God is Dead: My Fall from Fundamentalist Christianity
By Ryan Barlow
Copyright 2006, 2011 Ryan Barlow
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I cried the day I realized God was dead. Not dead I suppose, but to never have existed still felt like dead to me. My fall from fundamentalist Christianity was a long, excruciating fall that destroyed the very foundation of my life.
My mother was, for the lack of a better term, a free spirit. Before I was born, she drifted around aimlessly throughout life, trying new experiences, until she met my father. Against family advice, she married him, and I was conceived on their wedding night. Within a week, she found out he was married to another woman in New York, and that my mother’s marriage was “not valid in the eyes of God” as she put it, and she was left alone to raise a newborn. She had found God that year and vowed to raise me in a Christian environment so I would never make the same “evil” mistakes as my father.
My earliest memory of religion is a Bible camp for young children. I was five years old at the time, and I remember we talked innocently about how the world was flooded, and that Noah had put every animal in the world on giant boat. Of course he had to put one male and one female of every species, so the world could live. I asked if there were only two of each animal, who did the babies breed with to populate the world? Isn’t it wrong to breed with family members? (One of my mother’s great qualities is I knew the “birds and the bees” at five years old.) The teacher was only taken aback for a moment, and she answered, “God must have allowed many litters from the animals to be able to breed, and since animals have no souls, they are allowed to breed with family members.” She probably should have seen my next question coming. I asked, “So when my dog dies, he goes to hell?” No was of course the answer. Dogs do not go to heaven or hell, as they have no soul, only people have souls. I wanted to know where they went, but she said she did not know, probably oblivion. Although I accepted this answer at the time, it never sat right that we get to go to heaven and the rest of the world doesn’t.