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Guest droskey

Dan Roskey's Fall From Grace

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Guest droskey

I thought that the first thing that I post here should be my story of leaving Christianity.

 

At the time that I left Christianity, I had been a member of the faithful for nearly twenty years. My involvement with religion started with going to church with my mother when I was four years old. I don't remember much from that period, but I do remember the church and some of the bible stories in Sunday school. About the time that I was six or seven, we lived next door to a man who was a member of an independent Baptist church that had a bus ministry. Basically, they would drive this school bus around on Sundays and pick up participating kids and bus them to Sunday school. My mother asked me if I wanted to do this and I said yes. So I started to go to church on the bus every Sunday from the time when I was six. My mother was no longer attending services regularly at that time.

 

The church that ran the bus ministry, New Testament Baptist Church in Tucson, AZ, was a *FUNDAMENTALIST* church. They were very big into the fire and the brimstone if you know what I mean. So I had the fear of hell drilled into me early on. In fact I remember one event clearly. I was attending a campout sponsered by the local AWANA chapter (kind of like church Boy/Girl scouts). We had a campfire going and one of the adults took a plastic fork and threw it into the fire. As we watched it shrivel up and melt he said, 'You know that's you in hell. Except you won't shrivel up and go away, you'll burn forever.' Needless to say, that made quite an impact on an eight year old.

 

Eventually, I became a Christian (confessing Jesus as my saviour) and was even baptized. However, I never really got that peace everybody talked about. I was always afraid that wasn't quite getting it right, so I kept asking Jesus to save me hoping that it would eventually take. I was constantly bugging the pastor and deacons for "spiritual advice". Well, I decided that I ought to leave that church when I was fourteen.

 

I floated around for a while and eventually ended up at a more traditional Southern Baptist Church, East Tucson Baptist Church (ETBC). This felt a lot better for me. I became more active; running the sound system during Sunday services, teaching Sunday school and AWANA. I was at ETBC for about 14 years. However, I never really shook my doubts about my "salvation". But I don't think that I really started to question things until I got into college.

 

I really had a hard time with the concept of eternal hell. That was something that seemed so out of line with a merciful god. I just didn't make sense to me. I was also very skeptical about the supernatural. People would come up in church and talk about miricles that had happened to them and I would say "amen" with everyone else, but I was really thinking that there was probably a more prosaic explanation. This thinking really started to kick in in the late 90's.

 

In about 2000, after college and while I was still at ETBC, I started toying with the idea of adopting more liberal theology. It was quite appealing but the phase didn't last long. In October of 2000, my church had a "revival" and a special speaker was invited. I got swept up in the fervor and convinced myself that my doubting and toying with liberalism was temptation by the devil. I made a concerted effort to improve my Christian walk. This went on for another year or two. However, I still had doubts. I even thought that it would be a relief not to believe in all this stuff. But I soldiered on.

 

By the time 2002 rolled around, I had stopped teaching Sunday School and I was attending a young adults bible study. I noticed that one of the upcoming topics was going to be intelligent design vs. evolution. This interested me because, despite my conservative theology, I didn't see a contradiction between my religious faith and evolution. I wondered why Christians would be so opposed to the findings of science. So I started to read skeptical writings (e.g. Shermer's "Why People Believe Weird Things"). I got turned on to some material on the web. The watershed moment came in mid August 2002. I was reading the website by the biologist Massimo Pigliucci. In the article I was reading he was discussing the logical fallacy inherent in Pascal's Wager. In like a moment a light went on. I lost my fear of hell. I thought, "If God is truly just, then he won't punish me for my doubts. It is wrong for me to believe out of fear." I didn't quite know it then, but I had lost my faith. And it felt good! For the first time in my life I felt truly free.

 

I stayed at ETBC for another 8 months or so. I finished up my obligations there and in Feb. of 2003, I attended services for the last time. When I got in my car to leave, coincidentally, John Lennon's "Imagine" was playing on the radio. I thought that it was appropriate at the time.

 

Since then, I have nearly finished my PhD and am engaged to be married in October 2006. I have read quite a few deconversions stories. Often times, losing faith is a very difficult process. For me it wasn't. Losing faith was a relief. It was living with faith and its consequences that was unbearable for me.

 

Thanks for listening.

 

Cheers,

Dan Roskey

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Great story, Dan.

 

Thank you for posting it. When you left the church, you didn't even miss your church friends?

Just curious, as I miss the BBQ's, the picnics, the putlucks, and all that.

 

Cheers!

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Welcome. I feel/felt much the same as you, that it was a relief to leave, and living with faith was difficult.

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Welcome Dan. Good to have you here.

 

Comment about "If God is truly just, then he won't punish me for my doubts. It is wrong for me to believe out of fear." Well said.

 

We always get some Christians that claim that God is just and merciful, and it seems like an impossible mission to get people to realize that true love from God would be the same and more than the love that I or any other good parent feel for their children. I wouldn't send my son to eternal torture for not believing me, so why does God? And the answer is "because he's just". But then of course "justice" is nullifying the "infinite love".

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Yeah, nice story Dan. And nicely spoken as well.

 

I wish that my exit of the faith had been as enlightening as your own. I struggled to leave Christianity. Some part of me felt like a traitor. Like a Judas. Some parts of me felt that I was abandoning my friends and my family. I guess at times I may still feel like that.

 

I suppose that I need to come to the realization that it is posssible for me to be loyal to those that I still love but that I no longer share "the faith" with. Perhaps an aha moment still yet awaits me.

 

Anyway, I'm new around here too so I think it might be presumptuos to welcome you here. But it was thought provoking to meet you and read of your deconversion.

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Hey welcome to the forums and for sharing your story. Leaving is difficult and like you one of the reasons that I stayed is because I was afraid of going to hell. Its amazing on how much peace you gain when you leave xianity, isn't it? Congratulations on getting your Ph.D and on your engegament, hopefully life from here on out will continue to be sweeter. Its nice to see good things happening to nice people. :)

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Hi Dan,

Great story. You mentioned you stayed for 8 months or so and finished up your obligations. What did you tell your fellow church memebers your reason for leaving and do you still have contact with them?

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Guest droskey

Hello all. Thanks for the support and your comments.

Lorena Rodriguez

When you left the church, you didn't even miss your church friends?

Just curious, as I miss the BBQ's, the picnics, the putlucks, and all that.

 

There was a little of this. The thing was that I didn't really relate to any of the people at church. They were really just superficial relationships. I really worked at them and tried to develope them, but when they were gone, I didn't miss them that much.

 

HanSolo

We always get some Christians that claim that God is just and merciful, and it seems like an impossible mission to get people to realize that true love from God would be the same and more than the love that I or any other good parent feel for their children. I wouldn't send my son to eternal torture for not believing me, so why does God? And the answer is "because he's just". But then of course "justice" is nullifying the "infinite love".

 

One of the things that I noticed about myself when I was a Christian was that, for God, I redefined what I meant by just and merciful. I mean, no one would call the concept of eternal hell either just or merciful. How can eternal punishment for finite wrongs be just; let alone merciful? You just can't have it both ways without completely redefining terms.

 

Madie

Hi Dan,

Great story. You mentioned you stayed for 8 months or so and finished up your obligations. What did you tell your fellow church memebers your reason for leaving and do you still have contact with them?

 

When I left my church I was the director of the AV guys. So I felt that I had to give the church some heads up. I didn't want to leave them in the lurch. Also, during that time I was doing a little bit of soul searching. I was trying to make sure that I was REALLY an atheist. When I finally left, I actually sent out a bunch of letters. I'll post one of them sometime here. Anyway, I really don't have contact with anyone from my church days. That's probably why it was so easy for me.

 

One weird event that did happen is that I ran into an old pastor of mine a few days ago. He was pastor at ETBC when I was a member and moved on about 5 years before I left. Anyway, I told him and his wife that I was still attending ETBC. At the time, I didn't want to get into the whole thing with him. However, most of the time I just tell people that I don't believe anymore. I've gotten people trying to change my mind, but what are they really going to do?

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Nicely written.

 

I also like Massimo's stuff. He writes for either Skeptical Inquirer or Free Inquiry now and then.

 

I've often been asked, "What would it take for you to believe?"

 

My answer is, "I don't know, but an all-knowing god certainly would..."

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Guest droskey

Eric_PK

I've often been asked, "What would it take for you to believe?"

 

My answer is, "I don't know, but an all-knowing god certainly would..."

 

That's a good point. I would be hard pressed to devise a test that I was sure couldn't be falsified. But an omnipotent god could.

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Welcome aboard Dano old boy!

 

Do get involved alongside us in ranting and debating; it is surprisingly helpful to put your thoughts and feelings on paper. There's also nothing quite like hearing other peoples' experiences to help quell any feelings of doubt or fear about your decision to open your heart and mind to life without gawd.

 

Welcome!

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