David Manes is currently a law student in Pittsburgh. He graduated from a Christian college.
He was a Christian when he went in but very different when he came out…
I have a bit part in the story, but even without that, I think it’s a really inspirational post. Reading it, I was reminded of Dan Barker‘s book Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists. The main lesson I got out from the book was: Even if you’re fully entrenched in the religious world, it’s possible to leave it. All you have to do is stop relying on faith and start looking for evidence.
When I was a senior in high school, I applied to only one college, Harding University, and I luckily won a full scholarship to go there. Going to Harding was like going to church every day, because we had daily mandatory chapel and mandatory Bible class every semester. My friends and I talked about religion all the time, too, and had way more interesting conversations than anything I ever heard in church. Since every day felt like church, it was hard getting motivated to go to more church on Sundays and Wednesdays like I always had, so I pretty much didn’t.
I didn’t lose my faith. That phrase makes the experience sound like a bad thing, which it wasn’t, and makes it sound like the result of some personal shortcoming, which it wasn’t. There was no traumatic experience that shattered my faith, I just grew out of it. I took my own advice, studied the Bible too deeply and found it to be lacking.
I wonder how many students there are right now sitting in a Catholic high school or attending a Christian college who are in the same place. Maybe they had every intention to go to those schools, but along the way, they began to doubt their faith and ultimately gave it up.
What a tough de-conversion to make.
I was lucky when I became an atheist — I went to a Jain temple on a regular basis, but my entire life didn’t revolve around my religion.
There are people whose close friendships were made at a church, or whose jobs involve the spreading of religion, or whose families bond over their shared faith. When they become atheists and have the courage to say so, it’s unbelievably powerful to hear about.
On a side note, David says he met his wife at Harding. I wonder what she makes of him leaving Christianity… (Update: They’re both atheists. Even better!)