Adam Brown, AtheismResource.com founder, finally shares his story

Author: Adam Brown / Age: 30 / Sex: Male / Occupation: Event Planner/Marketing Director

It’s hard to tell a story that doesn’t have an ending and is always changing, but I will try. I’ve told this story verbally many times. It always seems to come out with a bias based on how I feel about religion at that time. I’ll do my best to wipe away the emotion… ok, probably not. Why? Well, it’s emotional for me. I can’t change that. Emotion used to rule my life. It made me believe in god. Not because I wanted to or had some deep need for it. I was born into it.

BORN INTO IT

I was raised by a single mom with a brother that was four years my senior. We had it rough. My mom didn’t always hold jobs very long and my childhood was filled with moves, evictions, bad apartments and rental homes, Medicaid, free lunches, food stamps, government housing, and utilities being shut off. We were never “homeless” although we did have to live with friends and family at times. But, through all that, we always had the church. Looking back (and seeing it as a father now) I think church was a needed outlet for my mother – still is. It was a social center for us. We moved churches like we moved houses, but for the few months or years we would be at a church, we did make good friends.

Even today, I miss the fellowship with other people. I have great memories of youth groups, kid’s camps, Christmas musicals, lock-ins, special events, and potluck dinners. Churches in Springfield, Missouri (where I grew up) always knew how to have a good time. I was deep into it. Really deep. I was part of Royal Rangers, the Assemblies of God equivalent to Boy Scouts.  And Kiwanis, the Baptists answer to Royal Rangers. Picture Boy Scouts but with lots of bible lessons and tons of scripture memorization. Yeah, we did Assemblies, Baptists, Nazarene, and Non-Denominational. Basically, just pentecostal / evangelical. I was taught to speak in tongues, lay hands on the sick, dance in the spirit, and all that other bullshit.

But, it didn’t seem like bullshit at the time. I fully believed all of it. Sure, I had questions… I was a smart child. But, I learned to rationalize those things away. “God works in mysterious ways” worked for me for a long time. I trained to be a minister/missionary, went to many, many bible camps, read the bible through 3  times, and memorized almost 200 scriptures. I competed in “Fine Arts” competitions (Assemblies of God nationwide talent shows) and took part in music ministries. I witnessed to friends and brought many to church… and to god. I feel guilty about that now. Guilt is a funny thing. It used to scare me into believing in god. Whether Christians want to admit it or not, it IS their main motivation. They feel guilty for how they feel/think/act. Church teaching makes you feel ashamed of being who you are. We all think about sex. We all have “sinful” thoughts and we all act on them… yes, ALL if us – don’t pretend that you are sinless.

Scriptures like “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of god / The wages of sin is death but the gift of god is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path” used to give me comfort. Now, I look back on them and I think about how horrible they are. The first one tells us that we are ALL BAD PEOPLE and we are destined for hell (the wages of sin is death) but god has a gift for us. What a shitty gift. Imagine if I said, “Here’s an apple.” You said, “No thanks.” Then I punched you in the face! It’s not a gift if you get punished for refusing it. The second scripture literally tells you NOT to think for yourself. Don’t trust your own intellect… just listen to the bible and it will always tell you what to do. It seems insane now, but I used to think these were good things. And i followed them routinely, going to church 2-4 times a week until I was 17. Then, I grew up.

THE AWAKENING

I’ve learned since becoming an “out” atheist that this conversion point in my life is not unique. There is something about college that enables people to be around new people, leave their families behind, get educated, and think for themselves. It is only through rational, critical, skeptical thinking that one can truly escape the bonds of religion. It started for me around my senior year in High School. I had an atheist best friend through junior high and high school. I didn’t witness to him and he didn’t try and talk me out of religion. We were just friends and left it at that. Looking back, I wish he had been a little more vocal and asked me questions. I probably would have dumped my beliefs earlier. But, my friend, Nick, did help be become less concerned with religion. I saw him and his family treat each other well without god. They seemed better than my family but they never went to church or talked about god.

I slowly started going to church less and less. It was mostly because I was tired from working hard on class (I was on a nationally known Speech and Debate Team that took up a lot of time). Sunday mornings were a time to sleep in. So, church became an occasional “treat” as I began to internalize my faith. This absence was completely necessary to my deconversion. I was escaping “The God Virus” slowly. By not being around it too much, I was not getting new doses to keep me sick with false belief. Being an award winning debater helped too. I was taught to research and look for evidence on both sides of every issue. I learned to think critically. This carried over with me to college. But, even going into college, I still called myself a Christian, although now I hadn’t gone to church regularly in over a year. I was afraid to blaspheme and accept the truth… I had lost my faith in god.

It was for several reasons that I started looking at my faith with a skeptical eye. One, I met a lot of gay people on my campus. I had been taught that being gay was a choice and  a sin. I was told they were bad people that were going to hell if I didn’t help “fix” them. I had class with several gay students and became their friends. It was glaringly apparent that they were this way for a long time. It wasn’t a choice. They liked people of the same sex for biological reasons… not reasons of sin. Also, at this time, I worked part time (and as a hobby at parties) as a professional magician. I watched all kinds of people see my tricks and remember them completely wrong. I studied psychology and sociology. The way stories were passed and memories created fascinated me and I quickly saw how this applied to religion. But, mostly, I learned science that hadn’t been shown to me in high school. I saw how creation was impossible. I learned how certain evolution is and how scientific reasoning can’t be applied to religion without coming to one final conclusion… there is no god – we created him.

THE RESEARCH

I was stunned, at first, as I started having these thoughts. there wasn’t an “AH-HA” moment for me where it all just sunk in. I felt it first, and didn’t verbalize it for years. I feared now that what I had grown up believing couldn’t hold up to the reason test. The first book I read on atheism was “Breaking the Spell” by Daniel Dennett (here’s a list of books I recommend for new atheists including Dennett’s). A this point, I hadn’t ever heard of Dawkins, Harris, or Hitchens.  I was an atheism-virgin. Dan’s book helped me realize that the greatest power the church had was it’s ability to convince people that questioning their faith was a sin. I felt ashamed. I was a smart person. I knew how to research and debunk myths. But, I had turned a blind eye to my religious beliefs, until now. I spent a long time using books, the internet, and videos to learn as much as i could about the bible and biblical history. I won’t get into it all here. You’ll find references all throughout our site about the fallacies in the bible. But, once it became clear that the bible was written by men, was not divinely inspired, and was edited, rewritten, and revised over centuries, I could no longer look at it as anything but an interesting historical book… one that held no authority over me or offered a moral answer that I couldn’t find without it.

This idea was so freeing. If you are a believer and are reading this, well, congrats for getting this far, but I don’t think you can understand this. Atheists readers will know what I am saying when I state “I never felt so free as when I finally let go of my belief in god!” It all made sense now. I knew how the pieces fit together. I understood how religion came to be and why mankind needed it. I also saw that I no longer needed it and couldn’t live my life supporting something that I now saw as so harmful.

MY WIFE

The reason I find it important to mention my wife is that I could have never reached that last 10% of my deconversion without her. When I met her at the end of 2005, I already told myself I was an atheist, and a few people around me. But, I definitely wasn’t proud of it or able to say it to anyone. On our first date, Amanda and I broke the first rule of dating… never discuss morals, ethics, religion, or politics on the first date. Over a strawberry milkshake, at 2:00am, at a nearly deserted Steak-N-Shake, we started opening up about those things. Amazingly, we found out we shared the same beliefs in every category. I fell in love immediately… it took her a few more weeks. We’ve been together ever since. A few years went by. We decided to move from the buckle of the bible belt (Springfield, MO) to the Kansas City area. We had to et away from such a religious area. Now we are in Kansas, not a whole lot better. We had a daughter in 2008, and since then, we went from thinking we would let her go to church if a future friend asked, to seeing how bad the brainwashing of youth is getting, and deciding that we will tell her what religion is but do our best to keep her away from it. Of course, if we teach her to be a good free-thinker, I can’ imagine she will not get hooked by religion’s false promises. When the religious right got so fervently angry at President Obama before his election and especially right after, i knew I couldn’t remain silent anymore. So, we created this website, AtheismResource.com!

THE BIRTH OF THIS SITE

This collection of thoughts was put together for two main reasons. One, I was tired of trying to remember it all when in discussions with religious friends. And, two, I feel like it’s time. What’s the point in learning all of these things if I never share them with the curious? The information that I have spent the last 10 years researching is pointless if I keep it to myself. When I finally accepted that I am an atheist (and I am not going to “hell” for it) I told myself and my wife that we wouldn’t be like those pushy Christians. I had religion shoved down my throat when I was younger. It didn’t sit well. I don’t want to do that to others. I felt like atheism tasted better when discovered and when nibbled on. I boldly said, “I will never force feed my beliefs to others.”

Well, I suppose that mindset has changed. I quickly changed my motto to this: “If you use religion as a crutch, I won’t come up and knock it out from underneath your arm. But, if you beat me or anyone else I care about over the head with your religion, then I reserve the right to smash it into a million pieces.” I don’t consider this work a smorgasbord for the atheistic gluttons of the world. I want it to be viewed as a source for enlightenment. Not the ending to a journey, but the start. We’ve all seen Christian flyers and pamphlets. The little tracks that get left in doctor’s offices and in mall bathrooms are tantalizingly scary and effective. As comical as they seem to me now, they are at least out there. The religious right knows a thing or two about marketing. Atheists haven’t really picked up the gauntlet to spread the truth. They (we) are afraid to be viewed as “indoctrinating” people that don’t want to hear what is known about religion, science, and faith-based politics.

However, the time has come. We can no longer sit back and wait for religion to die. Humans have reached a new level of understanding about the world that is slowly replacing the need for religion. This scares the believers and encourages the rest of us. We can no longer sit in awkward silence, feeling ashamed to speak the truth and to question the entrenched status quo. For change to occur, we need to actively spread our knowledge. This can be done in the same way that all knowledge is spread. We don’t need to be militaristic about it. We don’t need to tell people they will go to hell if they don’t believe. We just need to spread the truth. New ideas always seem bigger than they are. You can imagine when man first discovered concepts like gravity, photosynthesis, the water cycle, and planetary orbit. These were huge ideas at the time; but now every fifth grader has a rudimentary understanding of them and accepts them as fact… not theory.

Through proper education, evolution will no longer be seen as the “other side” of the creation debate, but the accepted explanation of life on earth. Knowledge will replace religion. Human advancement will be the driving force of our economies. Once and for all, we can replace religion as the reason to help one another and just do it because it’s the moral thing to do. We don’t need a god to tell us what’s right and wrong.

As you will see as you read more on this website, organized religion is a cancer on the earth. In time, we could become the first species to ever be the cause of and cure to the same disease. We have the opportunity to undo a 5,000 year old mistake. Religion had its place and its time. That place is getting smaller and that time is ending. Let’s usher in a new era of human existence that needs no religion to guide us. We created religion. Now we must do the right thing… and help it die. I’m not bitter, just determined. Religion didn’t “hurt” me as it did to other people around me. I was never abused or molested like people I knew that are close to me. I was just lied to, repeatedly, for years and years.

But, as long as churches spread a hate for science, a message of intolerance for different groups of people, a belief in intercessory prayer instead of action, a general welcoming of the end times and lack of environmental stewardship, as well as a laundry list of other harms, people like me will fight on. I don’t treat this life like heaven’s waiting room anymore. I hope you won’t either.

  • Dave

    Adam – an incredible story! I feel much the same way you do!

  • RON MARCZYK

    Adam -As a "christian survivor" you saved yourself,from an evil mind controlling cult and also thur a very difficult wounded childhood, I am so happy to read your story ,and so happy that you stand tall and proud ! you have much to be proud of, You are a self made man,and a exemplar for the new generation of atheist's who will lead our country in the future. Your site will help save many from the injury and pain of religion.You are a shining star, the country is in good hands because of people like you! I am as proud of you as I am of my own sons! Please keep up the good work , Your site is now at the top of my favorites, MAD RESPECT! Ron

  • http://umbl0g.blogspot.com John Umland

    The baptists have AWANA, not Kiwanis.

    God is good

    jpu

  • http://facebook valerie jackson

    thank you for sharing your story adam. i found myself nodding along as i read…there was so much here i could identify with. i also found it very freeing to let go of what i consider a real social disease!

    a lot of people close to me want to keep religion or some spiritual beliefs close to heart and i do not dissuade them, but i find it very disturbing. i am very vocal about what damage religion has done to humanity and i hope that you, myself and many others will be part of a new wave of reason and understanding.

    it's just the beginning, and i am so glad! valerie

  • Lacy

    Imagine it I said, “Here’s an apple.” You said, “No thanks.” Then I punched you in the face! It’s not a gift if you get punished for refusing it.

    That would be pretty crappy indeed. But what if you had decided to stop eating and then had no access to food? You would starve. God offers you an apple then – or let's say food for eternity. You can say no, because it is just a gift. It is your choice. You won't be punished for refusing, but you will continue to starve. Is that then God's fault? I think not.

  • Slayer of Christian

    @Lacy

    I will continue to starve if I refuse the gift of god? I am not starving, I weigh a healthy weight right now, nothing seems to be missing from my life, I have a family and am not starving for anything else. I enjoy life, I travel, I am not unhappy at all.

    If I am not going to be punished for refusing the gift of Jesus, in which way am I going to continue to starve? If you mean that when I die I will be still starving (i.e. not having a connection with god in your speak) I am not starving now, so will it be similar in the after life? – I am going to be OK with not having a connection with god as I am not missing now/i.e. not starving. If I am not going to be punished, then would I be rewarded for independent thinking? Or will I be separated from god? Do you think your god is this petty? Just curious if you can take your critical thinking to the next level and complete your logic. If I am separated from god right now, will it be any different in the after life?

  • Adam

    @ Lacy: God made the rules, according to you. So, yes, god made the rule to send us to hell. he made us all be born sinners. Sure, Adam and Eve fucked up (according to your bible) but god chose to blame every child born after that for that decision. And, he says that if we make mistakes on earth (with temptations he allows like sex) then we spend eternity in hell. That's bullshit. HIS RULES!!!

    So, it would be like me lighting you on fire, offering you a hose, and then expecting you to thank me for hosing you off… even though I created the need for you to require the hose in the first place! Do you not see this moral dilemma!

    I guess not… because your god is a sweet, loving god, who only allows Satan to do all the "bad stuff" and fixes what he chooses to fix while leaving the rest of the bad. God only does good in your world but doesn't get blamed for the bad. That's hypocritical. He's either responsible for all of it, and a real asshole, or he's responsible for none of it… and not an all-powerful god – and not worthy of my praise (designed to make a perfect being feel good about himself? Hmmm).

  • Lacy

    I think you misunderstood. It was just in realtion to the quote above, which I suppose should have quotations around it. It was not to say that you are starving right now.
    I will try to make my meaning more clear.
    The penalty for sin is death. The penalty for not eating is starvation. We have all chosen to sin (which is also agreed upon in this article), so we are all sentenced to death. I relate this to choosing not to eat (and cut off all access to food). The consequence is starvation. Jesus offers you an out, salvation/food. It is your choice whether or not to take it. If you don’t want to be saved, you die. This is not punishment, it is the consequence to your actions. If you don’t want to eat, you starve.
    Jesus is not the one starving you. You are starving yourself.
    My point was simply that you are not being punched in the face, you are just living the consequence of your choices. It is actually a gift and a great one that came at a high cost to the giver.
    I know most people reading this will agree with the article and am not about to start a debate. I just thought the analagy was wrong so made up a more accurate one.

  • gwen

    Thank you for sharing your story Adam.

    Lacy, the amount of groveling your invisible imaginary friend demands in your mind, I would not ask of a dog.

  • Douglas Kirk

    Adam,

    I'm a relatively recent de-convert (couple years) in a very religious area (West Michigan, where asking what Church you go to is de rigeur) and I have to commend you on your web-site and sharing your life story here. I found myself many times nodding, agreeing and empathizing with your story. I also very much appreciate your stance that attacking religion and deconverting people is a good thing. It's not something that I get much of even from my atheist and agnostic friends.

    In short, thank you for sharing your story and your website.

    • Adam

      @ Doug: That means a lot. It's people like you that inspired me to start this site with my friend, Kyle. We believed it was needed. We wanted to share info to new-deconverts and show them that's it's ok to be an atheists… we are the rational ones! Keep reading and sharing. Say hi anytime.

  • Adam

    @ juno: I only spoke of some of the emotional reason because the REST OF THE WEBSITE explains the logical and science side of my reasons to abandon a false belief. You ONLY HAVE AN EMOTIONAL reason, as there is NO evidence that god exists. It has to be based on blind faith. If that's ok for you, fine. But, please don't pretend you have some logical or scientific reason to believe in god. If you think you have any real evidence for his existence, please share it. But, I've been researching this for years, and I've yet to hear one.

  • Luis F. Prieto

    Adam:

    I think I made a great discovery with your blog. Technically I am an atheist too, but rather see myself as a non believer of the gods or the religions. Use to be a little more militant than what I am now, kind of had it with the nonsense and plain ridiculous arguments of the religious crowds. Besides, fanatics are immune to arguments; and as a libertarian, I do not want to convert anyone to anything, but agree with you, if someone comes at me with their religious crutch, I`ll answer back with a bang.

    Interesting to see how so many people with plenty of religious background came out of that ideology. Personally, I was brought up as a Catholic and even went to Catholic HS and College…. They probably lost me around 12 years of age with the Noah´s fairy tale. Just like you, I one day realized I was an atheist, but my understanding came with Dawkins “god delusion” which I bought on a trip to the US because I could not find it in Guatemala. Since I have read Hitchens, Russell, Pepe Rodriguez, Shermer, Darwin, Eduardo Punset, and try to catch blogs, and videos for further knowledge. Well, but to me the best atheist converter is still the bible, which I had mandatory classes, their attempt to indoctrinate which back fired due to my natural skepticism.

    Either way, great find, congrats, and hopefully I do not have any grammar mistakes because Spanish is my native tongue.
    Cheers,

    Luis
    luisfelipeprieto@gmail.com

    • Adam

      @ Luis: Thanks for your support… and your English is fine.

  • http://sustainabledignity.blogspot.com Gina

    Funny, I'm 29 years old, formerly worked in event planning / marketing, attended various Pentecostal/Evangelical churches, became an atheist during college, and was pushed to actually labeling myself as such by my boyfriend (though he did NOT become my husband!).

    I think the thing that started me to really question the whole institution of Christianity was the church's belief that (depending on the denomination) people of other countries would go to hell if they heard a missionary speak and "made the decision" to not accept Jesus as their lord and saviour.

    Now I'm working in India for 2 years doing development work and it's makes me furious to meet missionaries trying to convince Indians to become Christians, thereby making them turn away from their Hindu or Muslim faith, which is so engrained in their way of life that they're forced to deny their culture for a promise of salvation. Sad.

    • Adam

      @ Gina: Wow, that would be tough to watch. Show people how good you can be without god… that's all we can do.

  • JimG

    As stated in "Guns, Germs and Steel", governments encourage religion so their military people can "die for their country".

  • David Fitzgerald

    Brother Man, what a brilliant, fearless post. I loved it, and I can so relate. Thank you for sharing your story!
    -D

  • Pingback: We Are Atheism Loves You and the SK

  • Pingback: We Are Atheism Loves You and the SK « Living Without Faith Living Without Faith

  • Soul Burner

    If I looked like you, I’d have to question the existence of God too. I’d assume that a marketing guy would choose a better picture that didn’t portray him as a ginger with downs syndrome.

  • Tess williams

    Thank you Adam for sharing and I understand where you are coming from “religion” is a terrible terrible thing. Jesus is real and God is love. The belief in serve me or go to hell does not make sense. People have been hurt by religious people even religious atheist. Truth is we all do fall short, Jesus has paid the debt of sin. You talked about being moral that you don’t need god to tell you right from wrong. So how do you know? By what standard? You mentioned molested who determined that is even wrong? What is truth to you and by what standard do you believe truth. Trusting and believing in Jesus does not mean you have to try to be good, As a matter of fact it is His righteousness not your righteousness that your measured by. There is liberty in Jesus Christ. Most churches do not teach that because they are afraid of immoral charecter. Truth is we all fall short and Jesus is the standard or truth, truth and Grace came by Jesus. You were sealed with Jesus at one time nothing can change that. God is love not hate. Anyway thanks for sharing. Blessings to you.
    Shalom!!!