I've noticed a lot of people don't believe me when I say I was an atheist. My most recent article on RELEVANT seems to be driving many of these discussions, but it happens anytime I'm interviewed or speak publicly.
It seems like an odd statement. Some Christians believe in a doctrine of "once saved, always saved," but skeptics shouldn't have any doctrine at all.
I've thought about this a lot. The only thing I can attribute this persistent belief that I don't understand atheism, or that I was never an atheist at all is bias. Skeptics are very logical, rational thinkers, and I think this leads them to unconsciously assume that humans are naturally logical thinkers.
We aren't. I'm not aware of any good science that supports that idea. Humans are deeply emotional, social thinkers. Identity and belonging are so core to our security that we tend to adopt the beliefs of our tribe. Skeptics form communities, often online. At that point, skepticism can become a point of social identity, and an untested assumption.
I'd like to make something clear, for the record: I was an atheist.
That's not a marketing gimmick, or an exaggeration. I rejected belief in any God or gods. I didn't believe in the supernatural. I believed that the Universe was created via the rapid expansion of a singularity, and that life on Earth emerged solely through natural causes. I read all of Dawkins' work. And Hitchens. And Harris. And Dennett. And Krauss. And Sagan. And Hawking. All of their books. I'm a nerd, and I can be obsessive about reading.
It's not just that I rejected the Bible, or Christ. I rejected all belief in God. To put this in the terms of the Dawkins Scale, I started at 1, moved to 6, and find myself at a 3 today.
Now, in terms of expertise, I do not hold any degree at all. I didn't go to college at all, so I have no formal education in the sciences or theology. I'm a self-made technologist and business person.
But, I do study science, and work hard to represent science accurately. I cite my sources. I listen to my interviews and fact check them. I usually tweet corrections when I discover I misremembered something. I love it when actual scientists talk to me and teach me. I love being corrected--it's a great way to learn.
I appreciate that skeptics will be skeptical of any claim, so may Google have favor upon me and help the curious put this matter to rest.
I was a Southern Baptist. Really.
I was an atheist and humanist. Really.
I am a science-minded, mystical Christian now. My ideas about God are unconventional, but I really do believe again.