Regular Member
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Kat34

  1. Wow thanks everyone, I’ve never had anything like any of these amazing experiences, I wonder why not?!! @Joshpantera thank you for sharing that link, I have to avoid Christian discussion at the moment - still too easily triggered...
  2. I don’t think I ever had one, but I know many of you will feel that you did when you were Christians. I’m interested in reading about profound religious/ spiritual experiences in people from other (preferably non Abrahamic) faiths or no faith. This might sound silly but I have to be really careful with what I google as I’m very easily triggered so if anyone has any links to articles they recommend that would be fab. I am also interested in hearing about anyone’s past experiences and how they interpret those now and in any articles on psychological explanations of such experiences. Thank you!
  3. Thanks all for your hellos, welcomes and messages of support! I have to say I feel like a bit of a fraud when I think about my own past experience as a Christian compared with most of yours. I became one as a child because it’s what I was taught but I was constantly drifting away and never “spiritually mature” or developing sound biblical knowledge. I think as I got older both my increasing objections to hell and original sin and the fact that this country is so secular were factors that stopped me really throwing myself in whole heartedly, although there were certainly periods when I tried to do this. I could never talk about it at school for example though, because no one else was religious and I would’ve been subject to ridicule! So I’d worry about the son of man then being ashamed of me (if I’ve accurately remembered that reference). My church was very calm and non challenging but my mum would often read and talk about end times stuff which really freaked me out from my teenage years, though this wasn’t at all her intention. I didn’t find a huge amount of peace in Christianity, but found a lot of fear. This probably speaks a lot to my personal psychology. I used to beg God to help me with my fears of heaven, hell, the second coming and judgement but felt no comfort. Through my early 20s I asked God to help me to want him. I prayed “Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief” and asked him to help me with my fears. I tried really hard to make original sin make sense or seem fair at all. I read about alternative views of the atonement and about universalism and finally felt some hope, but still remained terrified of the second coming. Then with great relief I came to think none of this was probably true after all, following several Facebook conversations with an old friend who had lost his faith. This was my position until a few months ago when the fears came flooding back and then some! I recently read something which really hit home, which was about the importance of conversion and deconversion being your own. And neither of mine were. Both times I relied on other people’s thinking and what other people told me. But what I was told and what was constantly reinforced as a child clearly had far more impact than conversations on social media in my late 20s. So my hope is that if this time I do the thinking for myself (but with support from this community, for example) then I will achieve a deconversion that is truly my own and I won’t have such a serious relapse in the future. I’ve been reading constantly for 3 months (I have to say that I mostly avoid the New Atheists and mythicists, though) and am going to work with a professional on the psychological side of things. I feel very guilty and sad about all the time this has taken away from my children but this is when it’s happened (and actually triggered by fear for them - if it was just me I think I’d be done by now) and I have to deal with it now. It’s possible that there is indeed some kind of personality-disordered god that created many of us with the sole purpose of eternally tormenting us but the only reason I have to think so is that that’s some people’s reading of an ancient book. This same god has allowed us to gain insight into the evolutionary, psychological and neurobiological drivers for human behaviour, all of which seem to dilute the argument for original sin. Or maybe our brains became corrupted as a result of that original sin and the Fall - but this same god has allowed us to discover that actually death and suffering existed in the world long before Homo sapiens did. This paragraph suggests I think more rationally than I usually do, but I’m trying. I still find it very hard to reconcile the fact that there are extremely intelligent people out there who believe the Christian story, but I’m hoping those kinds of thoughts will resolve themselves over time.
  4. Thank you DT, and for all your support! Will always appreciate it!
  5. Hi again @Joshpantera! And thanks again for all your input. I think I’m definitely going in the right direction but am very up and down with it (often within one day!). I continue to read loads - which sometimes is a real help and sometimes makes things worse and try to reject what I know would be the Christian interpretation of the things you mention (hell and Satan) i.e. progressive revelation!! One thing I’m trying to do is notice how external factors can heighten/ trigger fears, as these clearly have no bearing on the truth of the issues but can have a big impact on how I *feel* about the likelihood of them being true. So when it gets dark, that has a negative impact. When my children are in bed, sometimes my fears are alleviated, because they are not in front of me as a constant reminder of how awful it would be for them to end up in hell. When I’m even more exhausted than normal, or when I’m unwell, that has a negative impact. Seeing my mum triggers my fears and anxiety. And I can think back to when I was 15 and definitely did believe in hell and was going through an extremely fearful period and all these same external factors (minus the children) also exacerbated things. In the summer time, things abated a bit. So my next steps are 1) to try again to get a prescription for an anti-anxiety medication - if this can dull the intensity of the fear then that might help me keep rational, plus confirm the psychological/ brain-based nature of it and 2) to work with a counsellor on understanding how these fears relate to my own background and psychological makeup rather than to an objective reality. Sound like a good plan?
  6. Hi all, I joined this site a few months ago but had “browsed” it a few times a couple of months before that, with the purpose of confirming I was right in having concluded a few years earlier that Christianity was false. Worries that I could be wrong had started to creep in and then hit me with full force (mainly featuring a fear of hell) 3 months ago. I’ve posted on here a few times and have been lucky enough to have had some great support from members. I think I’m right that the majority of members live in the US and wondered if there’s anyone else England-based here?
  7. Thank you for this, Tin Man. Really honest, heartfelt and reasoned. I absolutely identify with the mental health bit. I would say the last 3 months I’ve spent agonising over all this stuff has been its own kind of hell. I’ve also wished I could be a “spiritual zombie” - or even an unspiritual one and just not give a second thought to any of this. I agree that a loving god cannot be reconciled with the individual struggles we’ve all had with Christianity. I hope therefore that there is either no god or a disinterested god out there and not a god whose ‘goodness’ is wildly removed from all of our notions of it. Tin Man I hope you don’t mind me linking to another author but I found these blog posts well written and argued too, especially in the way they critique 20th/ 21st century notions of hell as being self-imposed (think C. S. Lewis) - as if this version is any more convincing or reasonable! https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2014/11/23/why-i-reject-hell-and-why-you-should-too/ https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2017/04/25/faq-ever-still-worry-hell/ https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/09/10/hell-2-0-same-eternal-punishment-now-with-fewer-flames/
  8. Yes I think you’re probably right actually. And by way of reassurance the Holy Spirit would tell them they are a child of God. Whereabouts in UK are you btw if you don’t mind me asking?
  9. Oh okay I see - yes totally - as some Christians (like John Wesley maybe?) argued, that view of God made him worse than the devil. In a different context, C S Lewis said his fear wasn’t “So there’s no God after all” but “So this is what God is really like”.
  10. In what way do you guys mean? I know a bit about it and that he developed some of Augustine’s ideas - and that this view wasn’t known in the early church ie pre Augustine. It seems lots of early church ideas were much more inclusive eg the idea of universal salvation. From what I gather, Calvinists subscribe to once saved always saved. They have to, because everything happens according to God’s will. So surely all those kids who pray the sinners’ prayer then later change their views are actually still saved. And in that case, given how impressionable young children are, surely any child could be convinced to pray it and mean that prayer genuinely. Totally unethical but we could all choose to get our own children to do that and be saved. But that would potentially contradict the idea of them being chosen from the beginning of the world.
  11. Yes this must be it. Of course according to Calvinism we are so corrupted by original sin that our reasoning is faulty. This is what I mean about it being a mindfuck.
  12. Seriously? How can anyone live with that fear long term? It would drive you literally insane...
  13. Calvinism and predestination is a complete mindfuck... the past 2 days I’ve been almost convinced that the reason that I find God to be silent is because I’m not one of the elect, rather than it being because he isn’t there. The trouble is it’s almost impossible to find a way out of this way of thinking because the experiences of other non- or ex-Christians can be explained in the same way. All the objections we have to the bible and to faith? Same reason. Believers are those whom God has chosen and given faith to and there’s nothing we can do to change our fates. How do you find your way out of this view?
  14. Thanks so much @DestinyTurtle - yes I was a child and a particularly anxious one at that with a particularly authoritarian mother - not a great combination maybe. And what you say about thinking makes a lot of sense! Btw I remember reading your extimony and it made me sob. I’m so glad you are doing better now and I’m sorry it took so long - but can completely understand why it did.
  15. Thank you @Margee - I’m actually really lucky in a way as I’m in the UK which is very secular on the whole and most of my friends aren’t Christians. However like you guys, it means there’s no one I can really talk with about it as no one else would really get where I’m coming from! Also the Christians I do know (with the possible exception of my mother) do believe in the Big Bang and evolution etc so seem a lot more reasonable - and that makes me second guess myself too! Thanks for the support on this site x
  16. Thank you @DanForsman... I haven’t actually attended church regularly in years and didn’t have bad experiences there, my programming is all from my mother... you’re right about how atheists have been portrayed and I’m sure that must be part of it. So much of her voice to try to overcome.
  17. Thanks all. To be honest it’s something I know very little about, and I’ve not looked into it, I just remember reading a few examples in the past that struck me. Also not healing as such but I remember reading about C S Lewis praying that he could be with his wife in her suffering from cancer and he started to get pain in his bone marrow and then another time he prayed for her to get better in some way and her body started producing more of whatever this thing was and he simultaneously developed a deficiency in it so he thought God was taking from him to give to her. I can’t remember the details but stuff like this always seemed like evidence for little miracles. That and things like people praying and then receiving the exact amount of money they needed to keep their home for orphaned children going or whatever!
  18. Did anyone else find the period of uncertainty once you strongly suspected (but weren’t sure) that Christianity wasn’t true even harder than trying to reconcile the difficulties you had within Christianity? I keep thinking of objections to the way I’m thinking e.g. I’m being overly influenced by a hard rationalism approach to what’s true and maybe this is unreasonable. What’s really frustrating is that I’ve been pretty confident for the best part of 5 years that it isn’t true before suddenly fearing again that it might be (I say fearing because I focused on hell, a teaching I always struggled with). Last time a friend had done all the thinking for me but perhaps everything was still there deep down somewhere, ready to be re-triggered. I start wondering maybe God is trying to reach me but have to remind myself that all I’m feeling is fear and surely that’s not how God would be reaching out. Plus I feel no peace or comfort after praying. How do you get to the stage where you can trust your own thinking?
  19. I’ve heard that Dan’s book is really helpful for former fundamentalists but possibly less so for people from a less literalist tradition who were allowed to believe in evolution and an old earth etc. If you think it addresses issues pertinent to Christians of any flavour I’d be happy to check it out?
  20. Mine genuinely are... while most of my friends (like most of this country) are non Christians, I have two very close friends I grew up with who are Christians. Neither of them really focuses on the hell stuff (and they also might have more moderate views on what hell is than what many members of this site would’ve been taught). I think Christianity gives them a sense of being looked after and they derive comfort from it, as well as lots of friends and a community. I’m almost envious of them but I just can’t make peace with its key teachings. I don’t see a lot of good news in it.
  21. Yes I like the last sentence of the Dan Barker quote especially. I’ve not read his books so I don’t know the context of the quote and to what degree fear was part of his experience but it was a central part of mine - probably more because of my personality and tendency towards anxiety and therefore the way I interpreted and internalised certain messages. My friends who are Christians are not fearful but full of peace and happiness. I can definitely understand the idea of coming back to Christianity in order to feel safe, particularly because I have two young children so really it’s mainly for them that I worry about being wrong. One of my main fear triggers at the moment is thinking about highly intelligent people that are Christians. There are people that are very intellectual and well educated, people who are aware of biblical difficulties and can harmonise them at no cost to their faith and there are people that are aware of confirmation bias and of the psychology of belief etc yet still believe. It makes me wonder if I’m missing something after all. Re the songs - I constantly have hymns and Christian songs playing in my head these days. Sometimes I’ll realise that this soundtrack has been playing and not know when it began!
  22. As an aside and because we’ve made a couple of comments about the bible, this might help to illustrate some of the differences between what many of you might have been taught about it and what most Christians I am acquainted with believe about it. http://aoc2013.brix.fatbeehive.com/articles.php/1087/what-is-christianity Section 3 explains how the Church of England views the bible (interesting that here the former Archbishop of Canterbury refers to Adam’s rebellion, whereas earlier on he instead talks about the “first humans” and has subsequently said or at least implied that Christians don’t believe in a literal Adam and Eve. He accepts the theory of evolution).
  23. Very true, though to be fair most Christians I know don’t take this approach (I’m in the UK and we don’t suffer from fundamentalism in the ways you guys do in the States). Of course though, that in itself begs the question of which parts are to be taken literally and which metaphorically.
  24. I’ve watched a lot of Bart Ehrman’s videos and interviews with him, I like him. Though I note he says it wasn’t his scholarly research that led him to lose his faith but the problem of suffering. Carrier I feel more wary of, but probably only because he’s the kind of atheist I’m used to hearing being spoken about very negatively. Thoughts I’m trying to hold onto are that we can’t ultimately help what we believe (and if our capacity for thought and reason come from God then how can we be at fault if they lead us not to believe), there’s a lack of evidence about Jesus outside of the bible (as well as lots of other problems with other biblical content), the numerous different denominations and interpretations of the bible don’t support the idea of God wanting to reveal himself to us and the fact that I’ve always found God to be silent - so even if I was willing to accept subjective experience over reason and evidence, I can’t because I’ve not really had any.