From 1990 to 94' I was a Pentecostal evangelist. I preached the gospel of Jesus Christ on the streets on the weekends and was often invited to preach in local churches in Brooklyn, NY where I used to reside. I gave my entire life to the the Lord and tried my best to live up to what I believed were his standards at the time. During my time as a believer I had read the Bible from cover to cover four times and even read it in Spanish once. I was a fundamentalist believer which basically means I was also a literalist. The Bible was inerrant and one hundred percent true. No matter what anyone had to say about it.
Although I was completely devoted to my beliefs I had always been studious and curious about other belief systems.; especially those I encountered often on the streets. But I was not content to read books written by pastors of my faith about them so I often went to the sources themselves to obtain materials about what they believed. I have read Dianetics, The Book of Mormon, and several source materials by the Jehovah's Witnesses. I have always had this nagging question in the back of my mind regarding faith: "With so many religions in the world how can we know that ours is the right one?"
Aside from the growing seeds of doubt that began to fester in my mind after having read the Bible it was actually a series of events that eventually led me to abandon my faith altogether. I was studying my churches Bible seminary to eventually become a full fledged and ordained minister. Two things happened that turned me off about my church and put another chink in the armor of my beliefs. The first event was at the seminary. Often we had tests regarding subjects we had learned and our grades in those tests were a part of our overall grades at the end of the year. We had one student who was highly regarded amongst the church clergy because he dressed the part. He was often sitting on the altar with the clergy although he did not preach or play any part in the service.
That man who was so highly regarded by the clergy was also a cheater. We were often left alone during test time since they trusted us as Christian believers to be honest and do the right thing. But this particular brother in the faith often wrote down all the answers to the test in his palm or on a separate piece of paper and as soon as the instructor would leave he would pull it out and do the test. He was shameless and not even try to conceal it from the rest of us. Needless to say when we as a group got together and told the instructor what he was doing the instructor told us not to worry about it that we should leave it in the hands of God! The man went on to graduate that year with honors and got the best student of the year award which should have been mine.
The straw that broke the camels back for me was when we were about to enter a chapter in our text book about human evolution. I must admit that I read it a few times and was somewhat familiar with the subject so I was quite excited all week looking forward to discuss this in class. When the day finally arrived the instructor opened the book and turned to the chapter and mockingly said " if you want to believe that you came from a monkey then go right ahead. All I know for sure is that I am a child of God!" Everyone in the class yelled out amen! and the chapter was skipped and we went on to the next chapter. I was infuriated and from that moment on decided for myself that I would read everything Darwin wrote and any other books I could get at the time about human evolution. Needless to say it was the nail in the coffin of my faith.