When I say I had personal experience with Christianity, I mean I went through the salvation and baptism experience, experienced religious rapture, and felt what I considered at the time to be the presence of the Holy Spirit and a personal relationship with Christ. This started early, at about age 6, and continued with increasing fervor until I was about 16. I witnessed to friends at school and went on local missions. My loss of faith was not immediate but proceeded over about 5 years in fits and starts. It was jump-started by some very unpleasant experiences in the church when I was 16, then reinforced by my family, and ultimately confirmed by God's complete silence during all these experiences even as I was whole-heartedly seeking Him. So for probably 5 or 6 years after I lost my faith I still actually believed in God and Satan, but was angry at God and thought that the Southern Baptist's probably had it all wrong. I didn't really get back into church because at this time I moved out on my own and went through a dark period of depression, hospitalization with drugs, and being completely disconnected from my family.
It was at this point that I consciously started examining my beliefs about God and the cosmos in general. I started reading about every religion I could find. I took world religion classes at local colleges and Berkeley, went to meditate at Buddhist temples, read the Bible from cover to cover, and essentially went through all the steps and realizations common of most "seekers". This inevitably led me back to fundamental questions about the origin of the universe, the origin of God, and how a sentient and complex species like humans got here at all...or the origins of life. Since I hadn't found answers that really made sense to both me and reality at the same time, I turned my attention to learning everything I could about nature, biology, cosmology, evolution, and physics, essentially seeing what science had to say about the matter. I had nothing more than the standard high school science education, which I quickly realized was not really sufficient to understand the complexity of genetics, evolution, theoretical physics and all the more advanced academic subjects that are actually revealing how the cosmos seems to work. So after reading just a few of the basic subjects in science things really started to click for me. Not only did all this new information make sense and was internally consistent, it actually matched up with the reality we see around us perfectly. The more I read from every different time period and every different discipline of science, from the ancient Greek atomists to modern day theoretical physicists all corroborated an elegant and beautiful explanation of the universe and our existence. The picture is by no means complete, of course we have so much more to learn about the cosmos...but the picture that emerges from the pieces of the puzzle we have manged to fit together reveal something infinitely more astounding and awe-inspiring than any holy book or religion I ever studied, and all this applied directly to my reality, not some vaporous entity out there somewhere. At this point I finally shed any remaining belief I had in a personal god or gods. I reserve judgment on an uninvolved creator entity until all the data is in...so on this vague point I must remain agnostic, but I think that it is possible that someday science will be able to more accurately describe the cosmos outside and before our own universe happened. Anyway, I think science has a better chance of solving the big puzzle than super-naturalism, and for many reasons...but science vs. super-naturalism is a whole other discussion :)
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