Why I Was An Atheist

*"God, you don't exist.
And if you do exist, I hate you."
                                                               - Me, 12+ years ago


Dear church,

The reason I left you is because you never told me the truth.

Instead of talking about Jesus, your pastors talked about themselves; their hair, their kids, cheesy stories, and end times hype. There was a lot of that.

Instead of owning Christianity and teaching me theology, you gave me pizza and ice cream socials.

Instead of talking to me about my problems and showing me how God answers them in Christ, you were too busy trying to market to me like McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

Instead of preaching the gospel, you taught me a list of social taboos that not even the Bible forbids.

Instead of showing me what it's like to confess my sins and receive forgiveness, you taught me that my greatest concern should be with what people think about me: how I dress, what I watch, how I spend my free time doing "safe" activities (PG versions of what my "friends at public school" were doing).

I got tired of all the religious excess. And so, I left you.

When I left, I didn't miss you.

When I left, you didn't care.

When I left, I suppose there was nothing to leave in the first place. You gave me less gospel than Hollywood and Wall Street.

When I left, I decided to eat, drink, and be merry. This was much better than living in an environment that had zero grace and didn't know how to have any fun.

In short, my experience of growing up in church was without Christ and without what the world has to offer. It literally had nothing to offer. It threw out both first and second things. That was a pretty bad deal. It's a wonder why more haven't left you.

But that was then.

I began to search for you ever since I left. I searched wide. I asked questions. I wanted to know the truth. I investigated Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism, Atheism, Socrates, Nietzsche. I read everything I could get my hands on. I switched majors from psychology to philosophy, and examined myself and other perspectives.

But it wasn't this cognitive quest that ultimately led me to you. It wasn't because I found that all of my answers were satisfied by your apologists. It wasn't because you had the most compelling arguments, or most persuasive people behind you.

The only reason I came back to you, Church, is that there are some churches out there in this world that do preach the forgiveness of sins. They can be very hard to find. It took me many years to find churches like you. I read a lot of books. I talked to a lot of people. There are some churches that do teach theology to the youth. There are some churches that do care. There are churches that aren't constantly trying to market to millennials. 

Thank you, faithful churches. God is very well pleased with you. As for the rest of you, I hope you have great 401k's in this life. 



*Of course, what I said many years ago is very ironic. I made a claim that God didn't exist, and yet, I was speaking directly to him as if he did. 

Nicholas Davis

Rev. Nicholas Davis is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America.

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