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By Ronna Russell ~

This is a satirical piece I wrote just for fun:

I am the Serpent, I am I am.

Now everyone knows that the serpent is more subtle than any beast which the LORD God made.

I am a beast I am I am

Which is what I’m thinking as I slither and slink like vapor through the bows of the bewitchment tree and smell the woman below.

The scent of her innocence coats my tongue as I descend onto the soft curve of her bare shoulder.

And I said to her I said have you tried all the fruit in the garden yet?

Which one did the Lord God forbid?

Even though I already knew the answer.

And the woman she whispered against my scales she said we can eat all the fruit from any of the trees in the whole garden except this one right here.

That Lord God guy-I think he owns the place-he said we can’t even touch these bananas or we’ll die.

And I said to the woman, I said Naaaah you’ll be fiiiiine. He just doesn’t wanna share. He knows your eyes will open up, you’ll seeeee stuff, man.

You’ll know things just like the gods do. And the colors… you won’t believe your eyes. You’ll feel like you’re floating away. It’s a trip, man.

I headed back up to the branch with the low-hanging pretty, pretty golden pears and watched her eyes begin to gleam. She wanted it. The power and the colors and the floating.

She wanted it, man.

Her long, dirty fingers reached up and wrapped around the bulb of that shiny red apple and she plucked it right off the stem.

Then she snatched another one and ran off to find her old man, her greasy curls slapping against her back. Didn’t even say thanks. They came back for more in about two seconds.

I knew that was a mistake, but I wanted to see what was gonna happen so I looped around the skinny branches up in the sun, turned myself a bright sick citron and settled down to watch the show.

They were rolling around in the grass, giggling, and slurping those purple plums, nectar dripping down their chins. They didn’t even have the smarts to hide-just ate ‘em right out in the open.

They were high as kites-barking like dogs and licking juice off each other.

Then they started stringing together those giant fig leaves with these spiky little sticks they picked off a bush, making some kinda crazy pants.

It was fucking hilarious.

And then, oh shit, all of a sudden we heard the voice of the LORD God. He was coming.

Adam! Where the hell are you?

He sounded pissed.

They scrambled to hide but Adam chickened out and called, over here.

I could practically feel the woman rolling her eyes.

They were right under me now so I stayed real still.

Then the Lord God saw their wonky aprons and went ballistic.

And he said, who told thee that thou wast naked? You ate those bloody peaches I told you to leave alone, didn’t you?

Adam sold Eve out immediately-what a douchebag. "She gave ‘em to me," he whined.

So the LORD God whirled around on Eve all puffy like-I could see everything-and he hollered, "What the hell, Eve? You had one rule."

And then-you won’t believe this-she blamed ME like I made her do it. The serpent tricked me-he said it was okay, she blubbered.

Unbelievable.

And the LORD God looked straight up at me like he knew I was there the whole time-super creepy-and he’s so mad he’s screaming now and he said to me he said, "This is all your fault! You are fucking CURSED from now on, even more than the cattle, even more than all the other beasts! I am NEVER gonna let you grow legs and you can eat dirt, man. I am gonna make Eve hate you and her kids are gonna hate you and they will kick you in the head every chance they get forever and ever."

He was out of control. I got the hell out there-just launched myself into the next tree and got out of that fucking garden before the lightning bolts started flying.
I don’t know what happened after that.
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By Carl S ~

Billions have been told “Judas Iscariot” was the ultimate betrayer. Consider “his” side of things. “He” served a man who was a blasphemer. According to his Jewish faith, blasphemers must be executed. Judas made the right decision. Billions have been told Jesus said “it would have been better if he had not been born.” (an abortion option?) The Vatican didn't take Jesus at his word when it said not to be so hard on Judas, because, without playing his part in “god's plan,” there wouldn't be any “redemption!”

Judas is a distraction when it comes to betrayers. Christianity has been betraying innocent children and their trusting parents by the millions. This goes with their authority. Lying and betraying are the God-given rights bestowed on God's clergy. Each pastor who commits adultery and/or embezzles church funds betrays his wife, family, and congregation. Every religious institution abusing children entrusted to it betrays the trust and the children. Native Americans, both north and south, were double-crossed by Christians. (Are their children currently being raped by clergy in Christian Indian mission schools?) Churchgoers are betrayed by being kept ignorant about their scriptures. (I suspect church members don't take dogmas any more seriously than their pastors. My wife's pastor preached on clergy abuse and read the text of Jesus saying, “If anyone harms these children who believe in me, he should have a stone tied about his neck, and he should be thrown in the river.” Just imagine clergy tossing their comrades in the rivers! You'd expect it from the Mafia. Clergy aren't taking J.C. seriously.)

If you set up a GoFundMe campaign to feed the starving, home the homeless, relieve suffering, and you use that money to pay off victims of pedophiles you've supported, wouldn't you be in deep trouble with the law? Christian values institutions are legally getting away with it. Are you practicing Christian values if, knowing this, you continue to support them? Many clerics who preach an eternal combat between their god and devils, are the devils. Clergy have already invented and used every version of hell they could imagine to torture, here on earth. Pope Francis spoke against “rampant secularism” in Europe. Go hide in your citadel, Francis. Your Vatican is a gold plated toilet, and it's full of over a thousand years of it. The cleanup has barely begun. Without secular authorities and laws, your pedophiles would never be revealed, there'd be no justice for the victims, and there’ll be more victims.

Believers should have no problem accepting abortion [...] since they believe every soul is eternal and is set free when its body dies.  Why don't Christian men who say, “Vote for me, I'm for the “sanctity of life” have no problem sending men and women off to wars they create, and killing thousands of innocent civilians in those wars? They play on a maudlin preoccupation with the “unborn,” while they turn ice-cold to women’s' sufferings! God tells them: Women should shut their mouths, spread their legs, obey, and raise children. But all believers should have no problem accepting abortion, no problem at all. Since they believe every soul is eternal and is set free when its body dies, what possible harm could abortion do by freeing it before birth? Both Islam and Christianity praise martyrs, “those who destroy their bodies to free their souls.” The “sanctity of life?” Oh please. Men create nuclear weapons capable of annihilating millions, and a male god to create a hell to waste more lives in. Doctor Strangelove would applaud such “pro-lifers.”

Christianity is male domination. It excuses a male god's failure to end suffering and tragedies, to his “mysterious ways.” This god makes sense to those who haven't seriously thought about him. Their sources for beliefs come from mentally ill prophets and tanglelogic apologists. Tangled minds make tangled explanations; delusions make sense to the deluded. These are the kinds of people who believe the imaginations of their minds are revelations from spirit sources. Is religion a type of mental illness left over from some primitive gene, now useless? The original sin was the first betrayal of one human by another. Are you suffering as a result of Christianity's god-endorsed tradition of betrayals? Where do you see yourself on the Pain Scale that goes from smiley face to wincing face?
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By Michael Runyan ~

Religion creates two major problems neither of which God is doing anything about. First, there is the situation where many religions exist and conflict with each other, leading to hatred and violence being spewed across theological battle lines. If everyone followed the same religion in same way, things would be a lot better, but not completely.

This leads into the second major problem with religion. It tends to be tethered to the mores, ethics, and knowledge existing at the time of its creation. That combined with an inherent resistance to change leads to the penetration of archaic themes into modern times with its more evolved
zeitgeist. For example, Christianity was consistent with the morality existing in its early years, with its defense of slavery, repudiation of homosexuality, subjugation of women, teaching of creationism, disregard of animal rights or the health of the biosphere, but these ideas have now lost their respectability. Thus even if only one world religion existed, there would still be problems dealing with the persistence of old, outdated beliefs rooted in the past.

So this is what God has observed… and done nothing to fix. First, he could have produced tangible evidence and engineered history to ensure that only one religious faith existed, free from factions and conflicting denominations. Second, he could have equipped such a faith with doctrine that would stand the test of time and still be relevant as the centuries rolled on. Such a god would have known that the future of humanity was on a trajectory of racial and sexual equality, would have understood science such as to make his scriptures thereby consistent, and would have abolished slavery on day one, as just a few examples. The fact that this god, the god of Christianity, did none of this suggests strongly that he doesn’t exist.
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From Michael ~

Hello, If you guys don’t mind I’d like to request some advice. I’m on the fence about religion at the moment.

I used to be a Christian, as I was raised in a predominantly Christian household. My Mom and Grandma brought me to Mass every Sunday, and I spent my time in primary school in a Christian school. However, I’m starting to question things, and I’m confused because of it.

For example, I sometimes ask myself questions like,
"If there is a God, why has he allowed so many people to suffer over the thousands of years of our existence. If he loves us, why does he let us suffer?"

I’ve also asked myself the question of,
"If there was nothing before God created us then how did he exist? Does God have his own God?"

He couldn’t have just existed without any kind of explanation right?

I think the most important question however is:
"How do I overcome this confusion?"
Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
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By Carl S ~

There have been cases of destructive obsession in the media, probably the most well-known, John Lennon's murder by an obsessed fan. Obsessions also include ideas and ideals: The Civil War in the States was fought over slavery versus the abolition of slavery. Obsession with a personality having an idealized goal is very powerful when it feels so right it just has to be the most important feeling ever. History is replete with examples: The symbolic Christ and Mithras, conquerors of death, and Hitler, Napoleon, Gandhi, Alexander, etc., all arriving at the right time and circumstances to succeed, for good or evil. They inspired obsessive devotion.

I'm obsessed with writing clearly and honestly. But I still remember my obsession with a woman 56 years ago. It ended when she said, “I'm not the person you made me out to be.” But the person really existed. We know people who insist they have a “personal relationship” with a “Jesus” they've only heard of. For them, “Jesus” means an ultimate compassionate, all-forgiving, always dependable, eternal lover. Doesn't that describe everyone's desirable delusion? Those who have an “intimate relationship” with “Him” just know “he understands what's in my heart.” Really? They'll tell you that you have to experience “his presence” yourself because, “It can't be explained.” Oh? Well, thanks for telling me that. Huh! (Excuse me - what has this have to do with morality?) If you could go back to ancient Egypt, you'd meet these believers counterparts in the just as convinced worshipers of Ra, Isis, and Osiris. Big deal. We're supposed to be impressed with their feel-good testimonies, or desire to be in the same nuthouse, just because they're “Christian?”

Whoops! Maybe you were one of those gullible, trusting “chosen” ones. When you gave up faith in this Imaginary Lover, you also let go of a possibility of becoming obsessed with “him.” Maybe now you understand what the lead character in Sinclair Lewis' novel, “Dodsworth,” meant when he said: “Love has got to stop someplace short of suicide.” Being a slave becomes a heavy burden after a while.

Religions nurture obsessive beliefsNature leaves us and other creatures unprepared and vulnerable to seduction. Sometimes the seduction leads to death. Obsessions resulting from religious seductions are no exception, where they're exploited. More out of necessity than convenience, religions nurture obsessive beliefs. If you're indoctrinated to believe prayer or karma will bring you a savior who intuitively understands your needs and will solve your problems, you're being set up for obsession.

After some time, the “Person” doesn't even need to be present, but simply believed in through hearsay. Simply by having two or three gathered together in “his” name can bring the feeling “he” is in their midst. So, obsessed groups become fan clubs and even cults. Their obsession with their Celebrity, and hopes for longings to be fulfilled, are all-important. It follows that individuality and personal responsibility are surrendered. The option to live as a free individual is wasted in obeying rituals.

Though the lives of Koresh, Jim Jones, Hitler, and Jesus, etc., ended with self or provoked suicide, death doesn't diminish the obsession some have for them and other popular charismatics, and what they represent. Their followers were willing to die for them. Even after their deaths, what they represent still attracts followers. It's impossible to argue against such wholehearted, faith-filled certainty; it usually has been halted only through force of arms. What would have happened without Christian soldiers killing with the cross leading them on? What could have happened if all those obsessives had instead been free to become obsessed with devotion to clear thinking and reasoning? More to the point, what will happen to your life?
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From Mandy ~

Just curious to know what your thoughts are on these stories about atheists who supposedly saw or went to hell when they had a near death experience.

I see these kind of videos popping up on my YouTube feed from time to
time.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.
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By Fritz P ~

In August of 1973, I got in the family car and drove out of town, instead of going to work. I drove about forty miles, got out with a cardboard box of clothes, locked the car, walked across the highway and stuck out my thumb.

I was a licensed and ordained Southern Baptist minister. I was married to a wonderful woman, and we had a perfect one year old daughter. No one knew of my whereabouts for a week or two, then my wife was able to track me down in Air Force basic training in San Antonio, Texas. I had joined up, because I knew of no other way to raise the funds I knew I needed to pay for child support. Contrary to suppositions at the time, I'd never planned on trying to avoid my financial responsibilities to my child.

I had essentially committed suicide.

I did not know what else to do.

When questioned as to my religious position immediately after this rift in my life, I would generally respond noncommittally or with agnostic/atheist murmurings. But really, I wanted time. Time to think. I've been hated and castigated for "abandoning" my family. If you reached a point where you honestly believed that only the mentally ill could worship such a god as that found in the Bible, what would you do?

  • Would you leave the church, but stay and tell EVERYONE you care about that they are insane to hold the beliefs they hold?
  • Would you not doubt your own sanity before taking such a stance?

It took forty-four years for me to finally come to understand why I left it all in the way that I did. It was my precious daughter. She fell off the couch, I think the week before I left. She wasn't harmed
except for a little knot on her head. A moment of what was parental inattention resulted in my life being sliced in two. At the time, I remember questioning why god would allow harm to come to my child for no apparent reason. I quickly stifled such thinking with all the tried and true Christian replies and retorts to such thought. In reality, though my daughter had only sustained a little noggin knot, my belief system had shattered on that floor.

There is a logical disconnect between the biblical god and what an actually omnipotent, omniscient, loving deity would do. But that was not what determined the way in which I ended my ministry. I somehow knew at that moment that atheism was not where I was nor where I was headed. But, I didn't know where I WAS headed, religiously. How could I tell friends, family, EVERYONE, that the Bible was NOT the answer, without SOMETHING to offer in exchange? Most importantly, how could "I just don't know" suffice for that precious little girl's eternity?

So I left it all.

I would reconnect with her after the divorce, but then allow my ex-wife's new husband to adopt my daughter. I led them to believe it was about the child support, but I could see nothing but spiritual disruption for my little girl.

Thankfully, we've been able to become part of each others lives over the last twenty-five years. But, I still am troubled by what I see in Christian-dominated cultures. Why are there no movements to protect children from statements that glorify suffering and human sacrifice, while propagating Stockholm Syndrome ("Obey me and live forever or I'll send you to hell")?

My life split in half because it became obvious that there is a logical disconnect between the biblical god and what an actually omnipotent, omniscient, loving deity would do. Does the world REALLY believe that the destructive nature of Christian-dominated cultures is unrelated to this basic cognitive dissonance which underlies every facet of their societies?

I still hope for some action on behalf of children to provide them shelter from psychologically damaging dogma.
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By mezzokitty ~

Well, the challenge for me is where do I begin with my testimony, such as it is. I was raised by a single mom in California who was angry all the time, and who had a serious substance abuse problem. To put it mildly, our family was dysfunctional.

In addition, my maternal grandmother was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist, and she did her best to bring us all back into the fold. Part of this belief system is that the Pope is the Antichrist, and that anyone who worships on Sunday has taken the Mark of the Beast. This became a serious issue for me when I was about eight, after I had come home from a sleepover with one of my best friends from school. My friend’s family was Catholic, and had taken me to Mass with them on Sunday morning. I was fascinated with the pageantry in the church, the ceremony, and the kindness that people showed me. It was the opposite of what I considered to be the boring Sabbath services and foot-washing ceremonies I had attended.

When I got home, Mom and Grandma were at the kitchen table and they asked me how the weekend went. Excited at all I had heard and seen over the weekend, I told them what we had done – and then capped it off by saying I wanted to be a Catholic so I could spend every Sunday morning with my best friend.

My grandmother’s immediate reaction reminded me of that scene in The Exorcist where the little girl’s head spun around and stuff began coming out of her mouth. It was that bad. I was sent to my room for the rest of the night, and later my mother told me not to ever mention anything like that again, nor could I see my friend anymore. Grandma was convinced that my friend and her family had taken the Mark of the Beast and she was concerned for my eternal soul. It was then that I began asking what kind of God would condemn anyone who was friendly and kind? Strike one!

Fast forward about 12-15 years. I was married to a good Christian man. At least it was a marriage in the legal sense, until he began drinking and abusing me physically and verbally. By that time, we had three kids and were attending an evangelical church. When I went to the pastor to ask for help, he told me to pray and submit to my husband instead of calling the police. That ended when he beat me viciously in front of my children while he was in a blackout state. I took the kids, fled, and stayed with my mother until I could get it together enough to start over as a single parent.

For the first time in my life, I went to secular institutions in the community to get the help I needed because nobody in the church would help me. Their view was that I was going to hell for having the audacity to leave my husband and seek a divorce, and they could care less whether my kids and I had enough to eat or a safe place to live. As far as I was concerned, we already were in hell. To me, hell is a place where self-righteous people create God in their own image, judge others by their standards, and change the rules as they see fit. Strike two!

The end finally came in early 2003, during the run-up to the disastrous war in Iraq.The end finally came in early 2003, during the run-up to the disastrous war in Iraq. My second husband and I had started attending an evangelical church (hell, I’m a believer in second chances) when the pastor got up and started going on and on about how George W. Bush was God’s man in the White House, and how we needed to go along with supporting what they called his mission in the Middle East regardless of what we thought about violence and war. As someone who was active in the peace movement, I found this pronouncement from the pulpit appalling and I ran out of the sanctuary and waited in the car for him. Then, I told him I wasn’t going back to his church. Ever. Our marriage lasted another eight years before we ended it. Strike three! I’m outta here.

Other things have occurred that have turned me off to this belief system, more recently the unquestioning and unqualified support of evangelicals for the current resident of the White House. In addition, after my kids grew up and moved out I began attending college. My initial motive was to secure better employment than I could get with a high school diploma, but along the way I began reading about the ways people who were not white, male, or Christian were treated by the dominant culture. Slowly, I began to realize that religion has been used as a bludgeon against people, and has been used to justify ills like the subjugation of women, child abuse, slavery, corporate greed, environmental degradation, and efforts to subdue and exterminate indigenous peoples. I also began questioning why people’s interpretation of “God’s will” so frequently aligned with their own ambitions and desires, and others be damned.

So, I walked away from religion and all of its strikes. Currently, I am in a loving relationship with another ex-believer, am making a career change into work that is satisfying for me intellectually and emotionally, and see myself as spiritual, rather than religious. While I don’t have all the answers, I find a lot of freedom in not being tied to a narrow, negative belief system. To me, each of us has a spirit that can exist and express itself anytime, anywhere, and by any way that we choose, whether through meditation, creative expression, self-care or voluntary service that comes from a good heart and a genuine desire to make our world a better place to live, rather than out of a desire to score brownie points in heaven by converting someone else to a dead faith. Instead of an awesome god, we have an awesome choice.
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By Luke ~

It's been 11 years since I deconverted. I figured I'd share my story, as I find it therapeutic to do so. Still somewhat haunted by my Christian past. Sorry if this is a bit disjointed.

It all started in 2008. I was on Youtube. It was, I think, the heyday of Youtube atheism. (Thunderf00t vs. VenomfangX anyone? Lol.) One day I stumbled onto a video by user profmth Mitch. He talked about how Jesus failed to return when he promised he would. I was shocked and, frankly,
kinda excited. I remember thinking,
"What the hell, could he (prof) be right? Was Jesus wrong?" 
I ended up showing my mom. She just shook her head and said "nope," and walked away. Love my mom, but lol. This was the video:

Jesus Was Wrong & Should Be Ignored - YouTube


It was this video and others (by Thunderf00t, cdk007, etc) that propelled me to take a hard look at my faith. I ended up reading articles about atheism and evolution on Talk Origins and Infidels.org. Richard Carrier's essay "Why I Am Not a Christian" had a big impact on me. And reading about evolution essentially made me have an identity crisis. It was like,
"Whoa, so I have no soul? Then who am I?"
It's hard to describe how I felt -- it was just really weird. Kinda dreamlike.

I ordered books . . . lots of books, from Amazon. And took out books from the library. I was desperate to figure it all out. Biblical scholarship, philosophy of religion, and cognitive science of religion was my thing. Why did I believe in the first place? Is there actually a god? I spent an awful
lot of time reading academic books and articles, especially about Christian eschatology because of that video by profmth Mitch. I wanted to know for sure if profmth was right. Because if he was, then, as far as I was concerned, Christianity was definitely false.

After maybe 2 years I became convinced that Jesus was indeed a false prophet. That Christianity was false. Dale Allison (Constructing Jesus, Ch. 2) and Edward Adams (The Stars Will Fall from Heaven) persuaded me. Attempts by Christian academics to avoid the false prophet charge were unconvincing.

I ended up becoming very evangelistic about my atheism -- or loss of faith -- during this time. I wanted people to know that Christianity was false, and would write Facebook posts arguing for the falsity of Christianity. I relished getting into arguments with Christians.

I still remember when I first admitted to myself that I was an atheist -- that I had completely lost faith in God. It was when I had finished a book called "Atheist Universe" by David Mills. He convinced me that Christianity -- at least of the Evangelical variety -- was bogus. Original sin, the doctrine of Hell, creationism, etc, all became unbelievable. . . . I couldn't believe I had accepted all of this. Losing my faith and seeing the world with new eyes was a surreal experience. Certainly something I'll never forget.

Virtually everyone in my family is an evangelical Christian. Some have tried to bring me back into the fold. I've been invited to church, out for coffee to chat, you know the drill. After I attended a multi-part apologetic sermon series with family members in 2012, I put together an anthology for them as a way of showing what I believe and why; to show them why I don't accept the standard arguments for faith; and to hopefully show them that I searched hard for the truth. Whether I succeeded in that I don't know. We don't talk much about religious matters anymore.

My interest in these big issues has waned considerably over the last couple years, admittedly, due to issues I won't get into. I do, however, still enjoy reading the stories of recent deconverts. Comments or questions welcome.
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By Brandon ~

I was raised in a Christian home all my life, and was a Christian until the age of about 41. Nothing hardcore or fundamentalist, but attended church every Sunday morning at a minimum. Eight years ago my youngest sister passed away shorty after giving birth to her first child. Talk about a wake up call, watching my 19-year old sister die is what did it for me. After that I decided to go on a mission to find out what life is all about. So I bought the Bible on audio CD so I could listen to it on my way to and from work everyday. I listened to the bible maybe 3 to 4 times, and as I listened certain versus would just hit me and make me think and question.

Each day I would get to work and compile a few questions based upon what I had heard and learned that day. It didn't take too long and I ended up with so many questions and philosophical scenarios that I didn't know where to turn. As many people have done, I decided to talk with some pastors, but shortly into the discussions I would quickly realize that I knew the bible better than they did, so the level of respect drops quickly, especially when they do this for a living.

One pastor told me this was my spiritual awakening, and he was correct in a way. It wasn't a spiritual awakening but an awakening indeed. So next I moved onto reading apologetic books as well as the atheist side like Harris, Hitchens, Russell, etc... During all of this I was slowly moving towards dis-belief but of course the fear of hell, and the fear of being wrong can be very difficult to overcome. Being an engineer by profession, and also having all the traits that make a good engineer, really exaggerates the fear of being wrong. Along this struggle I also had a conversation with a fellow colleague one day and somehow the subject of religion and evolution came up. My colleague was agnostic, and at the time I was still on the Christian bus, but he said something to me that hit me like a brick in the face. He told me he was surprised in my beliefs since I was so strict in my profession to never take any one's word for anything without data and evidence. So there I was, finally realizing I used logic, reasoning, evidence and data in every other aspect of my life besides religion.

My next move was to read the Bible cover to cover. And like so many have said, once you take off your god glasses it becomes so apparent that there is no way to believe the bible is the word of god. Then, instead of listening to the bible every day to and from work, I listened to every god debate available on you tube, as well as the atheist experience, Aron Ra, Hitchens, Harris, etc... So over 8 years of pain and anguish, wondering if I'm wrong, searching for truth, I finally came to realize I'm and atheist and can no longer turn back.

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