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  1. Hi all. I don't think I've told my story in full here, so now is as good a time as any. It's fairly long, but thank you for reading in advance and I hope it helps somebody. My Story - From a pastors kid to an atheist. Religious History I was a Christian from birth for 32 1/2 years of my life. When I was born my parents were in a non denominational church which followed the teachings of a Pentecostal (Ex Baptist) divine healing preacher. Several years after I was born my parents left the church over doctrinal disagreements and started house meetings. This continued for some years with the group being a lose affiliation. After sometime my father felt the leading of the spirit to become the pastor of this small group and thus founded the church that would influence my entire adult life up to this point. Over the years the church dynamic has changed, but has maintained its basic identity as what is best described as a non denominational Christian church heavily influenced by the doctrine of the afore mentioned Pentecostal preacher. First Doubts While I would have never considered myself a very religious Christian e.g. I have never religiously read the bible or prayed every-single-day-without-a-beat. I did, however, whole heartedly believe in what the church taught. As I grew older and was exposed to the odd outside bits of information I became aware of worldviews and scientific facts that didn't correspond to my 'biblical reality'. However, for the most part I put these doubts aside. After a change in career and taking up university level study I was exposed to even more outside information. The first real cracks, however, were from inside the church, from the pastor in fact. For whatever reason we moved on from previously held beliefs about the divine healing preacher, and the 'truth' of what he said was questioned and overturned. An important note, the church still held he was a man of God, just not quite the Prophet we were for many years led to believe. This started a questioning in my mind of, well if we, or God, or the pastor was wrong about the 'Prophet' for all those years what else are we wrong about? This moving away and altering of doctrines occurred when I was about 21. I would once again put aside doubts and trust in God up until around October 2015 when I was 32. The Questioning In October 2015 the entire family would go on a cruise ship for a holiday. There was one particular day that was very rough, we were not allowed out on the upper decks so I went to the library. There I found and read a book by Z. Sitchin who proposed that ancient writings of the Sumerians about the Annunaki were telling actual events of an alien species that created humans long ago. Further research proved that Sitchin's assertions were largely incorrect, but it did let me know that there were ancient writings out there - writings that contained stories similar to the ones in the Bible. I got very interested in the Nephalim, the Annunaki, the planet Nibiru etc. and how they related to the Bible. If you have no idea what I'm talking about at this point, don't worry you are not missing out on much. This all lead me to a lot of researching and watching documentaries surrounding the subject. These didn't impact on my belief in God, because for the most part it was mumbo jumbo nonsense. What did happen however, as often happens with the internet these days, is I ended up watching some scientific documentaries about archaeology in regards to ancient Israel. As a believer I fully expected any archaeological documentary about Israel to confirm Biblical history, which I believed was the most accurate history of the earth as well as God's word to his chosen few. What I found really rocked me. As I now know, there is very little archaeological evidence to support anything in the Bible. The Debates Stage A few months after the cruise I started watching formal religious debates on youtube. The first debate I watched was an Intelligence Squared debate titled Is Islam a Religion of Peace with Ayaan Hirsi Ali debating against the motion. What was important about this debate was it opened up knowledge of another major religion and the method of critical thinking the debaters against the motion used. What applied here, if one was honest, should also apply to Christianity. This brought me to Christian vs Atheist debates. Frank Turek vs Christopher Hitchens debating Does God Exist would be the first of many, and introduced me to the powerhouse that was Christopher Hitchens. I would go on to watch many many debates, and over time noticed that when pushed for answers the Christians would fall back many a time to a logical fallacy. Special pleading, God of the gaps, begging the question, false dichotomies etc were employed time and again by Christians. As an interesting side note, it was this observation that would give me my current handle LogicalFallacy. Digging Deeper During this time I began to probe deeper looking for answers. The account in Genesis had been thrown into doubt so I looked at scientific explanations. I would discover that there was no scientific evidence for Noah's flood, or any archaeological or historical evidence for 2 million Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt. Furthermore calculations showing what would be necessary for some events recorded in the Bible to be real were staggeringly improbable. I came across questions I had never thought to ask. How much water would be required to cover the entire earth to the height of Mount Everest? How much water per day would be necessary for 2 million Hebrews in the desert? The answers to these cast even more doubt on the inerrancy of scripture. I also started studying ancient mythologies, discovering many similarities between both the stories told, and the development of the various religions around the world. At the later stage of my de-conversion process I would look into the history of the New Testament and Jesus. This would at the very least throw serious doubt as to whether what was recorded in the Bible actually happened. The Realisation (That I didn't believe) and De-Conversion At some point in May/June of 2016 while at work thinking about the information I came across I had a gut wrenching realisation that I no longer believed what was written in the Bible. My first thoughts were that in my search I had lost my faith and that the fault was mine. I became terrified that God would judge me for being an unbeliever and would punish me. At this point I was having something of a crisis of faith, I hadn't unequivocally lost my belief in God. I kept searching for answers, something that would provide information that would get my belief back. But the more I dug, the more I realised that there was no basis even for the New Testament. Very few Christian apologetics made any significant points that countered the growing evidence against the Bible. Peter Hitchens made a few great points during an Oxford debate that were not Bible based, but his own conviction, which up to that point I felt was one of the best arguments for Christianity. However Peter failed to make a strong case for God. Around September/October 2016, while still not having a solid opinion on all that I had learned, I accepted that I didn't believe the Bible, or God, the Devil, Angels, Demons, Heaven, or Hell. Not the Christian version, the Islamic version, the Hindi version or the Greek version. I concluded that they are all religions made up in the minds of humans, propagated via religious leaders to the masses who taught their children that their religion was the truth, the one true and only truth. Post De-Conversion This will naturally be an on going tale, but for this section, this is the immediate after affect, telling the family, and hopefully some enlightenment for those who find themselves in a similar position. Telling the family of my non belief and leaving the church was, I think, the hardest most painful thing I have ever done, and may ever have to do. What possibly didn't help was the fact I just told my parents over dinner. There were no hints or warnings or suspicion that I might be having doubts. Perhaps they were blind to it, because in my mind I thought I had laid in hints over the months that I was having doubts. Apparently this wasn't enough and my confession of apostasy was like a frag grenade going off. Some family members were quite hysterical, claiming they were having chest pains because of me as if their reaction was my fault. As I would later learn, this is a common defense mechanism to a challenge to dearly held beliefs. It was a rough few months, but as often happens time heals, or at least allows an acceptable existence. My family and I have largely come to the agreement that we don't discuss religious matters. They don't try and reconvert me, and I don't tell them why their beliefs are wrong. During this time I joined certain forums and support groups which helped immeasurably. For a person who had no decent contacts outside of the church group it was a lonely time and online communities helped ease the pain. As of writing I am still involved with various online groups and seek to help others. Like me, they having lost their faith and started their journey out of religion need support. I hope this story helps someone else on their journey out of religion as they realize they were not born a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, but that they were free born.
    11 points
  2. I’ve been reading on here on and off for the past 5 years or so. I finally joined so I guess I’ll introduce myself and try to keep it short so it doesn’t turn into my ex testimony. I’m in my early 40s. I grew up going to a Bible Church, which is where I met my husband as a teenager. He went to Bible college, we married and he became the pastor of that same church we grew up in. We had a couple of kids who are in their late teens now. I had always had doubts since childhood, I never told anyone. Instead of following those doubts, I tried to silence them. I knew that doubts equaled hell so I tried to convince myself I didn’t doubt. I threw myself into being a good Christian and lived a very moral life. I was living the pastors wife life, raising my kids as good little Christians. About 7 years ago I started to listen to the doubts, I followed them and they led me to atheism. For the next 5-6 years I lived not knowing what to do and feeling very trapped and conflicted. I truly did love my church itself and the people in it that had been like family to me my entire life. Church was my entire social network. I wasn’t sure if I should just keep my mouth shut and pretend or be honest and lose everything (including my husbands job and our families security) I felt that I couldn’t tell my kids because I didn’t want to confuse them during their early teen years. My husband had no idea. Eventually I told a couple of friends and finally my husband. That caused me to then have pressure from people who loved me and wanted me to be saved and go to heaven. For a few years I went back and forth with trying to believe again just to spare my loved ones that pain. About 2 years ago I came to the decision that I need to be who I am (an atheist) and if my “friends” will only accept me as a Christian that’s on them. Thankfully many of my friends have been supportive as has my husband. I told my kids 2 years ago and it’s actually made us closer as they realize I have struggles too, honesty has made our communication so much better. We did leave the church a few months back and that has been incredibly hard. I miss it so much. It has been my place that felt like home my entire life. I am grieving very much for my church. I feel such guilt because my husband was a good pastor and now he can’t do what he loves anymore. I’m sure I’ll share more in a testimony soon, but for now that’s my intro...
    10 points
  3. I came across a bullet point list of arguments for and against Christianity, so stealing that and adding my thoughts I came up with the speed list below. Of course complex arguments done in short hand will often miss points which people consider critical, but as a quick main point view I think it works. Are there others in either list that you consider strong or common enough to be worth including? Arguments For: Kalam Cosmological – “Everything has a creator”, weak because that is an unfounded assertion, we have only one example of a universe and nothing to compare to. Pascal’s wager – “Believe cos its better than not”, weak because you cannot force belief and there are so many thousands of beliefs that you cannot be sure the one you bet on is the right one. Moral Argument – “We know right and wrong, therefore god has told us”, weak because morals change over time and change between societies. Christian’s cannot agree on moral subjects, so any objective standard claimed it not even universal amongst believers. Fine tuning argument – “The universe works, therefore god made it work”, weak because we see chaos throughout the universe, we see a universe where life is impossible in the majority of space and we have no reason to believe the fundamental forces could change in any way. Prophecy fulfilment – “The bible has many confirmed prophecies, only possible if god did it”, weak when the prophecies claimed are fulfilled by later writings where the authors had full knowledge of the original. When the claims are looked at they either are mundane, vague or incorrect. Miracles as proof – “Miracles occur, therefore god must be causing them”, weak because testing shows prayer doesn’t work, Christian’s suffer from the same amounts of illness, accidents and death, and they have the same life expectancy as others in their country. Miracles cannot be summoned or shown, especially not in such obvious ways as the bible claimed were common. Design Argument – “Things work, therefore god designed them”, weak as we see examples of poor design in nature and in humans in particular. Designed from the start has to fight against the mountain of evidence for evolution. Watch maker argument – “Watches are created, therefore everything is created” weak because we instinctively know the difference between organic and inorganic things. We can see growth and change in nature and know that does not require external input to occur. Argument from Experience – “I felt god, therefore He is real” weak because no one else can feel what the claimant felt and because such claims of feeling the divine come from all competing, non-complimentary religions. Irreducible complexity – “Things are complex, therefore god made them”, weak because we can see in nature all stages of simple to complex for any such claimed structures. This relies heavily on incredulity rather than fact. Transcendental argument – “God is logic, logic exists, therefore god exists” weak because logic is simply a description of how things work, there is no problem with logic and reason fitting fine with a purely materialistic view. Everything doesn’t have to be physical, it just has to be natural. Ontological argument - "I can imagine god, therefore god exists", weak because it relies on making a jump from imagination to reality, simply due to existence being "greater" than non-existence, without defining "great" or explaining why existence must be a valid criteria. Arguments Against: The problem of evil/suffering – “Bad things happen, god is meant to care but doesn’t”, suffering is something we will all experience, it is something common throughout nature, but something which an all-powerful god could stop if he wished. Which bible? – “Christian’s cannot agree on which books, which translations and how to interpret it”, Catholic bible = 73 books, protestant bible = 66 books, Mormon = 69 books, orthodox bible = 79 books. Debate has raged for thousands of years and yet Christianity has not been able to come to a unified answer. Even within a denomination there are dozens of versions and translations. God's unchanging word... God’s Hiddenness – “He appears in the bible but won’t appear since”, Biblical claims of meeting god are common (burning bush, pillars of smoke, voice from the sky etc), while people able to perform miracles were claimed (Elijah’s test, calling fire from the sky on command). If god wanted us to know him then we would, we don’t, therefore claims of Him wanting a personal relationship are hard to believe. Hell doctrine – “Infinite torture for finite crimes”, A literal hell as often preached cannot be considered justice by any standard. If heaven is meant to be perfect, and yet you know loved ones are in constant torment, then heaven would be tainted by empathy and sadness. Christianity must be taught – “No one can come to Christianity without being taught”, it is a fact that you cannot come to Christianity without being told what to believe. It doesn’t spring up naturally in societies with no contact, instead you get mixed religions of spirits, polytheism and human worship. If no one taught Christianity it would cease to exist in one generation. Lack of physical evidence - “If the bible stories were true we would find the results”, There is in fact there is no sign of a global flood, of an mass exodus from Egypt, or a census or purges, no records of others seeing the miracles or gods communication, no sign of a physical ark of the covenant, Noah’s ark or the body of Jesus. Prayer doesn’t work – “If god answered prayers we could all know Him by asking”, most studies show prayer does nothing or at best a placebo effect. Asking god to show Himself, as millions have done, has resulted in silence. Prayers for health and healing go unanswered. Christ’s sacrifice – “God sacrificed himself to himself so that He wouldn’t apply the law He wrote and will judge”, the sacrifice of Jesus makes little sense if you are claiming god is all-powerful. He has no need to put on a show, to kill anyone or do anything. The claim the sacrifice was both necessary and good, flies in the face of god having full control in any way He wishes. Competing religions – “There are tens of thousands of religions, they can’t all be right but they all can be wrong”, there are so many religions, all with ideas that are non-compatible with each other. No matter which answer was correct, the majority of the world’s population must be wrong. Those people will know with certainly they are correct and would die to defend their particular belief. God is not necessary – “Any claimed positive attribute of Christianity can be seen outside of it”, if God is the source of love, morals and truth, then those away from that source should not have those features. Yet we see non-religious, or other religions showing the same morals, empathy, respect, and love. We see the non-religious living long, happy, fulfilled lives. Being great parents, giving their time and resources to help others and making the world a better place. You can be good without god, you can be moral without god and you can live with joy and love without god. The contradiction of biblical violence - "Jesus says "love thy neighbour", "turn the other cheek" and "do unto others", while old testament god says "kill everyone, man, woman and child, including their animals"", The glaring contradiction between the war god of the old testament and the pacifist god of the new testament is hard to reconcile. Indiscriminate acts of genocide does not mesh with "do unto others".
    10 points
  4. I came here with an earlier account as a Christian. I read articles on the ex Christian website and later joined the forum. I had a different screen name, my own name, but paranoia caused me to ask florduh to delete the account for me. In retrospect it was irrational paranoia. I didn't know I could have changed my name without creating a new account. I went in and out of hypomania, mania, and depression. My medication was inadequate. I drove everybody crazy. I had a fear of hell and the Christian god. I started reading more about the inadeqacy of the bible. I read a lot of literature criticizing and debunking the Bible. But every time the manias returned I heard good and evil voices of demons, angels and God. I saw visions, understood the meaning of the holy toungues I spoke. I was overwhelmed and reverted to Christianity. People on here were kind enough to answer my questions. This site was much busier. A lot of members. Vigorous debate. I became a deist, then an agnostic, then an agnostic atheist. I realise the psychoses were made by my own mind and not by supernatural entites. This took some time. But the mania came again and again and I was derailed. I could be Christian one moment and atheist the next. I tried to convert people on this site and was not banned once. The people here were understanding. I obtained better medication. The voices were gone. I realized my mind was responsible for the auditory and visual halucinations. I read more and debunked parts of the bible. I am now stable. I adjust my antipsychotic medicine whenever I feel a coming mania. I am a content agnostic atheist and my beliefs suit a healthy mind. I am free of religion and content. Thank you ex-c.
    10 points
  5. Hey everyone! User and moderator TABA reached out to me over social media and invited me to join this forum. I've perused a few threads here and I like what I'm seeing. This seems like a great community. A bit about me: I spent the majority of my life so far in a non-denominational evangelical church, but it had a Baptist lean due to the culture here in my Bible Belt town. I deconverted quite a while ago (it all started when I resolved to read the Bible all the way through), went through the pain, recovered, and now live a pretty awesome life on the other side of religion. In early 2019 I was reflecting on my years spent in religion and my subsequent deconversion. Something compelled me to do some googling and I found a handful of online communities, podcasts, and resources that focused on the deconstruction process. Many of these didn't exist yet when I went through my own deconstruction, and the ones that did I hadn't found, so I had gone through my own deconversion mostly on my own. As I spent more time in these communities, I saw a lot of pain. It resonated with me deeply. It reminded me of what I went through myself. I realized that I had a lot to add to these discussions that was borne from my own direct experience, so I started writing... Today I run a deconversion blog and have released a book written for those that have recently deconverted and are looking to rebuild their lives. Both of these resources focus primarily on men. I'm looking forward to jumping into the quality discussions on this forum. See y'all around! - The Deconverted Man
    10 points
  6. Hello, dearest Ex-C friends! I logged in the other day and responded to a few posts, I was so happy to see some familiar names and received a few messages of greeting from some old friends. For those of you I have not met or interacted with, this post will hopefully bring you some hope, peace, and encouragement. Here is my original post, so long ago. I have had years now to really sift through my upbringing and some of the lasting scars I will carry with me because of the brand of Christianity that was imposed on me. Everyone here was right, it gets so much better! If you are where I was so long ago, take comfort that it does get better if you stick with it. It is completely normal to face all kinds of stress and physiologically anxious symptoms over the bizarre things you might have been taught and "time heals all wounds." I KNOW how much you might want to rush things, but you just can't force it and that's completely okay. Just breathe. Here are some thoughts and advice from my experience that you are welcome to take, if interested. So. I'll give y'all an update from the post above and then I'll share some things I've learned along the way. Sorry in advance if this is long, I've always been wordy and I'm not about to stop now, HA! You don't have to read it! Now that I am on the other side of some serious shit, I am SO GRATEFUL that I was raised by that well-to-do lawyer. Since starting my deconversion, I have owned my beliefs wherever they may lead, held to being myself, and insisted on my own right to my life long enough that my parents have just accepted that "my faith walk is my own." I told them that they were welcome to pray for me, but that it was not Christian of them to try to speak for God or tell me what was or was not God's plan for me, I used their language and assumptions against them, my mama taught me that. My mom has even started to change now, she will make disparaging comments about how women are treated in the church and I think she might be in a place I was four years ago but with so much more to lose. It almost seems as though she believes she has made her bed and now must lie in it, but I have no way of knowing that. Either way, suffice it to say, I bet my mama did NOT think that pairing heavy Christian indoctrination with homeschooling and learning to think for myself and argue like an attorney would bite her in the ass so hard. I haven't feared hell in years, but I have known "hell" on this earth and I have also known "heaven." Make heaven for yourselves, y'all, no need to wait for another life after this one for which you aren't guaranteed. I am reminded of the parable of the talents....the person who was given the least amount of talents buried them in the ground and was punished. Same goes for Christians. For those of you who remember that I wanted to make my parents proud, I continued to work at my main 9-5 job and started decorated cookies on the side, opened a little business for a couple years and everything. My parents voiced how proud they were of me many times, I think they had their own growth to do and recognizing my right to my life was part of it for them too. For those of you who remember that I was very worried about my marriage, Mr. ag_NO_stic has renounced Christianity for some time now and we are both in a very good place and happily married. We celebrated 5 years this past year and are finally in a good place to begin discussing children and how we want to raise them. My terror over child-rearing is almost gone, I have gotten to a point where I realized how controlling it was to strongly fear "how a child would end up," we just need to provide love, safety, encouragement, and discipline.....my future children will make their own mistakes. Mr. ag_NO_stic and I have had battles of control over the years, both of us being taught that wifey needs to submit was NOT an easy thing to take on....long fights, unkind words slung, tears....we never brought up divorce though, we love each other and fought all the bullshit through it....we've battled unemployment, death of a friend our age, political perspective changes, debt, financial hardships, only one car in the middle of COVID (particularly shitty), I'm getting ready to close my little decorated cookie business I started......what a crazy journey it has been. We never gave up, though I have cried myself to sleep many nights now, and I have grown exponentially as a person, I feel like a truly gritty motherfucker. Y'all watch me take over the world now, mwaahahaaa. What's more, I respect myself and own my failures. Mr. ag_NO-stic and I both "died to ourselves" and our egos (funny, right?) and have learned how to put each other before ourselves of our own volition, making it a truly beautiful relationship. I found love, y'all. I will be sure to keep you in the loop with children, they are certainly on the horizon and it's a crazy thing to behold. I know there are many atheists on this site; all of you have my respect and I celebrate that you have made a life for yourselves and foraged your own happiness. You will not find me trying to discourage you in your individual pursuits of truth. That being said, I have always been up front about thinking "something" is out there and I still do, I just don't try to label it, speak for it, or force it on others. This has worked well for me, most people don't care too much as long as you do you and don't try to force yourself on them. One can forsake a brand of Christianity or a particular religion and still be very content with the spiritual aspect of our lives, if you choose to see it that way. The reason I say this: it can be easy to leave Christianity and try to force yourself into the opposite camp and feel just as out of place by those who don't believe in anything. Don't force yourself, there is no pressure here! Whatever you're inclined to believe, you have perfectly valid reasons, just seek after truth and challenge your own beliefs, if you want to. People all over the world and all throughout history have given the mystery of "something out there," various names. You're not weird for sensing something and you're not weird if you don't. We're all different. If anyone wants to talk with me more about this and is not comfortable on the public forum, DM me, please. Here's my advice: 1) Get comfortable in your skin, with who you really are, and start taking care of yourself the way you need to. I had NO awareness of myself, as in who I am, in the way others could see me, because I was just a sinner in my own view. I had "died to my flesh," and thought that almost everything about me was sin, I spent so much time seeking after God that I NEVER FULLY REALIZED that I am the only one who has to deal with my body, my choices, beliefs, etc for the rest of the time I'm alive. I never got to know WHO I AM or really realized that some of my quirks, preferences, and thoughts were ME, as silly as that sounds. You, the one who wakes up in the morning, are in control. I like to refer to it is as your soul, others prefer consciousness, it's whatever you're comfortable with. In a job you hate? Quit! Or OWN that you are choosing to stay for the reasons you see fit. Don't like your appearance? Get a hair cut you like, lose or gain the weight if you want to, buy clothes you like, create a routine you like, choose things you like. You choose what to do with the life you have, you choose how to respond to irritating or hurtful things, you have the say in if someone is going to hurt your feelings or not, and some of your painful sufferings in life are due to some decisions you've made. Own that, grieve the injustices committed against you (however long that takes,) and move forward not taking other people's shit anymore. Look around you, at others, and YOU DECIDE whose advice you take or what to believe. Who gives a RAT'S ASS what some other human thinks, they've got all their own issues and are just as clueless as you! We're all winging it, own your voice and your life! 2) No one is going to take care of everything for you or make you feel whole except you. Sure, people can try to help. They might hug you, say it's going to be okay, buy you dinner. The religious try to say ______ has a plan and to just obey or to find identity in a certain deity, others throw themselves into work and think money will fix it, others say it's family that will take care of you so live for them, others say the government as long as you give up whatever freedoms, others say a spouse or friend as long as you make them happy...... NO. You can be spiritually alive, yes. You can have a wonderful family or spouse, yes. You can have whatever opinions about politics, yes. You can seek after money or work and be rich, yes, you can find identity in whatever label you want, but there will be both rewards and consequences for your choices, no matter what you choose. You will have to sacrifice something, whether it's yourself or others, a dream, a current habit, etc. Weigh these decisions carefully. With your newfound freedom comes a heavy responsibility and the will to do right by what's important to you. You're also free to choose to stay trapped and "safe," but will your life be wasted by the end of it? 3) Go out and live, y'all, we have AMAZING SIGHTS to see on this earth and there are all kinds of things to do. I can't afford to go travel and see the all of the world just yet, but it's free to take a walk around a neighborhood or in a park and look at all there is to see. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy being alive for every minute you have it, and go look at beautiful things, listen to beautiful sounds, taste amazing foods, smell amazing smells, experience this life fully. The bad gives meaning to the good, the colors around you only have meaning because of the other colors. Go out and meet amazing people, learn to knit or bake or write fancy calligraphy or make furniture, give someone a compliment, smoke a joint, drop the F bomb, have amazing sex, get a little tipsy, cook an amazing meal or go and camp on the beach, laugh a lot, cry a lot, get good and mad, allow yourself to be disgusted by the things that disgust you, embrace feeling scared or safe. If someone judges you for that, fuck 'em. You don't want to be on your deathbed, whenever that may be, and wish you had done these things when you no longer have that opportunity. Live. Laugh. Love. (I have never seen that movie, but now I want to......) Love y'all, thanks for everything, it's going to be okay! Just breathe and take this life one step at a time towards your goals.
    10 points
  7. Finally admitted this week to myself and to my church that I can no longer call myself a Christian. Been a few years in the making and was a huge sense of relief when I just admitted it to myself; daunting to admit it to others though. The lockdown here in the UK during covid and the separation from going to church gave me the space I needed to see what is important to me. Seems the answer after two years of not praying and only reading the Bible where it crosses my interests is that what is important to me isn’t God. More a case of being interested in religion rather than being religious. Any attendance at church has been more about peer pressure for a few years now than actually a desire to be there. Feels somewhat like breaking up a relationship though when thinking of the people I know. Not exactly bouncing with joy about it, but convinced it is the right decision Currently tutoring some people on the Greek of the New Testament. Luckily both groups decided to stick it out when I told them and gave them the chance to drop me. All friends have been really good so far, so that is a relief. Family aren’t religious so no issues on that front. Anyway, I hope the use of a reformed theologians name as my username isn’t a sign of apostasy from my reluctant agnosticism
    9 points
  8. The standard Christian view of an afterlife consisting of Heaven or Hell is absolutely wrong, I have no doubt about that. Some kind of existence beyond the grave is of course possible, though I've seen no evidence. I like the Alan Watts take on "spiritual" matters, it seems reasonable and even makes sense in its own way, though again, no evidence. As I said in SeaJay's thread, I see two possibilities: 1) Die and just cease to exist and there is no one around to realize it, no problem. 2) We are an expression of All That Is and the real us can never die. Again, no problem. Being the only animal with a sense of mortality has its perks and drawbacks as well! Being in my 70s with a Stage 4 cancer I can relate to the concept of mortality. Honestly, it doesn't bother me because I had a great life. Everything must die, so how big a deal can it be?
    9 points
  9. Weird how so many of these later-in-life conversion stories center around some kind of physical, natural, or emotional disaster. It's never, "I was just driving along I-85 southbound near Spartanburg when suddenly jesus himself appeared and was seen by 17 passenger cars, 3 tractor trailers, a crew of inmates cleaning the shoulders, and one highway patrolman who was hiding in the median." No. Instead it's, "Well, I was out back humping the dog when I heard a big 'whoosh bang' and when I looked up a tornado had took my house away. So I called sister down at the strip club to tell her but her sugar daddy had beat her and left her for dead. And as I sat there beside her in the hospital, struggling to breathe, a preacher man showed up and led me to jesus. Now I know I'll see my sister again in heaven; and that preacher man even married me and the dog so we're no longer humping in sin."
    9 points
  10. Quote: Agnostic...... Due to the limited capability to understand the incomprehensible, being skeptical seems to be the natural way to approach reality.'' Your post is so interesting. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that all out. It so reminds me of my posts when I joined here many years ago. My head spun for wanting answers.....I drove Ex-c crazy. Lol ''Somebody, tell me what the fuck is up? Who do I believe? Who am I?'' ''Is Christianity true or not''? When the new agers say you can live in a different dimension, I lived there for 5-8 good years. I felt as if I had left my body and someone else stepped in but I didn't know who? After questioning the fuck out of everything I could watch read and post here, I was able to finally breathe at some point, throw my hands up and surrender to the fact that, ''I just don't know''. I love being here in this head space because I don't have to fight with anyone, try to be right, prove anything, etc.... I am who I am and I still don't know who that is! I have a dark side and a good side and now a very inquisitive side. And I love to laugh. It's seems staying agnostic is the best option for me. I don't really even care to label myself but that word is a better match for my personality. If someone's asks me who was behind the Big Bang, I say, 'I don't know'. Sometimes I even say, 'I don't understand'. It's a beautiful surrender for me. So, If I feel like studying witchcraft for an evening to see if anything makes sense, I do it. I laugh, I giggle, I say what a bunch of crap but I'm always open. If I feel like watching a documentary on evolution, I watch it. I love to read history. I love to learn from everything and I won't apologize to anyone for that. It's who I am. I listen to philosophers and I learn and stay open. But I also love to listen to astrologers. Lol I'm just so open to everything. It's all for my entertainment. I live to learn. But I don't look for anyone to convince me of anything anymore. I simply can now say, ''this is interesting'' and listen to everyone's point of view. At the end of the day, I take the good things that I learn and try to be a better person and I throw out anything that doesn't resonate with my personality.. I wish you much joy in your journey! Don't stress out. It will all come over time. Have fun with it all! Big (hug)
    9 points
  11. Hey, so I’ve been wanting to post here for awhile, and I’m still kind of confused on how to post in what sections as a new member, but here I am! I’m kind of nervous, but I guess I’ll just go ahead. I’m in my early twenties and last year I officially left Christianity. I grew up conservative and homeschooled in the southern United States, and I graduated college almost two years ago. Three years ago I almost killed my self for a lot of reasons, but one of them was hating myself for being bisexual. I’ve known since I was about 11 that I was bisexual, at least in the loosest understanding of the word. Growing up in Christianity I always felt like there was something wrong with me for that fact. Something deeply, darkly wrong with me. I guess a more specific version of how every sinner really feels, right? My Mom used to tell me no one deserved anything other than Death, Hell, and the Grave and I always really hated that. But I still believed in God, in Jesus. I really did believe. I went on mission trips in high school, even in college. I shared the gospel, I went to a liberal arts college and had lots of discussions with people “different than me” and still believed. I’m not sure exactly what made me really begin to let myself doubt, but a lot of things in my head started to change after I almost killed myself. I started to care less about pretending to be something I wasn’t. About two years ago I got to a point where in the back of my head I knew that I couldn’t go forward pretending my sexuality didn’t exist. I had a thought that this was the point that I was going to go all in or all out with Christianity. So I started to do research. I started out researching Christians who said Homosexuality actually wasn’t wrong according to the Bible. I looked into this Greek word versus that one, and this translation versus that minor or major difference. I listened to “ex gay” Christians and I listened to “gay” Christians. I listened to “same sex attracted celibate” Christians. I soon came to realize there was just a lot of subjectivity there. I realized people will write entire books on a one word difference that may or may not be true. And create entire seminary classes on why a “lifestyle” is wrong because a group of men a really long time ago agreed on it. So that may be why I started to question Christianity, but it’s not why I am why I am today. Because from my findings at the time, for me, I surmised that the Bible did in fact condemn homosexuality. And with where I was in my life, I didn’t know how to reconcile that with Christianity. Let me also say that this first process was still very painful. I felt like I was having to make a decision whether part of my identity was valid or not based on 30 different scholars who knew nothing about me. So I made another decision. I decided to do a deep dive research into Christianity. No holds barred let all the doubts in. I think this part was the most painful. I let myself feel the doubts and horror I had always felt about the concept of Hell and why other people had to be sent there if they were “good people”. I researched the concept and history of Hell. I let myself scream and cry at the idea of a God who would torture people like that for eternity. I researched contradictions in the Bible. I researched “fulfilled prophecies” and “signs of the end times” validity. I listened to Ex Christians. I listened to Atheists and people who left religion. I listened to ex Mormons, ex Jehovah’s Witnesses, ex Muslims, ex Evangelical Fundamentalists like I guess I was. I read testimonies on here. I studied The Lions Den. During all of this time my mind was churning and breaking apart a little. There was a lot of cognitive dissonance. Most of my close friends are committed Christians. Most of my family is as well. I was terrified to come out of the closet in two different ways. Agnostic/atheist or whatever I was becoming and coming out as Bisexual. I told a few close friends about being bisexual when I was in the Greek research phase, and they just told me to be careful that it didn’t affect my faith. I mean hey, we see how that turned out. When I fully began to acknowledge to myself that I didn’t believe in Christianity anymore, I didn’t tell anyone for awhile. I didn’t know who to tell. I told my brother and sister and they reacted pretty well. My brother is still kind of Christian but not super fundamentalist. My sister is kind of agnostic, she’s gone through the stages of progressive Christianity and I don’t think she’s super committed to the idea of Christianity. I came out to her in both ways and she just shrugged and told me to get a better job and I needed my own health insurance by now. She said she didn’t care about any of that other stuff. I told a couple of my Christian friends and they reacted how I thought they would, they said me saying that I wasn’t a Christian anymore scared them, but of course they were still my friends. And since then we have been, because besides that they are good friends and they have been there for me through a lot. But I’m honestly not interested in talking with them, or “debating” with them about it. I told my parents about being Bi and leaving Christianity around the holidays and although they reacted better than I thought, there was still plenty of tears and yelling. I apologized to my Mom for hurting her feelings for one instance and she burst out crying, saying how could I even know I was wrong if I left Christianity? How could I have any sense of objective morality now? I was stunned, and I fully realize the problems with what she said, and I tried to explain them to her, that plenty of people have morality without Christianity, and that religion doesn’t have a baseline on right and wrong, but she wouldn’t hear it. I then realized that this is how Christians see other people. That is how I saw other people not in Christianity. I thought they could do good things, sure, but there was still something off about them to me. Could they really be capable of good without Jesus? In Christianity, when someone does “wrong” or “commits a sin” they’re “covered by grace”. But if a non believer does it, well they’re evil and of the world. We shouldn’t have expected any better. But when Christians commit sin and fall it just means we’re not perfect and we’re trying to be through Jesus. I’m realizing how nonsensical so much of Christianity really is. My parents listened to Evangelist Ravi Zacharias a lot growing up, and although he passed away recently, some things came out about him in the past few months about sexual assault allegations and misconduct. In fact it was his own organization that looked into the allegations after his death. They released a report and in that report it detailed how Ravi had nude photos of his masseuses. There were messages on his phone, payments he made to keep his victims quiet. Accounts from many women who said he touched them inappropriately. What got me was many Christians were surprised by this. And even more, how many just refused to believe it, even with all the evidence laid out in front of them. But I wasn’t surprised. I knew people in the Church covered up things like this all the time. But it was interesting to me, because I remember some of the messages Ravi used to say. “Secret sin will find you out” being one he would say constantly. I know it’s hard to admit when someone you looked up to falls. I guess especially if you’re not used to admitting you’re wrong, about anything. It’s hard to admit you’re wrong. I think in part, that’s why so many stay Christians when they have so much doubt. I’d also like to add that although I love my parents, and I do love them dearly, they did things throughout my childhood that I now view as abusive. I’m an adult now. I’ve been in therapy for four years now. I’m 24. But my Dad threw me on the ground when I was a kid and it knocked the wind out of me. They tied me up with duct tape when I was an early teenager and laughed at me because I talked back (something they say they don’t remember doing). My Dad has punched holes in our walls. If I was clenching my fists while my Dad was spanking me, he would keep spanking me until I wasn’t “angry” so I wouldn’t have a “rebellious” spirit. My older sister got the brunt of a lot of it, and my brother maybe got less of it than I did. But it for sure messed all of us up. My parents have cried and said they’re so sorry for all of it. And I do believe them. And they are doing better. They’re trying, at least on that front. But it still doesn’t erase the damage. It’s hard to explain that to them. I also know they are the way that they are because of their parents. Their parents abused them in some ways as well. It’s hard realizing this, because I love my grandparents and they love me. My grandpa pushed my Dad down some pretty steep stairs when he was a teenager. My Dad still doesn’t see that as abuse and says he deserves it because he was talking back. So I see the cycles, I do and it hurts. I see Christianity as one of those cycles as well. And I want to break it. I lost my Grandma last year to cancer, my Mom’s mom, and that was hard for me to reconcile with leaving Christianity. Because while Hell is such an awful idea, Heaven to me was such a nice and dear one for so long. I used to have dreams about it as a kid. We were pretty close and I wanted to be able to see her again. Letting go of that was hard, and I still have trouble with it sometimes. Then I remind myself that while Heaven may not exist and while there may not be anything after this, that makes this life so much sweeter. Plus it is so much better than believing in a tortuous eternity for anyone. I guess I’m not exactly sure where I fall now. Maybe agnostic, maybe on the way to atheism. All I know for sure is that I’m not a Christian anymore. And although my life is still hard, I feel a lot better about myself in so many ways. But I do still struggle with some things. For a long time when contradictions would happen, such as when I would be praying if I should go to a certain college, and someone would talk to me about that college and I would think “oh thanks God.” Or if I hadn’t eaten lunch at work and someone brought donuts I would think “wow thanks for providing for me God”. When I almost killed myself and I reached out for help when I needed it afterwards, I thought: “Wow God you really are there for me”. I’m realizing now that that, was actually just all me and other people. Not to sound full of myself, but realizing that it was actually just me being that strong has been comforting. I still struggle with praying sometimes as a comfort measure, and maybe that will take time to fade. I still struggle with the thought that maybe I’m wrong about all of this, and sometimes even a fear of hell, and maybe that takes time to fade as well. I know this was a lot but if there’s one thing I know about this website it’s that long posts seem to be okay here haha. That’s most of my story, and I just wanted to reach out and say hello. I also wanted to ask: - What helped you with these doubts when you first really acknowledged Christianity was bullshit? - Are there any resources you would recommend? Authors? Books? I’m really not interested in debating or talking about Christianity, or why I’m wrong with my Christian friends and family right now. The little bit I’ve done has been exhausting and I just flat out don’t want to engage in it right now with them. I guess I don’t owe it to them anyway. If anyone tries to talk to me about why Christianity is right and I’m wrong I’m just going to say I don’t want to talk about it or leave. I don’t feel ready to argue or debate and I don’t really want to. That’s okay, right? I don’t want to talk about these things all of the time or hear about my mortal soul on the road to decay for the 100th time. Or hear how owning up to my bisexuality makes me an abomination. I’m just sick of it. And I am at the beginning of this, I guess I am on the younger side. So we’ll see how I feel about in ten years. Right now though I just want to be able to live my life. I’m not out to everyone I want to be on both fronts, but it’s getting to the point where I just don’t care who knows anymore. But it is kind of ostracizing. And I do miss the community that I had at church. I guess regardless I’m here now. - Fairly Sunny
    8 points
  12. Hi. First, I want to say that I'm tired as I'm writing this and my grasp on scripture might not be the most accurate. And that my post might be a little all over the place. Hopefully I'm not annoying any of you with a generic de-conversion story. I stopped by ex.christian.net years ago, back when I was still tied to my faith. Initially, I basically held nothing but contempt for you guys. And I guess I'd like to go ahead and apologize for that. Truth is, I never really was a devout Christian. Or, at least not until sometime around last year. When the lockdowns started I fell deep down the conspiracy rabbit hole. I started watching Info Wars and some miscellaneous stuff on Bitchute. I used to talk about it with my grandparents and my mom often, mainly because they were heavily engrossed in Qanon and I wanted them to stop believing that lunacy (in retrospect, it's pretty bad when even Alex Jones thinks it's too crazy). afterwards I decided Info Wars wasn't "true" enough and began subscribing to a bunch of channels on YouTube that introduced me to Gematria and further fueled my eventual meltdown. After a while, it all started to take a toll on me, and I began living in constant fear. So, I started praying more and reading my Bible, trying to get closer to God. I started watching sermons and other videos, and subscribed to several Christian channels. I bought a new KJV because I wasn't comfortable with just the NKJV anymore. Some days before my sister's wedding, I took a bunch of theology books from the free book table at their church (which I never read, I feel awful for taking them). I even stopped talking to my friends on Discord for a while because I was told to "come out and be separate". As far as I knew, I was getting on the right path. I took note of the commandments and tried to follow them. And then there were some things I didn't get. (Luke 14:26) Why do I have to hate my entire family and myself? I did look this up a good bit, and most people seemed to agree that you're not literally supposed to hate your family, simply love Jesus more than them. But while doing this I came across a rather jarring example that went something like, "If God told you to crash your car into a tree with your family, would you do it?" Was "yes" supposed to be the right answer? What the hell!? I reasoned reasoned against this psychotic question with, "no, because God doesn't order people to commit acts of murder". HOO BOY. Something that really got me was the whole concept of "death to self". At first, I assumed this meant the sinful self. But, as I looked that up, I came to know that wasn't the case. "Dying to self" means self-denial to the core, including your own personality. Now, self-denial isn't a concept exclusive to Christianity at all. But I was taught growing up that God created me with my personality, that I was "one-of-a-kind". "God made you special!" as VeggieTales always put it. And now I'm being told that my personality, my interests, my hobbies, my sense of self, are sinful, that I must "put them on an alter and kill them". I must sell everything I have and become a monk, to store up for treasures in Heaven. But why would I even want to go to Heaven if I have to sacrifice everything else to get there? To see my family? Apparently, you have to be absolutely perfect to get to Heaven anyway, which most Christians, my family included, didn't believe. So they probably weren't going to be there anyway. I can only imagine maybe three of my great grandparents being up there, not many else. And even if we were all up there, what's the point? Christian Heaven sounds like an eternal worship service. But the straw that broke the camel's back (well, less of a straw and more of an anvil) was reading about the genocides of in OT. Particularly, the Amalekites. (1 Samuel 15:3) Wasn't God supposed to love and protect children? Aren't they precious in his eyes? Did they have to go as far as slaughtering the infants? Since I started de-converting, though I've gotten better, I'm still slightly afraid of Hell, and absolutely terrified of the Bible prophesy. New World Order, mark of the beast, all that stuff. My mom drilled that into my head starting as young as 7 or 8. And it doesn't help that it's the only thing my grandmother ever talks about anymore. One night, my sister came to visit, the family stayed over and we all had dinner together. Grandmother was talking about the illuminati and the antichrist over steak. Lovely. My siblings didn't like that either, though. I think my dad actually put that best: "You keep worrying about all that mess and it'll eat you up." Also, I'm aware that you guys have a section on coming out, but I've thought over the possible outcomes, and I just can't do it. My grandparents would undoubtable despise me for the rest of their lives, my mom would have her heart shattered and pray over me constantly, and my siblings and my dad, though I do think they'd keep contact with me, would still worry and probably try to convert me back. I hate lying about being a Christian, but it's better than ruining my bond with my family. So, how can I get better at faking it? Anyway, that's about all I had to say. Glad I could get this off my chest.
    8 points
  13. We all sincerely believed that a zombie was going to save us from the consequences of a rib-woman eating magical fruit at the behest of a talking snake. What could possibly be more embarrassing?
    8 points
  14. I used to believe that even the strongest atheists fear God and hell, when I was a Christian. I am now an agnostic atheist and I don't fear the supposed hell and the Christian god. It is for real believe me. Dawkins doesn't lose sleep over God and hell. He might however lose sleep over the effects of the story of hell and God on millions of innocents like you.
    8 points
  15. Hello allI wasn’t sure where to post this so I hope it is ok here. I have been (though see below) a Christian for about 30 years (I am 53, today actually), and I am terrified of hell (specifically, the lake of fire). I have wanted to leave Christianity because the last 10+ years have been terrible. Not every day, but enough that I had to do something. The anxiety is literally ruining my life and I can’t cope with it. I was happy being a Christian, but then, I thought I had blasphemed the Holy Spirit back in November 2010. I just thought up a bad thought/image for no apparent reason - what therapists might call an 'Intrusive Thought'. After that, as I say, it all changed for me and Christianity became a fearful thing. On the 15th July 2021, I had a therapy session and I said to the therapist, when I first got into Christianity, I didn’t know it was true, but I decided to become a Christian for various reasons. If you had put a gun to my head and said “tell me what you really believe”, and you knew whether or not I would be lying, I would have admitted I did not think Christianity was true – but hoped it was. Today I realise, I still think Christianity probably isn’t true, only, instead of thinking, “Christianity probably isn't true - but I hope it is”, I now think “Christianity probably isn't true - but I fear it is.” Then it struck me - if that's the case - I have never really believed it was true. Truth is, I really do not know, either way. I really do not know if it is true, and I really do not know if it is not true. But I think it probably is not true. Even if all my anxiety was removed for a minute, so that it would not influence my thinking, this is what I would honestly think. I never wanted any of this. I was once a happy Christian, with the hope of an afterlife. Over the years I ended up being a member of two churches (at different times of course), and I read the Bible a couple of times, studied the Bible on my own, studied as part of a midweek church group, and I prayed and tried to live a Christian life. But the anxiety has been so bad I reached the point where I felt I could not carry on like this; the suffering was simply too much. Just to clarify, I am not really saying it is definitely not true. I can’t make that claim (just like I cannot say it definitely is true). I think I’m saying deep down, I mean, really deep down, when it comes to it, I honestly don’t know – but I think it’s probably not true. Here is the salient part: If that is how I really think, if that is what I really believe (and I think it is), and God exists, then God already knew this before even I realised it. I might have been able to hide the fact from myself but I never did nor ever could hide it from God. In that respect, seeing as God already knows this, there is no longer any point pretending things are different. God already knew and knows I think Christianity probably isn't true. I am not sure what happens next, but I do feel a bit better. That said, I also feel anxious, sometimes, quite a bit anxious. But I cannot deny what I believe any longer. Having done a little research, I think I would be classed as an Agnostic-Atheist. And guess what? I now find myself worrying Islam might be true. I am serious. If there actually is a God, I hope they understand that I am sorry it came to this (as I said earlier, there was a time I was happy as a Christian). I could not take the anxiety anymore. I persevered for over 10 years. But in the end it was too much. I hope this gets easier.
    7 points
  16. Welcome to Ex-C! What do we believe...hmmm...let me see. As a group we individually believe lots of things; Taoism, Buddhism, Deism, Norse and Celtic religious practice, a couple of witches here and some Nihilists and Dudeists. Many claim to be atheists or agnostics. It's what we no longer believe that draws us together. We have not found compelling evidence for Christianity and find much to be desired in the historicity of it's holy book. Many have had a rather harmful traumatic history with the religion and others simply can't reconcile the beliefs with demonstrable reality as in historical records, archaeology, physics and science in general. Does that help?
    7 points
  17. You are projecting your own phobia onto others and insisting it is real. I have no fear of Zeus, Odin, Ra, Allah, Spiderman, Freddy Krueger, or any other imaginary person/being. I know that it can be hard to distinguish between reality and a strongly felt phobia, but there are doctors who can help you if you seek help. We can't cure you, only keep reminding you and showing you evidence. But deeply ingrained fears sometimes take medications and a caring guide to reset. That isn't a slam, it is simply the reality of brain chemistry.
    7 points
  18. I was born in September of 1976, in the USSR, Kiev City that now is the capital of Ukraine. I’m the oldest of my 3 siblings. 1970s were the years of Christian persecution. I don’t remember the 70s much, but I do remember mid 1980s, with Gorbachev coming into power as the time of more freedoms for the Christians, especially the late 1980s that saw public preaching in the streets. As fate would have it, my parents were very active in the Evangelical Baptist church. My dad was very close with the Senior Pastor and my mom sang in the choir. Those of you from the US may not appreciate the church life in the Soviet Union compared to the US. Church in the USSR was a church on steroid. We are talking a typical of four services a week, each service being close to the 2 hours in length. There were two services on Sunday (AM and PM) and two services during the week. However, if you were a choir or a band member you would have to attend practices that typically took place during the other days, when there was no church. So the church literally consumed your life, in addition to your job and other activities. Unlike the American church, where the pastor preaches the only sermon for the service, the Soviet Baptist church service included at least 4 sermons by various lay preachers. Neither the pastors nor preachers had a formal education, not everyone was a skilled orator but that didn’t matter. Disciples of Jesus were also not very educated. This resulted in everyone, including kids that were present during the service to learn about doctrines that are probably buffered here in the US, doctrines like eternal hell punishment for everyone who disobeys God, a very confusing doctrine of salvation (i.e. what’s required to be saved? Repent? Believe? Be baptized, do good works, etc…?). So I remember my childhood as being fearful. Fearful of God’s wrath, eternal punishment, fear of committing an unpardonable sin, adultery (yep, looking at women was a sin). And much of this theological understanding came from my own processing of information. My dad was busy at his job, providing for his family, putting food on our table, and also spending lots of time in the church. He didn’t really have time for us kids, except maybe to discipline us (discipline was spanking, and, lets just say …I was very disciplined). So, religion was associated with fear for me. I developed OCD like symptoms where I’d stop at random places and pray for God to forgive me. There was no security of salvation for me. God was judging my every thoughts and deeds and punishing me eternally, if I were to die before repenting of my sins. IMMIGRATION In the summer of 1991, we were fortunate enough to be granted a refugee status and immigrate to the US. We came as refugees due to religious persecution we experienced. Coming to the US was a very joyful experience for me. I would escape the atheist Soviet Union and immigrate to the Christian US that has been so richly blessed by God. I was around 15 years old, soaking in the English language along with listening to the Christian radio stations, mostly the Moody radio, that I listened to virtually non-stop, soaking in sermons from preachers like Dr Tony Evans, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, Dr Jeremiah, etc… A common theme among these preachers was eternal security for the believer. This subject gave me a little bit of a reprieve until I realized that the eternal security is not uniformly supported by the Bible passages. IMMIGRANT CHURCH IN AMERICA Although we were an immigrants in the US, we did not join an American church. We joined a fellow immigrant community that welcomed us with open arms. Most of these older immigrants arrived here after WWII and so became a bit Americanized, but my dad’s immigration changed them back. Instead of 1 Bible reading and 1 sermon, we were at 2 sermons on a Sunday AM service and 2 sermons in the Sunday PM service. There was one weekly service with 2 sermons. As I grew older, I started preaching in my church. Most of my sermons were ideas gathered from the Moody radio preachers. Before Sunday AM Service, we had an adult Bible study (apprx 45 mins) which basically allowed for theological debate/arguments back and forth. It’s during these debates that I have obtained experience and knowledge about issues with eternal security. I’d go back home and study the “problem” passages, usually struggling in the process as any doubts would bring me back to the turbulent times of my childhood. I remember thinking to myself..”Why did God not provide a clear path out of Hell? Why do we need to study the Bible and dig for answers?” The final straw for me, against the Eternal Security view, came with realization that Bible clearly shows a God who is changing one’s mind. He’d make a promise and then renege on it. The clearest one is 1 Samuel 2:30 “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I really did say that your house and your ancestor’s house would serve me forever.’ But now the Lord says, ‘May it never be! For I will honor those who honor me, but those who despise me will be cursed! If you go to the original promise that was given to Phineas, Numbers 25: 10 The Lord spoke to Moses: 11 “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites, when he manifested such zeal for my sake among them, so that I did not consume the Israelites in my zeal. 12 Therefore, announce: ‘I am going to give to him my covenant of peace. 13 So it will be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of a permanent priesthood, because he has been zealous for his God, and has made atonement for the Israelites.’” And then later the Lord went back on his promise, saying that behavior is pretty important too. So a promise that had no conditions ended up having a condition. This left me shaken in my assurance and I started looking at the Bible differently, as a book written by humans rather than a consistent being. And it brought back the fear of Hell and feelings of uncertainty that were so familiar to me from my childhood. FINAL STRAW As part of my Christian life, I would strike up conversations with people, mostly at work about their faith. I wasn’t an overzealous preacher but was genuinely interested in why people believed what they did. I had some very good conversations with my Muslim co-workers and I was amazed at how sure they were about the existence of their God (Allah) who was a false God in my worldview! A good friend of mine was someone who was an Agnostic but who was brought up in the Hindu tradition. During one of my conversations with him about Jesus and evidence for the Resurrection, he pointed me to a www.GodIsImaginary.com website. He asked me to address the arguments. And I was floored after viewing that site. It summarized in a very logical fashion why God of the Bible cannot be a true and living God. This was the final straw for me. Coupled with my doubts and fears, I remember feeling a bit liberated at the realization that God is imaginary. MY LIFE NOW I wish I could say that all is well with my soul. Life has thrown a few curve balls at me, including a diagnosis that made me face a a real possibility of death. My Christian family has risen up to encourage my return to the faith and I am returning to the familiar feeling of uncertainty and fear about death. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. I am now convinced that our psyche is responsible for these fears and our mind is very creative in being able to come up with reasons to keep us suffering. So the fear of Hell is now replaced with existential dread, and fear of stopping existing. This is something I’m still working through and hope to get better at with time.
    7 points
  19. Hey everyone, I know I told you all from the beginning that My oldest son was atheist, which ended up finalizing my own deconversion. But last year his brother also denounced Christianity. He had been going to church but there was alot about the churches teachings that bothered him. Especially the teachings against homosexuality. He isn't homosexual himself but his brother is bi and he has a lot of friends that are. I talked to him a lot about the things I was seeing concerning the Bible. I'm glad he is getting out now and not wasting a good portion of life on it. The weird thing is I was the one who baptized him after he "recieved salvation". Seems like forever ago now...... in another life lol. Dark Bishop
    7 points
  20. Hey everyone, Well I like to check in from time to time. I really should be more active but I do good to keep up with my ever changing life the past couple of years. This ones gonna be a bit of a bummer. As you all know Lady Bishop and I have had a rocky road of things, especially after I deconverted. The past two years we have dealt with major illness, deaths in the family, and of course covid 19 like everyone else. We are officially filing for divorce. Its not all because of our religious differences but its probably one of the biggest issues in recent years. It set us apart on a very deep level. We started our relationship as Christians and I was a preacher who ended up being ordained a bishop. She was raised in church and her grandfather who was a preacher is an anchor in her life. Things just haven't been the same. I guess its for the best...... but it still hurts. Even tho this event in my life has forever altered and changed my path, I still would not change it. I no longer have a fear of hell. Reality makes more sense than religious nonsense. My eyes are open. At the same time depression is real. Believe me I feel it. A lot of people that may read this may have similar issues. Maybe its friends, spouse, family, or co-workers. This path, as enlightening as it is, can be difficult. Every person has their own path to walk. Even if the road gets rough, keep walking. Eventually new friends will come along, new romantic prospects will come along, your life will begin to change, and eventually you'll recreate your life outside of religious oppression. And you will be better for it. Best of all you will be you, and not what some archaic theology dictates. Best regards, Dark Bishop
    7 points
  21. That's kind of a weird argument to make. Those same Judeo-Christian values, while static in the book, have been wholesale reinterpreted to meet the whims of the society. You should ask them to clarify which values exactly? Western Society has included these very specific religious gems: The Inquisition Indulgences (sold for hundreds of years) The Crusades Salem Witch Trials European Wars of religion (30 years war among others) And the Professor's inclusion: Divine Right Manifest Destiny Your questioner needs to clarify which values for which period of time they are referencing - since these values are anything but set in stone. To make their argument work they would need a comparison of non-Judeo-Christian and pre-Christian societies to determine if the lack of their value set would indeed make society worse off. If they agree . . . and I assume they must, that even past versions of the Judeo-Christian tradition made society worse off, then you're not actually discussing Judeo-Christian morals at all, but the currently in vogue morals that have been retrofitted to the Bible. It's an incredibly weak argument.
    7 points
  22. I think the only real unknown is what happens to consciousness. Personally, I'm okay with being rid of this body that seems to be having more problems with each passing day. I even look forward to not having to constantly struggle to keep the thoughts of my ADHA addled brain in check. But the quintessential "me"... well, I'd miss having him around. He's funny, creative, quick-witted, kind and giving, and would feel absolutely terrible about leaving anybody behind. Like Florduh said, everything changes; but maybe the "real" doesn't pass completely. Maybe it just changes into something new. Maybe all those things that make "me" will live on in my sons and the others I've loved. Maybe I'll be aware of it and maybe I won't. But I am aware of the possibility, which makes me want to be the best "me" I can be right now.
    6 points
  23. Hey guys, I’ve been thinking and feeling a lot lately and wanted to share some of it. I know a lot of this has probably already been said by others on here and that’s okay, I’m just sharing my experiences and what I’ve realized since leaving Christianity. I play piano, and it’s actually been helpful for my deconversion process to just get my thoughts out there with music and singing/yelling sometimes haha. So I think my belief and trust in Jesus was the last to leave. Because that used to be comforting to me and even after I stopped believing in the Bible like I used to and realizing that hell didn’t exist, etc, I still clung to that. I clung to the idea of a plan for my life and that I could trust in Jesus to be there for me and love me no matter what. I used to to think that feeling everything so much and hurting so much on the inside meant that I was closer to God and I was experiencing what God felt for us, his compassion, his hurt, all his pain for humanity. I thought by feeling that it meant I was becoming like Jesus. All things to all people. I thought I had to be all things to all people and it was really exhausting. Looking back it was a lot of not knowing how to regulate my emotions, trauma, combined with a little bit of undiagnosed ADHD. But I’ve been calling myself an ex Christian for sure all the way since about last October. Almost a year. It’s still raw sometimes and I know it’s a process, but every day I’m so glad I’m not in it anymore. The guilt, the manipulation, the lies, the fear, and so much more. It outweighs all the good I got from it. I miss the community sometimes, the feeling of security from thinking there was a plan for me, the peace I would occasionally get from a “God” feeling, but I don’t miss the devastating shame, the horrifying fear, the pettiness of which sins were worse than others even though they’re all supposed to be the “same”, and the feeling of never being enough. That’s something too I’ve realized. You’re never enough in Christianity. It’s supposed to be fine, because God is enough and he covered you and you shouldn’t feel guilty, at least that’s what you’re told at first. But you can never read your Bible enough. You can never pray enough. You can never “share the gospel” or “witness enough. You can never worship enough. You’re broken and you raise your hands to pray for forgiveness for your sins and you feel so dirty and dark and just wrong. For a moment of peace you feel 100 nights of guilt and shame. God can never have enough glory, he can never have enough lives, enough suffering, enough of you. It’s a cycle of shame that never ends. It just keeps going, and you keep praying, and keep sinning, and asking for forgiveness, and feeling close to God, and feeling far, so far. And over and over and over again. You really don’t see it when you’re in it but it’s so sickening from the outside. The lengths you have to go to to justify so much. I was okay with being killed and tortured for the gospel at 8. I thought I was going to be killed at any time for Jesus. We were taught what to say and do if an armed gunman came into church or anywhere and asked us to deny the gospel. Because that was super likely to happen in the United States, particularly the south, I’m rolling my eyes thinking about it but I was terrified as a kid. I was so okay with dying from such a young age. I read and heard stories of families being tortured and killed in front of a father or mother to try and get them to deny God and Jesus and them refusing, and my father or mother nodding along, sometimes teary eyed, because if that’s what it took, then that’s what it took to be faithful to God. That is so messed up. Years of toxic purity culture and being blamed for the lust of men and teenaged boys. Time after time “should she have been wearing that” and “she was asking for it wasn’t she?” In the same breath as praying for safety and health for their own wives and daughters. Teenage boys were told they shouldn’t marry a woman who was raped because she “wasn’t pure”. Girls and boys were made guilty for assaults that may have happened when they were in diapers, for anything and everything that made them “impure”. I know people are just people, and Christianity is technically no different from other groups in that it can have really good people and really bad people, but Christianity also enables certain things. Certain types of people and certain types of behavior. There’s a reason why abusers, rapists, manipulators, liars, and sociopaths flock to Christianity. Because it so often enables them and lets them get away with so much. Look at the Duggar family. Since I grew up homeschooled they were praised a lot. Look at how they treated the oldest brother who assaulted his sister. Sent him to someone’s house to “get better”. The parents, especially the Dad, were and are so controlling. That’s not good for any child to grow up under. I’ve actually found a lot of helpful people and information to help me with all of this online, here and other places, and through social media. Weirdly enough through Tik Tok. There’s a surprising amount of ex Christians on that app and it’s helped me to process immensely. I stopped caring as much who knew I wasn’t a Christian anymore, and while I’ve had some hard and hurtful conversations, I’ve also received more support and understanding from people I’ve known a while who are in similar places now. It’s caused some great conversations to happen and it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one out there. I wish I could get more of my friends and family to leave, to really see the manipulation and the lies, but I know I can’t do that. I can’t make people want to doubt. That’s something they’re going to have to do on their own. It’s hard, like with my parents? I honestly don’t think they would know who they were if not for Christianity. And that makes me so sad. But it’s been their whole lives. Who would they even be without it? What kind of identity would they have? I know it’s possible and I’m not giving up on the hope that maybe one day they’ll realize, but I can’t actively try to convince them to leave, it’s too hard and it doesn’t work. I’m so much more content and even though some things in my life are hard I still feel so much better. So much more free. I’m still learning a lot and researching a lot but it’s at my own pace, I don’t feel like my eternal salvation depends on it. I appreciate you guys a lot and thanks for being here and for listening. P.S. do you have to have a certain amount of posts to be able to react or like posts? I’m a little confused on that. I want to like so many things on here but I can’t haha.
    6 points
  24. My ex christian beliefs are as follows in 10 simple points, each of which has been the focus of one debate / discussion or another around here: 1 ) I believe that all religions are man made social constructs geared towards politicizing ancient mythology and folklore. 2 ) I believe that no one really knows with certainty the answer to the question of origins or destination. 3 ) I believe that the bible is demonstrably false from the outset as a guide to the truth of the universe or the human condition. 4 ) I believe that anything basing itself on the assumption that the bible is true is automatically false, as the bible is demonstrably false. 5 ) I believe that morality is an evolved concept which continues to evolve and has never been static or handed down from on high. 6 ) I believe that the morality of the biblical writings is long since outdated and mostly irrelevant to modern society. 7 ) I believe that modern scholarship has revealed the truth about the biblical writings and the evolving theistic concepts contained therein. 8 ) I believe that it's both intellectually honest and well intended to expose what truths can be demonstrated about the bible and christianity, through counter apologetics. 9 ) I believe that as painful as it may be at times, it's ultimately for the greater good that christianity and similar religions are losing membership and declining into the future under the weight of their own growing lack of relevance. 10 ) I believe that humanity doesn't need organized religions in the contemporary period in order for people to do what's right, be decent, and get along according the standards of modern society. What do you believe????
    6 points
  25. Haven't been on these forums in awhile, thought I'd login just for the hell of it. Glad to see the site is still around and acting as a resource for those in need. Also, congratulations everyone in the US we avoided a complete fascist theocratic take over of the Republican party and we're poised to make it through this pandemic, it's been a fucking crazy past few years. Cheers to everyone here at the Ex-C forums, stay strong and never stop questioning!
    6 points
  26. Yes. My deconversion was a brutal, four year long catastrophe. Although I am better for having had the experience, I would not wish it on anyone else. In retrospect, I can honestly say that I did not have the strength, fortitude, or wherewithal to endure such a struggle. I think I only survived it out of stubbornness and defiance. You are where you are, dude. Learn to live there and don't worry so much about getting to some other "place" in life.
    6 points
  27. Well it's simple Dear Religious person. The reason we don't just shut up is best illustrated by the true story below that is happening as we speak. Most countries, including the US have a thing called the separation of Church and State. Well kinda, in the UK the Church of England still has massive state privileges, and in the US... well it's the land of the religious shitshow. I do apologise on behalf of NZ for sending Ray Comfort to you. However, lets both agree that the religious nutbags over there deserved Mr Banana man. As part of this separation of Church and state teachers in public funded schools are not allowed to espouse personal religious opinions or beliefs. Currently in West Virginia an Atheist youtuber and his family have been run out of the state because they made a complaint to the school that got the teacher fired. The complaint was that during health class she would, by her own admission, teach her personal Christian views on morality and sex etc. The Ex-C folks here will know exactly what I'm talking about, and we aren't talking wishy washy "love everybody" LA style Christianity, we are talking fundamentalist sex talk. The largely religious community found out who made the complaint, and cue harassment of the atheist and the child who made the complaint. Threats of violence have been issued - things like "lets beat him up in the street to teach him respect". If you thought the days of harassment, and death threats against atheists ended with the age of enlightenment I've got news for you. It hasn't. So we speak out. We call bullshit when we see it. Some of us can do so at will without personal costs to ourselves. Others, as the story above shows, will face considerable costs for speaking out against religion in order to uphold constitutional rights, and will see the 'peace loving' Christians turn into an angry, violent mob. That is why we can't just shut up. Religion attempts to control every aspect of our lives. If we give it an inch in the public sector it will take the whole country. Religion is for the person and in their places of worship. I don't march into your churches, so don't walk up to me in the street and tell me I'm going to hell. Or on the internet for that matter. I had a guy complain the other day on this very thing because I dared to respond to a Christian who decided to start preaching. You start your religious nonsense in a public space and its on my brother, my sister. Glo-ray to Gaawwd!
    6 points
  28. Yesterday I made an introduction, so I guess today I’ll share my long walk away from Christianity. I grew up going to a Bible Church, it was all I had ever known. When I was about 5/6 I got “saved” by this I mean it was explained to our children’s church class that those who believe in Jesus will go to a wonderful place with streets of gold and mansions when we die and those who don’t believe will go to a place of eternal fire and pain and suffering. There wasn’t much of a choice involved, what young child would choose the place of pain over being rich? The entire “decision” was based on appealing to our greed I realize now looking back. As a small child I just naturally believed whatever trusted adults told me. I grew up in a safe environment and it was easy to trust and believe the adults in my life, I had no bad experiences to cause me to do anything but trust. I really couldn’t even understand why “believing” in god was even a question. That seemed like a very easy way to go to heaven. Of course I believed in him, the adults in my life told me he was real! Life was good until one day when I was about 8 and I simply realized, while I was coloring in my coloring book and contemplating life, that Santa wasn’t real. I was thinking of how he traveled the entire world in one night and visited every house and I just suddenly knew it was impossible. I asked my dad about this. He denied it and said that of course Santa was real and he was magic and that’s how he could do things that weren’t actually possible. I wanted to believe it so badly because I loved Santa but I just COULDN’T. I KNEW Santa couldn’t possibly exist. I thought my dad was pretty stupid to be an adult and not be able to figure this out when I was a kid and I put it together. A few days later my mom had a talk with me and explained that Santa wasn’t real. She told me that my dad knew this too, which made me feel much better about my dad’s intelligence I said to her “the Easter bunny and tooth fairy aren’t real either are they?” She said no. The question in my mind was gods not real either is he? But I somehow KNEW not to ask this, I knew it would upset her. Now I was terrified. I doubted gods existence, I didn’t fully believe in him, now I was going to hell. I stayed in this place of horror for 30 years. You may wonder why I feared hell if I didn’t believe god existed. The thing is I thought that god and the Bible were probably true, like 99% sure, but I wasn't totally and completely convinced of his existence and so I was sure I was going to burn in hell. I was terrified and I told no one. I was so afraid that anyone would find out. I threw myself into being the perfect Christian. I was always the number one verse memorizer in our Awana program. I stayed out of trouble and always did the right thing as I grew up. I never drank or partied or did anything bad. I thought if god was pleased with me maybe he’d take away my doubt. I begged god to take away my doubt. Nothing ever happened. I was terrified that the rapture would come. I remember watching the thief in the night movies in utter fear that this WAS my future. I always thought the rapture would happen on a Sunday morning at church and I’d suddenly be the only person in the building. I thought through the route I’d take to walk home on side streets since I couldn’t walk on the highway. I made a mental note to get my moms keys out of her purse before I left so I could get in the house. When I was a teen we got a new pastor and his son was about my age. We started dating. I never told him. We married and he went to Bible college to become a pastor too. I still never told him. I kept waiting for that moment when I would finally hear something that would take away all my doubt and I would fully believe. I never planned on ever having anyone know about this period of doubting. I was going to get past it and I would be the only one who ever knew I went through it. We had a couple of kids, my husband ended up being the assistant pastor at the church we grew up in. It was wonderful. We had both sides of our family there and all our friends who had been family all our lives. I loved it there and I was so glad to raise my kids in the big family atmosphere. It was my entire social structure. About 7 years ago (2013) I came to really understand the doctrine of predestination (think along the lines of MacArthur & Piper). I suddenly realized why I had always been plagued with doubts and never been “allowed” to believe. I wasn’t chosen! I would never hear anything that would suddenly take my doubt away because god had purposefully put that doubt there because he hadn’t chosen me. I can’t even explain how dark this was and how hard it hit. For a full month I lived believing that this was the absolute truth. Somehow I managed to be ok. I still lived my life, went to church. If you would have seen me during that month I appeared totally fine, but inside I was screaming. I didn’t know what to do, there was NOTHING I could do, absolutely nothing. This was my fate. I kind of came to terms with it. I decided to enjoy my life as much as possible since I knew my eternity was going to suck. After about a month I think my mind just had to find an escape. A thought started to form. The thought terrified me. It took me several more weeks to even allow myself to think it through fully. The thought was this...what if god really isn’t real? The thought that had terrified me for 30 years was now comforting me. If god wasn’t real then hell wasn’t real and I didn’t have to go there! I felt real comfort and peace for the first time! This was wonderful! God isn’t real, there is no eternal punishment. I can simply live my life and then cease to exist! But now for the first time the life I lived (as a Christian and as a pastors wife) was now at odds with my belief and I now had a whole other problem. How could I be an atheist and a pastors wife? I determined that I would simply never tell anyone and continue to live just as I always had. Obviously that didn’t work out...I’ll come back and fill in more later, but for now I feel like I’ve been typing forever! If you’ve read this far, thank you!!
    6 points
  29. Many would consider there are TWO entertainment centers, like putting an arcade next to a movie theater. But that's none of my business...
    6 points
  30. "Sin" is willfully and deliberately violating "God's will." It's nonsense. It's still a good idea to behave responsibly and try to do the best you can when interacting with others in real life. Intention counts for more than imagined technicalities.
    6 points
  31. Hey. We probably aren’t supposed to say our real names on here so I won’t lol. For some months, I’ve been wanting to leave Christianity but the fear of hell has held me back. I get cautious of so many things being a sin and it has made my life miserable. I just want to be a “normal” teen and enjoy life again but this “what if I’m wrong and I made the wrong choice” thing is always here with me. Hell is scary to say the least and I don’t want to end up there. Hopefully this miserable stage will pass…I’d like to learn more about the origins of the Old Testament, New Testament, Hell, and Christianity itself. If anyone has any advice/recommendations/links they can put some if they want.
    6 points
  32. I'll try to keep to some sort of structure, but my style is as messy as my life and this may not all make sense. I warn any readers ahead of time, mine was a painful journey, mixed with abuse and brainwashing and abusive brainwashing. But I'm here because I dearly need a community and if sharing my story fosters that, then here goes! I was born to be a scapegoat. In case you are not familiar with the term, there is an old jewish practice of symbolically transferring the sins of a community onto a goat with a red thread/ribbon/string tied to it. The goat would then carry off the sins to be cleansed. I've heard different versions, but some say the thread would turn white as the goat wandered, others say people would push the poor animal off a cliff. Anyway, that is the role I served in my family. It wasn't something said out loud, no one told me that's what I was. Just, as the unwanted second daughter, that's how my dad decided to treat me. Whatever happened that he didn't like or inconvenienced him was blamed on me. If my sister did something, I got the blame. If something went wrong with the house, it was my fault. No evidence needed. It was my fault because someone needed to bear the burden and I got picked. I didn't grow up being taught religion, I grew up living in a religious nightmare as a cursed being. My family were odd among christians. We believed in christ and the trinity, but we rejected any holidays with pagan roots and would leave churches if they weren't "in the word" enough. My mom came to believe in god through a messianic jewish congregation. To her any church that rejects the jewish roots of christianity is in error. My dad really just likes to be right, and the more people he can lord over with his righteousness the better. Imagine someone like Ben Shapiro, but likes to argue with toddlers to make them feel bad and inflate his ego. I've been "debated" into accepting my own utter worthlessness many times. Had my dad been more charismatic, I'm certain he'd have his own cult. Even through all that oppressive darkness, I had this will in me to be myself no matter what. No matter how much I was beaten, tormented, or told I was worthless and dishonest, I knew if I could just keep that little bit in me alive and safe until I turned 18, I'd be ok. And then the best thing ever happened. My parents divorced, mom got custody, and I didn't have to spend all day being told I cost too much to feed. Even though my mom was definitely the more religious of my parents, she cared about people. To her it wasn't an act. With her, I could just be her daughter instead of a scapegoat. For the first time in my life I was free to just be a kid. I was 11 and I finally got to be a kid. I didn't really know how, but I sure tried! It still took me years to free myself from my dad's programming. I didn't stop seeing him altogether until I turned 18 and chose to stop visitation. Leaving my beliefs behind took a long time. I didn't want to stop believing in god just because I was so abused. In my mind, my dad was violating scripture. He was a bad steward of his family. The abuse we endured was against god's plan for family. So I clung to a messianic christ. Anytime abuses within the church would come to light I would blame it on the church forgetting their roots and criticize their rejection of a jewish jesus. Over time it was my love of science that led me naturally into the light of reason. It took years of curiosity leading me to evidence based truth, but I made it. I still struggle with some things my dad said, but I know life can only get better. Ok, so whether you find that inspiring or depressing or morbidly fascinating, thanks for reading it. It feels good to get it out.
    6 points
  33. Hi all, I'm glad I found this site and have been reading some posts the past few days. I usually never post online as I'm a very private person, but I had a revelation on Monday that Christianity is false and actually leads people astray and causes them to waste their money, time and the only life they have. Warning: this is really rambly because I'm writing on my phone and no space to organize. Sorry. So I got sick and had to "stay home" from work, i.e. not log in haha. And I never read the news much (too depressing), but ever since covid-19, I have read the news, mostly cnn.com because it's free, almost every day. I felt that I had to know the status of the virus in my area, the changing air quality due to fires and then finally the U.S. election and then the insurrection riot. I was always astounded by the denial of the religious right of obvious truths like Trump abuses power, covid-19 is real, the election was absent of fraud and climate change is real. And they would repeat weird arguments that had no basis in reality. You could always tell they got the argument from someone else, they didn't seem to think for themselves. The QAnon stuff was also disturbing. I asked myself this question: is there something about Christianity that predisposes people to deny reality, especially an unpleasant reality like climate change or systemic racism? Did they have an incentive to deny the truth? I read an account of a guy who escaped from QAnon. It was like coming from a cult. He was depressed and reading on the internet and stumbled on it and went down the rabbit hole. He only got out when he realized the prophecies never came true, or if they did, they were so vague that it could be coincidence. I realized that as Christians we were trained to "see God in everything". So if anything good happened, it was God. But if anything bad happened, it was God allowing suffering and we had to be patient in our prayers. Turns out if you pray for everything (a spouse, a job, a house, getting into college), you'll probably get some prayers answered and some not, right? Whether the prayer is answered or not, Christianity says that God still exists. So there's never a way to "prove" God doesn't exist. And that's why you can't throw facts and science at evangelicals - they deliberately do not want to listen. They are trained to tune it out. Aside: I grew up in a protestant non- denominational evangelical megachurch. My dad's family has members who are eccentric conspiracy theorists or weirdly religious, so I think it runs in the family as slight mental illness. I studied engineering for undergrad and physics for grad school, so I have a lot of science education. I even taught at community college and at a university for a bit. I always thought the big bang theory and the spontaneous organization of atoms into RNA or life that can reproduce was a sign of God. Plus I had had many prayers answered over the years. I have read the entire bible multiple times. I had a religious reawakening when in college and when I was 25, which caused me to quit my PhD. Anyway, after having a loving community at one small church, my husband and I moved to another area and tried different churches. They were all nice at first and then turned hypocritical, like they were just using us as volunteers and tithers. I decided that a lot of Christians were bad, but that was the worldly influence of the rich area we were in and Jesus was still worth following. We came to a church that was passionate about social justice, had a female pastor who was actually genuine. I thought we finally found a home. -------- sorry this is so long. Thanks for reading!------- it keeps going.... For a long time I have been thinking that many megachurches exist because corrupt Christians seek power, fame and money. Even many small churches that I attended seemed jealous that they weren't big. I thought that was hypocritical. Anyway, I realized I was guilty of the same deluded thinking of the QAnon religious right people - I had used coincidence to stand in for evidence, my "faith" was really a suspension of logic and reasoning. Naturally, my next step was to figure out the implications of 1. Christianity is made up and 2. My life without God. Even as i was flooded with relief of the truth and the freedom to no longer use convoluted copied arguments to explain why God allowed such suffering in the world or his stance on the LGBTQ+ community, I was also hit by the sad reality that heaven does not exist, my "friend" that I'd talk to all the time was emptiness, and prayers are nonsense. And that I'd wasted many years of my life, decades, plus lots of money, on a delusion. I believed because I didn't want to face the truth that life is random, painful, and fleeting. If I left the church, my family and friends would be devastated and I might lose them. And how was I going to raise my kids? What about my marriage? I had always thought God brought my husband and I together and I settled for someone less intelligent and ambitious because I thought ambition was futile and worldly. It is true that ambition alone cannot make you happy. But I missed the company of my witty intellectual curious friends from college and grad school. They were so full of life and fascinating conversations. I'm also a musician and amateur song writer. I went through a phase where I really loved Christian music, but then I got burned badly by the random politics of worship teams and started getting triggered by worship music. Then I realized secular music is SO MUCH BETTER ARTISTICALLY and I actually felt guilty about that. I felt guilty about my ambitions. I worried that I would burn myself out trying to be successful in my career or trying to impress other people. I can't believe Christianity made me feel guilty about so many good things. It robbed me. Anyway, I am feeling both freaking awesome to be free of religion and yet scared and alone and ALSO I am most worried and concerned for all my family and friends who have given their lives to a stupid money sucking delusion!! And I want to deconvert all of them, but I know it will be traumatic for them and probably make them hate me. It sounds weird, but I feel like the most ethical moral thing for me to do is to tell them the truth and beg them not to waste the only life they've got. I literally cried multiple times when I realized how many dumb irrational decisions my family and friends have made and are still making based on "faith". My crazy charismatic friend moved to Redding because her husband got a job at Bethel. When they let him go (they have three and a half kids and just bought a house wtf heartless) because of the pandemic I guess, they decided to 1. Keep their kids in private school at Bethel and 2. Enroll in the school of supernatural healing or whatever tf. LIKE BAAAAAAAD BAD BAD BAD IDEA. Sigh. Anyway, I'm still sick and got a covid-19 test just in case. It would be so pathetic if after this amazing revelation I just died, but oh well. I want to live whatever is left of my life fully. I'm not sure about my marriage, but right now, it's best to stay for my kids and my husband is really so sweet, just lacking in ambition and intellectual ability, but quite funny and good looking. We get along, but I do get bored and wonder if I should have married better. Obviously everyone has faults and there's no guarantee another person would be better. Lots to think about still. I haven't told any of my Christian family and friends except my husband. He's depressed about it. I hope I can eventually convince him to see the truth.
    6 points
  34. Brains are chemically active "machines". Add certain chemicals and we go unconscious while a surgeon goes to work on our bodies. Add a different chemical (DMT), and experience 10 minutes of impossibly beautiful geometry and music in hyperspace inhabited by odd beings that all seems very very familiar especially when they say "Welcome back!". Add a different chemical (psilocybin), and see and feel utterly connected to all life above and below ground, see the various gods and become them, see family members and become them, buoyed by a sense of utter peace and love. Add a different chemical (datura), and experience a day of crushing nightmarish horrific hallucinations with no escape until the chemical passes through the body. I know several people with very slightly imbalanced brain chemistry. Usually just a tiny bit of lithium keeps them in balance well enough to function daily. Without that tiny help, they can go into severe depression or extreme highs where they don't sleep for a week at a time and think they are a chosen prophet of God to save the commies for Jesus. Brain injuries can have similar effects. Strokes can cause drug-like trips of feeling oneness with the universe, much like a DMT trip. In my first church, during the 1980s when the idea of demons went from being regarded as superstition to biblical truth, my pastor was preaching about that subject. A lady in the audience let out a scream/growl and began writhing around. But unlike in the Bible fables where Jesus just kicked them out, this lady went though years of "deliverance" and therapy. What was actually happening was her blame-shifting all the stupid immature decisions she'd made in life that caused her to be a wreck of a human. Because the church was teaching that invisible spooks were really to blame, she saw a way to escape responsibility for her choices in life, so... kaboom, she pretends on some level to be possessed and gets lots of attention and "love" that she craved. But the years afterward of "deliverance" showed pretty obviously that there was no god or demon, just a sad sad lady who had messed up her one life with lots of bad choices, and now sought some scrap of significance. In the old Salem witch trials, the witches were occasionally just old women with dementia, acting oddly and being tortured by Christians afraid of spirits. Others came from Africa/Jamaica/etc and had traditional medicines that they would make, and Christians saw that and said they were making magic potions and so burned them alive or hanged them. Some were just accused by teenage girls claiming to see little birds flying around their heads or other such nonsense. Instead of treating the girls as the issue, they saw the dramatic hoopla and used it as an opportunity to destroy a witch (murder an innocent woman and show the power of the church to root out evil). All of it is just superstition, fables, and imbalanced brain chemistry which happens a lot more often than people tend to realize.
    6 points
  35. Do you think the D-K effect describes people who are certain the 2020 election was 'stolen' despite the lack of evidence in 50+ lawsuits? Or Qanon and other conspiracy followers?
    6 points
  36. I really love/hate this thread. But I am so glad you started this topic. Thank you because I really needed to talk about this getter older. Personally, I hate it and it has caused me a lot of grief in the last couple of years. It is a blessing and a curse to make it to 67 without dying in a plane crash, car accident, sickness like so many others. My own sister left the earth at 40 with a brain aneurism which I have really never recovered from. I just live with it. She was my twin flame...my Chinese twin. We were 11 months apart. There has been an emptiness in my heart for 25 years now. But I have also been lucky enough to have friends that made me laugh throughout the years... including this site which I constantly posted on for many years. I was a 'youngin' when I joined this site. Lol Many people die so young, so I am always grateful no matter what I have had to deal with. But I truly hate getting old, even though I am truly grateful to have made it this far. It's a rock and a hard place to be in. As most older people would say, it is not fun to watch when your friends die or get sick. It's heartbreaking. I've had a few losses in the last few years. So a new kind of 'stress' enters this stage as you get older. Just when you think all is going well, one of your friends is being tested for leukemia. (happening right now) Or you have to watch your girls' marriage go down the drain before it hits it's 5th anniversary and her 14 year old (my grandson) has already been going missing in the last 2 years and is now addicted to pills and alcohol at 16 years old (now) and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Even after we have tried EVERYTHING. Yeah, there are some new stresses at this stage of life and if you don't put on your invisible boxing gloves to fight back and keep surviving, you would jump off a bridge. You need to be real fucking strong and if your not, you might lose your mind. Do I want to live to see my grandson kill himself? No thank you. I'm not sure my invisible boxing gloves would get me through that pain. My own demise was caused by heavy smoking and being around too much aerosol cans of hairspray for the last 48 years. So sucks to be me. I remember begging god to take away the desire to smoke from me. Ya'd think he would do that for one of his children, eh? Anyway, I walk everyday as far as I can and do a lot of deep breathing exercises to help me keep moving. The chronic pain started about 9-10 years ago when I was rear-ended twice within 3 years. I do everything I can to manage that pain. Somedays I wanna give up and most days I put on my invisible boxing gloves and kick it in the ass. I get real mad and I won't allow the pain to rule over my life. I know this post is long. I wasn't going to write it (and i almost deleted it) but this is my support group and sometimes I really have no one to talk to because people will say, 'this wrinkle is for this reason' and 'this wrinkle is for that reason'. Fuck that. Wrinkles are caused by stress and getting old. I hate the wrinkles. I've decided that I am going to my grave with my blue eye shadow and bright pink lipstick on no matter how ugly this wrinkled face gets. I almost lost my house during the pandemic. They say no stress when you get older??? Yeah, right. You think the bank helped me? Nope. i took in boarders. Blood, sweat, tears and inconvenience. That's how we made it. So you better save a shitload of money and make sure you got lots if you ever want to retire. And make sure you got a lot of hobbies and money to do them because retirement is not all what it's cracked up to be. Unless you have enough money to fly around the world and do whatever you want, you'll be sitting around wondering what to do next. Just like the Professor has said of the new hobby he has taken up. Excellent Professor! You have encouraged me. As for my friend florduh, he's not allowed to leave. I have cast my magic spell of healing over him and whatever the fuck is going on, I command in the name of Ex-c for him to be healed. Nope, florduh can't go nowhere. I won't have it. OK. I have rambled on enough. Put on those invisible boxing gloves because life is bittersweet and you need to stay as strong as you can to make it through of of it. Never give up. I plan on going out with the biggest fight of my life. Hang out with supportive people and make friends with people who make you laugh. There is laughter in between some of the horrible stressors we have to go through in life so always take advantage to laugh and have a good time. The main message I want to portray is for you to continue to be strong mentally because life is very hard at times. Love you all. You are my people. And I am grateful for 11 years that I can come to this site and get shit out of me that I can't anywhere else. Thank you for that. Love from old and grumpy Margee.......
    5 points
  37. Religion is a virus; and christianity is a particularly virulent strain. Viruses mutate to maintain survival; and can often become something completely unrecognizable compared to the original wild type. Christianity will also mutate to survive and attempt to remain relavant; and could even become more virulent than its current forms. I hope not. The only solution is herd immunity and that comes as a result of mental vaccination.
    5 points
  38. Some of the confusion in discussions and forums such as these stems from a misunderstanding of claims and how they work. The minutiae of this topic keeps philosophers employed, but for our purpose a broad overview will help as you discuss various religious and non-religious topics. This community will generally define a claim or proposition as: a statement made with the intent that others adopt the statement as True. (You know or believe X and want others to know or believe X too) The following statements are both claims: God exists - is a positive claim God does NOT exist - is a negative claim Keep in mind that each is a separate claim. Both are poorly formulated as God has yet to be defined (Christians, Muslims, and Hindu would all answer True as "God" is vague) Your feelings about these two statements will lie on the continuum: God does NOT exist ------------------------------------------------------------------------God exists 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 KNOW | <=========belief========== | non-belief | =========belief==========> | KNOW The two statements "God exists" and "God does NOT exist" share these possibilities: you know such an entity does NOT exist you believe such an entity does NOT exist you withhold belief (non-belief/unbelief) you believe such an entity exists you know such an entity exists. Too often in discussions the answer is reduced to a TRUE/FALSE dichotomy. This simple reduction can be useful, but is misleading as there are 5 distinct categories. By limiting ourselves to this TRUE/FALSE, either/or formulation we also enable another common problem: The rejection of a claim is NOT the acceptance of the opposite claim "God Exists: NOT TRUE" =/= "God does NOT exist: TRUE" Position God exists God does NOT exist Know God exists True False Believes God exists True or Not True Not True withholds belief Not True Not True Believes no God exists Not True True or Not True Knows no God exists False True This confusion over the structure of claims leads directly into the burden of proof problems often encountered on this site and as discussed: **I'd like to thank @Hierophant, @Joshpantera, @disillusioned, & @WalterP for their gracious comments on my drafts of this.**
    5 points
  39. You don't have any clue right now how misinformed you are. There are not piles of evidence for christianity!!! I know that because I personally debate christian apologists. During those debates, I ask them for their evidence and they fail to provide it. So I'm quite aware of the lack of positive evidence because I'm right on top of the issue. You are glancing at people claiming that they have evidence and accepting their claims at face value. You are not debating them and holding their feet to fire like myself and other ex christians do very regularly. So your subjective analysis is that there's tons of evidence for christianity, when, in reality, there is not. It's all fluff. All of it. If you want to know for yourself what's fluff and what isn't, well, you have to do the work. You have to engage the debates. And get your own hands dirty trying sort out what's demonstrably true and what's demonstrably false. If you want to learn this lesson, you can try and debate any one of us on the truth of christianity. Where you are in the hot seat trying prove that christianity is true. Only then will you see and understand how impossible it is to prove christianity true. No one has ever accomplished it. And if you are trying to be honest with yourself, the exercise could be a major wake up call. Because right now you are far, far away from the truth of the issue.... It HAS to start at the beginning with Genesis. Here's a preview of one of my debates with a christian apologist challenged to demonstrate the TRUTH of the bible starting from the beginning:
    5 points
  40. Nobody here seems to understand that politics is directly related to wave/particle duality.
    5 points
  41. @Sirolo Sorry to hear you are having a rough go right now. If there is one thing I understand, it is fear of Hell. It is safe to say that was the foundation of my relationship with Christianity. It took me a long time to get over that fear as well, maybe two to three years after deconversion it stopped being a fear that crept up every now and then. I do not know what will work for you, but for me, I had to stop thinking about what is possible and focus on what is probable. I spent a lot of time studying Christianity both inside and out. I am confident in saying that the odds of Christianity being true are astronomical, to the point where it would not even be close to a whole number. My anxiety used to get the best of me and I would fret over all these possible things that could happen, usually called catastrophising, and just get myself all bent out of shape. It's pointless and all it will do is drive you crazy. To another point, I really thought about Hell and what it would mean to be there. It may sound flippant, but I figured that the vast majority of people would surely be there. If heaven was real, and someone made it, they did so by pure chance. Nobody actually knows what the measuring stick is. Based on that, I figured if Hell was real, odds are, I am probably going there unless I got lucky, but I am not really a lucky person. On top of that, I figured heaven has to be a stressful place to be. You would have to constantly walk on eggshells around YHWH because you never know when he might snap about something. If anything, I can be a total ass in Hell and it isn't going to get any worse. I'm sure you might think my thought process strange, but that is just how I feel about it and the idea of Hell doesn't bother me anymore. For context, I used to get panic attacks thinking about Hell that usually led to nausea.
    5 points
  42. @WalterP, To begin with, no one has the right to be here on this website. Not yourself, not either of the joes, not even the Prof thy Mod. This is a personal, privately owned and operated website and we are all granted the privilege of posting here. Some of us have the privilege of taking other people's privileges away; but there is only one person who has the right to be here. In him we live, and move, and have our being... as online avatars. Secondly, we have always welcomed christians into our forums, even those with insane ideas; and we will continue to do so in future. In contrast to most christian forum-based websites, this shows members and guests a fair and balanced approach to religion and all arguments therein. The moderation team is largely responsible for the content posted here, and, by extension, for the lurkers and newbies who may be impacted. We take this responsibility very seriously; and deliberate, often with vigor, over the various directions this sometimes unwieldy community takes. This is especially true in cases such as the aforementioned joes. Both joes enjoyed the time and space to deliver their respective messages, only to have every flaw in their logic put on display for all to see. They were given a larger spotlight than any other in precedent, and they both blew it for themselves and their faith. The lurkers who genuinely seek to get out of christianity will not be swayed by the likes of joe, any more than they would by ordinaryclay or thumbelina. The lurkers who would be swayed are not likely to be at a place where we can help them; and we may do more damage by trying before they are ready. We cannot help them all; all we can do is each play our respective roles and play them to the fullest of our ability. The chips will land where they fall. This website has quietly, but diligently, plodded onward over the years; and, in my short tenure here, has handled the deaths of prominent members, the relapse of seemingly solid deconverts, and even internal strife and division stemmed from political, social, and economic differences completely unrelated to the primary purpose of helping former christians leave their baggage behind. We've managed worse than either joe could wreak; and will continue to do so. Because the collective strength of this community is born from the individual strengths of members who have overcome abuse, fear, emotional instability, addictions, and pain inconceivable to those inexperienced in it. Have a good day, John
    5 points
  43. Welcome, physicslady. I am glad you found us and the courage to chime in. I really appreciate how you tend to look for the good in situations--christians aren't always good people, but jesus is; husband lacks ambition, but is handsome and funny. That speaks a lot to your character. I'd wager that trait will come in handy as you process your deconversion, deconstruct your beliefs, and set new guidelines for yourself and, as you so accurately reflect, your only life. I, too, felt greatly cheated in the early days. I've constantly worked jobs that were beneath my ability and intellect, married an absolutely horrible person (god's will...yay), didn't get to indulge my passion for science until later in life (biological sciences), even squandered most of my talents by either ignoring them or using them for jesus. But, I can truly say that I have made my life my own now; and I can truly say that I am happy. Some aspects still haven't panned out the way I'd want; but I have found the strength and serenity within myself to be content. One thing I would encourage you to do is be kind and gentle with yourself for the next little while. You're feeling a lot of things and thinking of stuff that you never thought of before. That's okay. You don't have to have everything figured out right now. Remember that the whole point behind time is so that everything doesn't happen at once. Give yourself time. Also, I'm sure you're familiar with the stages of grief. I've noticed over the years that many of us experience each of them, to a greater or lesser extent, early in the deconversion process. They're uncomfortable; but they are necessary. Allow yourself to feel, experience, and understand each step in the process. The more thoroughly you complete each stage, the more thoroughly complete your life afterwards will become. I suspect, given your propensity for optimism, you'll do just fine. Meanwhile, make yourself home here; and if there's anything I can do for you, just holler.
    5 points
  44. Recently I've come across a lot of examples of Christianity lacking definitions. Most recently was the discussion about being made in the "image of god" but no one really knows what that means. Is image a physical shape? A mental ability? Something about our personality? What do we have that animals do not? Similar to what exactly a soul is. Do only humans have one? What does one do? Why do our memories and personalities change if we are recorded on an immaterial soul? If they aren't recorded on the soul, then what exactly would transfer away at death? Then I came across a discussion around Noah's Ark where the YEC Christian said "there was around 14,000 Kinds of animals" but when asked to define a "Kind" it got very vague. It seems to be whatever the Christian requires, as the specifics seemed to change: "You know, it's animals that can breed", "So in the case of ring species the two animals on each end of the chain are different "Kinds"?", "Well, no, they are still the same kind... It's just kind of obvious, you know?" Then we come to the 10 commandments. "No Graven images" at least until the Ark of the covenant, then stick golden statues on top of that. So what images are allowed? Is the cross a graven image? Should a Christian do carvings at all? And "You shouldn't take the Lords name in vain", but no one knows what his name is, so what exactly are we not allowed to say? If God is an immaterial force, then surely it doesn't even have a name? When asked He said "I am what I am", that would be nameless, but some religious folks took that to mean that phrase was a literal name. So what exactly are we not meant to use and what usage is not allowed? "Honour your father and mother", what is honouring? Does it require action or just thought? What if your parents are abusive or horrible people? If working the Sabbath is a crime worthy of death, what exactly counts as "work"? An old man collecting sticks was considered death worthy, but unless he intended to sell those then that wouldn't be work in a commercial way, so are we talking about any physical exertion? Should we be stoning emergency service workers to death for daring to work the Sabbath? Western society is "based on Judo-Christian values". What values? Has the changes away from racism, slavery and segregation moved us further from Judo-Christian values, and if so is that a bad thing? Did giving women the vote insult God? "The Bible is literal!" except when its not. Some parts are poetry, or parables, or just stories, but if that is so then how do you choose which parts are true and which are moral stories? Which parts applied to the people of the day and which are we meant to still to follow? How do you define "inspired"? Is 100% of the writing inspired, or are some of the parts historic records or news reports on events? You don't even want to ask a Christian to define "secular", "atheist", "humanist" or "agnostic". Some Christians just seem to use all such terms to mean Anti-Christian, there are often no distinction between such terms, even with them being blended in the same sentence.
    5 points
  45. I'd have given anything to be like BAA when I first joined this website. He was so calculating, level-headed, and stoic; while I was (and still am) aggressive, abrasive, and brash. I talked about it with BAA once and he told me, "we all play our own roles." That has stuck with me throughout the years; and I've come to understand that the rapid-fire common sense approach I take is just a vital as the solid point-rebuttal approach of WalterP. All of the ground has to get covered. Walt can cover a veritable swath in a single post, while I run mini-sprints through a half-dozen posts. It's all necessary in some form or other; because not all of our lurkers are going to learn the same way, or respond to the same posting style. You play your role, @Weezer; and let the @WalterP roles be played by the Walts of the world.
    5 points
  46. Judeo Christian values like inherited guilt? Infinite punishment for finite crime? Crimes that arent really crimes? (Not loving Jesus) Not allowing gay people to marry for some arbitrary reason? What 'value' says that some psycho can murder and rape his whole life, but be granted forgiveness by Jesus right before he dies? Which 'value' says that you should disown or badger your child about Christianity when you find out they are atheist or gay? Is China or India or Japan worse off than the USA? How do you measure "worse off" ? Which of the Judeo-Christian values does Mr Orange role model for us in the USA? Maybe reply that some of the morals that we hold dear to our hearts pre-date Abrahamic religions ... and laws in the western world ignore most of the bible commandments.
    5 points
  47. Talking to a Christian online and he said "Atheists are evil. They see religion is a crutch, helping people through life and providing support and yet they want to kick that out from under them. Some people need that support, some people find great benefit in it and yet on these discussion boards there are always atheists trying to destroy that positive energy in peoples lives." Initially this argument sounded quite reasonable but I could see several good reasons to fight against the idea of a crutch: - The Dumbo effect. People believe they need the crutch because they have never known any other way. Every time they have succeeded or had good times, it was with that crutch beside them. The crutch is magical because we attribute positive energy to it, not because it generates that positive energy. We can actually fly without the magic feather. In fact atheists are actually in the best position to know the difference, many of us having lived both with the crutch and without it, so we have a comparison to base our choice on. The Christian who has never been without has nothing to refer to. - Swinging the crutch. What we find is that people with crutches like to swing them around, they want as many people as possible to know they have a crutch and they want you to have a crutch too. We get religious TV, music, street preachers, public prayers, bibles in your hotel room, pamphlets in your mail and spam in your inbox. Speaking out against crutches is offsetting those speaking for them. Remaining silent would not get the same curtesy in return. - Spiky crutches. Many atheists have been hurt by religion, whether that be with bad parenting advice, physical abuse, sexual repression, taught hatred of gays/unbelievers/other religions/"others", crippling fear of hell, taking money from those who can't afford it, science/education/medical denial, attributing mental health issues to demons or numerous other problems. Many people see the crutch as spiky and dangerous, likely to wound the holder as much as help them. They wouldn't know the threat the crutch provides until it is too late. - Crutch kicking is not automatically evil. For the action of kicking a crutch to be evil it would have to be done with the intent to cause harm. If someone doesn't believe in crutches and lets others know but has no idea of what impact that discussion would have, then there is no evil intent. Even if the result was purely negative, without intent it is not an evil act. Ignorance does not equal malice. - Life without a crutch maybe better. Sure the Christian can't imagine life without the crutch but the atheist certainly can. It is quite possible to "Your life is good but it could be better". It may not be a question of good verse bad but good verse very good. The number of atheists who use the term "freedom" when describing the difference is quite telling. Not feeling restricted, not being forced to think and feel certain ways, being free to express your individuality and being free to love who you want. It would be quite possible to say "I want to kick the crutch away because, while it may help you to walk, without it you will be able to run"
    5 points
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