Previously to discovering the prayer study, I had been cautious about what I exposed myself too. There were a couple podcasts I wouldn't listen to and books I wouldn't read. Not a long list considering what some christians will avoid, but I considered my faith was "fragile" and I wanted for emotional reasons to hold onto it. After the study though, the desire to understand the truth became all to strong and I dove in to reading and listening.
In a sort of last ditch effort I attempted to listen to Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis on Audiobook. The arguments for God struck me as being solid, but not infallible and the arguments for Christianity were non-convincing. I stopped listening when I got to the argument for why men and women were treated differently... because there basically was none. It basically said men and women are different so therefore they are treated different... no further explanation. Why are they different? What about the despairity in treatment? Why are women unable to be clergy? nothing!
I also found a podcast called Reasonable Doubts. This was perhaps the most detrimental to my faith (or most helpful to my skeptical mind - however you want to look at it). They broke down many of the arguments that I had originally accepted to favor Christianity. Including phychological explanations behind what might of caused my "spiritual experience".
As the "research" continued, the Christianity I once knew and accepted as whole was failing to hold up to scrutiny. Even a modified more liberal version of christianity while perhaps tolerable in lifestyle seemed illogical to me.
Eye opening as it was, it was also leaving me a bit empty handed emotionally. What of my community? Much of my life was centered in the christian social network, and I really didn't know where to go. I made a couple of earnest attempts at attending churches that I might be able to tolerate but nothing felt right or stuck. It took time and energy to re-establish my social framework.
So what do I call myself now? Probably the term "atheist" is most appropriate. I find very little reason accept any sort of anthropomorphic "god" notion. However, I also pride myself on being intellectually honest and accept that we can't prove "lack of existence" of anything. If there is a God, he should probably start answering prayers on average if he expects people to believe in him.
I've kept this information largely silent to my friends and family, though some know and I'm sure more have put two and two together. I really struggle revealing my true colors on the issue... doubt and skepticism are not revered in the cultures I came from and most of the time I don't know even how to begin. While I feel like my walk out of faith in christianity was a long process, I'm sure some of my friends will see it as more sudden. I also have felt some sort of desire to protect them from losing their own faith as the process isn't always easy, though some of that sentiment has waned as of late.
This story is mostly complete but I feel it's important to not that I've left out the role that my previous marriage and relationship with my parents may have played in this process. Those are stories in of themselves, and while interesting and relvant, I felt might be a bit of distraction to the original topic. I hope uncover aspects of those stories in future posts. I could have written a book if I had wanted to uncover every detail along the way, so I tried my best to stick to the highpoints.