T he saying “there are no atheists in the foxholes” is a very bold and straightforward concept. It’s a simple idea, when things are difficult a person will find faith. As someone who has spent a considerable amount of time in a foxhole, I’d like to tell you that this statement is not completely true.
I came into this world as an evangelical pastor’s kid and then became an atheist after almost 4 years of bible college. It is a long story, but one that I hope gives some insight into the inner workings of Evangelicalism.
I was born in Wisconsin to two loving parents who had only the best intentions for my life. Among other side occupations such as church directory photography, my father is a pastor and my mother a worship leader. As Bible-believing Evangelicals, they worry about hellfire, where those who do not believe in the right things are punished infinitely for finite crimes and have no opportunity for repentance after death. They wanted to save me from such a fate and perceived the best way to do this would be to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). This training occurred by homeschooling me and keeping me apart from non-Christians as a young person and by giving me mostly Christian books to read and Christian music to listen to.
Jason Eden is a former Southern Baptist preacher, youth minister, worship leader, and Christian apologist. Now a humanist celebrant, he resides in St. Peters with his wife and two children. Professionally, he works in corporate education capacities for high-tech companies, and is currently a Program Manager for a software company based out of Palo Alto, CA. He is a member of The Brights Net, the American Humanist Association, the O’Fallon Freethinkers, and The Clergy Project, and serves on the board of directors for the latter two organizations. He blogs at thehumanist.com, thebookofwonder.org, and other places of interest when time and opportunity meet.
He wrote about his journey away from religious faith and his coming-out experience in the book That’s Me in the Corner: Coming Out as an Atheist on Facebook, which is available on amazon. The following story is adapted from one of the chapters in that book.
We’re delighted he decided to share his story here.
O K, I was more of an “Open-Air Preacher” than a street preacher – did it for over 5 years – but anyway, here’s my story:
This all started I believe in early 2012, and the ‘beginning of the end’ so to speak, happened while reading in the book of Genesis. At that time, I followed a systematic bible study approach called the “10 List,” where you read 10 chapters a day from 10 different “lists” one list, for example, was the Pentateuch, another “list” was the 4 gospels. Bottom line, I averaged about an hour a day of systematic bible study. I was a data analyst, and was trained to look at numbers, to look for patterns. There is a section of Genesis where the ages of the Patriarchs at their death was recorded. I noticed something odd – the numbers (the ages at their death) seemed to have a common thread. All the ages end in 0, 2, 5, 7, or 9 – that’s it. mathematically, the probability of the number of just that many numbers, just randomly by chance, ending in only 0,2,5,7 or 9 is one in a billion. This can’t be a coincidence, I thought.
S ince I was 12 years of age, helping the church priest as an altar boy, attending daily mass, prayers, confession, every day rosary (I was in a boarding catholic school), I began to have serious doubts about god and saints. My consolation was that if he was to exist he was the one who let me have these thoughts, so, I become an avid book reader of all kinds. One time I found one of Sir Bertrand Russell, then the change came almost immediately. He came to be my hero and most admired person in the world, and I became a full atheist.