I left high school and entered university already with a pretty negative view of organized religion. But a fortuitous opportunity at the start of my time at University helped cement that mindset.
I was “gifted” through most of my early education, and that selected me for the advanced track in college. There was a 2 year program called “Humanities” that was an accelerated packaging of most of the general education requirements, with some enhancements. Naturally I jumped on in.
In the first semester, there was a course where we took a high level, literature study of the Bible. The emphasis was on comparing it to other world religions, to understand how it influenced virtually all western thought and writing, and ultimately to dissect it as a work of literature.
The part that was fascinating to me was the obviousness that the different “books” were written at different times, in very different voices, and with almost remarkable frequency contradict each other on major foundational concepts. The Bible is literally littered with gross and petite contradictions, errors, and fallacies. And that is just the New Testament.
In this class we also spent time analyzing the tortured theological reasoning to explain away, and justify these inconsistencies. A lot of really smart men (universally men throughout history have been the keepers of theology until very recently) labored for whole lifetimes to explain and justify things that were probably written down wrong, or translated wrong.
Fascinating as this was, it opened my eyes to how blind you had to be to be “faithful“. There was so much to question, that like the belief that Joseph Smith read from the gold plates in a hat with “seer” stones, to be a evangelical christian, to believe that the bible is the literal and strictly true word of god was illogical.
More than one “believer” walked out of that class never to return, their core beliefs having been challenged. I was astounded that there were people who when confronted with evidence, and incontrovertible facts, they would turn their head, and continue to believe wrong things. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but for someone who was a budding scientist, who devoured all the science and mathematics he could in school, this was world shaking.
My guess is that a lot of those people have become the ones who can deny global climate change, evolution, and the standard model of cosmology.
I came away from this experience with knowledge that christianity was at its core flawed and tainted by the inconsistencies in their core gospels. That the foundational texts were clearly written by men, long after the fact, and with that lens applied to the words.
I had read much of the bible before this though. I had a stepfather who leaned on us in my pre-teen years to read the bible, to memorize passages in it. So I read, and even at that age, it seemed like a fairy tale. Not even good fiction.
Next up – I work with a Mormon who threw her life away because of church.