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I Give Up


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I was “saved” at 20 years old, at a time when it seemed my life was crashing down around me. I was still in college, in a troubled marriage with a child on the way, and I was drinking too much. With all the pressure on me, the promise of a light burden and an easy yoke sounded pretty good, and for a while it was. I can’t deny that my conversion changed a lot of things for the better. I stopped drinking… except for a few times of “backsliding.” My family situation improved. I was a super strict fundamental Baptist. King James Version only, hell and brimstone, passing out tracts, attending every service (I even missed my college graduation because the heathens at UCLA had it on a Sunday!)

 

At some point, doubts started creeping up. Why couldn’t I get the victory over certain sins? I struggled, and prayed, and cried, and prayed some more, and it seems like I was just getting worse. The thoughts that I was having were worse than before I was “saved.” I think that concentrating on getting rid of them just drove me crazy and made my thoughts much darker than ever. I was literally driving myself crazy with the commandment about lust. If I lust after a woman and lust equals adultery, and adulterers are on the list of those who won’t inherit the kingdom of God, then I can’t be saved, right? It’s right there in the book! Then there was the whole question about how to be saved. There are so many opinions within Christianity on this most basic doctrine! Of course, I dismissed other Christian sects as unbelievers, so anyone who didn’t agree with my group’s definition of how to be saved didn’t have the guiding of the Holy Spirit and therefore knew nothing about the Bible, so I could dismiss their views, but even within my very narrow, KJV-only, independent fundamental Baptist group, there was disagreement! How can this be since Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth? Some said you had to repent. Others said repentance was a work, you just had to believe. And you know what I found? They were both right. How the hell are you supposed to tell when the Bible says one thing in one place and another thing somewhere else? I asked my pastor (a great guy and a good friend of mine) and he said all the different explanations are just because salvation is such an intricate, complex thing that words can’t fully express what happens when you’re saved. I’ve heard that if you can’t explain a complex subject in simple language, then you don’t really understand it yourself. So does that mean God himself doesn’t really understand salvation?

 

Another issue was the antisocial aspect of Christianity. The belief that your co-workers, relatives, and random people walking down the street are all going to hell does something to you. At least, it did to me. I can't even explain it all, it just deeply affected me in an extremely negative way. I'm no psychiatrist (though I probably need one now) but combine this with the whole flesh vs. the spirit thing and I literally felt like I had multiple psychoses, including a split personality disorder.

 

Then there was the concept of hell. I passed out tracts and witnessed via e-mail and the internet a lot, but looking back on it, I realize that I could never bring myself to tell a person face to face that they deserve to go to hell. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without blushing. I would sometimes think about my grandpa who died when I was a boy. Did I really believe that he was suffering in hell? My resolve would sometimes strengthen and I would tell myself that he had his chance and was getting what he deserved, but I couldn’t convince myself. I also asked my pastor about it, and his explanation was that he doesn’t understand the concept of hell either, but that if we could see sin from God’s perspective we would realize how bad it is and why people deserve hell. If that’s true, I don’t want to see it from God’s perspective! I remember thinking that God needs to get over himself, he’s taking this waaaay to seriously. Of course if you dismiss hell you have to dismiss the Bible, or at least the New Testament, because it’s everywhere.

 

All of this put me on the verge of giving up my faith about a year ago, but those passages in Hebrews 6 and 10 kept me hanging on a little while longer. I was terrified at the thought of hell. Of course, those in my fundy camp would say you can’t lose your salvation, but Hebrews 6 says, oh yes you can! I also asked my pastor about this, and he said he didn’t know who Hebrews 6 was talking about, but he was sure it wasn’t me. I’ve never heard anyone in the “once saved always saved” camp be able to explain this passage. Not one.

 

In the last year, I’ve prayed but despite honest, believing prayers for wisdom and understanding, I never got peace about any of this. So fuck it, I give up. Sorry for the gratuitous expletive, but I’ve got 10 years of swearing to make up for.

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Hiya Darkside!

 

Yep, the bible cannot decide itself how one gets saved. You'd think an all-powerful, all-knowing god could make it understandable for us mere humans, but apparently not... :Wendywhatever:

 

Fanaticism definitely has a negative affect on personality as well, but don't sweat it. Trust me, things will even out eventually. Freedom from religious tyranny tends to make better persons of us all, I've found.

 

Anyway, welcome and relax!

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In the last year, I’ve prayed but despite honest, believing prayers for wisdom and understanding, I never got peace about any of this. So fuck it, I give up.
You didn't give up. :nono: Giving up has such a negative connotation that goes with it.

 

What actually happened was, you recognized a discrepancy that originates with, and is left unsolved by, Christianity itself.

 

You didn't give up.

 

You moved on.

 

You moved ahead.

 

There's nothing to be saved from. Period.

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In the last year, I’ve prayed but despite honest, believing prayers for wisdom and understanding, I never got peace about any of this. So fuck it, I give up.
You didn't give up. :nono: Giving up has such a negative connotation that goes with it.

 

What actually happened was, you recognized a discrepancy that originates with, and is left unsolved by, Christianity itself.

 

You didn't give up.

 

You moved on.

 

You moved ahead.

 

There's nothing to be saved from. Period.

 

That's a good perspective, but I don't know if I've moved on just yet, I'm still in the process of moving ahead. I appreciate the stories I've read on here, it seems like a lot of people feel like this when leaving Christianity... the doubts, the fears. I won't subject myself to a religion out of fear, but that doesn't make it all just go away. I suppose it will over time.

 

Thanks to everyone for the replies.

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Darkside,

 

Yours was a trememndous post. Very intelligently written and reasoned. My journey into deconversion has been going on for a few years but greatly accelerated this year. I became a "saved" born again Christian almost 20 years ago.

 

One of the strangest truths for me at this point is; the very thing that I used to consider Christianity's greatest strength is actually the worst part about it. I.e. "The Grace of God". The idea that Christ's death on the cross wiped away all my sin, forever, and all I had to do was receive it was, in the beginning, such a great thing. However, the very fact that we are created without our request, sentenced to Hell because of origianl sin, and that Hell itself is supposed to be so horrible that it is beyond description; (I.e. the very reason "Grace" is necessary) is the actually Christianity's most perverse weakness. The fact that we are considered "totally depraved and perverse" by Christianity is a crime against the human race.

 

So, Christianity's greatest strength is simulataneously is worst weakness. Does that make sense?

 

In the last year, I’ve prayed but despite honest, believing prayers for wisdom and understanding, I never got peace about any of this. So fuck it, I give up.
You didn't give up. :nono: Giving up has such a negative connotation that goes with it.

 

What actually happened was, you recognized a discrepancy that originates with, and is left unsolved by, Christianity itself.

 

You didn't give up.

 

You moved on.

 

You moved ahead.

 

There's nothing to be saved from. Period.

 

That's a good perspective, but I don't know if I've moved on just yet, I'm still in the process of moving ahead. I appreciate the stories I've read on here, it seems like a lot of people feel like this when leaving Christianity... the doubts, the fears. I won't subject myself to a religion out of fear, but that doesn't make it all just go away. I suppose it will over time.

 

Thanks to everyone for the replies.

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Yes, what you wrote resonates very clearly with me. In the beginning, I wanted so badly to be rid of my sin that the notion of hell never came into play. All I wanted was to lighten the burden I was bearing in this life. Things have worked out great since, but at 20 years old I was nowhere near ready to be married with a kid on the way, still in college. In other words, I was ripe for the picking.

 

Once I really started thinking about what I believed, I had a real problem with the notion of man's depravity and the notion that hell was supposedly justified because of it. My first thought was, assuming that we really are born totally depraved and sinful, wouldn't it just be the decent thing for God to do whatever he needed to do to save us, given that he's the one who damned us to begin with? Why should I be particularly grateful to him for sparing me the consequences of his own fucked up sense of justice? That's not grace, it's just common courtesy to clean up after yourself.

 

It also didn't make sense that I would have to actually accept Jesus' sacrifice. If the purpose of his death was to appease God's wrath, what should it matter if I actually accepted it or not? God's wrath should be appeased by the sacrifice regardless. If I owe a debt to the bank and a stranger goes in and pays it off on my behalf, the debt is relieved at the moment the payment is made. My statement balance will be zero regardless of what I believe. God sending someone to hell for unbelief after Jesus already paid the sacrifice would be like the bank accepting the stranger's money and still expecting me to pay the debt.

 

I know the Christian reply to all this... there is a way that seems right to a man, and the end thereof is the way of death... but if that's true, if God really wants me to believe (and, pardon the expression, God know I've tried!) then he at least needs to explain himself clearly! Trying to figure it out from the Bible is impossible

 

So it's a matter of probability. Either God wants me to follow his rules, but he's not willing to explain what the rules are... or the whole thing is bullshit. I call bullshit.

 

 

 

 

 

One of the strangest truths for me at this point is; the very thing that I used to consider Christianity's greatest strength is actually the worst part about it. I.e. "The Grace of God". The idea that Christ's death on the cross wiped away all my sin, forever, and all I had to do was receive it was, in the beginning, such a great thing. However, the very fact that we are created without our request, sentenced to Hell because of origianl sin, and that Hell itself is supposed to be so horrible that it is beyond description; (I.e. the very reason "Grace" is necessary) is the actually Christianity's most perverse weakness. The fact that we are considered "totally depraved and perverse" by Christianity is a crime against the human race.

 

So, Christianity's greatest strength is simulataneously is worst weakness. Does that make sense?

 

 

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Guest Sinlingual

I believe that the Christians, Especially Baptists, need to get out of the Middle Ages and accept that their religion does not make any logical sense whatsoever.

 

The religious leaders are trying to make dumbasses out of us all so we will pay them to teach lies.

 

Great post by the way and great screen name

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Yep.

It takes a lot of courage to face the question "Could there be any chance this is all just a bunch of bullshit?"

You're so indoctrinated into the notion that really, it all makes total sense, but you're just too stupid/not "spiritual enough" to comprehend it.

 

And it's true that you can sometimes psyche yourself into weird mental states where nonsense makes a strange sort of sense.

...as long as you can stay in that fuzzy thinking, desperate state where there are these ambiguous answers and a sense of "faith" that God makes sense and all is well, then you're cool.

 

Problem is when you "come down" and that "Is there any chance at all that this could just be a bunch of bullshit?" feeling demands that you consider the possibility. Which, when explored, quickly becomes a probability.

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Darkside,

 

I deconverted slowly during the last 3 years. And since the beginning (of the 3 years), I have been convinced that fundamentalist Christianity produces mental illness.

 

Reading your story made me realize one the reasons for that. Trying to reconcile writings by different people, with different world views, done in a stretch of about 2000 years, can be mentally disabling.

 

Geezz! Assuming that Elijah and Paul are both real and not mythical characters, if you were to put the guys together in a room, they would disagree to the point of killing each other.

 

Yet the Christian church wants us to believe that it is all ONE consistent story. How CRAZY is that?

 

Anyway. Great to have you here. (You've been around for a while, haven't you?)

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It also didn't make sense that I would have to actually accept Jesus' sacrifice. If the purpose of his death was to appease God's wrath, what should it matter if I actually accepted it or not? God's wrath should be appeased by the sacrifice regardless. If I owe a debt to the bank and a stranger goes in and pays it off on my behalf, the debt is relieved at the moment the payment is made. My statement balance will be zero regardless of what I believe. God sending someone to hell for unbelief after Jesus already paid the sacrifice would be like the bank accepting the stranger's money and still expecting me to pay the debt.

 

Let's not also go into the idea that if someone pays the debt for you, they actually pay it. You don't see anyone saying that Jesus is suffering in hell for your sins now do you?

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Darkside,

 

I deconverted slowly during the last 3 years. And since the beginning (of the 3 years), I have been convinced that fundamentalist Christianity produces mental illness.

 

Reading your story made me realize one the reasons for that. Trying to reconcile writings by different people, with different world views, done in a stretch of about 2000 years, can be mentally disabling.

 

Geezz! Assuming that Elijah and Paul are both real and not mythical characters, if you were to put the guys together in a room, they would disagree to the point of killing each other.

 

Yet the Christian church wants us to believe that it is all ONE consistent story. How CRAZY is that?

 

Anyway. Great to have you here. (You've been around for a while, haven't you?)

 

 

Forget about 2,000 years; just trying to reconcile salvation in the gospels with Paul's letters is hard enough! Not sure what you mean about being around, but if you mean being a Christian, I was a Christian for 10 years. Only been on these forums for a couple of days, I didn't lurk long before posting.

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  • 1 year later...

Sigh... hard to believe this was almost two years ago. Since then I've gone nowhere. Or, rather, I've gone all over the place and ended up back at the same place I started; dazed and confused. Over the past two years I've gone back to Christianity twice, a little less "fundy" each time, but straight back to it nevertheless, like a dog returns to its vomit. ;)

 

I've also studied a lot of philosophy and non-Christian religion. I go from feeling that Christianity is all bullshit and I need to develop my own worldview to thinking that my doubts are just a symptom of the fact that I've rejected Christ so now he's rejected me and I'm damned, to thinking that I'm a Christian after all and God is just using all of this to strengthen my relationship with him. Honestly, this religion is the biggest mind fuck imaginable. Has anyone else gone through such a miserable, drawn-out deconversion? Or am I just ready for the mental ward?

 

... Darkside

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Has anyone else gone through such a miserable, drawn-out deconversion? Or am I just ready for the mental ward?

 

 

Simply put, yes. I think more people actually do than you would think. I myself went through five years of brainwash school (Christian Academy) and since I left that place five years ago I have swayed back and forth so many times I don't want to try to count. And I understand perfectly what you mean about it just possibly being a test from god to see if you will stay true to him or that he's turning a cold shoulder to you because that's what you did to him -- but I also realize that this is the excuse that all Christians give for anything that happens in their lives - "The Lord is really testing me" or "I feel this way because I havn't asked god to help me", so on and so forth. It's the auto-response for any problems or confusions that arive in the daily lives of Christians. I digress to the fact that if I'm feeling like complete shit and unsure about my entire life because I'm being tested... then I don't want to dedicate myself to a god thats going to make me feel like this. Basically... I just got so damned tired of trying to figure it out, I decided not to waste my time on earth doing so.

 

I'm sure everybody has they're own unique ways of eventually reasoning it out with themselves... either that or they actually do end up in the looney-bin :P

 

Good luck, man :) Whatever you eventually end up doing, I hope it makes you happy.

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  • Super Moderator

Darkside, excellent post(s) and welcome.

 

You have done well, and you are definitely not alone.

 

The more you see the absurdities in Christianity the better you will feel about leaving it. It will be easier in time.

 

- Chris

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Darkside, would it help to have some objective questions to answer?

 

I may be wrong but I get the impression that you're basing it all on feelings of being in relationship with God. I was taught that there is an intellectual component. Whatever, it just seems to me that Paul was right when he said that whoever wants to come to God must believe that he exists. Do you believe that God exists? If so, what is your evidence? Do you go by feelings alone? If so, how do you know whether those feelings are evoked by God (an entity outside of yourself) or by some stimulant subject to your own will and volition (something inside your own psyche)?

 

The reason I suggest objective questions for which to seek answers is because that is how I arrived at the conclusion to deconvert. My questions were:

 

  1. How does Jesus' dead body help human souls get to heaven? or Why did Jesus have to die?
  2. How do we know that God exists? or What is the evidence for God's existence?

No answers were forthcoming on either question and finally I concluded that no answers exist. Since no evidence can be found for god there probably is no god for which to find evidence. That is my reasoning. I did find various natural explanations for religion from the social sciences, some of which explain to my satisfaction where "god" comes from. From astro-physics I got some idea of the size and shape of the universe that convinced me the idea of a creator god was preposperous.

 

I should warn you that when one goes at it from this perspective, one is vulnerable to charges from Christians along the lines of: You accept only things that can be proven by science. On the other hand, Christians are bound to find fault no matter what approach one takes. I have to find what makes for my own peace of mind. I have to live with myself 24/7.

 

The "research questions" you may wish to pursue may be different from my own, and the answers you may arrive at may also be very different from my own. My reason for suggesting the approach of using objective "research questions" is because the method you have been using seems to be leaving you feeling so lost and confused. But if this method does not seem right for you, please do not feel obligated to use it. What worked for me will not necessarily work for another. It is only a suggestion for what it's worth. I wish you peace.

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I know the Christian reply to all this... there is a way that seems right to a man, and the end thereof is the way of death... but if that's true, if God really wants me to believe (and, pardon the expression, God know I've tried!) then he at least needs to explain himself clearly! Trying to figure it out from the Bible is impossible

 

You've just pinned the problem directly between the eyes, Darkside. The Christian will quote the bible, which was written and invented by men - all on their own, mind you - to undermine your ability to actually speak and reason for yourself. Reason and individuality are poison to a religion that thrives on ignorance and fear. The next time a Christian quotes scripture that says you shouldn't think and reason for yourself, ask them to point you to the actual scriptures where Jesus said that. And then, ask him to show you the scripture where Jesus ever, even once, told anyone to write down anything he said. The book is a manmade thing that people worship, and they are no better than any other idol worshippers.

 

Hang in there!

 

Rob

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Guest LoveAll

Greetings,

If I may be allowed to paraphrase slightly: When I was a child I spoke as a child, behaved as a child, when I became a man I put away childish things.

What others here have already said is exactly right; you have simply grown-up & moved on, thats all. Do not let the childish views (not to be confused with child-like) of the fundy king james only baptist, etc, deter you from your spiritual journey. Often, early on in life, all we know is what we are told by parents, friends, the people whom we are exposed to. But there is a divine spark in you, a place that knows truth from lies that never quite buys into the fear, always wondering secretly if things really are as you have been told? When we grow up spiritually, we put aside our childish views & begin to develop the eyes to see & ears to hear, despite the religious stranglehold others may have tryed to have over us. They do it out of fear, of course, fear that if they ever thought for themselves or allowed their children or dependents to do so, the "devil" would take over. Actually what the metaphor "Satan" really means, is overblown & unchecked ego. Thats it.

If you experience lust, you experience lust. Its quite normal, millions of years of evolution have given us a powerful sex drive. You belong in this world just like trees, birds, plants rocks, mountains, rivers, etc, You don't have to apologize or make amends for being born, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

If you experience lust or other feelings, as long as you don't go around raping women or behaving poorly torwards others, what is really the harm? Working with our feelings/emotions/thoughts is part of an adult spiritual life. Sounds like you have made a great start, I applaud your courage and look forward to hearing more from you.

All my best,

LoveAll

P.S. Perhaps you may wish to

reconsider your moniter "Darkside"

thats who you were, not who you are now.

Just a thought

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I think you're partially right R.S. When I think of what's left of my faith now, one of Mark Twain's quotes comes to mind -- "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." That's my problem. Intellectually I know there's no heaven, no hell, that the Bible is a manmade book full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and shouldn't be taken literally. I know that I could no more go back to the naive belief I used to have any more than I could go back to believing in Santa Claus. The sick thing is, part of me wants to go back to that belief. It's comfortable. It's nostalgic. I remember the comfort my faith used to give me and forget about how it fucked with my mind.

 

Most of my old Christian friends are gone now -- most of them were fundamentalist assholes -- but a couple of my good friends are devout Christians and truly good people in spite of their beliefs. So when I get together with these friends (which is fairly often, since one of them is my lifting partner) it seems natural, for example, to pray with them before a meal -- it feels good. Of course, they don't believe there's any such thing as an ex-Christian, they think I'm just going through a trial. When I hang out with them I start feeling like I used to. Part of me starts to feel this is the holy spirit showing me the way back to god, although intellectually I know it's more like a recovering drug addict going back and hanging out with his old drug buddies. So in a way I'm no different now than I was when still stuck in the mire of fundamentalism. The conflict used to be between the spirit and the flesh, now it's between faith and reason. I suppose it's like that old Indian proverb about the black dog and the white dog -- if I feed my reason and starve my faith maybe reason will win out at the end...

 

 

Darkside, would it help to have some objective questions to answer?

 

I may be wrong but I get the impression that you're basing it all on feelings of being in relationship with God. I was taught that there is an intellectual component. Whatever, it just seems to me that Paul was right when he said that whoever wants to come to God must believe that he exists. Do you believe that God exists? If so, what is your evidence? Do you go by feelings alone? If so, how do you know whether those feelings are evoked by God (an entity outside of yourself) or by some stimulant subject to your own will and volition (something inside your own psyche)?

 

The reason I suggest objective questions for which to seek answers is because that is how I arrived at the conclusion to deconvert. My questions were:

 

  1. How does Jesus' dead body help human souls get to heaven? or Why did Jesus have to die?
  2. How do we know that God exists? or What is the evidence for God's existence?

No answers were forthcoming on either question and finally I concluded that no answers exist. Since no evidence can be found for god there probably is no god for which to find evidence. That is my reasoning. I did find various natural explanations for religion from the social sciences, some of which explain to my satisfaction where "god" comes from. From astro-physics I got some idea of the size and shape of the universe that convinced me the idea of a creator god was preposperous.

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Yes, fundamentalism definitely does retard true spiritual growth by encouraging the suppression of natural thoughts, feelings and desires, rather than dealing with them realistically and with maturity. Regarding the moniker, you may be right. When I registered a couple of years ago as I was first going through the deconversion experience, I really did feel like somethink dark was emerging, something that I wouldn't be able to control, something I feared. But maybe it's time to put that dark/light dualism behind me.

 

Thanks

 

 

 

 

Greetings,

If I may be allowed to paraphrase slightly: When I was a child I spoke as a child, behaved as a child, when I became a man I put away childish things.

What others here have already said is exactly right; you have simply grown-up & moved on, thats all. Do not let the childish views (not to be confused with child-like) of the fundy king james only baptist, etc, deter you from your spiritual journey. Often, early on in life, all we know is what we are told by parents, friends, the people whom we are exposed to. But there is a divine spark in you, a place that knows truth from lies that never quite buys into the fear, always wondering secretly if things really are as you have been told? When we grow up spiritually, we put aside our childish views & begin to develop the eyes to see & ears to hear, despite the religious stranglehold others may have tryed to have over us. They do it out of fear, of course, fear that if they ever thought for themselves or allowed their children or dependents to do so, the "devil" would take over. Actually what the metaphor "Satan" really means, is overblown & unchecked ego. Thats it.

If you experience lust, you experience lust. Its quite normal, millions of years of evolution have given us a powerful sex drive. You belong in this world just like trees, birds, plants rocks, mountains, rivers, etc, You don't have to apologize or make amends for being born, there is nothing to be ashamed of.

If you experience lust or other feelings, as long as you don't go around raping women or behaving poorly torwards others, what is really the harm? Working with our feelings/emotions/thoughts is part of an adult spiritual life. Sounds like you have made a great start, I applaud your courage and look forward to hearing more from you.

All my best,

LoveAll

P.S. Perhaps you may wish to

reconsider your moniter "Darkside"

thats who you were, not who you are now.

Just a thought

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You can't reason with a Christian from "scripture." They have an answer for everything. To the below argument, they'd probably say that Jesus is the eternal Word of God and the Bible is the written Word of God, inspired directly by the Eternal Word, so everything in the Bible should be taken as coming straight from the mouth of Jesus himself.

 

I know the Christian reply to all this... there is a way that seems right to a man, and the end thereof is the way of death... but if that's true, if God really wants me to believe (and, pardon the expression, God know I've tried!) then he at least needs to explain himself clearly! Trying to figure it out from the Bible is impossible

 

You've just pinned the problem directly between the eyes, Darkside. The Christian will quote the bible, which was written and invented by men - all on their own, mind you - to undermine your ability to actually speak and reason for yourself. Reason and individuality are poison to a religion that thrives on ignorance and fear. The next time a Christian quotes scripture that says you shouldn't think and reason for yourself, ask them to point you to the actual scriptures where Jesus said that. And then, ask him to show you the scripture where Jesus ever, even once, told anyone to write down anything he said. The book is a manmade thing that people worship, and they are no better than any other idol worshippers.

 

Hang in there!

 

Rob

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I think you're partially right R.S. When I think of what's left of my faith now, one of Mark Twain's quotes comes to mind -- "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." That's my problem. Intellectually I know there's no heaven, no hell, that the Bible is a manmade book full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and shouldn't be taken literally. I know that I could no more go back to the naive belief I used to have any more than I could go back to believing in Santa Claus. The sick thing is, part of me wants to go back to that belief. It's comfortable. It's nostalgic. I remember the comfort my faith used to give me and forget about how it fucked with my mind.

 

Respectfully I must say (and I come from Baptist Fundamentalism) that an "intellectual" understanding of the inconsistencies and inaccuracies is not going to free you - I know that you see this yourself.

 

The fact that you still enjoy praying with your friends shows me the extent of the difficulty. Not that it cannot be overcome. You must have the inner resolve to free yourself of this monsterous conditioning that is Christian doctrine. I speak from experience. I cannot tell you what will do it for you. I can only encourage you to keep trying, keep seeing that this doctrine is monsterous. It has a sugar coating- look beyond that. Try different approaches. Even try substitutions if necesssary- another religion or philosophy- there are many better ones out there. Think all the time about how depraved the Bible says you are just for being human.

 

Also the duality in christianity is false. The world view of Christianity is false. There has to be a point where the realization of this becomes not just a surface "intellectual" understanding but a deep and permanent one.

 

I wish I could give a formula by which this could be achieved. As it is, I can only encourage you to keep trying. Don't give up.

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I think you're partially right R.S. When I think of what's left of my faith now, one of Mark Twain's quotes comes to mind -- "Faith is believing what you know ain't so." That's my problem. Intellectually I know there's no heaven, no hell, that the Bible is a manmade book full of inconsistencies and inaccuracies and shouldn't be taken literally. I know that I could no more go back to the naive belief I used to have any more than I could go back to believing in Santa Claus. The sick thing is, part of me wants to go back to that belief. It's comfortable. It's nostalgic. I remember the comfort my faith used to give me and forget about how it fucked with my mind.

 

I know exactly what you're talking about! No matter how terrible somethng is, or how abusive, there are still some parts of it that were good. Just now I found an article on Post-Cult After Effects that may be helpful to understand confused feelings. It sure describes some of my own experiences.

 

Most of my old Christian friends are gone now -- most of them were fundamentalist assholes -- but a couple of my good friends are devout Christians and truly good people in spite of their beliefs. So when I get together with these friends (which is fairly often, since one of them is my lifting partner) it seems natural, for example, to pray with them before a meal -- it feels good. Of course, they don't believe there's any such thing as an ex-Christian, they think I'm just going through a trial. When I hang out with them I start feeling like I used to. Part of me starts to feel this is the holy spirit showing me the way back to god, although intellectually I know it's more like a recovering drug addict going back and hanging out with his old drug buddies. So in a way I'm no different now than I was when still stuck in the mire of fundamentalism. The conflict used to be between the spirit and the flesh, now it's between faith and reason. I suppose it's like that old Indian proverb about the black dog and the white dog -- if I feed my reason and starve my faith maybe reason will win out at the end...

 

I don't feel different, either, in many ways from when I was a christian. I'm still me. The Bible and Christians are simply wrong about all the stuff that unbelievers feel so differently from Christians. The ways in which I do feel different are that I feel better--again, the bible and christians are just WRONG! They refuse to believe it (so I don't talk to them about it) but that doesn't change the fact. Sometimes I feel like the Holy Spirit is telling me things then I remind myself it's just my own intuition or my own mind. Also, sometimes when I'm going through a difficult time I find myself praying because that is how my mind is trained. People on here have said it's okay to pray just so long as we know it's only one part of our mind talking to another part of our own mind.

 

I think the reason that it's important to realize this is so we don't feel let down or deceived when there is no answer.

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Yup, I've done that, although paganism appeals to me more than outright atheism. I have a lot of new friends who are pagans, and pagan religion is very appealing to me, especially the intellectual freedom it allows due to its non-dogmatic approach to the world. Hopefully I haven't conveyed myself as too one-dimensional here -- for the past couple of years I've done a lot of research into pagan and secular philosophy, so it's not that I don't have influences in that direction, it's just that in spite of all that I still feel this attraction back to the old, comfortable worldview of Christianity. That's the conflict. I feel this draw back to it, but at the same time I can't go back to it because in my heart I know it's bullshit.

 

 

 

Why don't you try finding some new non-religious friends? Try finding meetups for atheists, brights, skeptics, humanist, etc. I found lots of groups in the LA area by googling "atheist meetup los angeles."
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