My background: I will be 49 years old next week; I am a white heterosexual married woman with two almost-grown children (one girl, a sophomore at university majoring in computer engineering; the other a boy, high school sophomore). I live in Edmond, Oklahoma; a suburb of Oklahoma City. I was raised as a member of the Church of Christ; fundamentalist xtianity at it’s strongest here in the bible belt. The Church of Christ (COC) claims to be the only original, direct descendant church of the New Testament; members are right and everybody else on the planet is WRONG, including the local popular by numbers Southern Baptists.
Why are they wrong? Because they believe that being baptized is just something extra one does to demonstrate faith; whereas members of the COC count baptism, being physically buried in water (dunked not sprinkled) as a KEY, necessary action required for entrance into Heaven. Those that aren’t members of the COC? Why, they shall burn forever in the Lake of Fire aka Hayull.
Please understand that the following constitutes embarrassment to me, NOW:
I graduated from a COC university, Oklahoma Christian University, with a BS degree in Medical Technology, in 1984. I made a 30 on the ACT; I have always been interested in science. Since that time, I have been employed as a Medical Technologist/Clinical Laboratory Scientist (two terms meaning the same thing). My current position is as a US Government Employee (drone), as the Supervisor of Transfusion Services (aka ‘blood bank) at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Oklahoma City, OK.
Unfortunately, I was a product of my environment and was a bible believing church-every-Sunday xtian until approximately five years ago; more or less, I cannot exactly recall. At any rate, I have not been ‘to church’ in over five years, for certain.
Okay, I hear the wheels of your mind turning, and you are thinking to yourself: GHEEZ LOUISE HERE IS A CLASSICAL MEMBER OF THE SLOW READING GROUP! A SCIENCE major who believes in the absolute truth of the Bible? Right?
Well, I can’t argue with that! Yes, I am a victim of my upbringing; in no small part which meant that as a person lacking a penis, I was to follow; not to lead. Please understand, I don’t BLAME anybody for my behavior but I am trying to explain how an intelligent human being can believe in total and complete BS until she is 45 years old. I was always a ‘good girl’; and ‘good girls’ made good grades; good girls studied. Good girls also married a fellow xtian; good girls submitted to their fathers and their husbands, good girls did not question.
In my case, I had the fortune of meeting a man with ‘no religion’ at all. Unfortunately, for HIM, I ‘converted’ him to my religion. And, his brother. And, his parents. OOO, look at me; I have converted four persons to the true gospel of keereyst! So many jewels, in my crown of the hereafter! Awesome; I am; and awesome is my jeeebus/gayd! NOT.
Let us Fast Forward, please, to absolve me of at least some embarrassment in your eyes. I began to read a lot of books. CORRECTION: I have always read a lot of books. I keep lists of every book I have read for the past 20 years. More and more, my reading lists consisted of non-fiction books (still overwhelmingly a favorite by at least a 4-1 margin).
The books I read that began to convince me that I and my religion were full of kerap? I know you are thinking I read ‘The God Delusion’. Well, Yes I did! But not right away. The books I read that began to convince me that I was; shall we say politely, in ‘error’?
The major one was, Ghosts of Vesuvius, by Charles Pellegrino. I bought this book just because I was interested in science, and archeology, and how ancient societies functioned. After that? I read a cople of his other books. Here is another mainstream media production that convinced me, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0384766/, ROME, the HBO series. It explains so exquisitely the way the Roman gods affected the common societal norms. I began to see, that my beliefs were not unique at all, but just like the ancient Romans. In other words? Ridiculous.
After that? Laugh if you wish, but the comment threads on religion stories on www.fark.com; convinced me. I was furious, at first! Those heathen godless hellions commenting on the religion threads! But as I read, I assimilated, and I learned. Those horrible liberals! I need not mention that I was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, and the first presidential vote I ever made? Was for Ronald Reagan.
Eventually I made my way to Pharangula, likely through a Fark thread although I cannot recall for certain. At any rate, for the past five years I have been a ‘gnu atheist.’. I trust and believe in the beauty of the cosmos, and it is more than enough for me. Interestingly, long before I was an admitted atheist, I made sure my grade school children were exposed to Bill Nye The Science Guy. I have the VCR tapes to prove it. So I would have to credit Bill Nye as well as Charles Pellegrino, as ‘de-converting’ me.
Today, I visit scienceblogs.com daily, as well as The Friendly Atheist (Hemant deserves some credit too in my anti-xtian-conversion), and FARK, and am a member of Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Sorry, PZ, for the length of this. I realize you are a busy important person, and I want to extend my kudos to you and everything you do, everyday. PLEASE know that there are those ‘on the bubble’ out there, as I was at one time, who count on you and your blog to convince them of the truth.
In conclusion, if you have read this far, thank you so much! I hope to meet you at Skepticon in November.