I think I was 10 when I realized that God was probably not all I had been lead to believe. In fact, He (I never questioned His gender at that time) was right up there with the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and Santa. Just too good to be true....
I was pretty well read for a 10 year old at that time - let's say 1966 or 1967. Remember there was no Sesame Street or early learning. TV had 2 channels and didn't come on until noon and ended by midnight. There were no computers or other external information sources for a child - you basically had your brain, your imagination and what you observed, to work with - that was it. Religion was basically two choices, you were Protestant (me) or Catholic (the heathen). I'll not be discussing Mohammed, Allah or Budda in this blog, because none of them even existed in my religious experience.
I was baptized into the Anglican Church when I was about six. I remember it quite clearly. It was at the Trinity Church in Saint John, New Brunswick. My sister was a babe in arms and I was five years older than she, so quite able to recall the minister, my parents, the couple who I assume were our godparents and the urn of holy water. I had no clue what was going on, but it seemed important to the grown ups, so I did whatever I thought was expected of me, even though I was not impressed when the minister (who I later learned was actually a Canon) splashed water on my blouse.
Church was new to me, but we had begun spending some time there. I attended church services on Sunday mornings with my parents - at least my mother was there. I remember how boring it was while the minister talked and talked, but finally, after a while, a teenage boy in a white robe carrying a large cross would walk down the aisles and we children could fall in behind him and go to Sunday School. I liked Sunday School. We got to colour pictures and listen to bible stories. I liked it a lot, but I was a bit suspicious about some of the stories...
For some reason I was interested in learning more about our religion. I'm not really sure what prompted me to begin reading the bible, but I do remember that we were living in Riverview, so I'm thinking I was 12 or so. I decided I'd read one chapter every night at bedtime. I had an old bible that had been given to me by a teacher at a Baptist vacation bible school I had attended with a friend when I was 8 or 9. The bible had no covers. It was about five inches high and 3 inches thick and had some colour plates in the middle - things like Noah releasing a dove and Moses parting the Red Sea, and it was that old bible that I opened and began reading. The pages were kind of a silky paper and the print was very small and spread over two columns on each page.
So of course Genesis was first. God created the world, then realized he needed some people, so He also created Adam and Eve. They hung out in the Garden of Eden and had a great time until Eve decided to listen to the snake and eat the apple (stupid girl) and then they had to hide from God. Eventually He kicked them out of the garden and they got down to the business of starting humanity rolling by having 2 sons, Cain and Abel. Unfortunately, like most siblings, Cain and Abel couldn't get along and you guessed it, Cain slew Abel and had to leave. So, off he went to live in the land of Nod and eventually married a woman from that country.
So I read this over quite a few times. Something wasn't making sense here. I went back to the beginning and started over. Nope, I didn't miss anything or misunderstand something. Somehow, Cain managed to not only find other people, but a whole country of them. I kept on reading the bible every night, but now I took most of it with a grain of salt. I slogged through all the biblical language and the millions of "begattings". I learned about Moses and Abraham, David and Goliath, Joseph and his brothers and coat of many colours. Finally I finished the old testament and got into the teachings of Jesus, which I enjoyed much more, but I was still taking it all with some healthy scepticism.
And, then, becuase I was 12, I started my Confirmation classes. The minister was very British. He had a daughter who was a little older than me and had quite a reputation as a "bad girl". I didn't pay too much attention to that, because all children of ministers were a bit on the wild side - I decided that was just a by-product of having to spend so much time in church. I think our classes were in a room in his house - maybe 6 or 8 of us - 13 year old girls receiving religious instruction so that we could become confirmed and begin taking communion with the grown ups.
At first I was quite excited about this. I had a lot of questions and no answers. Now I would find out the truth and finally be able to understand the reason for the inconsistencies I had discovered in my biblical readings.