Wow, OP, you have a religiously-themed thread that is so far civil. Congratulations, and I hope it remains such.
And since it is civil, I will answer the question (in a civil manner, of course):
I was raised in a Southern Baptist household, though not as fervent as one might expect from the Southern Baptists in general. We were in church
pretty much every Sunday morning, although Sunday and Wednesday afternoons were rare. I attended two churches during my youth with my family, and both
were beset by anger and prejudice and personal greed, three things that were preached against from the pulpit. So, like many people do, I decided this
Christianity thing had to be full of holes and tore out on my own to find the 'truth'.
I tried sex. It was fun, but there was this looming specter of disease (I was in my prime when genital herpes and AIDS were discovered). There was
also this thing called 'jealousy' that tended to get people into some pretty rough conflicts, up to and including shootings and stabbings.
Ironically, these usually happened over a girl (or in a couple occasions, a guy) who simply went on with their lives and dumped both combatants for
someone new. There was also this problem with unwanted pregnancies (don't tell me about birth control; I personally know one woman with three
children, the first while using condoms, the second while using the Pill, and the third after having a hysterectomy
) and the destroyed lives it
produced. At least two lives were destroyed each time: both a child who didn't ask to be born into a bad situation and an unwed mother who was unable
(or unwilling) to care for it.
I tried drugs. I wound up being unable to actually do anything of importance, and every penny I managed to make went for my 'hobby'. I was
constantly harassed by law enforcement, and had the immense pleasure of dealing with some seriously shady characters.
I tried alcohol. Oh, the war stories I could tell about how drunk I got and how stupid I acted! To this day, despite doing it myself, I have yet to
immense stupidity would be something one would advertise so much...
I tried a 'gang'. Yep, sure did. That went bye-bye rather quickly when I wouldn't go along with every new heinous idea the guys I ran around with
wanted to try. The last time I saw them, I stood in front of the lot and told them if they wanted to beat up that old woman, they would go through me
to do it. They didn't, I left, and at last report every single one of them is either dead or in the State Penitentiary. I am the only one of that
bunch that still walks about freely.
I tried hot-rodding. The feel of 600 horses loping along under that hood, and I am in control... it is exhilarating! One was a 1969 Dodge Coronet 500,
with that 383 Magnum powerplant, personally tuned out and spec'd out by me and assembled by a guy I knew who was an ace mechanic. It would eat 440
Magnums for breakfast when we got through with it, and at the risk of bragging, I could handle the monster. But it wouldn't fix itself every time
something broke; it took money to repair it, and a lot of money at that. And it made it so easy for me to take chances.... beating that train across
the tracks, seeing just how fast I could take that winding mountain road... and although I survived, I remember a lot of the guys who didn't. I
remember the ones who lost a race for pinkslips, and ended their hot-rodding career right there... at least they were still alive, and with all of
I tried money. Yeah, that's right, at one time I was the guy with all the little 'toys', the nice clothes, the new house, the I-1 credit rating,
the manicured front yard with a picket fence around it.... OK, maybe I pushed it on the fence thing.
But I could have had anything I wanted
materially back then, and did for a while. Then I began to realize what a trap it was; the more I got, the more I wanted. It never satisfied me for
long. The more I had, the less important I felt people were. And there was finally that toy that I didn't have the cash for, so I borrowed the money.
And the next toy, I borrowed for again. And again, since now my income goes to pay those bills. And so on and so forth, until that day I was laid off
from "the most secure job in this area" (quote by one of the corporate execs a month before the layoff). Suddenly, my 'friends' were nowhere to be
found, the bank acted like I was some sort of felon, and I couldn't afford my lifestyle any more.
I guess you could say I tried it all. None of it satisfied me for long. All of it had it's darker side. So when someone tells me how great things are
in one of those areas, I simply smile and realize that they are really trying to convince themselves, not me. I already traveled that road. I know
where it leads.
I never did return to the Southern Baptist ways of my youth; I already knew that road as well, and I considered it hypocritical. But I did return to
Christianity, thanks in no small part to a few select TV evangelists who happened to say what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it. So I drug out
that old worn Bible from my younger days and started reading it again, this time with a bit of hindsight into a full life of adventure. This time it
seemed to make more sense to me, so I kept reading. And one night, I decided to give Jesus another shot.
Since that night, I have seen miracles happen to me. I have seen prayers answered in ways that astonished me. I have discovered that God will answer
every prayer I ask of Him; sometimes, the answer is "no", but that is an answer too, right? I have watched as the lessons and warnings contained in
that little book are played out in front of my eyes, yet wondered why others seem oblivious to the fact. I have looked at those 'contradictions',
and realized that they are based on a lack of understanding... which is understandable, since the Bible is a very deep book, and some sections are
based on Jewish custom and therefore easily misunderstood by a non-Jewish person (like me
I always was a bit of a science nerd, so I was always curious about how the world worked. And every time I read up on something, I was amazed at how
perfectly things seem to work. No one can ever convince me that nature is a mistake or a chance happening; there is too much there that shows the hand
of a Great Designer. The symbiance between plant and animal life, the cleansing cycle that works so well that when we dump waste, we call it a
landfill and avoid it; when nature does it, we call it a beach and flock there in droves. The moon is the perfect distance form the Earth to maintain
it's cycles, some of which are necessary the balance of nature. The Earth is the perfect distance from the Sun to maintain an atmospheric and
biospheric system that nurtures life. The whole thing is just too complex and too intricate to have been created by anything short of an intelligence.
Each time someone tries t tell me it is all just some big coincidence, I tend to reach down and pluck a nlade of grass and show it to them. "You know
what this is?" I will ask. The I will tell them:
"This is the most sophisticated chemical laboratory on the face of the planet. It de-oxides carbon to produce free oxygen and glucose, which it then
uses automatically to repair itself and create more copies of itself. It is 100% maintenance free and self-repairing, never requiring a tune-up or an
adjustment. And it does this based on only solar radiation as an energy source. Never has man been able to even dream of a machine which works so
efficiently and so reliably, much less one that accomplishes so great a feat. And yet, you just stepped on several of these chemical factories, and
not a one of them suffered irreparable damage.
"When someone creates a factory that works one tenth as efficiently or as reliably as this blade of grass, then I will consider that the blade of
grass is a mistake. Until then, I will consider what we as humans have done and thought as more likely to be a mistake."
Today, I am trying the faith thing. I live in a modest home, barely inhabitable by some standards. I drive older vehicles, and fix them as they need
repair. I work at whatever job provides the things I need. My home is in the side of a mountain, surrounded by virgin forest. I have precious little,
as far as material things go. But I seem to always have what I need, and more importantly to me, I don't seem to have much that I don't need. We
have plenty to eat. We have beauty all around us. I have two wonderful children, neither of whom is messing with drugs or making/having babies too
early in life. I can sleep well at nights, knowing that I owe no one anything. I can look my boss in the face and state my mind, because if he does
the worst he can possibly do to me, fires me, I will still have food and will lose nothing important. And best of all, for those hard knocks that life
throws at everyone, i no longer worry. I know, based on past experiences and answers to my sincere searching, that I have Someone to call on when
things get too hard for me.