It is 5 years now since I lost my faith. I am from Sierra Leone, West Africa and you might know how religious and superstitious we are. I was born to Muslim parents but I grew up as a christian because I grew up with my grand parents who are Christians. I was baptized and confirmed as an Anglican. However in my late teens and early adulthood I was a Pentecostal Christian. I believed in the literal truth of the word of god.
I moved to England in 2004 and lived there until 2009 studying law. In that time I never went to church but I was a believer. I wasn't sinless, I was actively doing all what students do. I didn't go to church, I wasn't careful not to sin but I believe in god, Jesus and the bible.
After my solicitor studies, I worked as a legal secretary in a law firm in London for a year and then I moved to the States, Atlanta , Georgia, to be exact. Between trying to fit into the American legal system and working, I spent a lot of time reading history, religion and also watching documentaries as well. It was while I was doing these spare time researches that I stumble upon some information that threatened to shake my belief. I read that Jesus was not the first messiah with the same sequence of birth and death. I had been brought up thinking that NO OTHER human being or human gods ever died and rose again fro the dead. The first time I heard this I laughed, as I always would when anybody says anything bad about the bible or god. I went to Pentecostal churches where the pastors will interpret the bible saying "god told me to tell y'all" so I strongly believed my understanding of the bible.
This information was troubling for me, that there were other messiahs, even before Jesus. It played in my mind for a couple of days and nights. I started doing more research. I read a bit about church history, the early Christians and what they believed. I read about the influence of the early emperors on Christianity, I read about pagan worship and the similarities with Christianity, THEN I read the bible. It was the bible that I read again, but now as an adult, not like it was read to us at Sunday School. I have to tell you, if nothing else killed my belief, the bible did. I don't want to hear anybody's interpretation, I don't care what anybody has to write about their experience with god, after reading the bible, if anybody truly believes that a loving god wrote the bible or an all-knowing god inspired the bible, then that person is either willfully being dishonest or they lack the ability to be human.
So, as you can imagine, I am now in no man's land. Everybody around me is christian, all their interpretation is dogmatic. I started reading the bible more, I read and watch works on Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Ingersol and many more - though I have to tell you, Ingersol is my best.It is now 5 years and I have lost my faith, buried my fears I love life more and value people more. However, reading your article about the golf analogy has to be the best argument I have heard and it just adds to my armory for my theist friends. My parents know I don't believe in the whole affair any more, most of my friends know, I have debated some pastors and to my knowledge won, because really when you know the bible you can easily show them the inhumanity in the book. I must say some of my family don't speak to me and they see me as mad. But I am prepared for that, after all even, Jesus was trying to point out the madness in Judaism and they said he was mad, they killed him just for saying love your neighbor as yourself, he was just a naive young man. Anyway, I love the world now, I love to read, I love to dance, I am not afraid of being alone, so my friends and family who keep away because of their faith are not gaining anything because I love my space and I would die for wisdom and freedom than live in the servitude that is Christianity or any other religion for that matter.