Quark

Ignorance is bliss... until it isn't

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Where do I even begin. I guess I should start by saying hello, so... hello. I'd introduce myself, but since I'm still a closeted atheist I'm not sure that I should give out my real name just yet, so you can call me Quark.

I was born and raised in the thick of something between Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. The Church of God denomination, if you must know (though there are many denominations that go by this title). My parents were (and are) the model Christian couple, not without their faults but adhering rather strictly to the moral guidelines laid out by the Bible. Despite that, they're Good people. Loving people. My dad was a pastor, the kind that made sure he took his kids to every church service and prayer meeting, so I was saturated at a young age in scripture, worship music, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and Restless Leg Syndrome. You could safely assume that my Dad was pretty hardcore about being a Christian, but you wouldn't know the half of it: The guy got a doctoral degree in ministry--through an actual accredited school, not one of those degree mills like the infamous Kent Hovind went through.

 

At a very young age, we moved as a result of a falling out with the church. My dad began to pastor a different church in the Bible belt, but we quickly found out--aside from being pumped full of racism--that the church's views were askew from our own, and we were pretty incompatible with that difference. Less than a year a later, we moved to pastor a different church even further south. I honestly don't remember how long we were there, but it was less than two years before we headed north to pastor yet another church. I think you can see that a trend was forming. Long story short, because it truly is a long story, my entire childhood was a constant journey from church to church. At some point along the way I just gave up on making friends, because I couldn't handle having to break it off with them when I inevitably had to move, and this would have been sad if it wasn't for the fact I was right. Maybe it's still sad, I dunno.

 

My faith wavered here and there, but I always found my way back to it. Because I had no real friends, the only friends I had were in my God and my family. Guilt over my natural sexual urges, however, made me too ashamed to speak on a more personal level with my family. I felt like God was the only person I could communicate with on such a private level. A shame that relationship was always a one-way street, because what was natural for a teenager of my age I thought was a damning sin, and it tore me up on the inside. I used to have dreams of castrating myself, because of Matthew 5:30
 

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and
cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee
that one of thy members should perish, and not
that thy whole body should be cast into hell.


I am so glad I was never so bold.

I must admit that a lot of my past is a bit of a haze. I lived most of my childhood in my head, and actively avoided anything that would challenge my faith. I remember struggling a lot with the idea of homosexuality being a sin, as it seemed to me at the time as the only sin in the Bible that did nothing evil, and was actually based on love--which was something Jesus was supposed to be all about, and yet it seemed to be one of the most offensive sins to Christians. I myself wasn't attracted to other men, so it wasn't a problem for me, but the experience I had repressing my own heterosexual urges I suppose convinced me that it was possible for a homosexual to do the same, they were just... forbidden from ever falling in love. That last part still never sat well with me. Like most problems that challenged my faith, however, I ignored it.
 

My faith had gotten stale in time: My prayers rarely returned any responses from the big guy, and the responses I did get were more my own inner thoughts reflecting back at me. It had become a ritual to stave off the devil, to keep my soul out of the fires of Hell and aimed toward the pearly gates of heaven that death would graciously one day lead me into... and then my family discovered Bethel Church in Redding California. Now... this is the only church I will mention by name, partially because it is so huge that my connection to it would be impossible to find, but also because I feel it is worth looking into from an atheist perspective. This church was the first I had seen that made as big a deal as it does over works in the spirit. Faith healing is so common there that they have entire rooms devoted to it, and people come from all over the world to learn how to do the same to others. I mean... it really is worth looking into their website for just how much they really buy into it, and all the stories coming out of that church (and its attached school) are so supernaturally charged that ironically many other denominations see the church's miracles as works of the devil sooner than outright denying their validity.

My faith had been recharged. My parents would even let me stay home and instead watch a sermon from Bethel if I chose, which I was thankful for, because I really was getting tired of all the fake smiles and sweaty handshakes, not to mention singing songs that were twice my age. The power of healing seemed so real, and it wasn't long before I started seeing the same in my own church. The power of prayer worked. Seemingly.

I distinctly remember the moment my faith in healing began to waver. It wasn't because my uncle died of cancer, or because the girl whose eyes we healed had to go back to wearing glasses, because all of that simply had to work into God's unseen and unknowable plan. It happened at my grandparents' house. My parents were praising God, sharing the story of my sister's elbow (broken in an unfortunate accident) being miraculously healed by the power of prayer; the doctors said she might never have full functionality of the elbow again, and yet it seemed that she'd proven them wrong, and there was simply no denying that it had to be the work of God. They were still talking as I went into the living room, plopping down in the couch with a blissful, ignorant smile.

The words "placebo effect" grabbed my attention from the television. I'd heard of the term before, because I had once googled it when I heard a song I liked from a band of the same name. I don't even think it was a full-blown documentary or news story, more an advertisement for one of the two, but it spoke of the healing power of belief--even as my parents still spoke of the healing power of prayer in the background. If I believed in fate, it would have been destiny that that commercial came on when it did. Suddenly, it all made sense. Placebo healing tends to be temporary, as in the case of the girl's eyesight that reverted back to normal, and surely enough a few years later my sister's elbow couldn't bend as well as it once was able either. Every healing story I heard made sense from a scientific point of view, and the more I studied, the more I found out that these healing stories weren't exclusive to Christianity.

But I remained a believer. I had to. God was my closest friend, and the heat of Hellfire at my back kept me running blindly away from reason.
 

Ignorance is bliss. I actively avoided anything that made me doubt my faith—even when friend and mentor alike fell short of the Christian teachings, though over time that did make me doubt in the sincerity of Christians. For every smiling face and zany cookout there was a lie and a knife in a friend's back. I mean I knew that even Christians sinned now and then, but when your Christian neighbors proved to be no better than the non-believers, then did God even have the power we thought he did? It'd be one thing if it was just one crappy church, but as I've mentioned, I've lived in over seven states and attended more than twice that many churches and it's all been the same.

And there was still the matter of prevalent, accepted, and encouraged homophobia that continued to bother the shit out of me... but I had to ignore it and pretend it didn't exist. Because I wasn't gay myself, it wasn't a problem I had to worry about, and so I pretended it wasn't even an issue.

Then my dad felt the calling of the Lord to move the family out to Redding to attend Bethel in-person; he had no job to support us with, but for such a righteous goal, there was no doubt in his mind that God would support us. He'd heard his calling, had a vision, or some combination of the two, I don't know--honestly, he thought he was prophetic, which might sound strange to say but it's quite a common belief in some circles. There were many Christians who thought they were prophetic, and believed it was a common gift of the Holy Spirit. What's worse is that I believed him, and I was right alongside him, knowing that surely God would aid us as he always seemed to. And so we moved. Gathered up our things and crossed the country without any of us having a job in place to support the family.

Do I even need to say how horribly this went?

We ran out of money in a year, and had to move out of the state to recover. It was at this point that I heard the saying I'd heard a thousand times from my parents. Paraphrased, it would always go something like this, said with passion and indignant faith, "I really sense that God is about to move us into a new place, one where we'll thrive like never before, where we'll finally find a place we can call home." I desperately wanted to believe this, but I'd heard it one too many times. It never turned out that way. Sure enough, the next place we moved was garbage, and my Dad ended up being the only person to love it there, not to mention that most of us kids had moved out and on our own at this point, meaning the prophesied home the family would find would apparently be found long after we'd already grown up and moved on.

I just wanted it all to end... but I knew suicide was the one sin you couldn't atone for. The fires of Hell would greet me if I took my own life, and I suppose that thought spared me, but before anyone starts to think that the horrible concept of Hell actually saved me in this instance, I honestly believe that if I didn't believe so strongly in the concept of the immortal spirit that I wouldn't have contemplated ending such a valuable thing as this mortal life. Despite what I think now, that's now how I thought then, and I instead hoped and prayed that God would send a drunk driver off the road to flatten me and get this crappy temporary life over with so I could get on with the immortal paradise of heaven already.

 

I eventually went back to California, deciding to share an apartment with two of my sisters so we could split rent between us. My student loan debt made this a barely-manageable situation, but we were at least able to survive like this for a time. It was during this time that some internet friends I made invited me to play dungeons and dragons with them online, which I'd never done before, and honestly... I feel like this saved my life. With how often I contemplated suicide, just... having this group of friends to schedule a regular get-together with gave me such joy on a week-to-week basis. We became incredibly close as a result of this game, and for the first time in many years I felt I had made friends that weren't of the supernatural, imaginary variety. We'd scheduled our game for Sundays, which conflicted with my church schedule, but I knew that the time I spent with these friends was healthier for me than time in a crowded sanctuary of screaming, lost souls. I still believed in God, but I felt him more in the community of this circle of friends than I ever felt in my private studies and prayers.

Then my little sister (the one still living with my parents) came out of the closet. She was a lesbian, and an atheist, and my parents went berserk.

 

For a brief while I couldn't help but share their anger, largely because the words they used to describe the situation were very twisted, choosing phrases like "Your sister was TARGETED by a girl in school" like she were some sort of sexual assault victim. But talking with my sister personally, which was a bit of an endeavor when my parents cut her off from all means of communication, began to make me clear my head a little. Why was I feeling so offended when I already hated the fact the Bible spoke against homosexuality?

 

This was the catalyst. I couldn't ignore it anymore. Either the Bible was wrong, or Christians were wrong about the Bible. Upon studying the scriptures myself, unless you REALLY twist their meaning, the Bible is very clear on its stance.

 

I didn't outright drop my faith right then and there, I don't think, but it did begin to fade at that point. I still caught myself praying to, and at times shouting in anger at God, but in time my prayers became more simple, to the point where the only prayers I prayed were "Are you there? Give me a sign that you're real. Any sign."

And I never received that sign.

 

Life continued on, but that's where the story of my Christianity ends. It's still pretty recent history, as I know of December LAST year I still believed in God (because Chirrut's "The force is with me" scene in Rogue One spoke to me on a religious level), but I know I didn't by the time I finished playing the game Nier Automata earlier this year (because of how its anti-Christian philosophical themes spoke to me). I feel I've finally been able to put it behind me, especially now that I've been studying evolution for the first time in my life. I mean really, it's quite fascinating, I'm falling in love with the works of Dawkins and enjoying his books, even though a lot of it goes WAY over my head. I was hesitant to call myself an atheist until I began listening to the works of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, but I feel it's a valuable label, as my agnosticism only extends as far as most atheists say, where we just feel there's not enough convincing evidence to prove any god's existence.

I like how Hitchens refers to Pascal's wager in saying "I am so made that I cannot believe." In hindsight, this truly has been me. I've been fighting against my rational nature, diving willingly and intentionally into ignorance to continue to believe in the comforting lie of purpose amid--what I feel I've effectively communicated--is a meaningless and purposeless life. If God exists, he made me in such a way that I cannot believe based on blind faith, especially when all logical evidence points against his existence. So if God made me, he either doesn't love me, or he's a real shit designer, which is not a God worth any more of my time.

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PLEASE EXCUSE THE ANNOYING COMMERCIAL BREAKS IN THE CONVERSATION:

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And now, back to the regularly scheduled conversation...



Welcome.  Your story is well written.  You were infected with a particularly virulent strain of the Christian God virus, from which you are now recovering.  Your honesty and insightfulness should greatly help you.  Be patient.  Find things to do, study, experience and enjoy which have nothing to do with religion.  There are many things out there that do this.

 

Many members here will be of help to you, as they have rather similar histories with religion, peer pressure, etc.

 

 

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Quark, welcome to our community!  Your testimonial is very well written and a powerful demonstration of how religious faith ultimately fails.  I hope it will inspire others who have struggled mightily to make sense of Christianity, to take a deep breath and finally turn their back on it.   I’m glad you’re here!

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One thing Christianity is very good at is indoctrinating their children & that is a difficult thing for anyone to overcome, but it appears you are one of the few that did overcome it. Congrats & welcome.I believe you will find this site beneficial. :goodjob:

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Thanks everyone for the warm welcome. I skimmed a few threads of this site before deciding to post this, and I liked the vibe of the place, but I'm still relieved to see the positive reaction. I feel like I've been programmed to expect the worst when saying such things, and it's a breath of fresh air to see my view accepted and not shot down. I mean just recently I revealed that I believed in evolution, and tried to convince some people that it didn't conflict with the idea of God, but it still went over pretty poorly. I somewhat regret that, haha

Someday I might feel comfortable coming out as an atheist, but it probably won't be any time soon. I saw first hand how my mother took that with my sister, and I'm afraid of what it would do to her blood pressure if she found out I was the same way.

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Quark, to my initial welcome I would add this:  you are to be congratulated for getting over this hump.  Many people see the problems with Christianity and with theism in general but lack the courage to actually reject it.  They continue in a lifelong state of cognitive dissonace. They preach views about ‘sins’ and other aspects of morality that they don’t truly believe.  You are in the minority, but a growing minority for sure.  The road you have taken is often challenging, as in the situation with your parents.  But those of us who have taken it ahead of you can tell you that it is certainly worthwhile.  Taking control of your own mind and rejecting ideas that make no sense leads to a powerful sense of joy and peace in due course.  

 

As regards ‘coming out’ as an atheist, take your time.  You have taken the most important step: coming out to YOURSELF!  Now you have come out to us and you can be sure you are among friends and allies here. Many of us once hesitated to call ourselves atheists, but that usually goes away in time, to the point where we become so comfortable with the term that we forget how scary  the a-word is to many.  And we have ex-Christians here who choose to never call themselves atheists. So don’t feel obliged to call yourself that outside of your own mind and this community.  It’s often easier just to describe yourself as ‘not religious’ or even agnostic, when talking to believers, even the most casual believers.  Take your time...

 

So again - congratulations and welcome!

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4 hours ago, Quark said:

Where do I even begin. I guess I should start by saying hello, so... hello. I'd introduce myself, but since I'm still a closeted atheist I'm not sure that I should give out my real name just yet, so you can call me Quark.

I was born and raised in the thick of something between Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. The Church of God denomination, if you must know (though there are many denominations that go by this title). My parents were (and are) the model Christian couple, not without their faults but adhering rather strictly to the moral guidelines laid out by the Bible. Despite that, they're Good people. Loving people. My dad was a pastor, the kind that made sure he took his kids to every church service and prayer meeting, so I was saturated at a young age in scripture, worship music, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, and Restless Leg Syndrome. You could safely assume that my Dad was pretty hardcore about being a Christian, but you wouldn't know the half of it: The guy got a doctoral degree in ministry--through an actual accredited school, not one of those degree mills like the infamous Kent Hovind went through.

 

At a very young age, we moved as a result of a falling out with the church. My dad began to pastor a different church in the Bible belt, but we quickly found out--aside from being pumped full of racism--that the church's views were askew from our own, and we were pretty incompatible with that difference. Less than a year a later, we moved to pastor a different church even further south. I honestly don't remember how long we were there, but it was less than two years before we headed north to pastor yet another church. I think you can see that a trend was forming. Long story short, because it truly is a long story, my entire childhood was a constant journey from church to church. At some point along the way I just gave up on making friends, because I couldn't handle having to break it off with them when I inevitably had to move, and this would have been sad if it wasn't for the fact I was right. Maybe it's still sad, I dunno.

 

My faith wavered here and there, but I always found my way back to it. Because I had no real friends, the only friends I had were in my God and my family. Guilt over my natural sexual urges, however, made me too ashamed to speak on a more personal level with my family. I felt like God was the only person I could communicate with on such a private level. A shame that relationship was always a one-way street, because what was natural for a teenager of my age I thought was a damning sin, and it tore me up on the inside. I used to have dreams of castrating myself, because of Matthew 5:30
 

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and
cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee
that one of thy members should perish, and not
that thy whole body should be cast into hell.


I am so glad I was never so bold.

I must admit that a lot of my past is a bit of a haze. I lived most of my childhood in my head, and actively avoided anything that would challenge my faith. I remember struggling a lot with the idea of homosexuality being a sin, as it seemed to me at the time as the only sin in the Bible that did nothing evil, and was actually based on love--which was something Jesus was supposed to be all about, and yet it seemed to be one of the most offensive sins to Christians. I myself wasn't attracted to other men, so it wasn't a problem for me, but the experience I had repressing my own heterosexual urges I suppose convinced me that it was possible for a homosexual to do the same, they were just... forbidden from ever falling in love. That last part still never sat well with me. Like most problems that challenged my faith, however, I ignored it.
 

My faith had gotten stale in time: My prayers rarely returned any responses from the big guy, and the responses I did get were more my own inner thoughts reflecting back at me. It had become a ritual to stave off the devil, to keep my soul out of the fires of Hell and aimed toward the pearly gates of heaven that death would graciously one day lead me into... and then my family discovered Bethel Church in Redding California. Now... this is the only church I will mention by name, partially because it is so huge that my connection to it would be impossible to find, but also because I feel it is worth looking into from an atheist perspective. This church was the first I had seen that made as big a deal as it does over works in the spirit. Faith healing is so common there that they have entire rooms devoted to it, and people come from all over the world to learn how to do the same to others. I mean... it really is worth looking into their website for just how much they really buy into it, and all the stories coming out of that church (and its attached school) are so supernaturally charged that ironically many other denominations see the church's miracles as works of the devil sooner than outright denying their validity.

My faith had been recharged. My parents would even let me stay home and instead watch a sermon from Bethel if I chose, which I was thankful for, because I really was getting tired of all the fake smiles and sweaty handshakes, not to mention singing songs that were twice my age. The power of healing seemed so real, and it wasn't long before I started seeing the same in my own church. The power of prayer worked. Seemingly.

I distinctly remember the moment my faith in healing began to waver. It wasn't because my uncle died of cancer, or because the girl whose eyes we healed had to go back to wearing glasses, because all of that simply had to work into God's unseen and unknowable plan. It happened at my grandparents' house. My parents were praising God, sharing the story of my sister's elbow (broken in an unfortunate accident) being miraculously healed by the power of prayer; the doctors said she might never have full functionality of the elbow again, and yet it seemed that she'd proven them wrong, and there was simply no denying that it had to be the work of God. They were still talking as I went into the living room, plopping down in the couch with a blissful, ignorant smile.

The words "placebo effect" grabbed my attention from the television. I'd heard of the term before, because I had once googled it when I heard a song I liked from a band of the same name. I don't even think it was a full-blown documentary or news story, more an advertisement for one of the two, but it spoke of the healing power of belief--even as my parents still spoke of the healing power of prayer in the background. If I believed in fate, it would have been destiny that that commercial came on when it did. Suddenly, it all made sense. Placebo healing tends to be temporary, as in the case of the girl's eyesight that reverted back to normal, and surely enough a few years later my sister's elbow couldn't bend as well as it once was able either. Every healing story I heard made sense from a scientific point of view, and the more I studied, the more I found out that these healing stories weren't exclusive to Christianity.

But I remained a believer. I had to. God was my closest friend, and the heat of Hellfire at my back kept me running blindly away from reason.
 

Ignorance is bliss. I actively avoided anything that made me doubt my faith—even when friend and mentor alike fell short of the Christian teachings, though over time that did make me doubt in the sincerity of Christians. For every smiling face and zany cookout there was a lie and a knife in a friend's back. I mean I knew that even Christians sinned now and then, but when your Christian neighbors proved to be no better than the non-believers, then did God even have the power we thought he did? It'd be one thing if it was just one crappy church, but as I've mentioned, I've lived in over seven states and attended more than twice that many churches and it's all been the same.

And there was still the matter of prevalent, accepted, and encouraged homophobia that continued to bother the shit out of me... but I had to ignore it and pretend it didn't exist. Because I wasn't gay myself, it wasn't a problem I had to worry about, and so I pretended it wasn't even an issue.

Then my dad felt the calling of the Lord to move the family out to Redding to attend Bethel in-person; he had no job to support us with, but for such a righteous goal, there was no doubt in his mind that God would support us. He'd heard his calling, had a vision, or some combination of the two, I don't know--honestly, he thought he was prophetic, which might sound strange to say but it's quite a common belief in some circles. There were many Christians who thought they were prophetic, and believed it was a common gift of the Holy Spirit. What's worse is that I believed him, and I was right alongside him, knowing that surely God would aid us as he always seemed to. And so we moved. Gathered up our things and crossed the country without any of us having a job in place to support the family.

Do I even need to say how horribly this went?

We ran out of money in a year, and had to move out of the state to recover. It was at this point that I heard the saying I'd heard a thousand times from my parents. Paraphrased, it would always go something like this, said with passion and indignant faith, "I really sense that God is about to move us into a new place, one where we'll thrive like never before, where we'll finally find a place we can call home." I desperately wanted to believe this, but I'd heard it one too many times. It never turned out that way. Sure enough, the next place we moved was garbage, and my Dad ended up being the only person to love it there, not to mention that most of us kids had moved out and on our own at this point, meaning the prophesied home the family would find would apparently be found long after we'd already grown up and moved on.

I just wanted it all to end... but I knew suicide was the one sin you couldn't atone for. The fires of Hell would greet me if I took my own life, and I suppose that thought spared me, but before anyone starts to think that the horrible concept of Hell actually saved me in this instance, I honestly believe that if I didn't believe so strongly in the concept of the immortal spirit that I wouldn't have contemplated ending such a valuable thing as this mortal life. Despite what I think now, that's now how I thought then, and I instead hoped and prayed that God would send a drunk driver off the road to flatten me and get this crappy temporary life over with so I could get on with the immortal paradise of heaven already.

 

I eventually went back to California, deciding to share an apartment with two of my sisters so we could split rent between us. My student loan debt made this a barely-manageable situation, but we were at least able to survive like this for a time. It was during this time that some internet friends I made invited me to play dungeons and dragons with them online, which I'd never done before, and honestly... I feel like this saved my life. With how often I contemplated suicide, just... having this group of friends to schedule a regular get-together with gave me such joy on a week-to-week basis. We became incredibly close as a result of this game, and for the first time in many years I felt I had made friends that weren't of the supernatural, imaginary variety. We'd scheduled our game for Sundays, which conflicted with my church schedule, but I knew that the time I spent with these friends was healthier for me than time in a crowded sanctuary of screaming, lost souls. I still believed in God, but I felt him more in the community of this circle of friends than I ever felt in my private studies and prayers.

Then my little sister (the one still living with my parents) came out of the closet. She was a lesbian, and an atheist, and my parents went berserk.

 

For a brief while I couldn't help but share their anger, largely because the words they used to describe the situation were very twisted, choosing phrases like "Your sister was TARGETED by a girl in school" like she were some sort of sexual assault victim. But talking with my sister personally, which was a bit of an endeavor when my parents cut her off from all means of communication, began to make me clear my head a little. Why was I feeling so offended when I already hated the fact the Bible spoke against homosexuality?

 

This was the catalyst. I couldn't ignore it anymore. Either the Bible was wrong, or Christians were wrong about the Bible. Upon studying the scriptures myself, unless you REALLY twist their meaning, the Bible is very clear on its stance.

 

I didn't outright drop my faith right then and there, I don't think, but it did begin to fade at that point. I still caught myself praying to, and at times shouting in anger at God, but in time my prayers became more simple, to the point where the only prayers I prayed were "Are you there? Give me a sign that you're real. Any sign."

And I never received that sign.

 

Life continued on, but that's where the story of my Christianity ends. It's still pretty recent history, as I know of December LAST year I still believed in God (because Chirrut's "The force is with me" scene in Rogue One spoke to me on a religious level), but I know I didn't by the time I finished playing the game Nier Automata earlier this year (because of how its anti-Christian philosophical themes spoke to me). I feel I've finally been able to put it behind me, especially now that I've been studying evolution for the first time in my life. I mean really, it's quite fascinating, I'm falling in love with the works of Dawkins and enjoying his books, even though a lot of it goes WAY over my head. I was hesitant to call myself an atheist until I began listening to the works of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris, but I feel it's a valuable label, as my agnosticism only extends as far as most atheists say, where we just feel there's not enough convincing evidence to prove any god's existence.

I like how Hitchens refers to Pascal's wager in saying "I am so made that I cannot believe." In hindsight, this truly has been me. I've been fighting against my rational nature, diving willingly and intentionally into ignorance to continue to believe in the comforting lie of purpose amid--what I feel I've effectively communicated--is a meaningless and purposeless life. If God exists, he made me in such a way that I cannot believe based on blind faith, especially when all logical evidence points against his existence. So if God made me, he either doesn't love me, or he's a real shit designer, which is not a God worth any more of my time.

 

Excellent conclusion!  Just think of how much more productive you can be now that you’ve traded in your “I am weak but thou art strong” mentality in for one where you tell yourself “The fruits of christianity are weak but WE HUMAN BEINGS ARE STRONG!

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6 hours ago, ThereAndBackAgain said:

Quark, to my initial welcome I would add this:  you are to be congratulated for getting over this hump.  Many people see the problems with Christianity and with theism in general but lack the courage to actually reject it.  They continue in a lifelong state of cognitive dissonace. They preach views about ‘sins’ and other aspects of morality that they don’t truly believe.  You are in the minority, but a growing minority for sure.  The road you have taken is often challenging, as in the situation with your parents.  But those of us who have taken it ahead of you can tell you that it is certainly worthwhile.  Taking control of your own mind and rejecting ideas that make no sense leads to a powerful sense of joy and peace in due course.  

 

As regards ‘coming out’ as an atheist, take your time.  You have taken the most important step: coming out to YOURSELF!  Now you have come out to us and you can be sure you are among friends and allies here. Many of us once hesitated to call ourselves atheists, but that usually goes away in time, to the point where we become so comfortable with the term that we forget how scary  the a-word is to many.  And we have ex-Christians here who choose to never call themselves atheists. So don’t feel obliged to call yourself that outside of your own mind and this community.  It’s often easier just to describe yourself as ‘not religious’ or even agnostic, when talking to believers, even the most casual believers.  Take your time...

 

So again - congratulations and welcome!

Thank you, that means a lot to hear. It definitely wasn't easy getting to this point, and took a hell of a lot of time. I think part of what helped me reach this understanding was when I got into an argument with one of my friends (one of the online ones I mentioned in my first post). When we were done, I realized just how fucking terrible I was being: I was entirely in the wrong. I had this incorrigible, gluttonous NEED to be right, even though I knew I wasn't. I realized that... kind of everyone in my family had the same problem, and quickly found out it was more a problem with Christianity than anything. Christians NEED to be right, true faith requires it of you, because if you ever admit that there might not be a God, then you don't really have true faith in him. That mindset just... sometimes tends to bleed over into other areas of your life, especially when it's something that's been drilled into you.

 

After realizing this, I became very intentional about questioning my motives when I felt the urge to defend something I felt strongly about, especially if it's something that's just not very important. I didn't want my own stubborn pride to damage this new friendship that brought such value to my life. I'm still trying to make a practice of separating my emotions from my beliefs, and it's usually not an easy process. But... I think being able to look back at where you were wrong, and bringing yourself to openly admit it, is a powerful thing to be able to do. The hard part, and the part I still struggle with the most, is the actual process of change when it comes to improving those areas.
 

6 hours ago, padgemi said:

 

Excellent conclusion!  Just think of how much more productive you can be now that you’ve traded in your “I am weak but thou art strong” mentality in for one where you tell yourself “The fruits of christianity are weak but WE HUMAN BEINGS ARE STRONG!

Hehe, I like that. It's not even something I've thought too much about, but that is a significant shift in the paradigm to keep in mind. Christianity has the "humanity is evil" mentality, and that we will never truly be good without God, but mankind is so much better than that. I mean we're also really shitty too, but the point is that we're not born one way or another: Our choices are what matter.

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Welcome to the forum, @Quark

 

Congrats on thinking your way out of the indoctrination.

 

And don't feel bad about some of Dawkins writings  being a challenge for you - they are to me too but I keep reading...

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

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I must say, I'm in love with how you wrote your story. You put sentences together in a borderline poetic way and I really just couldn't stop reading. You should write more stuff. I'm looking forward to your input/feedback on future threads and allow me to welcome you to a whole crowd of people with different wounds from christianity.

 

The part about your prayers eventually being pleas for a sign is pretty much exactly what happened to me and I 100% identify with your description of how you eventually lost your faith. I wanted to believe. I wanted to be a good christian girl. I wanted to please god. But, as you so aptly pointed out, he must have made me to not see through bullshit. Oh the tears, the angry screams at god......

 

Welcome. <3

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On 10/9/2017 at 12:34 PM, MOHO said:

Welcome to the forum, @Quark

 

Congrats on thinking your way out of the indoctrination.

 

And don't feel bad about some of Dawkins writings  being a challenge for you - they are to me too but I keep reading...

    - MOHO (Mind Of His Own)

Thank you. I'm definitely learning a lot from Dawkins, and the parts that go over my head often prompt me to research and figure them out elsewhere. I've read the God Delusion, the Greatest Show on Earth, and am currently reading the Blind Watchmaker. As for Hitchens I've only read God is Not Great and Mortality (freaking heavy stuff), but I'm interested in reading more by him as well.

 

23 hours ago, ag_NO_stic said:

I must say, I'm in love with how you wrote your story. You put sentences together in a borderline poetic way and I really just couldn't stop reading. You should write more stuff. I'm looking forward to your input/feedback on future threads and allow me to welcome you to a whole crowd of people with different wounds from christianity.

 

The part about your prayers eventually being pleas for a sign is pretty much exactly what happened to me and I 100% identify with your description of how you eventually lost your faith. I wanted to believe. I wanted to be a good christian girl. I wanted to please god. But, as you so aptly pointed out, he must have made me to not see through bullshit. Oh the tears, the angry screams at god......

 

Welcome. <3

Your response brightened my day yesterday, thank you. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, and wrote about a book and a half, but never got anything published. I might still dig back into it sometime, but my focus is currently elsewhere.

 

I definitely identify with that rage. I'd want to make sure, however, that Christians who question my atheism would know that I'm no longer angry at God. At least... I'm no more angry at him than I am at any other fictional character.

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4 hours ago, Quark said:

Thank you. I'm definitely learning a lot from Dawkins, and the parts that go over my head often prompt me to research and figure them out elsewhere. I've read the God Delusion, the Greatest Show on Earth, and am currently reading the Blind Watchmaker. As for Hitchens I've only read God is Not Great and Mortality (freaking heavy stuff), but I'm interested in reading more by him as well.

 

Your response brightened my day yesterday, thank you. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, and wrote about a book and a half, but never got anything published. I might still dig back into it sometime, but my focus is currently elsewhere.

 

I definitely identify with that rage. I'd want to make sure, however, that Christians who question my atheism would know that I'm no longer angry at God. At least... I'm no more angry at him than I am at any other fictional character.

 

Well there's nothing stopping you from picking it back up, so I hope you do! Stick around :)

 

My rage is no longer directed at god but often believers. It's frustrating to be asked why I'm mad at god when it's definitely at what believers do on his behalf.

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29 minutes ago, ag_NO_stic said:

 

Well there's nothing stopping you from picking it back up, so I hope you do! Stick around :)

 

My rage is no longer directed at god but often believers. It's frustrating to be asked why I'm mad at god when it's definitely at what believers do on his behalf.

Oh yes, I agree. I get frustrated by what they do on his behalf, when they say they know what his will is, or when they make huge, destructive life decisions based on their faith. I think that's why I usually want to lean toward sympathy before frustration--but even as I say that, I'm reminded of a rather frustrating discussion I had with a believer friend not long ago. I'm mostly saddened by how thickly-rooted his confirmation bias is (ignoring evidence in favor of selecting/quote mining small things that support his pre-existing stance), and how his moral high ground mentality has inflated his ego to an unhealthy level (he believes God removed his protection from America when we removed him from education and politics, which is why the hurricanes caused such devastation). Even so, this person was once my best friend, so it's... an uncomfortable experience looking back into the way he sees things from an outside perspective.

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51 minutes ago, Quark said:

Oh yes, I agree. I get frustrated by what they do on his behalf, when they say they know what his will is, or when they make huge, destructive life decisions based on their faith. I think that's why I usually want to lean toward sympathy before frustration--but even as I say that, I'm reminded of a rather frustrating discussion I had with a believer friend not long ago. I'm mostly saddened by how thickly-rooted his confirmation bias is (ignoring evidence in favor of selecting/quote mining small things that support his pre-existing stance), and how his moral high ground mentality has inflated his ego to an unhealthy level (he believes God removed his protection from America when we removed him from education and politics, which is why the hurricanes caused such devastation). Even so, this person was once my best friend, so it's... an uncomfortable experience looking back into the way he sees things from an outside perspective.

 

In the same boat, @Quark, but, in this case, it's Mrs. MOHO.

 

The fundy think, expressed in such a pious, I am SOOOOOO much BETTER than YOU attitude, has brought me to the brink of hurling sometimes. Thats a bummer that it's your BFF in your case. I already know the answer but I have to ask anyway. Is there any change that Mr. BFF will listen and/or ponder any reality based information you could impart to him?

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4 hours ago, MOHO said:

 

In the same boat, @Quark, but, in this case, it's Mrs. MOHO.

 

The fundy think, expressed in such a pious, I am SOOOOOO much BETTER than YOU attitude, has brought me to the brink of hurling sometimes. Thats a bummer that it's your BFF in your case. I already know the answer but I have to ask anyway. Is there any change that Mr. BFF will listen and/or ponder any reality based information you could impart to him?

The discussion we had was about evolution, it went on for quite a while, and I brought up what I felt were plenty of excellent pieces of evidence... but he said something to the effect that neither of us will change our minds no matter what the other says. He is stuck in believing that carbon dating isn't accurate (even though i showed him examples of how other dating methods corroborate it), that species only evolve within "kinds" (Which to him are any creatures that can still breed, but he failed to acknowledge the example I gave him about the greenish warbler being unable to breed with other warblers when they evolved down different paths), and that there just aren't enough intermediary fossils (and he shrugged off the ones i showed him and said they were only assumed to be intermediary because of the perceived similarities). He went on to say how evolution wasn't even Science because it didn't follow the scientific method, even though I showed him how it does, and... well, I guess I've made my point. He's clearly believing what he wants to believe, and was sure to remind me that he knew what he was talking about because of the huge list of evolution books he read. I mean, as his friend I would have to trust that he did actually read them... but it just makes me question his level of comprehension. At the very least, he's trained what would normally be a confirmation bias into a sharply honed skill.

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2 hours ago, Quark said:

The discussion we had was about evolution, it went on for quite a while, and I brought up what I felt were plenty of excellent pieces of evidence... but he said something to the effect that neither of us will change our minds no matter what the other says. He is stuck in believing that carbon dating isn't accurate (even though i showed him examples of how other dating methods corroborate it), that species only evolve within "kinds" (Which to him are any creatures that can still breed, but he failed to acknowledge the example I gave him about the greenish warbler being unable to breed with other warblers when they evolved down different paths), and that there just aren't enough intermediary fossils (and he shrugged off the ones i showed him and said they were only assumed to be intermediary because of the perceived similarities). He went on to say how evolution wasn't even Science because it didn't follow the scientific method, even though I showed him how it does, and... well, I guess I've made my point. He's clearly believing what he wants to believe, and was sure to remind me that he knew what he was talking about because of the huge list of evolution books he read. I mean, as his friend I would have to trust that he did actually read them... but it just makes me question his level of comprehension. At the very least, he's trained what would normally be a confirmation bias into a sharply honed skill.

 

The person you reference uses his brain differently than you do.  He/she has set up common creationist defense mechanisms, become adroit with use of logical fallacies and, if pushed hard, will likely lie, cheat and boast of his intellectual dishonest, all to maintain his religious faith.

 

Other than to help lurkers and observers of your conversation, why waste time with such a dysfunctional individual?

 

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35 minutes ago, sdelsolray said:

 

The person you reference uses his brain differently than you do.  He/she has set up common creationist defense mechanisms, become adroit with use of logical fallacies and, if pushed hard, will likely lie, cheat and boast of his intellectual dishonest, all to maintain his religious faith.

 

Other than to help lurkers and observers of your conversation, why waste time with such a dysfunctional individual?

 

Eh, he's my cousin. It's hard for me to give up on him and I keep hoping that he'll see reason. You're probably right, though, it's just... hard for me to quit on him.

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