Thursday, 11 August 2011
NOTE: I originally posted this over two years ago. I felt like I had to leave you all with something while I was gone, and so many people I've met on here in the last two years have asked me, so I thought I'd retell the story. Realize that many things are different now (most notably my age).
The Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwin's Dilemma
By Dr. Marc W. Kirschner, John C. Gerhart
I am currently a senior in college, 23 years old. The story starts when I was 11 years old in sixth grade, learning science for the first time. I started doing some outside reading on my own, and realized that the Bible wasn't exactly congruent with science. The more reading I did in science showed that god wasn't really necessary for all the things that people attributed to him. That was also the same year one of my good friends died from a congenital heart defect. I found it absolutely appalling that the same people that would praise god for baby births and recovery from operations would now say things like "god works in mysterious ways" or "it was god's will". Heads, god wins, tails, god wins. At that point I gave up on god, and just stopped caring. I wasn't militant in my disbelief. I was more of an apatheist, in that I really didn't care, but mostly didn't believe.
Two years later, all those tolerant Christians preaching god's love of all people in my Boy Scout troop told me that I wasn't welcome since I didn't believe in god. While this didn't change my opinion of god, it did change my opinion of god's followers.
Skip ahead to the beginning of 11th grade. I'm 15, and still an apatheist, maybe a deist of sorts, but I don't have it really settled in my head. I'm sitting in my honors English class, when my neck starts spasming. I try to cover it up and ignore it, but it gets more and more intense, until I nearly knock myself unconscious by spasming my head into my shoulder. This was the beginning of a steady decline in my health. Over the next few months, the spasms became more frequent and started spreading to my limbs. About six months after the first "attack", I started getting spasms in my stomach and chest muscles. A doctor told me there was a very good chance that it would spread to my heart muscles and give me a heart attack. He told me there was a chance I would not live past high school. I was diagnosed with a rare form of dystonia, most likely a genetic form (my grandfather exhibited strange muscle symptoms as well).
So I re-found Jesus. I started attending every church function I could make. I prayed all the time. I did everything I could to make sure I'd get into heaven. Because I sincerely believed in the doctrines I learned in the Bible and in church, where I could be sentenced to hell for mere THOUGHTS! My doctors told me to do everything I could to reduce stress, since stress set off these spasms. But how can you decrease stress when you're worried about spending an eternity in hellfire?
My symptoms continued getting worse, despite the amount faith and prayers I put into it. I started having spasms in my diaphragm and chest, so at times I would not be able to breathe for over a minute at a time, only to be able to get a single gasp of breath to hold me out for the next minute. One of these spasms got so powerful that I broke two ribs just from the muscle spasms. I then passed out, either from the pain or the lack of oxygen and was sent to the hospital to stay for a few days.
I still remember extremely clearly being in the hospital, praying to god to make me better so I could then spend the rest of my life doing his will throughout the world when I had a heart attack. For me it wasn't like you see in the movies, where they grasp their arm and slowly fall down. For me, I was laying in bed, felt extreme pain in my arm, then actually felt my heart pumping extremely rapidly.... then stop. I remember hearing the cardiac monitor sound it's alarm cry as I slowly faded out of consciousness.
At this point I made a decision to redouble my efforts, since I obviously wasn't doing god's will. I mean, if I was I'd get better, right? That was my thought process up until my first year of college... when I had my second heart attack. After that I started doubting that any truly loving god was watching out for me. I started reading up more and more on biology, cosmology, and philosophy (as well as the Bible a second time around). By learning more science, I started thinking along the lines of evidence and critical evaluation, which made it harder for Christianity to hold sway in my mind.
Through all this, I realized there was no way that there was some all-loving, all-powerful being who cared about me and intervened in my life. So I slowly made the transition to Deist (believing in an unmoved mover, a god who set the universe in motion but didn't interfere in individual affairs), and over another year or two to a full-blown atheist. Since then, my health has improved (owing partly, I'm sure, to a decrease in stress from no longer fearing eternal damnation).
Now, with a post like this (a very personal one to me), I'm willing to answer any questions. But I'd ask that you phrase them respectfully (which has been a problem here in the past). I'd like to hear reactions to this story.