Jump to content

Leaderboard


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation since 05/07/2017 in all areas

  1. 21 points
    A strange thing has happened over the past few weeks - and I think it's a good sign: I haven't felt the need to logon to ex-christian.net EVERY SINGLE DAY... Don't get me wrong, this site is AMAZING. It has played a huge role in processing my deconversion experience, finding my new worldview, growing in confidence in what I believe and why, finding freedom from all of the fears Christianity had gripped me with. Everyday for nearly 3 years, I signed on - eager to hear another extimony, hoping people shared their thoughts about the issues I was facing - and they did. I had to RE-HASH everything over and over to deprogram myself from all of the indoctrination and to get over the fear. I needed to be SURE that I was on the right path. I'm sure now =) I've reached a really fantastic place in my mind - I have peace. I love the person I am now so much more than 4 years ago when I was still a Christian. Honestly, I was an anxious, chauvinistic, self-righteous, judgmental, authoritarian who preached grace and had very little... I have peace as an agnostic. NOT having all of the answers is a much lighter load to bear than claiming to know them all and having to square reality with my “certainty”. I live now in the present - eager to suck every drop of joy and goodness from each experience - whether that is a conversation with my wife, helping one of my patients, or taking my oldest daughter out for a plate of her favorite Vietnamese noodles (like I did tonight) and watching her gulp them down with sheer delight. I derive deep satisfaction from helping the hurting – supporting causes that improve the lives of orphans throughout the world, etc. I love getting to look at amazing creatures and just marvel at how they came to be. I don’t have to feel confused about why God created them with defense and attack structures if they were just all vegetarian. And it doesn’t cause me anxiety when their evolutionary relatedness is apparent. I can just appreciate it! I used to feel the burden of trying to make it all make sense with my worldview… I love not having to used convoluted explanations to defend the Christian worldview to my daughters. I am so proud of them for their bright, curious minds and I am thrilled to no longer be squashing their precious curiosity with “the truth” that I’ve already arrived at. Facing the coming death of my wife’s mother (she’s in her final weeks of life), my oldest asked me, “Why would God make us so that we die?”. Great frickin’ question! Four years ago, I would have said, “he made us to live forever, but we sinned, and the punishment for sinning is that we die.” Now, I can say “That’s a GREAT question. I don’t know. What I do know is that death is a normal part of life and not something to be afraid of. Flowers die and animals die. What death makes me do is focus on how precious each day is and live it to the fullest!” [I would like to tell her why her great question is actually evidence against God’s goodness/existence, but I’ve agreed with my wife not to go there…]. FINALLY, my marriage is beginning to heal from the ways that Christianity has screwed it up, bigtime. IF you take the Bible literally, like I did, verses like these absolutely WILL impact how you view your wife: “3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” And “9 Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man.” And “…For this is how the holy women of the past adorned themselves. They put their hope in God and were subject to their husbands, just as Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord.” And “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Is it any wonder that my wife resented me for treating her like someone who needed to be under my authority/headship? Who should “obey” me just like Sarah obeyed her husband?? After all, that is how “holy women” acted… The irony is that most modern, educated women do NOT want to be treated this way, even if they revere a text that says they should. Pity the fool (aka ME) who tried to live that out. Finally, though, we are seeing healing. My wife is beginning to revive – to define her own identity as distinct from me – which is so healthy. We are no longer “complementarian” in our marriage, but “Egalitarian”. And it is great. I don’t spank my girls any more – haven’t in four years. Nor do I want to. (OK, maybe once in a while it’s tempting when they’re being total punks…=)). But now it is completely offensive to me and just plain wrong. And I feel awesome about my position on that. I spent 3 years being afraid of my old church friends “finding out” about me… especially because it would get back to my wife’s brother and cause chaos in the family… well now, most of the friendships have dwindled to nothing anyway – and I no longer care who finds out what. I’m not afraid any more of what I believe and why. Fundamentalist belief is so much like a computer virus – it hogs all of your system resources to the point that the computer can barely function. Well, when a mind is preoccupied with constantly trying to make a round world fit into a square worldview-hole, constantly feeling guilty about normal behaviors and short-comings, always wondering if your faith is genuine enough, if you’ve given away enough, if you’ve shared the gospel enough… then that mind is not free to run like it’s supposed to – to live, to work, to love, to experience, to share… Now the virus has been removed and my computer runs fast and free… And as I’ve come out “the other side” of this deconversion process, my existence is no longer defined by the struggle / the processs / the sorting-things-out. I’m actually living my life now on the other side. I suppose this site is much like a rehab facility for substance abuse: you should come and stay while you are sick, get the treatment you need, then get out and live a meaningful life. Some people will stay back as volunteers and help the newly-sick. Some will relapse and show up every now and again. And some will just ride into the sunset. I’m not sure which one I’ll be, but I’m pretty sure I’ve completed my treatment program. =)
  2. 20 points
    You won't be around here very long before you hear people refer to deconversion as a process, rather than an event. It hardly needs saying that making the transition from being a True Christian to being an Ex-Christian does not happen overnight. Looking back at my own deconversion journey so far, and learning about the similar journeys taken by others among us, as well as seeing new members show up here "dripping wet" and frightened or in shock at realizing that they are in fact on the way to being Ex-Christians, I wanted to share why I think it is so important to "complete" the deconversion process, and also to show you - if you are new to this - some of what you can expect as you go through it for yourself. Getting stuck in the deconversion process is not a happy situation to be in. You have already seen some of the problems with Christianity, with the Bible, or the supposedly all-loving, all-powerful God that it serves. That's why you came to this place. But you may also be racked with fear: fear of Hell or the fear of getting it wrong, fear of living without a Heavenly Father, without a god-given moral law. That fear can keep you from moving forward and leaving Christianity behind you. It can dominate you, paralyze you, make you miserable. Yet you can't go back either because, deep down, you know it's not true. We who have already taken the journey can assure you that it does get better as you continue onward. Our archives probably contain many records of such journeys, but I wanted to point out one testimonial that was shared recently by one of our newer members, DarkBishop. I hope you will read his post before continuing... DarkBishop's experience highlights two things that happen in the later stages of deconversion: The feeling that you have reached a 'Point of No Return' with regard to Christianity. Experiencing the benefits of living without religious dogma or theology. A successful deconversion means that at some point you realize there is absolutely no going back to Christianity. You realize that you have seen enough, that you couldn't possibly believe it again even if you wanted to. It's not a case of God "changing the locks" when you leave the house, it's more a matter of realizing that faith is not a sound guide to what is true. Christians have it, Jews have it, Muslims have it. You once were sure the Muslims and Jews were mistaken, now you realize the Christians are too. Some people, early in the deconversion process, worry that they will one day realize that they were wrong, that Christianity is actually true, but it's too late to go back. It doesn't work like that though: realizing you're past the point of no return happens when you're convinced, as sure as you can ever be, that it's not true. Dark Bishop shared some of the rewards that appear in this stage of the deconversion process. He says it better than I could, so I hope you read his post above. Does this sound like somebody who has "no purpose in life" as they like to believe about us? It sounds to me like a man who has a renewed purpose, a renewed energy in life, without trying to satisfy an imaginary (and often contradictory) god and a one-size-fits-all-times-and-all-people moral code handed down from the clouds. So if you are early in the deconversion process and you're fearful and unsure, be reassured, the road ahead is often lonely (Dark Bishop also talks about the challenges of being an Ex-Christian in a world of believers) but it does get better and you can reach that point of confidence, joy and peace. So how do you get to that point? Some of it is just the passage of time. But there is plenty of help available here in this community. Old and new discussion topics, lots of testimonials from various stages of the journey, suggestions for books to read, blogs and podcasts to follow. When you first hang out among us unbelievers, the talk may sometimes seem foreign to your ears, used as you are to being immersed in Christianity, but a funny thing happens over time: there comes a point when you realize that it is the Christians who now sound strange and rather nonsensical. Guess what: you're just about there, starting to feel the benefits of the journey you've taken. Soon YOU will be eager to welcome and offer a confident hand up to the new arrivals. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear, it is going forward in spite of your fear. You will get lots of enCOURAGEment from this community! TABA
  3. 19 points
    I have a special moment to share with you all, I hope it makes you proud. As many of you know, I am a bit outspoken and feisty on the forum at times. I don't mind throwing "fuck" around or calling people out. It may surprise you to know that I'm not outspoken about religion in my personal life, I usually just shutup and think snarky things to myself. On Saturday evening, I let the snark show and it was pure beauty incarnate. Allow me to give you the details. I had a headache, but went to my sister's birthday dinner anyway. The whole table knew I had a headache, because I was impatient for the bread to come out so I could have food on my stomach for the advil. Towards the end of the meal, as we were all preparing to leave, my mother asked how my head was feeling. I said it felt a lot better and she said, "I prayed for you. It was Jesus." Mind you, this was not an audible prayer, she could have just as easily not said she prayed if my head still hurt. Nonetheless, she was completely serious. I, chuckling good naturedly, said 'I wonder how Jesus would have done without the advil!" And then I just moved on before she could sass me. She said nothing about it to me later. For many of you, this may not seem like much. I assure you, it was a huge step for me. I asserted myself to the family who has not yet had the "I am agnostic" talk yet. I think there is an unspoken understanding of where I am, but there is not much discussion about it and there has not been a line drawn in the sand. I put up with religious talk all day long and I am extremely proud of my retort. Cheers!!
  4. 18 points
    It was 7 years ago tonight that I made my very first post on Ex-c. Sweet mossy, I was a mess that night. I guess you could say I was fantasizing how to get off this earth. Yep. My whole life was a mess....again. And now, no god to pray to this time. That was 2010. You guys don't know the whole story because some things ya just can't tell on a forum. Ex-c saved me. Not god. You guys. You gals. For the first time in my life, I started to feel sane. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. And Merry whatever you are celebrating this year. The very best to each and every one of you. I truly luv you guys. Let's keep helping each other through this journey. It's a real, hard serious road for some and that's what this site is really about. (((hugs)))
  5. 17 points
    If someone told me that I would be on this website posting about de-converting from Christianity, I would have said laughed at the idea. Then probably started praying for that person to come to Jesus and for him to lift the veil from their eyes so that they could come to the truth. My name is Aaron, and I’m an ex-Christian lol! Is this what an AA meeting is like? This is awesome. I feel like I’m 16 again, rebelling against the machine all over again. I became a Christian when I was 18 years old. I attended a very loving church with an extremely empathetic pastor. For the first 4 years or so of my conversion I was extremely happy and very involved in my faith. I held bible studies, witnessed to many people, and even led some close friends to Christ during that time. I was forced to attend Methodist services as a kid with my mom but I hated it. When I became a “born again” believer it was a huge event in my life. I experienced a radical change and stopped using illicit drugs and partying and improved my grades enough to graduate high school. I was basically a kid who felt very lost and alone and Jesus gave me something I didn’t have before. I was what you would call an “on fire” Christian. I ate this stuff up. I was like a sponge. For the first few months after I became a Christian I read the Bible for at least 4 hours a day. Sometimes as much as 6-8 hours. I loved going to church. Sunday, Sunday night, Wednesday etc. If church was open, I was there. Anyway, at 22 I joined the Marine Coprs as an infantryman. I just recently got out after 14 years. While I was a Marine I went to Iraq, Kuwait, Philippines, Japan, Australia, Afghanistan, just about everywhere I guess. After I joined the Marines, or even slightly before, I was in a “backslide” as some call it. I was very much a believer but I no longer was “on fire.” I basically just felt guilty all the time. Through the years, I was up and down in my faith. Always chasing those early days of my faith when I felt so good about everything. So sure of my salvation. My first church I got saved in was a Baptist Church in Texas. It would be considered more of a non denominational church though. They had a band and always made alter calls at the end of service. That sort of thing. I tried to find that in California but I never did. The closest thing was Calvary Chapel. But I never really felt connected to a church like I did the first one. Through the years of bible study, I found numerous contradictions in the Bible. I wasn’t researching them online. I was finding them in my own. Very early on this happened. The first one I remember or one of the first ones was Judas’ death. Another one was conflicting accounts of the same story of David counting the army in Samuel and Chronicles. Actually there were several contradictions I found in Chronicles where numbers and names were off. I went to the pastor and he explained them I’m sure the same way you’ve probably heard yourself if you’ve went to someone for clarity about scripture. So then I began reading apologetics. Case For Christ etc. I was always searching for more answers. But I always had that fear of finding out things I really didn’t want to know. I couldn’t even fathom this not being real because of the big conversion experience I had. But my questions got deeper and deeper over the years as I got older. Especially into my 30s. Understand that I converted my wife, her brother, and her sister. I was as serious and strong a believer as anyone I know. And I felt more versed in the Bible than most as well. So these were serious problems I was having in my mind. Meanwhile I also cannot live it anymore. I was a Marine. I was a part of a warrior culture in every sense. I was just having internal conflict in general after a while with all of it. My self esteem was really suffering because of the unrelenting guilt. God it was bad. I felt guilty all the time. I stated having serious issues on my Iraq deployment. My platoon sergeant was killed and I knew he was not a Christian. He was a good dude and I had a real problem with believing he was in hell. Not just him but the Iraqi civilians that sometimes got caught in the middle and were killed. They were Muslim and didn’t believe in jesus either. And this bothered me. And for years I had all this guilt that we had sent people to hell. Fast forward to this past year. I heard about the Epic of Gilgamesh and then I watched a video or series of videos on YouTube one night. My mind was blown. Absolutely blown away. I had finally started to thoroughly research non religious sources for all these questions I had had. I was a sponge all over again. Day and night reading. Mind blown over and over. This was all fake? I had to reevaluate everything I had ever known. I had this strong feeling that I had been in this system of control. The more I researched the more I was floored. Literally. For about a week I was depressed. I was extremely disturbed at all I had learned. Because I was no longer trying to spiritualize the Bible or the contradictions. What am I now? Atheist? That one didn’t fit for me. I knew I believed in the concept of a higher being, god, the universe or whatever you want to call “it.” I just didn’t even know what that even meant. I definitely had zero belief in the god of the Bible and had zero interest in religion. After about a week I came to the realization that I just didn’t have all the answers and that was ok. I accept it. That’s when I had a strong feeling that everything was ok. And I became very excited about living a new life at 37. It’s like I got re-saved. Or the realization that I was never lost. I found myself again so to speak. And it was and still is amazing. I absolutely love life now. I’m very interested in hearing others stories and what they believe. Naturally because before I had all the answers and thought I had the truth. Now I’m very open. I’ll never go to another religion but I feel very spiritual (not sure if that’s the right word) in the sense that I just feel connected to everything and everyone. Before it was such a “us vs them” mentality. I think that’s why I feel that way. I don’t pray anymore but I found that taking to myself is still a positive thing. I’m just so excited about life now and for my family. I even called off a divorce and got my marriage back on track. I’ve so much enjoyed learning subjects that I was previously afraid to learn about. I’ve really enjoyed reading Allan Watts and others like him. But I’ve also enjoyed hearing atheists lecture and agnostics. I’m not sure what I would classify myself as now (maybe a deist?) and not sure it even matters. In fact it doesn’t. That’s the beauty of life for me now. I'm living it on my terms without religion! Ugh! What a drag that life was. So free to be out of it. Never looking back. Super excited to be here and happy to be apart of this community. Proud EX-christian!
  6. 16 points
    Hi, ex-c fam! Wanted to let everyone know that I was recently involved in a car accident where I fractured my skull, got myself a couple concussions, a subdural hemotoma, broken capillaries in my eye.....and I'm alive. I'm okay. I'm here, been healing for about 6 weeks now. And with all the "God has saved you," "what a MIRACLE," "God had his hand on you," "I've covered you in prayer," yada yada yada. No, I didn't see Jesus. No, I didn't experience some miraculous epiphany that I've been saved from my "sins." No, he did not use this to bring me back to him. No, he does not have some kind of plan that involves using a severe brain injury to reclaim my faith. I have a shit ton of medical bills now, thanks for that, Lord. I just wanted to let you all know that I'm okay, still kicking, and more determined to see the reality of life as it is than ever before. I can't believe I ever fell for that shit.
  7. 16 points
    Hi, all! Sorry if this isn't the best place to post this topic. Mods, feel free to move it. I promise I'll get around to an ex-timony, when it feels right. As for now, I just wanted to let everyone know that things are going pretty decent between Mr. ag_NO_stic and I regarding our faith differences. He is "unsure" to the point that he's not actively calling himself a Christian. Now he will still resist me on many points, but I have been REALLY making myself keep my opinions and rants to myself, not challenging him on belief stuff. When it does occasionally come up, I've been practicing and forcing self-discipline and not reacting out of emotion. This has done wonders! I think he also sees how content I am, as I've calmed with time, and how my new "beliefs" are not going anywhere. It helped in my case that he has never really been "up to fundamentalist" standards with his faith, his parents did NOT raise him like me so he doesn't have some of the wounds.....he doesn't understand some of my bitterness. But things are looking up as of now, fingers crossed! I just wanted to post this for those who know what's been going on with me and the husband, as well as give some encouragement to those with believing spouses. Show them the "fruits of the spirit" which ironically is just coming from yourself because you are in control of your actions. A calm and rational demeanor paired with facts/logic and not seeking out an argument all the time really has helped over time. He has also had some time to adjust to the changes and can see that I am still me, without being a pious asshole. I even got him to listen to little bit of Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens and he chuckled a couple times, so it can't be long now! Cheers!
  8. 15 points
    It is with great sadness to learn of Marks' death this morning..... better known to us as BAA. Today most people refer to the internet and boards like these as if they weren't 'real' life. But the internet and boards like Ex-c are real life for many of us. It is part of our real life. And we get to know people in this internet world. And they become our friends. And it was part of BAAs' real life. For many, many years, people had no choice but to write long letters to each other and those letters were how people stayed in love.... and in touch with each other. Many times (back in my day) you could find a 'penpal' and write for years and never meet them in real life. We may have never met Mark/BAA in RL but he was our friend. BAA has written and left us many letters on this board. He was a relentless teacher and loved helping us understand the cosmos. He has helped me and many others on this board. I am shocked this morning. And I am very sad. I hope his atoms will become part of the sun. That way, he can continue to help us stay warm and comforted like he did in his posts. That's how I am going to try and remember him. Every time I see the sun or feel its warmth, I will take a moment to say, 'Thank you' BAA, for everything you taught me. We will miss you very much in our community. A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds...it is through us that they live on. Please accept my condolences that BAA will not be forgotten. I wish his whole family much comfort and love as they grieve during these difficult days. Rest in Peace my friend.
  9. 15 points
    Okay, folks.... It's time to come clean. I've had an extremely hard time being honest about something, but I've decided that now is the time to let it all out. My father was a respected minister of a huge church with hundreds of faithful members. He authored a number of Christian books, and he won many awards and commendations for his "service" to the Lord. The only problem with all of this is that he turned out to be a child molesting rapist... He molested my little sister for a solid five years before she finally got the courage to come out and tell all of us what had been going on. I could probably write volumes about how this experience has changed me, shattered my worldview, messed me up on a personal level, and caused me to lose my faith completely. But, I'm not going to. All I'm going to say is that God sure does have a "funny" way of choosing the people who he wants to use to spread his wonderful message. My dad led hundreds of people to the Lord (salvation), and he influenced hundreds more to give their day to day lives over to Christ (service, etc.). The whole time he was a sick freak of nature who was using his charisma, charm, and his ability to lead people in a church setting for the purpose of making money and building an empire. After he was exposed, it didn't take long for me to give Jesus a big "fuck you." However, it actually took me many years to let go of my Christian faith completely. What can I say? When you've been brainwashed and programmed to believe something is true, it is nearly impossible to reprogram yourself overnight no matter how badly you might want to or feel compelled to. In other words, I didn't immediately lose my faith because I was mad at the church or my father, even though I was heartbroken and furious to the point of rage. However, those events are what caused me to take a few steps back and open my eyes to take a closer look at everything I had been raised to believe in. Once I started asking the really tough questions, the doubts started pouring in like a flood, and eventually, after years of soul searching, prayer, anguish, and research, I was forced to let all of it go. I eventually ended up taking a number of history courses in college that really opened my eyes to the fact that the Bible is not an academically reliable source of history, and after coming to that realization, it was so much easier for me to overcome the fears that I had been silently harboring about losing my faith and going to hell. Long story short, when a person has been brainwashed to believe that Jesus is completely in control of every aspect of life, reality, and the world in general, it is extremely hard for that person to ever completely wake up on his or her own without a little bit of outside help. Had I not had my eyes violently pried open via tragedy, I'm not sure that I would have ever fully caught on to the charade that is known as Christianity. So, for anyone out there who might be reading this, please remember that not everything is as it seems. The man or woman you look up to the most could be a monster, and the faith you cling so dearly to could be nothing more than a total sham. I sincerely hope none of you ever have to go through what my family and I have been through... We went to hell and back, and it wasn't pretty. Please take it from someone who has experienced a dark side of reality that few people ever come into contact with. Christianity, the church, and the Bible are nothing more than tools of mind control that were created for the sole purpose of manipulating the masses. There is nothing sacred and holy about any of it. If the God of the Bible really does exist, why in the hell would he choose someone as sick as my father to do "his will?" If Jesus truly does exist, why would he allow one of his faithful servants (my father) to rape his own daughter repeatedly in his "temple?" The fact of the matter is that the God of the Bible does not and never has existed. He is a man-made fabrication, and he is only kept alive and relevant by people like you and me who refuse to let go of the fantasy. I really don't have anything else to say about this... The next time you want to defend the church or the Bible, just remember that you are defending an institution that has been a safe refuge for not only my father, but thousands of others like him. Just look into the history of Catholic priests who have molested their tenants if you don't believe me. Yeah, the God of the Bible is awesome, right? Give me a fucking break.... smh :/
  10. 14 points
    My grandma died last weekend at age 96, one month shy of her 97th birthday. She left instructions that she didn't want a funeral saying that as she had outlived all of her friends and most of her family (my dad being her sole surviving child) so she wished to be cremated and have her ashes added to my grandads in the veterans cemetery. She made sure to state that she wanted no priests, no prayers and none of her money to go to the church. She was born and raised a Catholic but turned against them when her sister had a still born baby and the church said as it was unbaptised and born into sin it couldn't be buried on church grounds. There was no support just rejection and the whole family broke ties with the Catholic Church most switching to Anglican or deist beliefs. My grandad was anti church but wouldn't talk about his belief so I don't know if he was deist or atheist. He said that his dad was a vicious abusive man who quoted the bible to justify his violence (spare the rod, spoil the child), he literally had religion beaten out of him. What really amazed me about her life is the massive amount of change she saw occur. Born in 1922 she was a teenager during WW2, married my grandad when he returned from the campaign in Egypt and had my dad in 1945. In her lifetime there has been cars, planes, TV, computers, phones, even electricity itself. The nearest supermarket was a 5km bicycle ride and she had to buy lamp oil to keep the home lit as they didn't get electricity connected until the early 30s. International travel was primarily by slow boats, with air travel only becoming available after WW2 but with very limited runs and high prices. As far as I know she never travelled outside of NZ. She lived through the depression, WW2, Korean and Vietnam wars, was married for 66 years with 2 children, 4 grandchildren and lived long enough to meet my daughter, her great grandchild. Sadly my daughter was too young to remember the meeting but I gave her my grandmas name Kathleen as her middle name. A full happy life through some of the worlds years of turmoil. A long life of joy without religion.
  11. 14 points
    Hello all! As I’m new to Ex-C, I thought I would take a moment to introduce myself and give a little background on how I stumbled upon this community. I grew up as a Roman Catholic in the Bible belt. Ironically, combining my geographical location with my belief system in a way isolated me from the evangelical Christians that inhabit much of the South. Catholics are a minority where I’m from and I would often receive questions such as “Catholics are Christians, right?” or “But, don’t you worship Mary?” This isolation in turn drove me to take refuge in Catholic communities my whole life, which began to determine who most of my friends became. But I digress: this is not a story of being Catholic, but one of becoming a non-believer. I added this anecdotal history merely to show that I am used to the feeling of being isolated when it comes to religion. So to begin...fast forward to the end of high school, where I first learned about a branch of thought that seemed terrifying: philosophy. Philosophy was the catalyst for my deconversion by offering me viewpoints differing from my own and forcing me to expand my mind and think critically rather than rely on the thoughts of others. I began to experience doubts about God, and strove towards “proofs” for God to justify my beliefs. Ultimately, all of these proofs failed when I critically examined the arguments they tried to uphold (ontological, cosmological, teleological, moral--I guess). Upon realizing this, the authenticity of the Bible was called into question and I began to recognize its flaws. Then I noticed extreme hypocrisy within the (mostly Catholic) Christians I called my friends; they would glorify teachings of love while doling out hate through much of their wider social discourse. Finally, I began to research the beginnings of religion and started to learn about the psychological tactics religions use to perpetuate indoctrination in order to gain followers. With this last point, the veil came away from my eyes and I finally saw truth. The moment of me lifting the veil from my eyes was recent—as in, within the past month, though the journey to this point has been several years. Now, I believe we live in a godless universe. (Most) everyone else I know believes the opposite. I am at odds with most of the people I love and trust and am unsure how to express these feelings. Cue the wonderful thing called the Internet, and my search finding other Christians who have deconverted. That was when I found Ex-C, this wonderful community full of resources and support for anyone who has or currently is undergoing this painful transformation of beliefs and ideals. I am so happy to be here and am willing to learn and listen and grow in my experience!
  12. 13 points
    Hello, My name is Jerry, I am a closet atheist, and recovering Christian. It isn't that I'm ashamed of being an atheist. I'm proud of myself for realizing the lies that I've been spoon fed over the years, and for coming out of the dark ages. I must remain closeted in fear of losing my family, friends, even my job. You see, my wife is a still a practicing, and enthusiastic, Christian. I must go through the actions and pretend to believe what she does in order to retain my family. As terrible, and deceitful, as that is, it's the life I've created for myself. I first began to question the very existance of a god several years ago. The whole god narative didn't match what I knew to be true from science classes, books, and common scientific theory. The more I learned about the world around me, its history and the history of mankind, through evolution, the more I realized the lies I had been told for almost forty years. I must admit however, it was difficult to give up on god. I was taught that we were nothing without him. I truly believed that without his "guiding hand" my life would spiral out of control. Regardless of my common sense, telling me that it was all a hoax, I was actually relunctant to step away. Then, one day I just stepped away, quit praying, stopped looking for his presence, basically just stopped believing. After two years of being free from religion, at least internally, I'm still fine..and a lot happier. I feel as if I can accomplish great things by myself, and feel free to relish in my achievements. Nothing is the work of an invisible man in the sky. However, it is the work of humanity. I'm glad that I escaped the hand of religion and the hatred it breeds. I am glad to be free from its sexist, abusive demeanor. I'm proud of being wise enough to decipher fact from fiction.
  13. 13 points
    Kia ora (Hi) everyone from New Zealand. I've been devouring the material on this website over the last few nights since I searched Google for "Former Christian Forum"! Thought I'd say thanks for the material, and also how great it is that other people are going through or have gone through similar journeys to me. This post is also somewhat for my own sake to help order my thoughts, keep me accountable for continuing to ask questions, and learn in community, so hi! My name is Sam you can also call me by my handle (Rangi). The brief version of my story is as follows- raised in a Conservative Christina home by two parents and three siblings- had a great, happy childhood and was loved and looked after by my family. Always went to church, went to a Christian university, lived in a Christian hostel etc. My journey of questioning started around this time as I made a close friend who was a very liberal Christian, and we had many great (and friendly) debates where my faith was questioned. I was very black and white in my worldview at the time! A few years later and around 4 years ago I had had enough of Church (the institution), as it was the same every Sunday, nothing really changed in anyone who went, including myself, so I thought "If I'm really a Christian, I should be able to live my faith out authentically without a cheer-leading session every Sunday." Well. after a couple of years of trying to do that and slowly feeling like I was losing this battle and losing myself, I questioned everything layer by layer, all the way back to "Does God exist?". I decided that yes, he did, and rebuilt my faith from there, finding a Church and life/small group that allowed me to throw controversial subjects up for discussion. The result of this was that I regained my faith, but I was different to other Christians- I saw the world as more grey than black and white, and kept asking questions until this year, when I identified with Universalism (scandal!). However, once you decide that there are many roads to God, even if Jesus is the bridge over which these roads go, it's very difficult to reconcile Hell for any reason, so I then came to an impasse. I then had a conversation on a date last week where we both got very deep and discussed our spiritual journeys (she isn't Christian, but has a religious background). I struggled to justify the main tenets of the Christian faith and had to honestly say I really don't know what I believe. This motivated me to resolve this tension that has been going on for the last decade, and so I ended up here, and as a result have been having my mind blown constantly for the last few days. I know I need to take time and work through things, and I know I'll get through this, but man...it's kinda terrifying to have the entire framework on which your life has been based slowly torn away! So yeah, good to meet you all, and thanks in advance for your patience, support and help!
  14. 13 points
    I've been a member of these forums for a few years, mostly just lurking and very occasionally commenting. I've never actually dropped my story in here. Like most white Americans, I was born into christianity. My dad was never what you would call steadfast, or devout, but he claimed to be a Christian and as far as I know, still does. My mother on the other hand, was a christian fundamentalist, through and through. She was fanatic about her faith, and tried to instill that fanaticism in my brother and I. When we were little, it worked. It was easy. Why wouldn’t it be? We were little kids and we believed anything our mother told us. We grew up right in the thick of the satanic panic, and man, that shit had me and my brother terrified. I can remember, very clearly, the fear that any talk about “the devil” invoked at the time. We were afraid of everything. Cartoons, toys, movies, games, you name it. It all had the power of satan behind it. When mom told us the smurfs were satanic because there was magic in the show, we believed her and we became afraid of the smurfs. When she told us He-man was satanic, the same went there, enough that when I would see a He-man toy at a friend’s house, I would be afraid to touch it or even be near it. The same went for Dungeons and Dragons (kind of a given), rock music, MTV, you name it. If someone at church, or on the 700 club, said something was satanic, my mother was all over it, and it was banned from the household. My brother and I saw the movie “E.T” in the theater when we were kids, and of course we loved it. We had the books, the toys, the story cassettes, the stuffed animals, the posters, the t-shirts… E.T. was huge to us. Then one day, I believe in the third grade, it all just went away. I never saw what happened to it all but the murmur about the church was that it had all been burned. When I was four or five years old, we lived in a little trailer park on the outskirts of Casper, Wyoming. My parents had somehow decided to take in a foster child. She was a teenager and her name was Claudia. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a permanent situation or if she was just staying with us for a while, but the situation was volatile right from the start. Somehow, my mother had become convinced that Claudia was practicing witchcraft. My mom claimed to have seen a demon in the living room, and that Claudia had made the vacuum cleaner move on it’s own. Again, being a small child, I believed all of this without question. I would go on to repeat the stories my mother told me about Claudia, to my friends growing up. At some point, Claudia packed up her things and ran away in the middle of the night. I never did find out what happened to her. Looking back, I feel sorry for her. I have no idea what kind of family situation she came from, or how she ended up in foster care, but to get dropped into our family… that had to be awful. I haven’t thought about her since I was a kid. The rest of my childhood, up until high school, was a parade of incidents like this. Not knowing anything any different, I never really thought much about it all. It was the world I knew. Demons, witches and satanists were every where. The devil was constantly trying to influence us, and he had followers sacrificing kids, and raping babies in day care center basements, in his name. God was around, but you had to spend a lot of time looking for him. Or rather, you had to spend a lot of time looking REALLY HARD for signs of him, but you’d never actually see him. He worked in mysterious ways and such. The turning point for me started in high school. I got a job, a car, and started making friends and having a life away from the church, something that didn’t go unnoticed by my mother, and by the church. It wasn’t as if my friends and I sat around picking apart christianity, quite the opposite in fact. My friends all thought of themselves as christians. The difference was that their christianity was not the focal point of their lives. It was peripheral. It was something they believed, but that belief did not occupy every waking moment of their lives. This did create enough distance for me to start seeing things just a little bit differently. I had time to start actively contemplating some of the things in the bible that just didn’t add up, and to take a step back and actually, critically think about some of the things I was being taught in church and at youth group. I started to notice patterns of behavior in the church that bothered me. I remember standing in the church one day after a sermon, looking around the room and listening to what people were saying about homosexuality, and thinking to myself “This is not love, this is hatred disguised as love, and no one here can tell the difference”. At some point I went out and bought myself a Strong’s Concordance. I was then able to cross reference things, look for other places that certain things were mentioned, and instead of revealing more godly wisdom to me, it cast a glaring spotlight on all of the cracks and inconsistencies in the bible. Shit didn’t add up, and no one in the church wanted to address those things. It was a collective willful ignorance, and I was chastised for speaking up about it. Pretty soon I was asking who Adam and Eve’s children married, and what people was Cain worried about so much that god marked him to tell them to leave him alone, if there were no other people around? I wanted to know how we knew that so many other civilizations existed in the world, at the time of “the flood”, and yet they were not wiped out, and apparently failed to even notice the raining for forty days and forty nights, and the subsequent flooding. Egypt was a perfect example. They kept impeccable records of everything they did, and yet somehow this flood is never mentioned, and their civilization was untouched by it. I had a lot of questions. The answers were usually something along the lines of “I don’t know, but god does”, an answer which somehow satisfied everyone else in the room, all of whom were more than happy with the non-answer, and who felt comfortable with the idea that god knowing the answer was good enough. It wasn’t good enough for me though. Eventually my questions were brought to my parents’ attention, and what I was told by them and the church elders, was that I should spend more time meditating on god’s word, and less time asking questions. They didn’t put it like that, of course, but that’s what they were saying. It wasn’t just the unanswered questions, it was my increasing awareness that all of these people, not just in my church but every other church I had dealings with, were incredibly judgmental. They were spiteful, and hateful, and yet utterly convinced that they were the exact opposite of those things. By the time I hit college, what was left of my faith was hanging by a thread. The only thing that kept me calling myself a christian, was fear of the unknown. Christianity was all I had known, all my life. I was twenty five when I was finally comfortable saying out loud that I was not a christian. Nothing monumental happened that lead up to this, just more little experiences. Lots of little life lessons that showed more and more, that everything I’d learned growing up, was wrong. Not simply factually incorrect, but often morally wrong, and even harmful. I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. To say that I have some lingering anger at christianity doesn’t really describe it. Yes, I am angry. It’s an internal struggle that I deal with every day. I’ll admit that when I learn that someone is a christian, it colors my view of them immediately, and they have to work harder to earn my respect. I know this is wrong. It’s difficult to shake. The de-conversion process was mostly about learning to recognize old behaviors, and eventually to see them coming so that I could choose to behave differently. Things like attributing every good event to god, and whispering a prayer of thanks under my breath, or a prayer of forgiveness when I did something I thought I shouldn’t have been doing. It took a while to shake attitudes toward women who behaved, or dressed in ways that the church taught me were unacceptable. It became this game of asking myself why I felt the way I did about certain things, and boiling it down to one simple question. Is a behavior harmful? That simple question became the litmus test by which I judged everything I did, and everything I saw other people doing. If I couldn’t find some harm in an action or behavior, then I could begin to see it differently, and think about it more critically. This was quite different from what I’d grown up with, which was simply “because god” or “because the bible”. It took years to change my thinking. I still look back at old behaviors, I look at the way I judged people, and I feel utterly foolish, even ashamed sometimes. I’m now forty-two years old. I no longer look at anything through the lens of christianity. I also no longer have to consciously play that mental tug of war with my old, christian beliefs. I don’t live in constant fear of the devil and satanists anymore. I no longer spend all of my time wondering what god thinks of what I’m doing at any given moment. In general, I’m a much happier person, and to be honest, much less of a judgmental ass.
  15. 13 points
    I know I already don't feel *that* new on this site, but it really has only been a little over two weeks. After an emotional post at midnight this morning on a different thread, I am taking @Margee's advice and just taking a breather to focus on the positive things for a while. I truly feel I have gotten in over my head a bit in trying to "rush my deconversion" and "have all the answers ready" for all my loved ones. I want to really thank all of you for taking the time to post your thoughtful feedback when you really don't have to; hugs all around. Anyway, it's really high time I introduced myself. I jumped right in and started posting, but I didn't take the time to let you all know who you're dealing with. I am Jessica (Jess is fine too). I am 25 years old, have a husband and two fur-babies named Connor and Mila. I love to bake and make chocolate desserts like truffles, definitely a passion of mine. I have the distant and unrealistic dream of having a little hole-in-the-wall bakery/truffle place some day. There is truly nothing like baking something tasty and watching other people close their eyes in appreciation, knowing their in "yummy food land," a place I visit regularly. I love food in general, I truly enjoy how textures and flavors blend together to make an experience. When I'm not in the kitchen or at work, I love to watch dark shows like Dexter or Breaking Bad, currently watching Handmaid's Tale (unsure if I like it or not...) on Hulu. I was a sociology major, psychology minor in college. I didn't think through how that would affect me with getting a job, but I am fascinated with how the brain and genetics work with our environment to make us who we are. I watch youtube videos on current political issues and then proceed to rant to no one in particular when I'm driving, because I like my opinions more than anyone else will. I LOVE to laugh and have a self-deprecating sense of humor (among many, can't go wrong with a terrible pun), so I'm kind of an asshole to myself for the lulz. No need to go into a "deep history" or anything. Long story short, I am the first born daughter to two really successful parents who had pretty high standards for me and my siblings. I'll tell a therapist all the drama that comes with that, but I don't think a sociology majoring baker is what they had in mind for me when I was a toddler. I know that I am my own person, that it's my life and my dreams that count, not to worry about what they think, but that doesn't change a child's desire for their parents to be proud of who they are becoming. It is still devastating to have accepted who I am and know that, on some level, my parents might have picked a different path for me and are "settling" for what I'm passionate about. When you pair that with a fundamentalist christian upbringing, you don't have a very good product, I guess. As for as being an ex-christian, I ended up where I am now because I have always questioned things, even as a really young child. "Mom, why does a GREEN light mean 'go' and not BLUE?" "What color hair does God have, Mom?" I remember growing up that I really wanted to genuinely please God and tried to be very sincere in my faith, to "die to my flesh" and to relinquish my understanding of reality for His ultimate will. This desire for sincerity of faith ultimately led to me seeing through it, whether I wanted to or not. The more I tried to find answers to my OWN questions, to answer them for others, the more I realized that I was wrong and that I couldn't reconcile them. Assuming it was about the "relationship with Christ" and ignoring the fact that I was extremely bothered by the very existence hell, why do you not answer me in the way I need, when you know I need it? Isn't a "relationship" mutual? When I'm sitting here "knocking" and "seeking," why am I not "finding"....anything? Why would I need to so desperately fear a being that claimed to love me so much? Why should I worship something so fervently when, after knowing the deepest parts of me-- my fears, dreams, passions, intentions, desire for truth-- he could cast me into eternal damnation on a whim. What kind of being would do that to someone they claimed to love so much? I remember I would regularly chastise myself for my "conviction of sin" and "shame" for knowing God was disappointed with me or with a decision I had made. This deconversion process, while comforting in a few ways, has been very devastating for me because of this being that I was raised to believe in, who is in total control and created me exactly the way I am with purpose for my life, not being real. I now feel a bit aimless, a bit "just one of billions" and not all that unique. It's true, which I appreciate, but kinda sucky. Now, other values of mine are beginning to change (I hate change) and it's begun a quarter-life crisis. Everything will be ok, I know and trust that, I'm just embracing the crumminess of it all for now. Longer than anticipated, but all of that to say: Here I am, flaws and all. This post has been cathartic, I'm taking it one day at a time, taking all kinds of new information in stride, and it will get better. I am TRULY thankful already for the past few weeks where I have found support and encouragement. Nice to meet you; This site is a treasure.
  16. 13 points
    Hey guys... I'm new to the site & newly ex-Christian. Born & raised in a southern Baptist family, I am now 41yrs old. I married a Christian minister in '96 and we had 2 kids. We continued in the Baptist religion & raised our kids in its teachings. Fast forward about 20yrs - I started stepping away from Christianity. Bored & worn out with all the "churchy" stuff. It felt so fake to me. I quit going & I started re-examining my entire life. I divorced the minister, married an atheist! lol. (side note: I never knew he was an atheist - we never talked about religion). He's been so good though. He hasn't pressured me in any direction. So last year we started watching that Scientology series by Leah Rimini. Its funny because I actually think everything started making sense when I started watching those shows - I was like "that is such a cult! I can't believe people would believe such nonsense & follow it without question." It was then that I started researching more into my own faith. Much to my surprise, I saw some of the same type things in my own religion!! Believing nonsense blindly, but calling it "faith"...and so much more. I remember thinking "I can't believe Scientologists believe in the Xenu story".... but yet I believed the story about Eve and a talking snake. It was like a light bulb came on in my brainwashed mind. And immediately I felt sick & like I was going to pass out. Everything I had ever been taught & raised was "right" was suddenly a bunch of lies. Anyone else feel this way? I'm still in the early stage of de-conversion... any advice to share? I have read so many posts on this site & it has helped me SOOOOOO much! I feel such a connection with many of you!!
  17. 13 points
    Wow. I can still scarcely believe what I've read here. BAA, as he'll always be known to me, was one of those rare posters with a sharp wit, an analytical mind, and a commitment to truth. I could write endlessly about positive qualities of his upon which others have already expounded. But what truly impressed me about this man is that he is the only person I have ever known who was a self-made cosmologist. When most of us think of self taught hobbies, activities such piano, woodworking, knitting, and auto mechanics come to mind. Never in my professional life could I ever imagine someone teaching themselves theoretical cosmology - one of the most challenging and intricate fields in all of physics - in their spare time without any formal training. Yet BAA spoke about cosmology and educated others with an insight generally possessed only by practiced researchers. He defended established physics against the pseudoscience of Christianity from an informed posture I have only seen from trained scientists. He would often ask me probing and incisive questions about astrophysics in order to bolster or debunk a particular scientific argument which would require a significant research effort on my part. I have rarely seen such passion for scientific truth even from tenure track professors in the field. We will all miss BAA as a friend and fellow ex-Christian poster. But today I feel as though I've lost something irreplaceable. I have lost a rare kindred spirit, one who shares both my apostasy from Christianity and my determination to understand the nature and origins of the universe from a scientific and mathematical standpoint. Goodbye BAA. You were the only self-made cosmologist I have ever known, and I do not think we will ever again see one of your intellectual stature.
  18. 13 points
    Personally, I don't find it helpful to consider what I've lost or gained because of Christianity. It has had an unalterable effect on my life. It has shaped who I am in ways that can never be reversed. Things might be better if I had been raised differently. They might be worse. I don't know who I would be without Christianity, and I can't know who I would be. All that I know is who I am now, and all I can do is go forward from here.
  19. 13 points
    No one is expecting me to work. With no stress on my mind and good medication bipolar episodes are not resurfacing. I am living a normal life for the first time in a long while. I have peace and sanity. No more voices and visions that come with constant hypomania.
  20. 12 points
    I was raised in fairly conservative churches/schools. Gradually I started to move away from some of the more extreme elements of that, I believed in evolution, didn't take the Genesis creation narrative literally, was open to certain Bible stories being myths, exc.. Even since I was a little kid and first found out what gay people were I've never understood why anyone cared what gender you liked. The reason I ultimately rejected the whole thing isn't because of anything in the outside world, though, to go along with the whole idea of "faith" you need to accept believing in things that aren't verifiable anyway. Instead it's that the central premise of Christianity doesn't make sense to me now that I've finally seriously examined it, and that the god described in the Bible doesn't sound all wise or all good. It boils down to- A- One thing I've always struggled with is why Jesus needed to die on the cross in order to save people. I got into a lengthy exchange with a school teacher when I was 7 or 8 about this and never got a satisfactory answer. The Bible makes very clear that god can do anything, so why can't he forgive people without killing someone else? Recently I've thought about this in even more depth and it goes beyond the issue of whether god is omnipotent. Forgiving people because Jesus died doesn't make any sense. If I'm going to forgive someone, I don't insist that some random, unrelated person be punished before I can forgive someone. I can either forgive them or I can't. Someone might respond by saying "but that's why god is merciful" but if he were truly merciful wouldn't he be able to forgive someone without killing an unrelated innocent person? Christians consistently say that we should "forgive as god forgives" but wouldn't that mean that when someone asked our forgiveness we'd have to go and crucify someone first before we could forgive them? That kind of thinking only makes sense in the context of a society built around animal sacrifices. It makes the Bible sound less inspired by an all knowing, timeless god and more like a product of a primitive ancient civilization. People try to explain this with the analogy that Jesus is like our parent and it's like he paid for a window that we broke. But that analogy doesn't work because breaking a window isn't a moral issue, and paying for it isn't retribution. It's just an issue of someone suffering a loss and that loss being made right, irrespective of who actually is the one paying. A better analogy would be someone being sentenced to death and Jesus taking their place. But nothing works like that. Even if someone for some reason volunteered to be executed in another person's place, that wouldn't nullify the sentence of death on the other person. Retribution is attached to the person who committed the crime. Again, Christians would say that that is why god is merciful, but if he were truly merciful why couldn't he just forgive people. Killing Jesus was irrelevant to any sins anyone has committed. Another thing Christians say is that the crucifixion was to satisfy god's wrath against our sins. That makes him sound like an unenlightened barbarian, not an infinitely wise god who created the universe. He's so angry that he wants to take it out on someone who did nothing to him? Yet the Bible says humans are supposed to control their anger. But it also says we're to be "holy" like god, and being holy apparently includes murdering innocent people to punish them for things other people did. Add to that that Jesus' sacrifice isn't at all proportionate to evils he's answering for. Killing one person supposedly answers for the death that everyone who has ever existed deserves? Add to that that Jesus didn't truly "die" in the narrative, he never went to hell and came back from the dead. If God is merciful enough to accept a non-proportional sacrifice why isn't he merciful enough to just forgive anyone who asks? Continuing on the topic of forgiveness, for me not forgiving someone means I stay angry at them, it doesn't mean I want someone to be sent to hell and tortured for all eternity after they die. I don't really want that to happen to anyone. Even for someone like Hitler, I'd be sufficient with just letting him die, or just not letting him into heaven and having stay in cosmological limbo. Wanting to endlessly torture someone is vindictive, sadistic, and evil. Especially when it's not just mass murderers but even someone who commits a "sin" as small as stealing a cookie from a cookie jar as a small child. B- I've had some serious bouts of depression recently and I thought in relation to god that if I truly loved someone and I could ensure that they wouldn't feel like this, then I would. Of course the common rebuttal to this is that there are lots of people with worse problems than me, but that just compounds the point. If you look at all the suffering that has occurred throughout history, would a good and loving god allow it all to happen? If a person knew about a child getting raped by someone, didn't tell anyone, and did nothing to stop it, there isn't a court in the world that wouldn't convict that person. Any Christian would agree that it was a sin to not intervene. And yet that's what god does for every murder and every rape that has ever occurred. Again, if we're supposed to be "holy" like god, wouldn't that mean that we'd be as indifferent to all this as he is? I know that the Christian conception of god gives people the free will to sin and that's why we're responsible for our actions. That makes sense for sins that don't directly effect anyone else, like getting drunk, gambling, consensual fornication, lust and so forth. But in the case of sins against others, if it's such a serious sin against another person to justify sending someone to hell, then wouldn't it also be a sin to be able to stop that sin and not do it? Christians talk out of both sides of their mouth on this issue. They defend god allowing, say, 9/11 to happen by saying that people's souls are eternal. But if killing another person is serious enough to warrant sending the murderer to hell, wouldn't it be serious enough for god to intervene and stop it? C- This is a smaller thing and it's an issue I've always had, but the New Testament is terribly inconsistent in regards to how to attains salvation. On the one hand there's John 3:16, and on the other hand there's the book of James, which pretty much goes full Catholic. People try to explain away the book of James by saying that the "works" described are simply an outgrowth of faith, but the book specifically says "faith without works is dead" implying that someone who actually does have faith but doesn't couple it with good works is going to hell. Even more blatantly John says "whosoever believeth in me shall not perish but have everlasting life" but then James explicitly says that belief in Jesus is not enough noting that "Even the demons believe and shudder". That sounds like something written by two different authors and not inspired by one source. I could write more, but this is the main stuff. I just finished graduate school and am stuck living at home until I find a job. I'm going to keep going to church with my parents and not rock the boat for now. I'll probably formally "come out" once I'm living somewhere else. I thought of myself as a "bad Christian" who didn't pray that much, but it didn't occur to me how much I really did throughout the day until now, I find myself thinking "Oh yeah, he's probably not real" a lot of the time now. I get the periodic worry about going to hell, and worrying about not being able to pray when I'm afraid, but mostly I feel really good, because I think these are things I've known deep down for a long time. PS- I was automatically logged out when I spent a lot of time writing this and worried that my long post would all be gone and thought "thank god" when I saw that it was all here. Some habits take a while to go away.
  21. 12 points
    I remember the first time I stumbled onto this website. I was deep in ministry, saving souls for Christ, and left the site in prayer for the souls of all those who’d turned away. Today, after 30 years of devotion to the faith I proclaimed as a kindergartner, I revealed to my husband of 11 years that I’m no longer a Christian. This five-year deconversion comes as the biggest part of a life change I’m going through. Personality-wise, nothing has changed, but as far as beliefs go, everything has. It’s challenging and unnerving, but necessary. My husband, who’s been in ministry for several years, who I built a life with on the foundation of Christianity, was more understanding than I’d anticipated. I’ll spare the details for now, but man, I don’t really know how we can make this work. Anyhoo, I’m glad this space exists, as opposed to a few years ago, when I wished it didn’t. Irony.
  22. 12 points
    @ConsiderTheSource @Geezer @Weezer @DanForsman @disillusioned @DestinyTurtle @Fuego @LogicalFallacy @TheRedneckProfessor @ag_NO_stic @Citsonga @Mariana @Margee @florduh @Joshpantera @DevilsCabanaBoy @RealityCheck @sdelsolray @Derek @Lefty @Lerk @LifeCycle @Blood @buffettphan @Positivist @Realist If I forgot anyone....that's the Alzheimer's setting in...
  23. 12 points
    The land of enormous flags and women with perfectly coiffed blonde hair. I wasn’t born here though. I’m from the north east and it was me,my younger brother,mom and dad. We moved a lot and didn’t have much. Focus on the Family came with us and blared from moms kitchen radio wherever we went. Dad’s narcissism and listening for the Holy Spirit on every detail of my life was just normal. We were charismatic,speaking in tongues,fundies with no Santa or Easter basket, or god forbid trick or treat. I just feel sad now remembering it. I grew up,went to a small Bible college,met a good man and married him my senior year. I found a gentle parenting internet site and told my dad “women aren’t less than” and “god isn’t punitive”. That was my first big step away. I had three kids and suffered anxiety and depression while trying to read the bible to scare it all away. I prayed so hard. I guess maybe this all would have continued for much longer but for two things. 1. My brother is gay and I couldn’t deny the conditional love he got from my parents. 2. Trump came on the scene in 2016. I watched the map turn red Election night and realized I didn’t want to be associated with evangelicals anymore. Two years of depression later,I went to therapy. It took about a month for everything to just crash down to my feet. My brother and I talk every day now. My kids went trick or treating for the first time this year. I dressed up as a red devil and it was awesome. A lady invited me to her church. This is Texas after all. So that’s my story. I guess I’m a hopeful agnostic. I like the idea of a higher power in nature or something like that. But mostly,I love my freedom to live my beautiful life.
  24. 12 points
    I wanted to write this post because I believe there are others who can benefit from it. The journey from believer to atheist is difficult, more so if you were truly committed to the belief system. Though this process probably applies to other religions, I will strictly be speaking to Christianity because that is the only religion I have serious experience with. As I have stated more in depth elsewhere, I was an extremely committed Christian. What I mean by that is that I took the faith seriously. So serious, I was dedicated to figuring out what God wanted and what was my duty as a believer. This was actually one of the major reasons I left Christianity. I was never so hubris to think I had all the answers, I thought everyone else did though. I would scour through CARM, GotQuestions.org, Apologetics Press, and any other Christian website out there, no matter how wacky it was (for example, Dan Corner's Evangelical Outreach). Problem was, none of these groups could agree on anything. The nature of God, what did God want, what was orthodox, what was heresy. It was such a huge mess I just became disenchanted with all of it. It occurred to me that my potential eternal fate was on the line and I did not know how to get on track. Did Jesus really teach pacifism; were we supposed to sell our goods to the poor, if so, why....what would that accomplish other than everyone is poor? That does not seem like a long term economic plan (teaser....if Jesus taught the end of the age was right around the corner, it does make sense....and the NT does teach that); was God predestining people to hell; was there freewill. On and on it went and there were no answers, because there was no evidence to back up the claims. That is the game being played - merely make a statement and then proof-text the Bible to back up the statement. Everyone in the Christian community does it, and nobody is winning. Through all this, I went through the various stages of deconversion: full on Calvinistic fundamentalism (eventually the idea God was jettisoning people into hell started to make me physically nauseous), Arminianism, Annihilationist, Universalist, Deist, agnostic, now atheist (technically agnostic/atheist since I cannot say I know there is no god being). The deconversion process is fairly ubiquitous in the main points, that is, Believer - then Universalist - Deist (perhaps followed by spiritual but not religious) - agnostic - atheist. Make no mistake, this process can be especially painful to go through. When I was a through and through believer, I could not even frame what atheist were trying to say. I was taught to read the Bible one way, and as Dr. Robert M. Price would jokingly put it, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." Of course I believed it only from a fundamentalist standpoint. It was all I was taught growing up. I thought liberal theology was flat out heresy, and truth be told, I never even heard of the historical-critical method until a year ago. The process of leaving religion starts with losing fear, at least that was true for me. I spent so much time defending the Bible, God, and dogma out of a fear of hell - that is, punishment. I did not want to be punished so I toed the party line no matter how absurd it may have been. It is not until you are able to defeat your fears will you be able to start framing dogmatic stances differently. My first breakthrough was when I said I would no longer defend God's character when it came to difficulties in the Bible. I stopped trying to play the game where God was innocent of all wrong doing in every circumstance. I then decided I would be honest about how I really felt about hell, especially those who believe infants are in hell. I just could not do it anymore. I could not see how eternally punishing someone was just or fair or loving. It is not, it is terrible; and to say a being that "is love" is doing so is just ridiculous. It completely evacuates the word love of any real meaning. These were my initial breakthroughs, after which, I realized that other people do not have the answers. They do not know the Bible, God's heart, or whatever else they are attempting to claim; they are just as lost about the nature of reality as everyone else, if not more so. I say this because at least secularist are willing to go wherever the evidence takes them. Seculars do not believe something and then attempt to rationalize it (well, this holds true if they are doing it right). It was at this moment where I was feeling extremely tumultuous. I remember getting on my knees multiple times asking God to reveal to me what it actually meant to be a Christian. I would give anything if he would just give me one hour of his time to answer my questions and get me on the right path. As others before me at this point in the journey, my fervent prayers were met with silence. Not to deviate too much from the topic, but I find this to be a good talking point. For all the talk about how much the Christian God is so loving, and can be viewed as a father, does it not seem odd that he will not actually fulfill that role? What father, or mother, if they truly had the authority to judge their child's life would not fully explain what to believe, what to do, what not to do, and the consequences for each - in person. Why the hearsay? Why the divine hiding? If this deity is so damn concerned with what we are believing and how we are living our lives, then why not just come to everyone and lay it out. To me, any good parent would do so, and if mortals are so terribly horrible compared to this thrice Holy God, it would seem the aforementioned would be natural action this deity would take. Talk is cheap, no matter who is talking. After the failure of any deity to show up and give me divine inspiration, I finally broke down and decided to listen to what the secular atheist had to say. I had one condition, I was not willing to listen to any atheist who had not been a former Christian. Only former believers know what it is like to be in the game and to make their way out of it. I started by visiting sites such as this. After that, I began to watch YouTube videos by atheists: Seth Andrews, Matt Dillahunty, and the like. I was obsessed with what they had to say. It was the first time I ever heard anyone actually question the existence of God in a rational manner, and it made me pause. I must have listened to 24 hours of videos before moving on to other media formats. I joined the Bart Ehrman blog and ordered a few of his books. Reading what Dr. Ehrman had to say regarding the veracity of the Bible was completely uncharted territories for me. Little by little I was able to start pivoting from a fundamentalist reading of the Bible. Again, it was not easy, I was often afraid. Afraid of being wrong, that was my primary fear. I felt as though I was opening a can of worms that cannot be put back once they were out, and if I was wrong, I was going to pay for it eternally. Following Dr. Ehrman, I ran across the name Dr. Robert M. Price. He has a couple podcasts, The Human Bible, and The Bible Geek. I went back and downloaded every Human Bible episode I could as well as Bible Geek episodes. What an eye opening discussion from Dr. Price. I listened to all the Human Bible and Bible Geek (there are a ton of these so I have not been through all of them yet) episodes I could download on Podcast Addict. I then ran across other names such as David Fitzgerald, Dr. Richard Carrier, and Jerry DeWitt (former Pentacostal preacher). Each with YouTube videos, audio books, and the written word which aided in breaking the spell of fundamentalism. I also found websites ran by former believers that also helped to break the spell: https://brucegerencser.net (was a pastor for 25 years) https://rejectingjesus.com https://christosophical.wordpress.com I mention all of these names because I believe others will find value in hearing and reading what they have to say. It was these authors who helped me on my journey. There were so many times I wanted to run back to the safety net of fundamentalism, but more and more I realized, I can not go back, there is nothing to go back to. Nothing changed in the Christian community, there was still no unity. Each church believed the church across the road was going to hell. In reality, hearing these secular authors discuss the Bible was the first time I was getting an honest and frank discussion regarding the Bible. No spin doctors, just academics seeking to know and understand....you do not get that in church, you get a theologically loaded discussion with an endpoint in mind. As I mentioned before, the journey is wrought with self doubt and fear. Each breakthrough is a major victory because it is so difficult to get there. My advice would be to keep learning - keep listening and keep reading. Over time, the dogmatic beliefs you once held will start to loosen, little by little. At first it is terrifying, but as your skepticism grows, you will look back and be astounded at the ridiculous notions you once believed. Do not get me wrong, every now and then I am blindsided by my own mind and wonder if I have this all wrong and will be eternal BBQ; well, if that is the case, then so be it. I did my best to figure out the truth and if I end up eternally punished, it is the deity's fault I am there (this is a discussion for another time - long story short, the Christian God only has himself to blame for the sin in the world [not that I believe this is a true story, but merely speaking to the logical conclusions you would have to draw from biblical narratives]). Looking back, I am not really sure when I started on the journey towards atheism, but it was relatively recent, only within the past year and a half. I can say this, if you stick through it, it can be liberating. No longer the guilt, the shame, the sense of worthlessness, but it can also be troubling. I had to come to terms that this is probably the only life I have to live. Once I go, I likely will never see my son again, I will never experience pleasure, or pain, or love, or a sunset, or all of these aspects of our human existence. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I got through. I gave other religions a cursory look to get over my anxiety regarding death, but none of them made any sense either, and eventually I abandoned the whole notion. All I can say is this, I made peace with the idea that this is probably my only life to live. How I did it, I am not exactly sure, it was not one single thing that brought me peace about it, it was a myriad of thoughts; again, this would be a whole other conversation. Perhaps another time when I am able to put thoughts to words. Everyone on this site is at a different point on the path. I happened to be on the super highway to atheism, but for others, it takes years to find chinks in the armor and expose them. Make no mistake, I am still educating myself and re-framing Christianity. I am currently listening to The Case Against the Case for Christ by Dr. Robert M. Price and On the Historicity of Jesus by Dr. Richard Carrier. Never hesitate to reach out to me if you are questioning and are stuck on the path. I may have some words of wisdom to impart (or at least I have some resources you should look at) because I have been there, and likely I know what it is like to be where you are. I hope this post helps some people. I am grateful for the fact this website exist and there are others on here who have helped me escape the death grip of religion.
  25. 12 points
    I've retyped a response so many times now and nothing does BAA justice. I just found out and I'm shocked, grieved, and tearing up. It hurts. Yet, even in his death, his parting words have filled me with wonderment and appreciation. We all may be made up only of atoms, but special were his indeed.
  26. 12 points
    BAA was my friend, just like he was to everyone here. His patience and his willingness to post and respond with honesty and consistency to everyone here all the time will never be equaled. I learned so much from him. I would push and push sometimes, especially about the science of space I so love but barely grasp, and he would respond in such an honest manner, and he always went above and beyond what anyone could expect. I haven't been able to bring myself to post here in "my own" thread, since I heard the news about Mark, and thank you to the wonderful mods that let me know what happened. Mark said not to cry because he died. Sorry buddy, I did anyway. I know that death is inevitable, and he said that if I cried, to cry because I miss him. Well, I did that too, and I'm doing that right now, but even after the crying stops, the things I learned from BAA about science, patience, logic, humor, consistency, honesty, teamwork, and compassion will remain. I probably won't live up to them but I'll try. The thing is, Mark would understand that. Thank you Mark for being my internet friend at a place online that is like no other.
  27. 12 points
    Yet people still lurk here annonymously and then sign up and tell their story. It still helps people deconvert, so this is good.
  28. 12 points
    Life was a lot simpler before. I was a Christian, who hung out with my Christian friends. I was always religiously supported by my parents (one of whom is Christian, the other goes along with it.) I lived in a Christian community (Young Earth and fundamentalist). All of my friends were Christians whose parents believed as I did. I was taught this by clever Christian teachers at my Christian school, who seemed so adept in the purest forms of sophistry that it seemed they could answer almost all my questions. Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains. Only now do I realize the true gravity of that statement. I had no reason to doubt. Life was hard, but I only allowed that to convince me that God was testing me, and that he was going to “bring me through the storm.” That in the end it would all be worth it, because I was going to Heaven. Me. Yes, out of all the religions ever conceived, mine was right. And by the purest accident, I just happened to be brought up in the right faith, while others were brought up on faiths that would lead them straight to hell. But one day, I was reading the news and pulled up a story about a child sex trafficking ring that had been uncovered. The details were horrific, and I went to bed (I read the news before bed, I know, not the smartest thing ever…) with that on my mind. I was furious, sad, and horrified all at the same time. The one question I had was, how could God allow something like this? For children, innocent children to be subjected to sexual torture and mutilation, and eventually death? For the parents who suffered because their child never came home? The parents who cried out for god to just save their child, which seemed to me like a decent request. I never found an answer, and I doubt I ever will. That instilled the first seeds of doubt in me. I began to doubt whether God was really good. So, with a reluctant heart, I began to read my Bible to look for answers. Now I don’t remember exactly how I got into philosophy, but for some reason I was so intrigued that I bought a Socratic dialogue, Gorgias I believe. It was great, and I recommend it to anyone interested in philosophy, if not for the topic discussed then just for the Socratic Method that Socrates employs. It’s come in handy during the many debates I’ve had. Well, with my love of philosophy growing, I went out and bought The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine. My mother, the devout Christian out of the two of my parents, would never have let me bought it if not for my father’s insistence that I be allowed to read what I choose. What I found from Thomas Paine was enlightening, it changed the course of my life forever. I still, from time to time, read a few pages of the Age of Reason, just to refresh myself. After that, I threw out my Bible and all the dogma I had in my room. I replaced it with philosophy books, which I can attest have been far more beneficial to me. I became a Deist, and was hungry for more philosophy. By this time, my mother began to worry about me. She set up meetings for me with different pastors in the area, and I felt intellectually outmatched. But I would not give in. I began to browse YouTube and watch atheist speakers and debaters, like Hitchens, Dawkins, Dillahunty and the rest. I read David Hume, Plato, Voltaire and other intellectual giants. I took notes from them, and went over and over again in my mind what they said and how they said it. I began to speak to my parents about it, and question them, but they would hear none of it. They would take my privileges away and attempt to censor my queries. They would also force me to go to church. In response to these things, I began to argue more and more violently, and now I regret that. But a few months ago, I began to ask myself this question. Is God even necessary at all? Do I need a God to explain the universe, or is there a simpler explanation? You see, the concept of God began to raise more questions than it answered. Sure, it answered the cause for our existence, but it left me with questions like, “If God created the concept of time, does that mean he existed before time? How could he move if there was no time?” or “If God is infinite (which he must be, according to the Cosmological Argument), does that mean he exists everywhere in space, or outside of space, or outside of that?” or “what does it mean to have no beginning and no end (immortality)? How could something have no beginning at all?” Also, as David Hume pointed out, the argument from design is a poor one. If we conclude that things are designed because they are complex, then God to must be designed because his mind must also be infinitely complex. This would progress ad infinitum, so I began to question if there really was a God at all. Plus I now realize that many of the arguments I employed were just arguments from ignorance. I would look around at all the mysteries of the universe, and appeal to a bigger mystery (god) to explain them. Only now do I realize this error. Because I could not answer these questions, I became an agnostic-atheist (I do not believe in a god [as traditionally defined], but I acknowledge the remote possibility of his existence). I remain so today, and I’m glad I finally can identify as a ex-Christian. I can think for myself finally, instead of groveling before my imaginary friend for pre-prescribed morals and opinions. Good bye, grand delusions. Hello reality.
  29. 11 points
    ...I could not reconcile that a god could make something perfect only to have it rebel and suddenly is not perfect. How can a perfect entity suddenly be not perfect? Makes zero sense. That was when I started researching, even more, then one day the question hit me..."Where have all the gods gone?" It was at that point I realized that the truth is far from true! From then on, I smelled the stench of man, not the hand of a god in writing that book. So, after much thought and research, I came to the conclusion that I had to admit there are no gods. We have so many religions because we have so many people with their own understanding of why we humans even exist, but we all wonder why we are here. And it is that very wonder that has moved some people to offer up their own answers, even to the extreme of forming a religion behind it. Some are sincere, some are not and have had ulterior motives for their doctrines, but the bottom line, not a single god has come forward and saved their creations from themselves. NONE. Humanity is the same now as it always has been. Nothing has changed but the humans involved. Dare I say, I found the truth to be that humans who sincerely just want to know the truth have been played by their fellow humans. If you really want to know the truth of a matter, go looking and you will find it, but be prepared for the answers you might not want to hear.
  30. 11 points
    I got that same error the last time I prayed.
  31. 11 points
    I’ve shared my xtestimony briefly on the introduction forum but I wanted to share a video I made of my story. The reason being, watching ex Christians share their stories on video was extremely helpful for me during the pre and post deconversion process. Eventually I worked up the courage and did one of my own. I hope this video will encourage you on your journey out of Christianity and into reality. If you think it would be helpful to someone else, pass it along. I thank all of you who invest so much time and energy into this website and community. You have truly helped me grow.
  32. 11 points
    My Deconversion TL;DR: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” My Deconversion; The whole story: I grew up a true believer. As a kid, there were those in the church who just went but didn’t live their faith and were no different from anyone else. We were different. Though, not a whole lot different I suppose. We were not the ultra-hard-core types who never watched movies or thought that women should only wear dresses. But we did take our faith seriously. More than that, we believed our faith was self-evident. So, easily provable and denied only be those who obfuscate the truth or confuse themselves with their own convoluted thinking. And so began my journey. Having a logical faith, I pursued the evidence for it. I read the books of many apologists like Norman Geisler (one of my heroes even to this day) who wrote a book on formal logic and is still one of the best books on logic I have ever read. I highly recommend it. I devoured everything that came out of Answers in Genesis. I revered people like Dr. Jason Lisle (a legit peer-reviewed PhD) and all of the scientific minds in Creation research (yes, I have since learned that most are not legit). It all seemed legit to me at the time. I as a kid. But I wanted to understand so I became an amateur Apologist. My faith had reason, other faiths were wrong and I could explain why. After high school, I joined the Navy and served for five years. Admittedly these were hard years of my life. I was so ill-equipped for this world that I didn’t even know how to apply my faith while I was in and had several crises that my brother helped me through. The Navy changed my faith hugely. See, it would have broken my faith completely because my faith was rigid that rigidity could not survive the military. But his faith was much more fluid and dynamic. In other words, it's not that we can’t understand the minutia of scripture, but not to get lost in it. Ultimately, God’s nature is goodness and that he wants all to repent and be saved. John 15:17 “This is My command to you: Love one another.” It gave me a new approach to my faith. Don’t sweat the details. You know God’s nature because you are a reflection of His nature. God is goodness and mercy and salvation. So too this should be you. And I came home from the Navy reconciled and ready to save the world, only to re-enter the one of rigidity I had left. I went to my parents Sunday School class and was shocked and horrified by how bigoted and closed minded it was. The views expressed were shockingly dense and ignorant. I didn’t understand what corruption had fallen on my church since I had left. It was losing members and dying. But I wanted to do something. I got active. I wanted to do outreach programs, go to the hurting and the suffering. I wanted to save the world. But more than this, I wanted to find a wife, settle down and have a family. I wanted very much to be a pillar of the community like my dad. The family thing wasn’t happening but the with a great deal of tugging and getting other young families (Gen-Y’ers) excited and active I got the church to begrudgingly start doing outreach. It wasn’t nearly enough so far as I was concerned so I started going out and seeking those who were lost and abused myself. And the world got a little bigger. I started hanging around with subcultures, fandoms and people who even normal society would eschew. This was also at the peak of the gay marriage debates and I met many hurting and disenfranchised homosexuals who I befriended. I was shocked by number of people who were lost and confused and “…where the bloody hell is the church?!” I asked myself. I spent time with the lost and disenfranchised, the very people Jesus spent time with and there were no church, no missionaries, no preachers, nothing for these people. Not even secular help! I tried to get the church involved. They wanted nothing to do with these people. I tried to take aspiring preachers, elders, anyone who felt we didn’t have to travel to Timbuktu to send missionaries but that there were people just outside our doors for missionaries and missions to focus on. I got no help. This began my disillusionment and my loneliness. I was frustrated with the church and it’s un-Christlike behavior. And I tried to pursue a family. I bought a house, I secured a good job, I remained celibate (no easy feat to do while in the Navy) but it wasn’t happening. I prayed often for God to watch over my future wife and that we may soon meet. And so passed nearly 8 years, trying to get the church off its ass and petitioning God for my future family. The thing that was confusing me more and more with each passing year was how I wasn’t finding a wife. This confuses my family terribly as well. I didn’t understand why God willed it this way, or if I was doing something wrong. I was told he must have someone REALLY special in mind or that we had not reached each other in our own Christian walks yet and I kind of went along with this. But I was not faring well by doing this and no one seemed to know how to help. I moved to Chicago (well, near Chicago) and this loneliness hit harder than ever before. Family helped stave the loneliness some though not fully. But without family, I was deeply lonely and increasingly frustrated. And then began my rapid decline from faith. It started with one young gay man in deep Kentucky. He was a broken soul and one who I help through his depression and abuse. I came to care about him quite a bit and hoped for his future. And one day… he told me how special I was to him. How much he wanted to be with me. That he loved me. And he often fantasized about a future with us together. I did not relent on my convictions then, though he spoke right to the very core of my deepest longing. The thought then was that this was a test. God was testing me to see if I would trust him or give in to the sinful ways of the world. And this thought infuriated me. Why this? Why THIS? A point of greatest weakness. But then, would that not be the best angle for Satan to get at me? Would that not be the truest test of my devotion to God? Yet so long denied companionship, so long denied sex, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this test was utterly cruel. Like starving a friend nearly to death then calling the cops on him if/when he steals food from you. What kind of monster are you to do this to him in the first place? But the Bible is not short on these types of tests. Job being the number 1 example. As time went on, I grew bitter and I decided that I was going to experience sex. Marriage be damned, I resolved in my heart that this was a thing that was going to happen. And it was already sin, so being that it was with another male didn’t really make a difference. I did not lose my faith, I just decided that I’d accept the consequences of my rebellion, whatever they may be. And so I did. And nothing happened. I mean, sex happened, but there were no consequences. Nothing changed. And I remember the very first thought I had after being with another male. It was, “Huh… So that was it?” Like, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, in spite of it being awkward and uncomfortable (first-time after all) but nothing in the world changed. Except perhaps me. You see, I for the first time experience a level of intimate connection that I have NEVER experienced in my life. And I wanted more. And so I continued to pursue that intimacy where-ever I could. Around this time, I met who is now one of my dearest friends, Chris, a gay man, a then employee of mine and blindingly intelligent (though no small amount of flaky). But most relevant to me was that he is an ex-Christian. And I do not mean he fell away as a kid. Rather, he converted in his adulthood, took his faith as seriously as I took mine, and fell away. He and I had many many discussions. He was once a young-Earth Creationist, as I was. He was once a Biblical literalist as I was. But what he had that I did not was time. When he started his adult Christian journey, he was homeless at the time living in a warehouse whose owner knew he was there but allowed it and didn’t call the cops on him. Chris at that time read the Bible. Prayed constantly. Went to churches all over. Asking preachers questions, trying to understand himself and understand God. He wanted to KNOW God. But he is gay in attraction and desire. Whereas I can leave it if I so chose, he could not. And he prayed fervently for God to take this away from him. He resolved that he’d have to be celibate for the rest of his life. And after a few months of celibacy, he had dreams of other men. And Chris was confused why God was not helping him. And once he told me in a drunken moment of honesty that he nearly committed suicide because he could not bear the shame and pressure of it. To me, this is the instance where God should have reached into Chris’s life. This is like, all of the conditions for God to rescue someone. He was homeless and broke. He was hungry and cold (winter in Wisconsin). He read scripture and prayed. And nothing. Even to this day he still asks Christian apologists for answer to his questions just to make sure he didn’t miss something but when he tells them the story of his adult Christian journey, the usual response is, “You just weren’t sincere enough.” Which he takes great offense to. When I started to debate with him, I knew instantly I was outclassed. He took his blinding intellect and pointed it at deconstructing his faith far more than I ever had. My intellect was just pointed at how to patch the holes. And he pointed out a few times with frustration that my faith seemed to be very flexible. Like, too flexible. Like I was making shit up as I went along. And I could see what he was saying. It did seem that way and it ran completely opposite of what I actually believed about my faith. But by this time, my questions and frustrations had done nothing but grown. I tried to resolve again and again how I found myself in a gay relationship with this young man from Kentucky. I concluded that I must have failed the test. But then, my life seemed no less blessed than before. Should God’s blessings in my life have gone away? Then I wondered if maybe this relationship was what God actually DID have in mind for me and that thought scared me the most because if that was true, then everything was broken. I am ignorant in all ways and everything I once understood is now broken. Or could it be that God is… inactive? Chris was the best person I have ever talked to because he never found talk of God to be ridiculous. He took it seriously and he took my faith serious and even tried to help me resolve my own misunderstands at times. He actually corrected my theological misunderstandings when I was making them. And he had no agenda to de-convert me. If my conclusion was “God” he was not threatened by that in the least, but he did have some questions for me if that was my conclusion. But by this time, the idea that I was being tested was started to turn my hurt and confusion into anger. Like a person who is being abused when they suddenly realize that the relationship isn’t getting any better. Here’s the analogy I can give for how “God’s test” felt to me: A husband and wife are at a party. The wife is in a room alone and her husband has gone to look for her. As the husband is about to round a corner he hears voices in the next room and so stops to listen. A third man enters the room with the wife and he asks her to leave with him so that he can show her a good time. The husband hears this but waits to see how his wife replies. She tells this stranger that she is married and not interested. The man then grabs her wrist and tugs a little trying to goad her on, telling her not to worry, it’ll be fine. The husband waits. She pulls her arm back saying that she doesn’t want that and to leave her alone. The man then tightens his grip, starting to hurt her, telling her she is coming. She gasps out in pain and starts to call out for her husband. The husband waits. Finally, the man is twisting her arm so hard that she collapses to the floor gasping and sobbing and at last says, “Yes, I’ll go with you, just please stop hurting me.” And the husband thinks, “I see, she never truly loved me.” That is what it felt like to me. I spent many hours sobbing and in prayer. No one came to save me. But this was not the end of my faith. I was still confused as hell. I listened to Christian Apologists. I studied scripture again and again. I started studying and talking about my faith more than I ever had before. I needed answers. The one thing that I held to was at the very center of it all, I knew God’s nature. God’s nature was of mercy, peace and love. That was God’s nature. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t observing that. The world I knew to be true was not lining up with the world I observed. Then, not long ago, I was discussing with Chris about our thoughts on God and the various models for him that we understood and in a rare moment of emotion, Chris said, “If my God actually does exist, I have nothing more to say to him that I have not already said. I am resigned to the fact that he will torture me for all eternity. But at the very least, I will not do it to myself.” And I replied that “If my God does not show mercy and compassion to those whom I have come to love, then I harbor nothing but hatred from Him. Because…” And then I saw it. I saw it plain as day. And I cried for a solid hour before I could even finish that sentence. “…because those are my values.” What I saw in that moment is hard to describe except in metaphor because I have no words to describe it. I held true to my faith because I knew I was created in the image of God. That my goodness was a reflection of His goodness. And in those words I spoke, it was like I turned to look upon the face of God and… it was my face. God, at least as I understood him, as I worshiped him, as I was confident in his nature of goodness… was me. I had taken my values and personified them into god. And while a Christian would argue that this should have been the time for me to let go of my false idol and turn to the Bible (Chris actually had a great C.S. Lewis quote I wish I could remember about our mental idols) I had been training my skepticism since I was a kid. It was the tool I used to field strip other religions and denominations and see their flaws like a Marine could field strip a rifle. And Chris had helped train my skepticism even further by pointing me to the “Less Wrong” community. But I learned that day that skepticism is like a wild animal, looking to tear apart anything that shows weakness. And I showed weakness. And I could not stop my brain from deconstructing every facet of Christianity piece by piece. It was, not a pleasant experience. But at the end of the day, the lynch pin of my faith was predicated on knowing God’s nature. And when I realized I did not know God’s nature, I lost everything. Since then has been a hard road. But perhaps my first moment of shame came when my roommate asked me a question. He knows I am very Biblically literate and sometimes asks me what things are really in there. So one day he was watching a YouTube video where someone made a glib comment about God killing you because you jerked off onto the floor. My roommate asked me if that was in the Bible and I nodded. He paused the video and asked me to explain. This may seem off topic but follow me for a moment. Once when I was a kid, I played Final Fantasy 10 and loved the story. Soon after, I was explaining the story to my mother and it sounded like utter madness. Within the game, the story made sense because you had time to accept its rules. To explain the story to someone else who had not played the game was just complete nonsense. And so I just said casually that it wasn’t the whole “seed on the ground thing” that upset god but that the man, Onan, did it so that he wouldn’t get his brother’s wife pregnant. Which caused my roommate to give me an even more ‘WTF’ kind of look. So I started at the beginning with Judah’s three sons, Er, Onan and Shela and God killing the first two and Judah not allowing the third to impregnate his brothers widow so she dressed like a prostitute and tricked her father-in-law to impregnate her and he got upset and wanted to kill her because he thought she was being a prostitute… the illegal kind… but called it off when he found out the baby was his and called her more righteous than him because he did wrong by withholding his son and she did right by, well, getting pregnant because that was the highest honor for a woman. My roommates jaw was hanging and he just said, “THAT is some f***ed up shit!” And I actually let the raw madness of the story sink in for the first time as I actually felt it and felt crazy even recounting it. And all I could say was, “Yeah, it really is.” My family does not know. I cannot yet bring myself to tell them. About my love life, or my deconversion. I do not know which would hit them hardest. And part of me just wants the lie to continue. I don’t know what to do. But I do not think I am ready for action yet. If you made it this far, thanks. I really wrote it more for me than anyone else. I kinda needed to, to get this all off my chest. But thanks for listening. It means a lot.
  33. 11 points
    Hi all, First of all, thank you for your warm welcoming. Specially to Logical Fallacy and Travi for being so nice in Discord. Alright here it goes, I hope it's not too long. Be aware that some of this content may hurt some people's sentitivities. Oh well, my dad has been a missionaire since he was 14. My mum became one when they married. I was raised into ministry- I started my pastoral leadership training at 8 years old so go figure. And here's soemthing you may find unusual to say in an ex christian testimony. My childhood was awesome. Looking back, there is very little I am not happy about with my childhood. My mum and dad were loving, supportive, I always had my little brother with me and he was the best friend I could have. I went to kid's christian camp, I was allowed to play / hang out with as many kids as I wanted, my mum was the kid's bible Sunday teacher. My dad was my hero, I thought of him as the most perfect human being ever existing, probably the most powerful man on Earth in the eyes of God, and I wanted to be just like him in every way possible. So I behaved extroverted like him, intellectual and imaginative like him, and always tried to plan my life day to day (like him) and follow ''God's will''. Despite of having to move to 2 different schools, since I was very little I didn't feel like that had an impact on me, plus most of my friends were of the church. We went to the beach, we had barbeques, we sang and played games, what else could I ever want? I loved my life, and my childhood, from ages 1 to 11 years old, and no matter what I will always be thankful to my parents for these years of my life. There was a moment where things got lamer, very boring and depressing- Puberty. I was no longer allowed to play with the boys at the church because my body could tempt them. EVERY DAY I would get a thorough clothes check from my mum to make sure I wasn't revealig too much of my body at school. Any time it was too hot (we are talking about Southern Spain FFS!) and I took off clothes in front of others, they'd ask me whether I was trying to seek attention from guys. I dismissed all their overwhelming protection, a careless child I was. My first years of high school, I still found kissing gross and had no idea of how sex work or wanted to know. What for? I didn't have to care, I hadn't met my future husband! But when I turned 13, since we had moved yet again to a smaller city in the countryside, I changed high school and it became impossible to hear sex jokes and puns everywhere. I wasn't living the normal high school experiences (crushes, hanging out with people on my free time, all the dumb teen stuff) so I could no longer relate to the people around me. I would refuge myself in books, prayer, and developing a core made of intellectual superiority. It became obvious to me that I didn't really have friends. But I wasn't allowed to hang out with anyone. This was weird, just because I have boobs now it means I have to be isolated? Even when my step brother came around (he is 4 years older than me), my dad would tell me off and many times yell at me because I wasn't allowed to have any physical contact with him. No hugs, no tickles ('Juego de manos, juego de marranos'), NEVER CLOSE THE DOOR when you are alone with him, better yet don't be alone with him, ''because he's a man and you're a woman, and you didn't grow up together like you and your little brother did''.My step brother complaints to this day that I have been cold and distant with him, oh well. My dad would tell me that friends are bad. ''You don't need friends, your best friend is Jesus. And one day, when you marry, your husband will be the only friend you need''. Since I adored my dad, I believed it, and concluded I didn't need anyone. I think this is when I became less and less social, leaning towards introversion. If someone invited me to do something like going to the cinema, they wouldnt' allow me (age 13 to 15) because I wasn't allowed to go out unless my parents came with me. Nedless to say my social skills vanished to many extents. I was used to always being around other kids, and now I was always alone because those other kids now were seen as potential sin influencers on me. When I was 14, my dad decided to let me and my older brother go to a youth group together. I was so excited! The music was awesome, all Hillsong in Spanish by the way. Lots of people I had met as kids (and lost contact with) were there and they were as cool as usual. I felt like I gained back a part of myself I had lost when we moved to this small town. I had friends, although I still wasn't allowed to hang out with them on the ''after-youth sermon-Burger King dinners''' I could still see them in the reunions. Only my older brother was allowed to go to the cool going-out gatherings like going to the river or barbeques, and that did upset me a lot. Maybe that's how my dad realised that we were getting too attached to this youth group, and he decided to forbid us from going again. I was 15. I remember I cried for days, hiding the sadness but ''acting out'' all angry teenager-like. Further proof that I had been under those teens' influence for long enough. My older brother would get away from still meeting with them and other people from other churches, and one day he opened my eyes ''You're sheltered. You and little brother, dad over-protects you and isolates you, although he does it for your own good''. The next church my dad helped, giving pastoral training, was a congregation of Bolivian and Ecuatorian people. They were kind to us, but they didn't have a youth group. There was only one teenage girl there I could talk to. Eventually, we met a family of musicians (father, mother and 4 children, 3 boys and 1 girl) that would help with the Music Ministry, along with my older brother. I used to participate in singing lessons, bass and guitar lessons too. That same year in high school, my older brother introduced me to the girl who became my best friend- and still is despite the distance. So life was looking up a bit again. I still felt like an alien in my high school class, but now I had people to talk to in the breaks. All thanks to my older/ step brother, without whom my teenage years would have been a complete hell and I probably wouldn't have any friends if it wasn't for him. The amazing musical ministry we had with that family vanished the following year after they decided to start their own ministry. I no longer saw my 'new' friends, luckily I had my best friend in high school. But by age 16, I had already become a skeptical pessimist without knowing. I became fascinated with Ecclesiastes' view of the world (I still am to be fair). Everything is meaningless, people leave you and nothing is guaranteed, everything changes but there's never anything new under the sky. I bet Nietzsche loved Ecclesiastes. This is when I became the most introverted, I would often choose to spend most of my time writing about deep philosophical thoughts that pretty much differed from ''all things God works for the good of those who love him''. My musician friends leaving plus two girls from high school saying nasty things about me after I gave them my friendship made me have the loneliest 1st A-level year ever (Primero de Bachillerato). But I was about to graduate, and go to university, so I had ''bigger things'' than my social awkardness in mind. On my last year in high school / A-levels, my dad decided he wanted to come and work in England because things in Spain weren't well economically speaking. My English was very good, I had studied English on my own and practised it with my older brother since I was 12. I had given up on high school English lessons and took charge of my own education in the language, which my English teachers noticed and encouraged me to keep learning. So when the moment came, I asked my dad to let me go to England too. I prayed, and fasted for 1 week for God's will and God's will only to be made: I was going to ask my high school's principal to let me finish my last year in April instead of June, which meant I had to take all my exams in 2 weeks. As if a miracle was happening, my school principal told me that she would allow it, but in the eyes of the City's Education Directive Board this wasn't happening because a student wasn't allowed to finish their school year ''express-mode'''. She said she was willing to take the great risk because she understood my need to find a job in London and help my family financially. So I did it, I passed all my exams in two weeks with an A+. I think I kinda became a legend amongst my teachers and the students, but that's anther story ;). I came to London and found a job in a cleaning company, because I needed to start working as soon as possible and that's the first thing they offered me at age 17 only, decent pay and with no work experience. This part of the story is where things get really messed up. My dad hated London, I loved it. His plans of creating a ministry here and finding a good job didn't quite work out (what a shocker! Wanna make a decent living in England without bothering to learn English first!!??). I became the only person of my family who was working full time. At first, that felt like a privilege. I woke up at 5 AM, spent 2 hours a day travelling by bus to the workplace, worked for 8 to 12 h a day, spent another 2 h in the bus going back home, and went to bed at 1AM to wake up at 5 AM again. Luckily, this lasted for only about 3 months. My dad changed. Maybe the loneliness, maybe missing home, maybe feeling like he was too good for such poor living donditions. He became hostile towards me, and made me cry almost daily. My mum and brothers were still back in Spain so it was just him and me, and the family with whom we were living. I have always been so vulnerable to WHATEVER my dad thinks of me that he didn't understand he could make me or break me with a single word or action. Really don't wanna go into detail, but here's where I started to question why was all this happening, when I had prayed and fasted for God's will to take place in my life. My dad would travel to Spain every moth to visit my mum and the church. When that happened, I was left here alone with the family that was hosting us. One day, I got harrased and abused. Somebody insisted that God had revealed to them that I had to lose my virginity to them, and if I didn't sleep with them, I would be disobeying God. This person was one of my spiritual mentors, this wasn't something I could think ''happened by accident'' like when someone walks alone in a dark alley late night and gets abused. I got verbally harrassed for entire days, me trying to ignore it, until one day I was forced to masturbate this person. They said if I didn't, they were going to go crazy because they couldnt get off on their own, and since I was there under that roof I would probably suffer more severe consequences than this. He had tried to force himself into me, I feared for my safety, so I had no choice than giving that hand job while trying not to cry loudly.There were kids sleeping in the house. I was 17 and I had never had a boyfriend, no proper sex ed, I hadn't even kissed a guy, I had the sexual awareness of a 13 year old. This was somebody I trusted like a family member. And it happened again, this situation and the mental torture didn't end until my whole family moved to London. I went into a mental state that was so dark sometimes I have trouble remembering exactly what happened. I never told my family, because of reasons I don't want to disclose- But basically, this would jeopardise entire family relatioships like one of us was the abuser (I know reading it like this doesn't sound like I had a motive to hide it, but remember I am not giving you BY FAR all the facts. This is like the movie adaptation of Eragon). I tried to come to terms about this with God, why would this happen to me after I prayed for his will on my life? Did this have a purpose? What kind of loving God would allow me to go throught this just because he had a purpose? Was there any at all? My dad always used to say that the 'chosen' of God don't have freewill, like Jonah. He tried to scape God's calling and he ended up in a whale's stomach, to then be thrown into the coasts of Nineveh. I became obssessed with the topic of Freewill, years after this I had stopped taking prayer seriously, but was in denial of my faith crisis. I enrolled to university and studied Law, while working pretty much full time hours as a receptionist. My mum and dad had cleaning jobs that made them too tired for anything. They were no longer the happy, friendly parents I had as a child. I hated London, I hated the system, I hated religion. My years in university were lamer than my high school years. I made a couple of friends, but my university was heavily involved in religion- Muslim to be specific, so I had no interest on participating in most of their social stuff. Besides, I didn't have much free time due to also working. I came across a typology site where people discussed topics like religion and politics, where I found lots of the resources I was looking for in my study of the logical flaws in religion and freewill, the damage religion dogma causes in society (especially for women), and how Christianism was no more perfectly founded than other religions. This helped me overcome a lot of doubts and self -questioning, and I will forever be grateful to those who provided me with a safe place to talk about my doubts. I was no longer welcomed to raise theological questions at home. Now that I had read books like ''Jesus Interrupted'' by Bart Erhman and ''The illusion of Freewill'' by Sam Harris, I asked things I never thought about before. My dad accused me of trying to corrupt my little brother's view of christianism for saying in front of him that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written by the apostles and were more likely recollections of verbally transmitted narrations. I was so upset, I thought we were different! I thought we supported asking question! Apparently not, if those questions raise doubting the bible's validity. But the environment at home was very tense, not only due to my irreligiousity. My mum and dad were unhappy about their jobs, plus they couldnt continue with half of them. I again was the only person working full time in a family of 5, my brothers had no luck one due to visas, the other due to being underage. This situation lasted for most of my undergraduate years, and I became the ''main provideder'' and the one my mum and dad would nag the most. I didn't do anything besides working, studying and reading, yet everyday they would find reasons to nag me and tell me off. I felt like everybody was taking advantage of me and planning my life for me (I guess you're also more prone to take verbal attacks more seriously after an abusive experience). Maybe they took their life frustrations out on me. This lasted after I finished my degree, gathered some savings and the strenght to move out. My boyfriend is an atheist, and he has been a great support in my life, making me grow as an independet thinker since the moment we met.I met him in that typology site I mentioned before, and he has been the most patient, logical and understanding friend too. I pray (lol!) that he doesn't get shot by my dad or brother when I introduce him to them. I believe I have been an agnostic athesit for over a year. When I moved out, my relationship with my family improved after they accepted that children move out and it's natural (I try not to talk about religion with them as it's still a sensitive area). My mental and physical health have improved, I've talked to a counselor about my bad experiences and that has helped. I have finally come to terms with the fact that no suffering of the innocent has a greater good purpose, ever. Not the fact that millions of children die of starvation, not the fact that 1 out of 20 children in the UK have suffered sexual abuse according to the NSPCC, not the deaths caused by Earthquakes or Tsunamis. ''God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer'' By Bart D. Ehrman was another great help for me in regards to all this. I know I still have a lot of work to do, a lot of life to live, and although I get frustrated to see how much I've missed out sometimes, I am more excited than ever to live my universally-unimportant, ephemeral and meaningless life, free from the dogma of thinking that nothing I do should come from my own wants or wishes but from the questionable Will of an an arbitrary God. I will just conclude here: Living for learning, living a life of meaning and learning to enjoy what I live. “Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God's approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That's not morality, that's just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base though.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
  34. 11 points
  35. 11 points
    I've been active for several years, with a few years interruption when the site crashed, on a Christian site. I'm really amazed their admin & mod over there has allowed me to post virtually the same things I post here. They have a section set aside for non-believers to post their thoughts. I noted my wife's recent cardiac event and the passing of my DIL. A diehard fundy recently signed on over there. He's been posting all kinds of far out fundy nonsense since he signed on. I've totally ignored him after reading a couple of his whacky posts. He has clearly been reading mine though. I got a PM from him yesterday. He told me Jesus has spoken to him and he is very displeased with me. He also said my wife's cardiac event was a warning to me that I must repent and return to Jesus. I sent him a return PM and I used a lot of four letter words that I'm sure he hasn't heard in a long time. I also noted he had better not tell me my DIL's recent death was punishment for my sins. I affirmed that he is a brain washed idiot and that it would be unwise to send me any more PM's. I also suggested he might invest some time studying the creation & evolution of both the Bible & the Christian Faith instead of listening to a bunch of brain dead fundies make believe bullshit. I felt better after hitting the send button and drinking a cold beer.
  36. 11 points
    Hi everyone. I actually signed up here in December, 2016, but haven't felt ready to start sharing. I spent a good deal of the past year or so dealing with significant emotional wounds, and I only now feel healed enough to be safe interacting with others. Hopefully this isn't as tough a crowd as where I came from. As for me: I spent 25 years of my life in evangelical Christianity. I wasn't fundamentalist, but the denomination (Baptist) was pretty conservative. I was one of those sold-out, all-in believers that signed up for every ministry, and every outreach. I headed up women's bible studies, did outreach to the homeless and did recovery work at rescue missions and the Salvation Army. I was also a professional (blues) musician prior to my conversion, so worship team and choir were also in the mix. During my time in the church, I "filed away" many things that either were "not OK to ask" or were "just the way things are." But cognitive dissonance as a coping strategy can only get you so far. Looking back, I'm amazed that I lasted as long as I did. Especially since I didn't come from a religious family upbringing. When I finally had my done moment and left, I'd been wearing a mask, hiding so many areas of disagreement with church doctrine or policy, that no one really "knew" me. I was a perfect little rule-follower, and as long as I did as I was told, or as I should, all was well. Except for all was not well with me. My husband and son and I had moved up to the Pacific Northwest from California, and our entire social life was wrapped up in this church. When we left, I lost every friend I had. Worse, after 25 years, I literally had no idea how to make friends outside of belonging to a church. It's been a long, hard road, but I think I'm going to make it. I look forward to sharing my ex-timonial at some point soon, and thank you for being here for those of us who arrive as walking wounded.
  37. 11 points
    I'm with Pat Paulsen (remember him?) "I'm not left wing, not right wing, sort of middle of the bird." Honestly, life is too complicated these days to choose your label from two or three categories. The labels mean different things to different people anyway. For example, I'm a gun owner and support 2A as I understand it. For this reason the Left doesn't want me but the Right cools off when they find out I'm in favor of rather strict gun legislation given current circumstances in this country. There are similar nuances when it comes to welfare, immigration and other political hot buttons. For many on both sides it an all or nothing proposition if you want to identify as one of them. No thanks.
  38. 11 points
    Hi, everyone. Missed many of you, I've been insane crazy busy pursuing my baking business dreams, working, etc. I hope everyone is doing well. I haven't been active, because the forum posts were starting to blur together into this left vs. right bullshit of which I grew quite weary. I had a few minutes, logged in, and kinda skimmed through all my notifications. After reading through several forum posts with inflammatory titles and/or responses, I was getting worked up and crafting all these responses in my head....and then I realized that there is no point to it at all. Why should I bother to respond to things and throw in my two cents? Nothing happens. There are some people I truly respect on this site, I respect sticking to the arguments and disagreeing without being an asshole. Bouncing ideas off each other, challenging your thinking together, and checking your own biases and misinformation. But there is MUCH assholery here and I'm pretty done with it. I'm barely even on this site anyway and one day of scrolling through all of these posts has me heading straight back to my busy life without looking back. How are we supposed to grow together, learn from each other, help each other navigate through life, or do anything remotely productive on this site when we're too busy slinging shit at each other? There is pure gold in these forums from people who lost their faith and we are going to lose people who need help freshly deconverting by demonizing each other and put each other in boxes, with labels like "snowflakes," "racists," "ignorant," "stupid," etc. As someone who prefers to think critically about any various issue as opposed to holding to some party line or whatever, I'm seeing it on both sides. I don't know how many of the people on this site that I hold in high regard have the diligence and patience to respond to such mind-numbingly dumb shit with respect and thought-provoking material. I will fiercely defend anyone's right to say whatever they want to say, free speech and what not....but god DAMN what is the POINT of trolling? You think it's funny or something? What is the POINT of trying to make another person feel inferior or ill-informed? Sure, I'll chuckle at a potentially offensive meme every now and then....but like, there is just so much unproductivity in many of these discussions that it's overwhelming. Congratulations, you have free speech, now are you gonna doing anything useful with it? You're free to say whatever you want, by all means, but I don't have to listen to you say it. And before a select few of you want to say I'm throwing a snowflake tantrum, do me a favor and f*** right off. I won't put up with it, the way this place has been lately. It's called self-respect, not inability to hear things I don't like. I can't be the only one observing this crap or feeling this way, for the love of Zeus.
  39. 11 points
    I was taking the public bus home from work last night, when a lady struck up a conversation with me about nutrition. During this conversation she asked me directly, "Do you believe in Jesus as your savior?" In the past, I would have projected fear of her response and said yes just to keep the peace, but this time, I flat out said no. She didn't try to convert me or anything.
  40. 11 points
    How and Why I Left Christianity A few years ago, I used to be a Christian. Now I am sort of agnostic/deistic. And also antireligious. To give you a background:I grew up in a conservative Christian bubble for most of my childhood. All of my friends and immediate family are Christians and most of them are Pentecostal. I don’t know any of them who don’t think the Bible is inerrant. I never (and still don’t) have any non-Christian friends. Religion never felt terribly important to me, and I was slightly ashamed that I didn’t naturally feel religious in my day-to-day life like I was expected to. I would silently thank God for a pretty sunset, but didn’t feel overly-dependent or attached to God. Many people in my life would say that they relied on God for everything down to simply getting out of bed in the morning, and I found this weird because I could go a day without even thinking about God and I would be perfectly fine. I had a hard time believing that every mundane little blessing in our everyday lives was caused by God, or that God was causing good things to happen rather them being a result of our own actions or the actions of others. I secretly thought reading the Bible was boring and I would rarely read it without someone else encouraging or shaming me to read it. I rarely felt excited about my faith like other people in my life were. I couldn’t speak in tongues like some of my friends - even though I asked God many times. I did pray, but I never heard God’s voice like other people claimed to hear. For a while, I was very frustrated because of these things and I felt like God was either arbitrarily silent towards me or I wasn’t saved or I was doing something wrong. I felt like I hardly belonged, and I feared for my salvation for a while. I did everything I needed to be saved and I did truly believe the Bible, so finally I concluded that I did my part and if God didn’t accept me then that’s not my problem. Now that I’m agnostic and I look back at this, I’m still not quite sure why I never became “on fire for Jesus” like most other people in my life. I was “going through the motions”, as they say. Maybe I am innately too rational to fool myself into believing I was actually having experiences with God. I don’t know. By growing up always surrounded by conservative Christians, I used to always hear only their side to every religious or political argument. When I heard about what other people believed in religion and politics, it was always a warped, negative, misrepresented picture of it from someone who was against it. It was a classic case of indoctrination. When you are younger, it is forced on you. But once I got old enough, I was given permission to surf the internet on my own. That is when I started being exposed to information outside of my bubble of indoctrination. I began reading countless debates on creation and evolution online, and I also tried to defend my belief in young earth creationism in the comment sections. Through this, I got a sense for the rigidity and formality of debate, learned to spot fallacies, and realized in a way I hadn’t before that I could discover truth by logical reasoning and testing the validity of various arguments. This was incredibly important in my path towards irreligion. These online debate often drifted off into a debate about Christianity and Biblical inerrancy. I found myself having doubts about the accuracy and inerrancy of the Bible (not just about the book of Genesis but countless other parts of scripture). There were so many arguments that seemed to refute different passages of the Bible, and it felt like there were a bunch of leaks in a dam and I was scrambling to plug them up. Every time I found a satisfactory or at least partially satisfactory answer to a question, two more leaks would form. Some arguments against Christianity seemed solid at first, but after researching them, much to my relief it turned out that they were very flimsy. So I tried to encourage myself with that thought: That all the unanswered questions I had were nothing to worry about at all, and a good answer for it would come but I just hadn’t found it yet. Soon, however, I began thinking about the doctrines of Christianity many times a day, forming connections and trying to piece things together. I started daring to come up with new problems for Christianity myself and seeing if I could find an answer to them. To my horror, I found that there were whole realms of questions that led to other questions, all which I could think of few or no answers to. Searching for answers online didn’t help much either. Gotquestions.org and other sites failed me more and more often, and I started seeing logical flaws in the answers I received from them. I felt annoyed and uneasy when sites like Answers in Genesis would answer a scientific question with the Bible more than they did with science. I personally accepted the Bible, but I knew that the atheists I was debating would not, and I didn’t have much of a reason to give them as to why they should accept the Bible as well. The answers I got from Christian websites would only address part of the problem, and the main part of the problem would go unanswered. Or they would give an answer that relies on circular reasoning. Or they would give emotional reasons or other reasons that are irrelevant. Or they would simply say something along the lines of “I don’t know why this is the case, but we’ll just have to take it on faith. After all, it says here in the Bible that God cannot lie, so we can trust Him on this.” However, I saw that faith didn’t work very well in debates. Atheists wouldn’t accept it and I couldn’t blame them for it, so this answer always left me unsatisfied. Faith became a topic to avoid. I was on the same side as those using faith in arguments, but I was embarrassed by them. Faith was like a currency that only had value in my little Christian bubble, and outside it, it was worthless. People who believe different religions use faith to support ideas that contradict with Christianity, and I had no answer to why my faith should be accepted but theirs rejected. But logical reasoning, I saw, was like a universally accepted currency. Logic was incredibly useful. It is what enabled every scientific advancement. It allows us to truly understand the natural world. I relied on it more in my day-to-day life than I did on God. Logic was also necessary to be a Christian, else you could not even read and understand the Bible. I was reluctantly forced to admit the obvious to myself: Logic was superior to faith and it made no sense to make faith superior to logic in special cases. This was an important step in my de-conversion. I had liked to point to creation as the proof that God existed, but I realized that it told us nothing about which god (if any) created the world. Christianity didn’t really have any advantage over other religions. I realized that a great way to show yourself whether or not some argument in support of a religious claim is valid is to think of what other religions say about the matter, and ask yourself what logical reasons you have to think Christianity is correct about the issue and all the other religions are wrong. If you bring up Christian claims of miracles, supernatural experiences, or words from God, then just consider its equivalent in some other religion. If you don’t consider a Muslim’s supernatural experiences as evidence for their claims, why shouldn’t yours be rejected in the same way? I felt like I knew Christianity was logically true somehow (else I would reject Christianity) and I was grateful for being born into a Christian family so that I could grow up knowing the truth. Yet it scared me that in the 2000 years Christianity has existed, there were still no answers (that I could find) to some of the basic questions such as the problem of evil and others. You’d think that if there were good logical answers, everyone would be using them and I would have found them. I was terrified when some of my Christian beliefs could be logically forced into a corner where there were only two options: Believe in spite of the evidence to the contrary or admit the Bible is not perfect and Christianity is built on a foundation of sand. There was a growing pile of things that forced me (because of my indoctrination) to choose the first option, and this required me to have more and more faith that I was still right and all the answers were just hiding somewhere. With anguish, I started seeing that irreligion was winning over Christianity. I quickly became scared that I was losing the faith. I didn’t know if I was still a Christian or how anybody could know for sure that they were. I became afraid I would go to hell. I was afraid of my parents and friends finding out. I was afraid of people asking me about something that would force me to tell them about my doubts. I wanted to remain a Christian. I still wanted to believe in the Bible, but it was becoming difficult. I became depressed thinking that I might be going to hell for having doubts about the Bible, for not letting myself just stop asking questions, and for not being able to take everything on faith. I saw that praying for more faith wouldn’t solve the problems with Christianity – It would just sweep all the problems under the rug. I started constantly praying in my head, “Forgive me of my sins, God”. With all these thoughts about going to hell, my questions turned to the concept of hell, and that opened a whole can of worms for my faith. Thinking things through, I finally realized how evil and senseless God would have to be for him to send a person to hell. I realized the double-standards God has between the rules that he expects us to follow and the ones that He himself has to follow. It seemed that God could do whatever He liked and it would still not be considered sin. I began to see that Christianity essentially blackmails a person into making a low-information decision to follow Christ. It appeared like religion prevents a person from thinking critically about many things - keeping them in a self-perpetuating way of thinking that is almost unable to correct itself. I fully realized that truth is something that must be tested and shown to be true through research, discussion, and lots of logical reasoning - not something logically indefensible, unfalsifiable, and must be believed by blind faith and threats. I tried to console myself with the thought that Christianity only resembles a scam by some sheer coincidence. I used to think along the lines of “It sucks that a place like Hell exists, but that’s just the way things are”. But finally it occurred to me that God chose to create hell and set up all the rules that we follow, and being omnipotent, He could have chosen any number of other ways to set up His world. I thought that if God really loved us and He was omnipotent, He would have never created hell. But if somehow you can defend that He would, He could have made it temporary and bearable or He could have made it so that humans would never end up there. But if somehow you can defend this as well, God could have simply never created us. With the vast majority of humans supposedly going to hell, that seemed like such a terrible tragedy beyond words. I felt like it would have been better if humans never existed at all than for even one person to have to experience that barbaric, merciless punishment for any reason. What could be more important to a loving God than caring for his creation’s fate? For what could He possibly consider all this tragedy to be a net gain? For his glory. That’s it. God wants to be worshipped forever by a small, questioningly-chosen subset of his creation. This seemed to me like the most selfish, hateful act imaginable. Now to me, Christians were always the last people on earth who would try to justify sin. But when asked questions about hell or God’s terrible atrocities in the Old Testament, you could watch even a sweet old Christian lady transform before your eyes into an apologist for murder, torture, hate, rape, slavery, and abuse. But only in specific cases – namely, when it was God doing it or ordering it. At this point, it seemed to me like God was the ultimate hypocrite. I began thinking about the way God set up the rules for us: God determines what is sin and what is not sin. He makes many things to be sin so it is easy to sin, even accidentally. God gives everyone (or allows everyone to have) a sinful nature. A sinful nature ensures that you are tempted to sin and will sin at least once in your life. God decides the punishment for sin – hell. Due to the above two points, everyone is guaranteed to sin so everyone’s default destination is hell. God thinks it is a good idea to create man even with all the cards stacked against them like this. He doesn’t give them a choice of whether they want to be born into this world or not. A loving, omnipotent God would not set up everything so that hell is the default destination, I thought. If He loved us, He would not create hell. But if somehow you can defend this, he would at least set up the rules so that it is nearly impossible for anyone to go there if they didn’t want to go. God’s gift of salvation, the loophole to escape from inevitable torture after death… Maybe having this option available to everyone justifies the way God set up the world for us? And as shown above, God created the problem to begin with (because of the way He set up the rules and the way He created us), but does this loophole actually fix the problem? I began considering the way God set up salvation: Killing Jesus was needed to enable all-forgiving God to forgive us. But this doesn’t actually mean we are forgiven: God made sure that His forgiveness is conditional – depending on whether or not we accept this wonderful offer to solve the problem that He created. And don’t blaspheme the Holy Spirit – the omnipotent and merciful God is unable or unwilling to forgive that. In order to be saved, we have to believe God exists. If God exists, He makes His existence unprovable and requires us to go against what our rational minds tell us by forcing us to believe a huge collection of myths and legends without a shred of evidence. He calls this belief without evidence “faith” and chose to make it the backbone of the Christian religion. Why would God give us rational minds if they tend to lead us to reject the existence of God and therefore cause us to be damned? Why would He give us rational minds if He loves us and wants us to go to heaven? Not only does God give us no good evidence in support of His existence, He allows there to be plenty of evidence that leads us to believe that the Bible is wrong about many things and that God doesn’t exist. Many Christians say that God is testing their faith through this. But why would He want to do this? What is valuable about blind faith? Doesn’t God know that by doing this, He is gambling with our eternal destiny? Again, if God loved us, why would he make it hard to go to heaven? God chooses to give us the gospel message in a book written by mere men rather than a book written directly by himself. This causes rational people to question whether it is actually from God and this in turn causes them to go to hell. God allows there to be many competing religions in the world and does nothing to make His religion seem any truer than any of the other religions. This causes a person’s eternal salvation to come down to the chance that they will choose the correct religion. Again, why would a loving God choose this? God causes people to be born in a situation (geographic location, for example) where they will live their lives without ever hearing the gospel message and go to hell for no thought of their own. Why would God choose this? God chose to make his plan for salvation dependent on a person’s ability to understand His gospel message. Yet God chooses to create people who are mentally incapable of understanding it. Why would God choose this? God allows his gospel message to message to be distorted. This can cause people to go to hell. Why would God choose this? God does not spread the gospel message himself. If He did it Himself, it would simultaneously solve the problem of there being no evidence for God, the problem of His gospel message not being heard, and the problem of His gospel message being distorted. But He doesn’t do this. Why? Nearly everyone would go to heaven if He did this. Isn’t that what He wants? God lets Christians and non-Christians alike to sometimes die young. If He wanted more people to go to heaven, He would go to great lengths to allow non-Christians more time to make a decision to become Christian. If before we were born God gave us a choice about whether or not we wanted to be born and we knew the following: Endless torture would await us by default We most likely wouldn’t find or accept the loophole in our lifetime ….Then I don’t think anyone would choose to be born into this world. None of these things make any sense or have any reasonable answer if you are looking at them from the perspective that Christianity is true and God is omnipotent, omniscient, all-loving, perfectly just, and merciful. However, all of these points DO make an astonishing amount of sense if you consider them from the perspective that God does not exist and Christianity is an ingenious self-perpetuating scam. Suddenly I began thinking that things in Christian doctrine aren’t just the way they are because that’s the way they are, but they actually serve the purpose of keeping people dependent on the faith and spreading the scam. For example, verses like John 15:5, Jeremiah 10:23 and Matthew 4:4 demolish a person’s sense of control and self-esteem and leave them dependent on Christianity. Verses like Hebrews 6:4-6 keep them fearful of leaving the faith. Verses like 2 Cor. 10:4 and Matthew 12:31 discourage them of even thinking of leaving the faith to begin with. Verses like Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4 encourage Christians to indoctrinate their kids while they are vulnerable to that sort of thing, thereby spreading the scam. Verses like Mark 16:15 also serve this purpose. Verses such as 1 Cor. 3:18-20, 2 Cor. 10:4, Proverbs 3:5-6, Isaiah 55:8-9, James 1:6, etc. encourage Christians to reject “human reasoning” in favor of faith in God and His wisdom - thereby preventing you from questioning the Bible. It suddenly makes perfect sense why verses like Luke 4:12 and Deut. 6:16 would tell you not to put God to the test, when putting God to the test would lead to the salvation of many people if God actually existed and answered prayers. You are encouraged to be like a sheep and to have the faith of a little child. The concept of infinite reward is a bribe to draw them forward in hope of gain, and the concept of infinite punishment serves as a threat to push them forward to avoid loss. Conflicting statements about what is required to be saved are probably unintentional, but nevertheless they serve the purpose of setting a believer down the path of ever increasing devotion to the faith just to be sure of their salvation (I know because this was my situation at one point). There are dozens and dozens of other conclusions I came to about Christianity and religion in general, but it would take me forever to write them all down. Most of them have to do with Old Testament laws, a few New Testament verses, details of God’s actions and overall plan for the world which contradicted with His supposedly perfect nature, contradictions in the Bible, God’s inaction today, the deliberate unreasonableness of most Christians, blatant misinterpretations of the Bible by Christians in order to avoid having to accept the obvious falseness or evil in particular verses, etc. With zero evidence in favor of Christianity, an ever-growing mountain of evidence against Christianity, and a convincing alternate view of what Christianity is actually about and how it even exists, I eventually found it impossible to believe any more. This deconversion that I had did not occur immediately, but occurred gradually over a period of almost 2 years. It was partially my fear of hell and my fear of what the Christians in my life would say if they found out about me that made the process take so long. By the end of that time, I considered myself to be irreligious. Then I soon became antireligious. My morals and politics have changed here and there for the better with my rejection of religion. However, I am still in the closet about all of this, so I still try to pretend to be Christian. It can be a really unpleasant business. Now I see everything that happens today as perfectly explainable by natural causes. I find it very silly to believe that some god must have been involved in the events of the world in order for us to be able to explain why something good or something bad happened to someone. The world looks the same as it would if there wasn’t any god at all and if the world just operated on its own. The laws of nature don’t attach any significance to whether a bolt of lightning strikes a tree or if it strikes a person. Only we do, and I don’t need religion to cope with that. Because there is no God directing my fate, I am fully responsible for making this world a better place. It is no longer forbidden to apply reason to subjects like morality and politics, and because of this, I have a method to improve the world rather than being dogmatic and stuck in the past. I consider that a good thing. I’m sure I could think of a lot more to say if I took the time, but this post is long enough already. Thanks for reading! - - dirwid
  41. 11 points
    I realized earlier this evening that tonight is the eve of my 5-year deconversionversary! I just pulled out my old journal and read through pages and pages of the stream of consciousness, questioning and mental gymnastics leading up to it, when everything finally came together and the ecstatic joy, and the aftermath of figuring out how to "come out." The last four years or so have been lived in pleasant complacency and normalcy after all the dust settled and don't really think of things much anymore. I haven't posted here in a while! As much of a wild ride my deconversion was, I can't deny that it was a time when I felt truly alive and life burst with meaning. In a way I kind of miss that. Just wanted to share it somewhere because it's something worth celebrating!
  42. 11 points
    I am saddened by the news of Mark's (BAA's) death. I'm finding my thoughts and emotions are focused towards a celebration of his character and composition. Mark was an excellent blend of intelligence, knowledge, skepticism, curiosity, determination and compassionate cleverness, among other worthy traits. His participation in this forum was honest and caring and always focused on the purpose of this website. Mark was a stellar human being. He will be missed.
  43. 11 points
    Awhile back, I crashed my car. My whole life was thrown into a tailspin because of it. I had to find alternate transportation to work, and I nearly lost my job over it. But, things are better now. I believe Jesus allowed me to crash my car so that I could learn to better appreciate the things I have. Just the other day, I had to take my car on a long trip through the big city. I nearly got into a huge wreck when a truck driver forgot to hit his breaks. The truck came about six inches from smashing right into me. I really believe that Jesus caused the truck's breaks to work just a little bit better than they normally would have. I'm sure that my car would have been totaled and I might have even died... But, Jesus saved me from crashing my car! Hallelujah! A long time ago I tripped on acid, and I really believe that Jesus spoke to me in a vision while I was tripping. He was so real and so kind. Because of that wildly spiritual acid trip, I came to the realization that Jesus is real. I really believe he worked through the acid trip to reveal his true nature to me. Thank you, Jesus! About a month ago I smoked a little bit too much weed. I got too high and started freaking out. Within minutes, I was having a full blown panic attack. During that time I swear I could feel the devil's angels trying to rip my life away from me. I started frantically praying, and Jesus calmed my spirit. It was almost like I could hear his voice speak to me telling me that everything was going to be alright. He showed me that day that drugs are bad, and there is no place for them in his beautiful world. Now, I'm going to do my best to make sure no one ever touches the devil's lettuce again! Praise his holy name! A few years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to help a young Ethiopian girl out of poverty. She came here with a missionary, and we volunteered to let her live in our home. Jesus used us to keep her from living a life of poverty, pain, and misery. She is now going off to college here in the U.S.A. She is going to become a minister! Isn't Jesus great? Two years ago, I saw a video that showed thousands of poor Ethiopian children who were on the brink of death by starvation... I knew there was nothing I or anyone else could do to help them. I said a prayer for them and turned the television off. I guess Jesus just allows those things to happen so that we can appreciate the blessings he's bestowed upon us and our beautiful country. It's really a shame, but sometimes we've got to be able to see the bad to appreciate the good. Can I get a witness?! A year ago, an entire town was wiped out in a tornado. Over 100 people died. It was such a terrible tragedy to witness. However, I know there was a reason that Jesus allowed it to happen. Since the disaster, I've heard that so many people have given their lives back to him. They probably wouldn't have had the disaster never struck their town. But, thanks to the efforts of the church and Jesus' wonderful grace, those people have been able to find a true calm after the storm. About six months ago, a tornado swept by the town I live in. The weather forecaster said that had the wind direction been just a little more to the south, our town would have been wiped out for sure. Thankfully, it didn't. I really believe that Jesus spared our little town. I mean, what would we have done? Praise him for his eternal mercy... Two weeks ago, my grandpa died from lung cancer. He was such a good man, but I guess it was his time to go. My family and I prayed for him day and night, but I guess Jesus was ready for him to come home. I know he's not in as much pain now, and I know he's in a better place. The craziest thing about it all is that unbeknownst to any of us, grandpa had a secret inheritance of a million dollars that he left behind for us. Now, my family can afford to do all of the things we've always wanted to do. It turns out that Jesus knew the whole time what we really needed even when we didn't. Five days ago, my aunt Lorraine came home from the doctor and told us that she was officially cancer free. We were all so happy and overjoyed. I know in my heart that Jesus worked through the doctor's hands and the drugs to bring about a miracle recovery in her life. Isn't Jesus great? He truly is the great healer! Eight months ago, my wife and I celebrated our anniversary. We each drank a bottle of wine, and we had the most romantic and fun night of our life. There was candlelight, dinner, plenty of dancing, and lots of lovemaking afterwards. What a memory! That night revealed to me just why Jesus didn't mind turning the water into wine every once in awhile. Praise Jesus, the true vine and the creator of real mirth and joy! Four months ago, I met a poor sap who had a drinking problem. I invited him to my church recovery group, and now he is clean and sober. Jesus really did a miracle when he delivered that young man from the demon spirits that surround alcohol! A few weeks ago, I experienced a real miracle. I went to my mailbox and found a letter that was addressed to me with no return sender. I opened it up, and it contained five fresh one hundred dollar bills. It was the exact amount of money that I needed to pay my electric bill. I was so overjoyed. I'm so glad I told the members in my church to pray for my finances because Jesus sent me just the amount of money that I needed to keep the lights on. That day he showed me that he truly is the Giver of Light! Glory! Two and a half weeks ago my neighbors had their electricity shut off. I hated to see it happen to them, but in my heart, I understood why. The father of the family of four has been backsliding for some time now. He hasn't been to church in nearly a half a year. He can't really expect Jesus to reward him for that kind of behavior, now can he? I'm sure that Jesus is using this bad experience to teach him a lesson. Maybe he'll get his life right and come back to church! I'll be praying for him regularly - you can count on it! I looked in the mirror today and realized how strong and healthy I am. Jesus sure has taken good care of me. I know that I'm going to need my strength and health to participate in all of the work he has for me to do. For example, next week I'm helping to build our wonderful pastor a brand new house! Thank Jesus that I have the strength and the know-how to accomplish this huge task. I know that I couldn't do it without him. Yesterday, I ran into one of my old friends that I used to go to the gym with. I hadn't seen him in awhile, and I was shocked by how terrible he looked. He told me that he had been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and his health and strength was fading fast. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I gave him a big hug. I know that Jesus is using this terrible turn of events to teach him a lesson that he needs to learn. Maybe he needs to learn to not be so prideful? Or maybe he needs to learn to rely less on himself and more on Jesus? Either way, I'm going to be there for him because that is what Jesus would want me to do! ************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************* In case you missed it, the moral of this story is that Jesus didn't have a thing to do with any of the things I mentioned above. For many people, Christianity is nothing short of a live action role playing game in which each participant makes up the rules and the explanations for things as he or she goes along always being sure to fit the miraculous and powerful interventions of Jesus in when applicable. Now, to be clear, I'm not trying to make the point that a god, a higher power, a higher order, or a collective consciousness etc. doesn't exist. I don't claim to have enough knowledge to make those kinds of assertions. Maybe science will eventually figure it all out... or maybe not. It really doesn't matter. What I do know is that Christianity is a mind control game that saps its participants of their intellect, their common sense, and ultimately, their ability to clearly see the true nature of the lives that they lead in this world. There is nothing holy, sacred, or miraculous about any of it. Thanks for taking the time to read!
  44. 11 points
    I know several people who go to church and aren't terrible people. I guess you could be one too. That said...... "My mum starts crying and is genuinely upset I won't be in heaven and I can't deal with that." Well that's just too damn bad. What if she was upset because you aren't a Nazi or Scientologist? You are entitled to your own opinions and beliefs as an equal. Emotional manipulation is a primary tactic of those who would force you to agree with them. Don't fall for it. You are not the cause of their problem. You must be honest with yourself first and foremost before you can have any honest relationships. Do you want people to mistakenly love and respect the real you or a fake you? Obviously, people find unlimited opportunity for friends and activities outside of the church setting, so that's not an excuse. Show a little respect for yourself and others by being honest.
  45. 11 points
    Vigile, I cannot tell you how much this relates to something I have been going through in the past couple of years. I haven't been completely honest with Ex-c because I am so ashamed and embarrassed about 'coming back out into the sunlight' again. (I always feel that I have to be strong) But I wore those chains around my neck for years. The church had convinced me that I needed to be saved and that I had a personal god looking after my life and safety. The whole doctrine made me feel safe and I needed to feel safe because I came from a lot of dysfunction. Let's just sum it up without any gory details and say my childhood was not a completely safe place. As I just stated on another thread...at the age of 20, I was a 'sitting duck' for the doctrine of getting 'saved'. When the pastor told me that god had a very special plan for my life, I was naively hooked. After about 5 years of being on this board and writing here every day, I found I was hiding more and more in my house and making excuses for not going out into the big world. The big world became so scary to me knowing that I did not have the protection of any god. So I needed to protect myself from my own death and the only way I could do this was by staying as close to my 'safe' house as possible. I very slowly and without realizing it, became quite agoraphobic. I won't bore the board with all the details about my recovery from this.. but let's just say that every day right now, I am forcing myself to go further and further from my home. It's very hard to understand for some people how hard it is for me to go to the local grocery store. To drive to my little summer trailer is torture for me until I get there. But I am doing it and I am proud. We were financially strapped this year because my hubby was laid off for 5 months and we could not take a winter trip and I was soooo happy about this (not about him being laid off) but because it meant I did not have to worry about going away from my house on a winter trip. I literally became afraid of everything in the past 2 years. I couldn't even go for a walk around my neighborhood for fear of getting hit by a car or a hoodlum jumping out at me. I hope I don't regret writing this out and coming out of the closet with it. But I feel it's time to come clean. Deconversion and learning how to come out into 'sunlight' again has been very hard for me with my anxious personality. When I say on the board that forming a 'new world view' has been very hard, it is alllllll about those chains coming off of my neck and leaving the dark cave to go out into the light and learn how to feel safe again. When I say chritianity screwed up my life, it did in many ways that believers could never understand because they still have those 'smoke and mirror's' of the fantasy that they are protected by god. Last night we had company over and my girlfriend who has a very wise husband said something to me that hit home so much. (as they completely accept me as I am and they know my struggle because they were both once born again believers) He said, ''you only have to die once but this condition has me dying my death every day because I am not truly living.'' I am trying to control how I die. I know that's what I am doing. And I just can't do it anymore. I need to live again. Really live and not be afraid. I need to go back outside and take the chance that today I won't get hit by a car, I won't get in a car accident, I won't get shot in a mall by a lunatic, etc. Taking those chains off my neck has been one of the hardest things in the world for me. But I am going to fight to my death and learn how to live again. There, I'm out of the closet. I have tears in my eyes as I write this because it has been a roller-coaster ride. 7 years on this board to learn how to live again. So when people come here and write how afraid they are, I truly understand. Thank you for posting this today. The timing was perfect for me to make this admission. So today, I am going to force myself out into the sunlight. I will make this breakthrough and then try to help others who go through the same thing. I am determined. Thank you again, my friend. I think this condition (agoraphobia) describes the analogy you posted today so much. For an analogy like this to be created, it shows me that I am not alone. Thanks to everyone of you who have helped me just by being on this board and by being honest. Love to you all.
  46. 11 points
    Your story illustrates one of my favorite quotes: “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” ― Isaac Asimov Welcome to Ex-C! Hope to read more from you. I'm happy that a real-life parent/child relationship won out over an imaginary "friend".
  47. 10 points
    FYI I fancy myself a (very amateur) novelist, so I am honestly incapable of brevity… really sorry about the length of this Soooo, I wasn't raised in a super religious family, more a middle-of-the-line Catholic tradition. Christmas, Easter, weddings and funerals, that's about it. Which is weird, actually, because my father is an ex-priest! He maintains to this day that the only reason he left was that he fell in love with my mom (that's another story I should tell someday, it's adorable) and never understood why priests had to take a vow of chastity, but considering his lackadaisical take on faith, I think there's more to it. Not that I'll ever ask. Anyway, I'm the last of six kids, and all six of us were baptized, confirmed, and sent to all-boys or all-girls Catholic high schools. Not for the religious aspect - I can't even remember my parents ever talking to us about God and Jesus. I had a big children's Bible that I read a lot on my own, but that was about it. Religion just wasn't a big part of my parents' lives; instead they preached to us about science, critical thinking, and following your conscience. They taught that everyone, by virtue of being human, has a conscience, and that is the basis for all morality. So they sent us to Catholic school just for the academics, which, I will definitely admit, were amazing. I loved high school, despite being boy-deprived, and got the best education in the city for it. Not to mention, I finally learned the truth about Catholicism... See, in junior high I started playing the viola pretty seriously, so I joined my church's music group just to get more practice. Over the next five years I wound up going to church almost every week, and I became fairly religious, albeit only in a personal way; I didn’t subscribe to everything the priests said, and I never cared to “spread the word” (although I felt guilty about that sometimes). I never once believed in hell because, well, if hell existed, then my dad was definitely going there for breaking his priestly vows. Yet my dad was and is the most wonderful, gentle, selfless, kind person I've ever met, and if there's anyone who doesn't deserve an eternity of torture it's him. I decided long ago that any God who sent any person to hell - even Hitler - was a tyrant, and I was willing to go to hell myself just to stand up against him. So instead, I started to get really good at manipulating the religious teachings around me – those of every religion, Islam and Shintoism alike – to fit this quiet, personal, ecumenical faith of mine. Then I took a class called Theology of the Body. No joke. Basically, we went through the Catholic catechism and debated all the most controversial topics - particularly those surrounding the female body. (What a weird dichotomy, this attempt to mesh biblical misogyny with an all-girls college-prep curriculum. We literally went from this class, where we learned that contraception in any form is inherently evil, to Environmental Science across the hall, where we learned that contraception is the only way to prevent overpopulation and save the planet...) The one that got me the most was gay marriage because, as it happens, my older sister - the only "hero" I've ever had - came out to my family as gay that same month. But whatever, even then I could handle the dissonance, telling myself that people were just misusing the Bible and interpreting it differently, and all that really mattered was that you follow your God-given conscience. I still considered myself a strong Catholic, right up until our teacher - a woman who had "successfully" used Natural Family Planning and ended up with nine children, btw - lectured about how immoral it is to be an "a la carte" Catholic, a fake Catholic who picks the teachings they like and discards the rest: essentially, exactly what I was. Apparently, you must trust completely in the magisterium and the catechism, no matter how starkly your conscience disagrees. She went so far as to illustrate this point with her own struggle to understand the Church's teachings on embryos. (I never wasted my time to look this up, but according to her, the Church says that any frozen in-vitro embryo should be left to die naturally rather than be "unnaturally" implanted into a woman's body. That, despite all the Church's insistence that an embryo is alive, apparently if it is created "unnaturally" in the first place, it would be another sin to unnaturally help them live than to just let them die.) She could not fathom how that teaching was moral, but she expounded how virtuous she was for accepting it as truth anyway. I could not. This was the beginning of the end for me. Theology of the Body taught me, for the first time, what Catholicism – or any religion, though I wouldn’t admit that for a long time – really means… control of the body. Especially women’s bodies. Catholicism isn’t just faith in the Trinity, inspiration from the lives of Mary and the saints, and wise words from scholars of the Bible. It’s a fucking game based on a strict rulebook written by old, western men who have never even had the influence of women or people of another culture to wisen them. Well, I wasn't going to let someone call me fake for following my conscience, so I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not Catholic. At the same time, my family went through some shit, and I ended up with severe depression that has followed me ever since. In my depressed, youthful impulsivity, I graduated high school and decided to move 2000 miles across the country to Portland, OR for college, where I thought I would find a liberal non-denominational Christian community I could really feel I belonged in. God was I wrong. Somehow I wound up in this little pocket of conservatism that I didn't even know existed on the west coast, and fell into a group of cultish Evangelicals. Their campus club was called, with no iota of sarcasm, "Campus Crusade for Christ." I once mentioned that maybe an effort to convert modern youths would do well not to evoke war, medieval ignorance, and the slaying of infidels, but they just laughed that off. I mean, these people thought that the Bible was literal (before this I didn’t even know Biblical inerrancy was a thing), that drinking was a sin, that science was a sham, and that distance from Jesus was what caused mental health issues. Of course, I didn’t know all this at first. They were just a bunch of fun, silly kids like me – they did watch modern TV, after all, and make jokes and even cuss sometimes. And besides, I was lonely and seeking adventure, and these were the kids who were going spelunking and hiking every weekend. Slowly, over time, little things popped up. One: My first ever boyfriend broke up with me because I got drunk on New Year's Eve (he also wrote a silly blog post about not letting your girlfriend use you as a "ladder to Christ" when she's less pious than you, which hurt me a lot at the time). Afterward, when a friend invited me over for what I thought was a shit-on-boys, tub-of-ice-cream, 13-Going-On-30 type of night, she ended up missionizing me. (Which makes sense since she had actually spent eight or so years in Indonesia because her parents were missionaries... So she also had lots of backwards arguments and circular thinking that I just could not penetrate or even recognize at the time.) She told me that he was right to break up with me, that I should never have drunk because it's a sin, and that everything I believed about God was "illogical." That the only morality that exists in the world comes directly from the Bible, so if we didn't have the Bible, everyone would be raping and murdering nonstop. She told me, unblinkingly, that my beloved uncle, who gave me shelter and food for three years rent-free, was going to hell just because he was Muslim. The next day she took me to church, and as I stood for the Eucharist (or whatever those heathens called it), she stopped me and told me I couldn't take it because I wasn't a real Christian. Two: A bit later, I opened up to all of these friends in a Bible study night and told my religious "testimony." At the time, much of it surrounded my struggles with depression and finding a church community where I felt I fit in. A few days after that, a different friend invited me to Panera for what I thought was a white-girls-giggling-over-Pumpkin-Spice type of lunch. Instead, without wasting a goddamn minute, she asked what I believed about God and regurgitated everything the missionary girl had said. But here's the kicker: this one told me that the reason I have depression is because I don't have a good relationship with Jesus. Not only am I seeking help the wrong way by getting therapy and medicine, but I need help in the first place because I'm not a good enough Christian. Three: Another girl in our group came out as bisexual, and she had just met the woman of her dreams. One night she opened up to us all about how heartbroken she felt, how lonely and alienated, how unfair it seemed that God would give her true love and not allow her to have it. She wanted to be with this woman so badly, but didn't know what was right or wrong anymore. Well take a guess what everyone else said... "Obviously your feelings are wrong, you know you can't, God will provide, don't stray from the Word, it's a test, that woman was sent by Satan, blah fucking blah." I later took this girl aside and told her to ignore everyone else, because if God is love and what you feel for this woman is love, then it can't possibly be wrong. I don't think she heard me that night, but I certainly heard everyone else. Soon thereafter we had a camping trip, and everyone went around gushing about how welcome they always feel and how they're so lucky to have found this group where they truly belong. That's when it hit me like a fucking rock, after four whole wasted years: I wasn't one of them. I had never felt welcome because I had never belonged. I was just lonely and desperate and they were just waiting to win my soul. I went home after the camping trip and deleted every one of those fuckers off of Facebook and my phone contacts, and I haven't talked to them since. For a little while I tried to continue to be spiritual. But it gradually waned. I got a major in psychology and a minor in anthropology, where I learned about the neurological effects/causes of prayer and religious experience in the brain. Also that the neurons in our brains literally build highways, connections directly from one neuron to the next, such that a particular stimulus physically leads to a particular response - unless, over a time of being unused, that highway atrophies. And I think that's how thinking about God and religion works, why you're encouraged to pray every night and why traditions are so effective. It all seemed so mechanical now, so evolved, nothing mystical about it. My "Jesus highway" atrophied when I stopped hanging out with people who constantly talk about Jesus, and soon I stopped getting the same emotional response to prayer or mass or Biblical verses. Then I learned about a cave in France with a pseudo-religious burial of Neanderthals. A fucking family of Neanderthals was buried all facing one direction, all in the same position, with flowers and herbs by their side, suggesting their own belief in an afterlife. Not to mention the (roughly) 44,000 years of prehistoric human culture, and the Neanderthal and Denisovan DNA present in most modern humans. I mean, if all these "prehumans" were human enough to conceive of an afterlife and, in fact, are our greatx1500 grandparents, then at what point did God give us souls? Why us and not them? What makes Homo sapiens more special than Homo neanderthalis? My manipulations weren't working anymore. Finally I was able to look at the Bible as a piece of archaeological literature, at the cultures of the people of the time and the people prior, and understand how it all came together. Eventually I just said fuck it, I guess I'm not religious. I was comfortable for a long time with religions existing, as long as they didn't bother me personally. I figured if they help some people, good for them. Then I started dating my current boyfriend, a man who never stops analyzing and never accepts a fact at face value. His favorite music group is Bad Religion haha, and he's the first person I've ever talked to who openly admits that religion is a net negative influence on humanity. He slowly chipped at my indifference, encouraged me to question every belief and thought I have, and taught me to pay attention to the emotions that cloud my logic. What a man About a month ago he and I watched Religulous, with Bill Maher. I had another sudden realization: religions, by nature, are wrong. The very basis of faith is "believing without seeing," which is the opposite of science, the opposite of anything we know to actually be helpful in this life. Religions at their core urge people to forgo critical analysis, to forgo their own conscience, in favor of what someone says. That's the most absurd and tyrannical thing I've ever heard, masquerading successfully as the only morality in the world!! What the fuck?? I felt so stupid, so duped. I started looking up anti-religious arguments for the first time, to hone my thoughts and relieve a little bit of the anger, and voila. Here I am! I feel eased, mostly. I don't struggle with cognitive dissonance anymore, I don't worry about fitting my beliefs into the teachings of Christianity. I feel free to criticize, and everything makes sense now. I don't feel as lost as many of you, since my worldview hasn't actually changed too much. It's not like I ever thought Genesis was literal, or morality only came from the Bible. I never even believed in hell, just heaven - and that's the only thing that bothers me today. I spent 22 years believing I will get to meet my saintly grandma, being comforted with the idea that I won't really be saying goodbye when my parents inevitably pass (I was a very late "oops" baby, so their impending death has always been on my mind). My own death doesn't scare me in the least; I won't be aware of it. I just hate saying goodbye to others. But I'm coming to terms with death by thinking of life, every individual life, as a beautiful, complete story, one that would only be diminished by a sequel. That helps. Thanks for reading (if you got this far), and for being such a welcoming community. It's nice to actually belong I'm looking forward to some awesome conversations! [Side note, if you're interested: I recently did some Facebook stalking and, get this, the dude who broke up with me for drinking... he's now a bartender. The missionary chick is now a neuroscientist. The Panera girl got married and her pastor father gave a sermon at his own daughter's wedding about men being the head of the house and women being obedient to their husbands. And the girl who struggled with loving another woman? She has now been happily married to that woman for two years, and they have two kids. I couldn't make this shit up.]
  48. 10 points
    Wow, that was a rather lengthy way to say, "You were never a real Christian anyway." Thanks, because we never heard that one before. Thanks for playing!
  49. 10 points
    I guess this is the appropriate forum. Just thought I'd share something that matters quite a bit to me. I no longer get huge anxiety reactions from religious art and buildings. I'm able to enjoy very old churches and cathedrals for the architecture and the artworks inside, just this summer I've visited a few already outside service times and I am looking forward to more. I even attended a boring Lutheran service, and it was tolerable. I still won't subject myself to anything like Pentecostalism, no point in that for now. Plus they don't have nice buildings, not here at least. Also, it no longer makes me feel ill to know people pray, or maybe explore other religions, do tarot or astrology or whatever to enrich their lives a bit. I do still wish people didn't look for gurus to solve their life problems, but I don't have a problem with people who take responsibility of their own lives and don't trust religious experiences to affect their decision making. I find I can very well be atheist, in the sense that I don't believe any gods with actual personalities exist, but I can still feel an intense, beautiful connection with everything around me that lives. People, nature, trees, animals, near and far. I can imagine myself tapping into a some kind of "life energy" (for lack of a better word) that is in living beings and meditate on it, and feel it move through me and bring calmness and peace. Purely imaginary or not, I find it beneficial. In a way it feels close to how I felt as a theist, but it's very different in the sense that I don't expect, or really even want, anyone to walk in on me and be like "btw god told me this about your future" (which was one of my biggest continuous wishes as a believer). It's me and the other living things, here and now, doesn't need to be anything more. No seeing the future, no new strange explanations of the past. Just a feeling of being connected with the bigger picture and maybe, just maybe, finding new points of view to what is right now. After all the drama around my deconversion I was very scared to even think of anything spiritual, but slowly, with time, it seemed the invitation to get back to it came from the nature around me. My pet giant snails, funny as it is, were the first creatures to invite me to re-think my stance. That was maybe two years ago. I'd describe what happened but it seems a little ridiculous... but if anyone is curious I will elaborate when asked to. At the time I posted a couple posts here saying I'm drawn to "a bit of woo", not wanting to be serious about it, not sure what I was thinking and feeling, just carefully seeing if the experience would return. And it did, repeatedly. In conclusion, I suppose I've spent enough time in the extremes, both in religion and also a really stiff version of atheism that denies everything and pretty much thinks that something that is pure emotion is dangerous for its potential for mind control and bad decisions. I guess I needed to live through all of that. I do still have regrets about the religious extreme end, but I don't regret the stiff atheism even though it was kind of dull. I needed to throw away everything for a while and then slowly start carefully choosing what I really, really, really wanted to keep and what felt right, instead of the crazy headfirst dives into "EVERYTHING jesusy here for me!! I have no brakes at all WHEEEE! Tell me what my truth should be!!! it's all safe because jesus!!!" that I used to do. I'm not one to say anything about what anyone else should be, but I'm finding a ground that isn't extreme and makes my life a bit more beautiful and comforting. I took a long time to not feel stupid about it, but I'm now accepting that I can't live without beauty and nature, I need them around me and I must make choices that lead me closer to them. I can also very well celebrate my imagination and my busy mind, and use it to my own benefit instead of being afraid of it. And, very importantly, I'm learning to live a life that is my very own. A life where I'm the person who respects and loves me the most, who is the one to stand up for me, who doesn't need divine intervention. I'm learning that disagreement in itself is not a threat to my existence or a sign that I'm somehow worse than the next person. I'm learning that mutual respect means I can have a conversation with someone who disagrees with me, and we can debate, share our very differing thoughts, etc, and still no one gets furious or calls names, and everyone gets new food for thought. I'm finding me, slowly. And I'm not so bad after all.
  50. 10 points
    Proclaiming the flesh to be evil & sinful is a necessary component of religion. Establishing moral codes & behavior that is virtually impossible to comply with is essential. That makes believers forever at risk of eternal damnation & therefore dependent on the repentance/forgiveness process. That leads to an endless process of sinning, repentance, & forgiveness that is repetitive and ongoing through out the believers life. The key is to insure the believer can never be certain they are saved & that makes them dependent on Jesus & easy to control. The church must firmly establish that forsaking Jesus will lead to certain eternal damnation. And since the Church is Jesus Kingdom on earth forsaking the Church is the same as forsaking Jesus. Religion/Christianity has created an amazingly effective scheme to attract & retain believers & in the process the church obtains & retains a great deal of wealth too. It could be considered the most perfect con ever devised by humans.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.