My name is Todd Pitner and if you happen to be a non-believer, I used to be one of you – an intellectually fulfilled ‘good person’ who had a pretty good run for 42 of my 45 years. Although born into a Catholic family and lovingly forced into church attendance, after high school I couldn’t get church in the rear-view mirror fast enough. Other than the obligatory annual Christmas and Easter services, I was “godless and doing just fine.”Link
Upon joining the Church of Narcissistianity– The Gospel According to Me, the next twenty-plus years served me pretty well. I compiled quite an impressive non-believer’s resume. My credentials:
– Made a lot of money, lost it all (bankrupt)
– Got married, had kids, all-work, no pray (divorced)
– Tried drugs, drank enough to kill a moose (alcoholic)
– Broke all Ten Commandments* (could never fix ‘em)
– Decided to kill myself (too much of a wimp)
* See Matthew 5:21-26 and 1 John 3:15 if
your left eyebrow went up on this admission.
Yes indeed, my life sucked. But as God is so prone to do, He brought me to my knees so that I might look up. In my utter despair, I gave up on Todd 1.0 and prayed for a Divine reboot, “God, if you’re there, if you’re really, really real…would you please help me?!”[emphasis all in original]
Humanity had become nothing more to me than an organized network of molecules and enzymes. I viewed people as mere organisms going through their daily routines of metabolizing nutrients and expelling wastes, ovulating their eggs and ejaculating their semen. I knew the psychology of humans almost as well as their anatomies. The hidden things that pulled them this way and that were very evident to me. They were like guinea pigs, only more predictable, and my chief form of entertainment was to see how skillfully I could manipulate them. I knew that I was supposed to care about them, but I didn't. I couldn't. If mankind's goal was to alleviate its own suffering, a bullet to the head was more efficient and made more sense in my thinking than screwing around with medication or disease control.Link
What was the point of prolonging any one life? What difference did it make if a girl didn't live to marry or her mother live to see it? Of what value were temporary emotional experiences? They were simply the biochemistry of the brain reacting to sensory input and, upon that individual's death, any remaining memory of that experience would be thrown away along with the person who had experienced it. My extreme point of view had reduced people into throwaway metabolic units; I had become as cold and indifferent as the logic that I exalted.
I was an atheist for most of my life. I thought that the idea of an all powerful, all loving God was just silly. I learned in school that evolution was where life came from, so what do you need God for? And I had a lot of self-motivation for living an atheistic lifestyle. I was living a very immoral life and a drunken life, life that was really a hundred percent focused on journalism.Link
Right from journalism school I went to the Chicago Tribune, which was unusual; but I had so much experience for a kid...because I knew since I was a little kid what I wanted to do. So I started as a general-assignments reporter. I went to Yale to get my masters in law, came back as a legal editor, covered federal courts, covered criminal courts, covered the Illinois Supreme Court and really enjoyed it but without God, without a moral framework, my personal life was out of control, the drinking, the carousing. I had no moral framework of how to do journalism so I would do whatever it took to get the story. I would steal; I would commit a federal crime by stealing federal documents from the courthouse. I made friends with the court clerk, and he allowed me to go by myself into the court files; and so I would go in there, and I would beat the competition all the time by finding all this wonderful stuff in the court files that no one knew about. So when I would find something particularly juicy, I would slip it under my vest, and I would steal it so when the story broke, the competition couldn't find the documents. Then I gave it a day or two, then I put it back. I figured it was worth it because I never got caught.
I would lie. I remember covering stories at the police headquarters, I would call the witness to a crime and I would say, "Hello this is Lee Strobel calling from police headquarters." Well the implication was that I was with the police department. I intentionally mislead and deceived them, because I figured they would tell me more than if they knew I was a reporter. There was nothing that I wouldn't do in pursuit of a story. I would step on my colleagues, in a very Machiavellian way. I, behind the scenes, destroyed the career of one of my colleagues because he was in my way. By the time I was done with him, he was fired from the Chicago Tribune. That's a terrible thing to do, to destroy someone's career; but I did it. And I didn't care. It didn't bother me one iota, because he was in my way. Get rid of him, destroy him...and I was able to do it. He got called on his honeymoon to be informed that he had been fired from his job...a terrible thing. But, as I said, I had no moral sense of right or wrong. If something was in my way, I got rid of it.
And as I read these tales, I realized I could never go back to being a Christian. It would seem I do not qualify to be “atheist” enough.
I haven’t gone bankrupt. Haven’t cheated on my wife, nor been divorced. Not a drunk. The closest brush with the law outside of my job is speeding tickets. I haven’t destroyed someone’s career—I don’t lie and steal to frustrate my competitors. I don’t consider humans to be “guinea pigs,” nor do I think suicide is the solution is suffering.
Evidently, according to these Christians, there is quite a bit more to being an atheist and I am simply not getting with the routine.
Only a cynic would think these are horrendous straw-people, designed to impress other Christians as to how “atheistic” a person REALLY was. Only a scoffer would think these testimonies aren’t intended to relate to atheists, but are intended to tell Christians how miserable atheists actually are in the deep down inside.
I guess, until I qualify as a “True Atheist,” I will never have such great stories to tell of being so despondent, rich, and sexually immoral.