My name is EJ Hill. I converted to Christianity on the 6th of November 1993, at the age of 16. Since my conversion I have worked as a short-term missionary with Operation Mobilization (OM), church-planter with Wayman Mitchell’s Christian Fellowship Churches, pastor, apologist, and continuity presenter for Radio 7 FM [now closed], managed to complete a Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology (BA.Th) at Miracle Bible C ollege (MBC),
and a number of other theological certifications (Th.Cert) and diplomas, through the Bible Way Corres pondence School, International Bible School, Lutheran Hour, Source of Light Schools, Tripp Bible Institute, Tygerberg Bible School, World Bible School, and the Universal Life Church (ULC).
I have been a very dedicated student of Christianity, for the better part of my life. Spent countless hours studying the Bible. Wrote hundreds of articles on Church History, Christology, Sacramentology, Arminianism, Calvinism, Bible Difficulties, Seeming Contradictions, Iconography, Roman Catholicism, Tormentism, Conditionalism, and Annihilationism – to name but a few.
My search for truth took me from Arminianism to C alvinism; from Paedobaptism to Credobaptism; from Libertarianism to Compatibilism; from Cessationism to Continuationism; fr om Intermediate Consciousness to Intermediate Unconsciousness [Psychopannych ism]; from Universal Immortality to Conditional Immortality [Conditionalism]; and finall y [after 21 years] from Christianity to Atheism.
Unlike many atheists, my ‘fall from grace’ [that is my deconversion] was NOT the result of scientific evidence, peer pressure, doubt, or personal ‘sin’ – but the direct result of an honest and unbiased, look at the issues surrounding Scribal Errors, Slavery, Misogyny, Infanticide, the Kalām Cosmological Argument, etc.
Looking back over the past twenty odd years, I now realize, that my disillusionment with Christianity started early on.
During my sixte en years in the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa; my time with the Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa, King’s Church International in Robertson, and Wayman O Mitchell’s De Deur Christian Fellowship Church in Paarl; my four years at Miracle Bible College (MBC); my time as Continuity Presenter at Radio 7 FM; and the past eleven years as a Christian businessman, writer, and apologist – I came to the conclusion:
- That MOST Christians did NOT really care about the biblical truthfulness, or accuracy, of their cherished beliefs . All they really cared about, is the general consensus of their peers, minister, and society.
- That MOST Christians were extremely ignorant of Church History in general, and the Apos tolic Fathers in particular . With the exception of a few ‘enlightened’ souls in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, the views of most stand in stark contrast to that of the earliest Apostolic Fathers: Clement I of Rome (+-30-99 AD) and Ignatius of Antioch (35/50-98/117).
- That MOST Christians had no interest, whatsoever, in any thoughtful or honest discussion, relating to their beliefs . In many ways they were as cultic, as those they labelled cults.
- That MOST Christians were extremely gullible, especially when it comes to alleged modern-day “apostles”, “prophets”, and “faith healers”. I have searched far and wide, yet could NOT find a single “prophet” whose “prophecies” were authentic; not a single “faith-healer” who healed anyone; nor a single “miracle-worker” who did not employ some form of illusion, or Animal Magnetism – as exposed by myself, Dan Korem, James Randi (1928-), Penn Jillette (1955-), and Penn and Teller: Bullshit.
To be blunt, MOST Christians were worse than any atheist I ever met . They certainly did not live their lives as if God existed.
They cheat on their wives.
They lie on their tax returns.
They steal from their employers.
They befriend and accommodate unbelievers in their homes. (2 Jn. 1v10-11; Rom 16v17-18; 1 Cor. 5)
They divorce and remarry as if trading in cars. (Mt. 5v31-32, 19v4-9, Mk. 10v2-12, Lk. 16v18, 1 Cor. 7v10-15)
And they watch more pornography than Hugh Hefner (1926-).
BUT, this realization did not drive me away from Christianity.
No, to the contrary, it worked in me an insatiable desire to be the best Christian I could be – the Noah, Job, David, or Paul, of my generation.
To search the Scriptures daily. (Acts 17v11)
To seek the presence of God. To be brutally honest with myself and others.
To “buy the truth, and sell it not” (Pr. 23v23).
To be a light in an otherwise dark world.
Yet, regardless of my passion, I had little impact on Christianity. They were far too busy congratulating themselves, and convincing each other, that they were not part and parcel of the world.
The publication of my deconversion from Christianity, came as a shock to most of my family, friends, and critics.
My wife’s first response was to threaten divorce. Apparently she forgot that we already filed for divorce a few months earlier – we were merely awaiting the final paperwork.
My mother burst into tears. Understandably so, since her eldest son would now ‘burn in hell’. She has since come to terms with it.
My brother, in all his wisdom, just silently pondered this new turn of events – and started reading science and philosophy.
My friends had mixed feelings. Most accepted my deconversion with grace and understanding. Two was shocked into silence. Seven discontinued their friendship.
My critics had a field day. Tom Lessing (1944-) of Discerning The World, for example, published an ‘open letter’ (Lessing, 2015), to which I responded. Glenda-Lynn Spengler sent me a nasty email, to which I responded.
As expected most of my ‘persecution’ came from the hands of ‘happy-clappy’ nominal Christians – those caught in a lukewarm Christian wonderland, careful never to quote a single passage of scripture within its entirety or context. The “believing” drunkards, stoners, fornicators, adulterers, racists, sexists, hypocrites, and pew-warmers of the local church .
Yet, I find comfort in the knowledge, that I am not alone. Apparently Christians are dropping like flies.
- In 2013 the beautiful Rachel Slick, daughter of Christian apologist Matt Slick, denounced Christianity in a guest post on the Friendly Atheist , entitled “The Atheist Daughter of a Notable Christian Apologist Shares Her Story”.
- In 2014 former Seventh-Day Adventist Pastor of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hollywood, Ryan Bell (1971-), announced his Atheism, in a blog post at a Year Without God, entitled “An End, and a New Beginning”.
- In 2015 George Perdikis, co-founder and lead guitarist of one of the most popular Christian rock bands, Newsboys, announced his Atheism in a guest post on the Friendly Atheist, entitled “I Co-Founded One of the Most Popular Christian Rock Bands Ever … and I’m Now An Atheist”.
There were many before us. And I am sure that many will follow.
According to the latest research, Christians are leaving the church in droves. According to the Hartford Institute of Religion Research , “more than 40 percent of
Americans ‘say’ they go to church weekly. As it turns out, however, less than 20 percent are actually in church. In other words, more than 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on weekends.” (McSwain, 2014)
As a result, “somewhere between 4,000 and 7,000 churches close their doors every year”. (McSwain, 2014)
According to Southern Baptist researcher, Thom Rainer, 2014 alone would see “between 8,000 and 10,000 churches … close”. (McSwain, 2014)
Between the years 2010 and 2012, more than half of all churches in America added not one new member. Each year, nearly three million previous churchgoers enter the ranks of the “religiously unaffiliated.” (McSwain, 2014)
While many of them have not given up on God, or renounced their faith, the real “good news” is, that organized religion – as we know it – is dying.
Where did you go wrong?
The primary mistake I made, was to adopt Christianity at the age of sixteen, without questioning the authority of its Scriptures.
IF you are going to live your life by some standard, and even more importantly, judge others by that standard, you better make sure it is infallible .
Why default to Atheism and not Deism?
At this point in my life, I simply have no good reason, sufficient philosophical or scientific evidence, to believe in the existence of ANY god.
By process of elimination, I have [over the past twenty odd years] managed to eliminate the alleged authority [holy books], and therefore the validity, of Judaism, Christianity [including the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Roman Catholicism], Islam, Mormonism, etc. – and can, with a fair amount of certainty say, that IF there is a God – and I am NOT saying there is – it is neither, Allah, nor Yahweh/Jehovah.
Do you hate religion?
I do NOT hate religion. I just love humanity, and am convinced that religion always gets in the way of progress.
Finally, I am opposed to the blissful ignorance, sexism, schisms, bigotry, racism, slavery, and infanticide promoted by SOME religions, since it damages the world we live in.
What do you love the most about atheism?
In the words of Robert Ingersoll, “When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf or slave.”
The freedom to make mistakes, without being condemned therefore. (Gal. 1v8)
The freedom to befriend, whomever I wish, regardless of their “contrary doctrine” (Rom. 16v17).
The freedom to accommodate others, warts and all. What do you dislike most about atheism?
Fellow-atheists so hell-bent on criticize the religious, that they hurt our cause and hamper our progress, because they fail to fact-check their sources, infographics, and quotes.
Atheistic organizations who appoint recent ‘converts’ to atheism, in leadership positions for which they are ill-prepared.
Which books would you recommend?
In no particular order:
“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark”, by Carl Sagan.
“Sense and Goodness Without God”, by Richard Carrier.
“God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything”, by Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).
“Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind”, by Daniel Dennett and Linda LaScola.
“Why I Am Not a Christian”, by Richard Carrier.
“With or Without God”, by Gretta Vosper.
“Living With a Wild God”, by Barbara Ehrenreich.
“Waking Up”, by Dr. Sam Harris.
“Reimagining God: The Faith Journey of a Modern Heretic”, by Lloyd Geering.
“The Satanic Verses”, by Salman Rushdie.
I am sure, that I owe a lot of people a sincere apology.
While I certainly did NOT intend to deceive anyone – I certainly did. Not because I wanted to, but because I was deceived myself.
As the book of Proverbs confirms, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” (Pr. 14v12, 16v25) – intellectual death, social death, and sometimes even physical death.
Be that as it may, rest assured “I was blind, but now I see” Gratitude
Finally, this testimony would not be complete, without a sincere “Thank You” to my friend, Jacques du Plessis, who played a leading role in my exodus from the miry clay of religion.
It was Jacques who spent countless hours questioning and debating me. And it was also he, who introduced me to the works of Prof. Dr. Daniel Dennett (1942-), Michio Kaku (1947-), Prof. Dr. A.C. Grayling (1949-), Dan Barker (1949-), Lawrence Krauss (1954-), Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958-), Dr. Sam Harris (1967-), Matt Dillahunty (1969-), Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984), Christoper Hitchens (1949-2011), and Farrell Till (1933-2012) – to name but a few.
1. McSwain, S. (2014, October 14) Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore. Huff Post Religion. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mcswain/why-nobody-wants-to-go-to_b_4086016.html ✔
2. Lessing, T. (2015, March 10) EJ Hill: The Other Side of Hillside. Discerning The Truth. Retrieved from http://www.discerningtheworld.com/2015/03/10/ej-hill-side-hillside/ ✔
3. Carter, N. (2014, September 14) What Leaving My Religion Did for Me. Godless In Dixie. Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/09/14/what-leaving-my-religion-did-for- me/
Updated November 14, 2016