|I've always approached religion a little mechanically. That's how I approach a lot of things, which is why I gravitate toward math and science (and also why I have trouble with the ladies). Religion has a lot of components that don't make a lot of objective sense to me, such as faith and miracles and angels, so I sought to objectify them. Make things more concrete. I decided to simply trust what the Bible said, regardless of its shaky history, plethora of translations and interpretations, and people who've used it for nefarious reasons.
Then I did what any person like me would do: I put the Bible to the test. I read it cover to cover, memorized parts of it, and learned it well enough to teach it to other people. I knew the questions people typically ask about it, and I knew how to answer them intelligently, or at least as intelligently as there was a reasonable argument for. I knew where it came from and how it got there, and I knew the basics of the original languages. I wasn't a casual reader, I was a legitimate student.
Things started to change as I realized the world wasn't always black and white. Evolution is true; gay people are real; American law has nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. Long story short, I found the Bible to be lacking. And the idea of going through a book I didn't trust to determine which parts are legitimate and which parts are made up isn't exactly in my wheelhouse. So the house of cards came tumbling down, and I denounced my faith.
Part of me felt bad about this, because I failed the test. But after I thought about it for a bit, I realized the Bible failed the test, which is exactly one of the possible outcomes of a standard science experiment. When something fails the test, you either test it differently or you throw it out. I threw it out.
And the annoying thing is that I know the response a Christian is supposed to give. You were doing it wrong. I heard that from so many people throughout my Christian career that it was one of the factors that drove me away. Maybe you should try surrender, or forgiveness, or worship, or service. Tried; same results. It's not about what you do; it's about what was already done for you. That means nothing. It's like the Parable of the Sower. Maybe, but again that implies I was doing something wrong or not getting the whole picture.
I feel like if there's one thing I can conclusively say about my religious experience, it's that I gave it a good shot. I literally put everything I had into it, and it brought me to where I am today. The bottom line is that Christianity doesn't pass the test of reason and evidence, and the conclusion for me is that it's all made up, as are all religions. In that sense, it was a successful test. #religion