I never got back to that anonymous skeptic, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart. After that, I began on Dawkins, Hitchens, Randi and so many others. I came out of both closets, moved out, and am doing okay now. I no longer sleep in terror. I look at the world around me and think “Awesome!” instead of “horrible!”