In 1964, I was twelve years old and searching the radio for different opinions, a search for "the truth." I wrote to Herbert Armstrong’s World Tomorrow radio program. This was very much against the wishes of my very Baptist parents.
I attended Ambassador College from 1969 to 1973, staying working in the Data Processing department for five more years.
I remember crossing Pasadena to attend the lectures of the Leakey Foundation at California Institute of Technology. Also reading Scientific American on the subject of evolution, I could see that the scientific community was not just making it all up — that there was a large body of fossil evidence, not just a bone or two.
I discovered that much of what I had learned of creationism from AC and the Worldwide Church of God was plain wrong. Even the book used in Ambassador’s classes, The Genesis Flood, was being disavowed as unrealible by the same faculty that had used it.
There was no sign of a worldwide flood, as had been supposed to have happened in the time of Noah. If there had been a flood, it was invisible four thousand years ago.
Fossil evidence showed that all animals and plants could be connected in time in a series of great families. There were not great gaps, but rather an impressive number of closely related species, with a lot of little gaps.
In addition, I found that historical formation and transmission of the Bible was not what we were led to believe.
The Old Testament was not definitively collected as the exact 37 books we use (22 in Hebrew) until sometime in the second century, CE (AD). Christians continued to use various books, including books preserved in Greek which are now found in the Apocrypha. Whoever wrote the New Testament used exotic books such as 1 Enoch (see Jude 9).
There is no evidence of a list of exactly 27 books of the New Testament until the Festal Letter of Bishop Athanasius, circa 363 CE. In the previous century, attempts at "canonization" had produced lists that had included either more or fewer books than what we have now. Several Eastern churches refused to accept the Revelation of John for several centuries later.
Thus, the New Testament was not established in the form we know it until Sunday-worshipping orthodoxy had been well established, and the Canon of the Bible was established more or less by a series of ecumenical councils.
Armstrongism was a dangerous cult of personality.
Will it be all better when the Worldwide Church of God adopts more of mainstream Protestantism?
Hardly. So far as facts of history are concerned, the whole of Christianity, Saturday or Sunday, law or grace, organized or disorganized is built on a faulty foundation. If you try to follow the Bible, you are trying to make sense of a book with manifest contradictions to history, and which shows disagreements within itself on vital matters.
Early Christianity was not one single monolithic movement, but a series of groups that gradually fell in major alignments. The very first Jewish followers of Jesus probably were Adoptionists who believed that Jesus was a great man, but not God. These Jews probably became the Ebionites, which we read in later Christian writing rejected the writings of Paul, and denied the divinity of Jesus.
Should you temper the use of scripture with tradition? Is the truth about Jesus nevertheless contained in the general beliefs of the Church, or in the teaching of bishops? If you follow this course, you will be disappointed as well.
I have been involved with the Humanist movement since about 1980. I mainly identify with the American Humanist Association (www.humanist.net). I have participated with the Ethical Culture Societies of Los Angeles and of Baltimore.
Am I an atheist? Yes, I have decided to accept that term. I do not believe in God. However, I make no claims that I know the truth of the proposition, "God does not exist." I hope you can make the distinction. Under the use of the word as I prefer it, I am a member of Atheists United, which is based in Los Angeles.
I prefer the word agnostic; I don’t know whether a god exists, but it is most logical to live as if one does not exist.
Best of all, I prefer the term, Humanist, as a variety of non-belief in God that emphasizes concern for humanity, both as individuals and as groups, nations, and the ecology. One of my Humanist friends said it well: the Humanist philosophy is that "We are alone together on the planet Earth."
Take care. No god will save you.