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Agnostic Testimony 16
From Son of a Preacher to Freethinker

by: The Reverend H. Lee, UCTAA

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How did I get to my current views?

I grew-up in a Pentecostal holiness church; my father (deceased) and mother were both ministers (my mother still is). As most religious ideology begins, mine begin as a child. I attended church every Sunday, Wednesday, and whenever there was a revival or other function going on in the denomination I was in church. I accepted the bible as the "word of God", inerrant, infallible and literally true. I accepted the story of Adam and Eve, the fall of man, the flood and everything from Genesis to Revelation as absolute truth. I grew up with the idea of the imminent return of Jesus and so I felt there was no reason to plan for the future or be concern with educational goals, marriage, or planning for adulthood.

My transition started about 12 years ago. I was faithfully paying my tithes but was falling behind in my bills and so I ask the question, why does an invisible deity need 10% of my income? For those of you who don't know what tithes are, it is the belief that 10% of your income belongs to God. Tithing was establish by the priests (Levites) in Old Testament times as their inheritance. When the 12 tribes of Israel divided the conquered land of the Canaanites, the Levites did not get an inheritance of the land; instead the 11 other tribes were require to give them 10% of whatever their land produced (see Deuteronomy 26:12-15).

This simple question about tithes started me on my metamorphosis from a bible-carrying, speaking-in-tongues believer to a freethinker. With this question on my mind one day I was searching the internet and I came across an essay by Thomas Paine called the Age of Reason and this was the first time I saw someone critical of the bible and especially Christianity. I had read the bible through and through and I never thought about the atrocities that Jehovah, Moses, Abraham, David, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, Samson and others did in the Old Testament. I accepted it as the will of God. Then I thought about the Original Sin story of Adam and Eve and how ridiculous it appeared: all of humanity was doomed because two people were deceived by a talking snake. If the doctrine of original sin is foolish so must be the idea of atonement. Why do I feel the original sin and atonement is illogical? If I were to commit a crime, I don't expect my kids or grandkids to do my time of incarceration or to die in my place if the death sentence is required.

I don't take the bible literally anymore; it is just a compiled book consisting of ancient Hebrew, Egyptian, Babylonian, and other near-east mythologies. I am not an atheist nor am I theist because I see both as absolutes that are different extremes of the same spectrum. I would say as Socrates did, I know that I don't know. This made Socrates the wisest of men.