How can one so entrenched in Christian belief for so long turn so rapidly from Christian theist to agnostic to atheist over a period of a year and half? One might as well ask the opposite question,"How can someone who has studied the Bible, theology, and philosophy take so long to disbelieve?"
First,one must only seriously consider arguments which arguments which support the case for Christianity. Thus essential reading is C.S Lewis, Geisler, Moreland and decidedly conservative scholarship.
Second, one must treat those who argue against Christianity and strongly oppose Christianity as straw men. One must read their books as if they are already guilty of error. The job of a Christian theological/philosophical critique, in my mind, was to poke holes, take potshots and think that the whole secular ediface had been discredited, much as Phillip Johnson does in his book Darwin on Trial. On the whole, the validity of the secular arguments must not be analyzed on its own terms as a viable option.
Once I deviated from this formula, I found that Christianity is a historical, theological and philosophical "house of cards" whose arguments for validity can be defeated by even the most sophmoric of ex-apologists.
What were the arguments which convinced me of the falsity of Christianity?
There are too many to list in any reasonable amount of space at this time. However, the primary reasons were first historical, then theological and then philosophical/scientific.
As mentioned at the end of part 1, it was a systematic study of the Bible with frequent cross-referencing and comparative study of passages which lead me to the conclusion that the Bible is an inspired book of divine origin. Rather it is a book easily proven to be filled with errors and of obvious human origin. The Bible in I Tim 3:16 claimsthat all scripture is to be taken as of divine origin and divine inspiration. In order to consistently argue this point, one must perform numerous theological gyrations and offer ad hoc explanations.
The watershed moment for me was a comparative analysis of 2 Samuel 24 and I Chronicles 21, which both record the event of David taking a census and thus bringing a devasting pestilence on the people of Israel. The book of Samuel was written during the Babylonian captivity. The books of Chronicles were written later during the Persian period prior to the rebuilding of the Temple. God's inspiration is clained by I Timothy 3:16 to be behind both accounts. However, there is a major change between the two accounts. In the Samuel account, it is God who incites David to do evil by calling for a census as an excuse to punish him. David later realizes that he has sinned in performing the census. But it was God who incited David to commit this sin in the first place. However, one must remember that Israel at the time of writing this document had no concept of a devil. Good and evil were seen at that time as proceeding from God. Thus one is struck by the account in I Chronicles which attribution the evil incitation of a census to Satan. Why the change? Here one must remember that at this point that Israelite theology had been exposed and influenced by the Persian religion, Zoroasterianism and had incorporated the idea of a satan who opposed the goodness of God. The authors of the Chroncles wanted to clear the God of the barbarous charge that he was directly responsible for David sinning and then punishing him for a sin which he caused him to commit. Thus they interjected the Persian idea of divine adversary which was probably known to their reader to avoid the contradiction presented in II Samuel. This change is perfectly understandable for the perspective of historical research but presents a nearly insurmountable peak to be climbed by those who want to uphold the verbal inspiration of both of these passages. Can any amount of theological gyrations cogently overcome this problem and maintain divine inspiration with a straight face?
This was a watershed moment which set face down the course toward atheism. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg of historical incongrueties and implausibilties. I found the gospels to be filled with similar problems that I shall not take the time to detail at this moment. These problems lead me to agnosticism for I could no longer believe in the God of the Bible. He does not exist. If he does exist, he is the most clumsing inept stooge, subject to the development and wavering of human thought.
Second, I found theological problems which I could no longer surmount. All my life I wanted to be close to God, much as in that silly story that I previously related about wanting to converse directly with God in my childhood. However, maybe it isn't so silly and needs to be taken seriously. If God really loved us, why can't he converse with us directly. Why is he so impersonal to only address us through an ancient book, which wasn't addressed directly to us anyway? If God wanted to have a relationship with me, why couldn't he just appear to me, tell me that he loves me and wants to have a relationship with me. If God is all powerful and all knowing, he would certainly figure out a way to do so. Not only for me but for every person who has lived on the earth. The fact of God's transcendence and extremely holiness cannot be used as an argument to rebuff this because God is believed to accommodated himself to directly address Moses, Abraham and the handful of Biblical prophets that lived on this earth. Why is able to appear directly to them and not to vast majority? Could it be that there is no one behind these appearances and that these appearances can be explained in terms of the psychological study of mysticism. The fact that God has failed to appear to 99.9 % of the people who have lived on this earth is convincing evidence that God may be nothing more an idea formulated in a pre-scientific age.
Philosophically, I found the entire idea of heaven untenable. We are told by apologists that the possibility of suffering is necessary for free will to exist, in what post Leibnizians call the best of all possible worlds. For free will to exist, there must be possibility to sin and to cause suffering. However, we are told that in heaven, there is no sin and no suffering. Thus, one has the unresolveable problem of having to do away with free will in order to preserve heaven, which I don't think any evangelical will accept.
I had better stop now. The dam has been broken. The floodgates have opened and swept away the last vestiges of Christianity in my life. I would have to give up my mind in order to turn back and believe the things which I once believed. I am free to accept as substantiated only those things which can be examined from all sides and may be questioned to ascertain their veracity.
Yes, this is certainly an unexpected journey. But I am certainly to be where I am after years of holding to one sided truths. I am aiming to move forward intelligently as I am able.