June 24, 2014

Dear Christians:
It was really hard to say good-bye to my Bible.

Dear Christians is a regular column that addresses many of the fallacies about atheism I was brought up to believe in under fundamentalism.

Dear Christians,

I recently said good-bye to an old friend.

My Bible.

It may surprise those of you that believe that those of us without belief are angry or bitter towards our past spiritual upbringing, but this was a truly difficult activity.

My Bible and I had been through a lot, you see.

It really shows its age, I think. The spine broke after years of feverish use. This Bible was a gift. I received it from Trinity Baptist Church when I was eleven years old, after I received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for writing for our school district.

It was there through several life changing events.

When my parents told us that my grandfather had a tumor and was very sick, I remember hiding in my closet with my Bible and a flashlight, reading for hours. I was afraid. It was a source of comfort.

As I grew, it was a major part of my life. I dedicated myself to reading it throughout my early teen years, sometimes for hours.

It was a major part of my life. It was highlighted and underlined. I scribbled notes furiously throughout. The blank pages contained notes from my favorite passages.

It shaped not only my belief, but my journey to nonbelief too. The inconsistencies that I found between its pages and the way it was lived started me down this road. I questioned everything.

It was a major factor in my life, on all sides. So relinquishing it was difficult to do. You may wonder why it was important to me--after all, it's just a book, right?

But it was a book that represented some of my darkest struggles to try to retain my faith. It was a reminder of trying and failing to hold onto it, a reminder of the number of times that I turned to it for comfort and it was inadequate. It held a profound sense of loss. My grandfather? The cancer would take his life six months after that day in the closet. When I turned to it for guidance on my own mental health, I found only the feeling that I was struggling and God was not there.

Many times since my conversion, I've seen this sentiment: If only atheists would read and study the Bible, they would understand. They would believe.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: I have read and studied the Bible, with full faith that it was the true, infallible, inspired Word of God. I believed it. It was through that belief that I began to question it, not because of doubt, but because I desired to understand it at a deeper level. It was that questioning that led me away from my faith over time. It was not a lack of understanding or study; in a way, it was too much.

I considered many ways to dispose of it, but nothing felt right. It represented a huge chunk of time and effort and belief on my part. I still held that emotional connection to it, to the memories with it.

So my old Bible is relegated to the attic, in a box of memories. So perhaps my children will run across it someday, and see it as a part of my journey.

In the meantime, a less emotional edition still retains a spot on my bookshelf, with other philosophy books.

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