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Leaving Christianity Is Harder Than I Thought


Da Realist84
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I've been debating christianity for a while and decided after studying the bible and various other things that the religion is not for me and the stories of the bible or not true and dont make sense. I'm glad that I found this site because I feel alone in this and I can actually talk with people going through the same thing. My whole family is christian and I told them about my deminishing faith but they just tell me to keep believing and hold on. It came to a point where I couldnt hold on no longer and needed facts to back up why I felt that christianity was BS. It's still fairly new to me so I still have the tendancy to pray over my food and pray before I go to bed. It's kind of a sad situation for me because all my friends, my girlfriend and my family are christian so its like I have to be sort of an undercover christian while dropping hints here and there.

 

How did you guys cope with leaving christianity for the first few weeks or months. Its been draining me a little and I need a little help. Did any of you tell your family and friends or are you just keep it to yourself?

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Hey, welcome! I'm in a similar boat to you... I haven't gone to church in ages but I've only just recently admitted to myself that i am NOT a christian of any kind. It's been really hard sharing that with my friends (lots of them still don't know)... especially my roommates. I told my father but he was happy about it because he's an atheist. ;) I haven't told my mom or my grandma. I dunno... I guess I've just been trying to give myself time, and let myself breathe a little. It's hard to maintain the act, but I'd say just do the bare minimum. Don't try to break every christian habit all at once because that'll get really overwhelming. It takes time, and it's not easy, but it's definitely doable and I think most, if not all of us here would say that it's worth it.

 

Take time for yourself. If writing's your thing, maybe start a journal devoted to this process in your life.

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I went through this same thing when I started my deconversion process. When I began to think rationally about life, I was in shock. I would ask myself "How could I have believed the garbage for so long?".

 

I took things slow at first. Start with thinking about what you like to do. What are your interests? I thought about this for a while. It took a while because of the damage that the brainwashing did to me. Try looking for clubs where you can meet others who share your interests. I like Toastmasters because it's a positive non-religious, and non-judgmental environment.

 

When I told my parents I don't go to church anymore I think they were relieved. I think my mom is an atheist. And my Dad thinks that Christians have a distorted sense of view on the world. So they were totally supportive of my decision.

 

For me the biggest adjustment was not getting up early on Sunday mornings to go to church. It took a while but now I enjoy sleeping in on Sundays. I now see that the brainwashing sessions were a big waste of my time. I have so many more productive things to do.

 

Give yourself some time to adjust. And remember to take things just one small step at a time. You'll soon realize what a great decision you have made.

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Hello and welcome. For many of us it wasnt easy thats for sure. Myself I kept it hidden for a while, afraid to be crapped on by my relatives and friends. Eventually tough the hiding and lying became too much and one by one I let people know when it came up. It still can be hard. You always feel you have to walk on eggshells, afraid a Christain boss will mark you down becuase your one of Satan's or the like. This site can be a real support system in more ways than one. You'll learn a lot and see Christians that come here continually have thier argument and Bible ripped to shreds by logic. That's very reassuring to me.

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Hi there and welcome.

Yes it is hard to leave. I too have only recently within the last few months admited that I am no longer a christian either. I have pretty much told my friends, but I don't think they really understand that I really am not a xtiain anymore. My family I have dropped hints to, but they just respond by buying me xtian books or saying to ask god to show me.

 

It is becoming increadably difficult to be around my xian friends and family.. when they are expecting me to be the same as I have always been. I was with a xian friend who I haven't spent too much time with since my deconversion. I have told her I am now a ex-txian but she keeps expecting me to come back to the faith. Today in the car she had on the praise station.. I had started to tap my finger against my leg which she of corse noticed and said are you worried about something? HHhm no.. I said but really I realized the praise music was stressing me out, and I was kind of apprehensive seeing her again.

 

They also tend to see evil in everything.. and blame everything on the devil which is kind of hard to take. I find the little comments hard to take now that I am not a xtian. I actually did not go to a family dinner tonight because I just can't take them and the xianity together anymore.

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How did you guys cope with leaving christianity for the first few weeks or months. Its been draining me a little and I need a little help. Did any of you tell your family and friends or are you just keep it to yourself?

 

Hello mate and welcome! For me, it was VERY difficult for about seven months because I very much relied on my christian faith to keep me emotionally stable. That, coupled with the fear of hell, meant that I had a very nasty breakdown last year. Then I discovered this site, which helped me more or less get rid of the fear of hell, and after that went, I soon managed to get myself sorted out and realised that I have the power within me to heal myself and stay well. Life is fine now.

 

As regards telling family, that was easy because my parents are liberal christians at best and my dad hates fundamentalist christianity. Most of my christian friends are fairly sensible and good natured people so I have had no problems telling them, but, I still get people say that they are praying for me and putting 'God bless you' in cards they give me, and one of my friends last night was blatantly trying to 'lead me back to Jesus'. So I have sent him an email saying that I have no interest in going back, and explained why. You will more than likely find that if you tell family and friends, that they'll wanna pray for you and stuff. It's like they don't understand that I have left Christianity, good and proper. Which is a bit annoying, but I kind of let it go over my head.

 

Anyway, I wish you all the best. Stick around here and read the various posts and topics. They will really help you as you adjust to life without Christianity. It may not be easy to start with, but you can make it.

 

regards

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It is tough at first. Your mind strongly suspects that christianity is bunk, but you lack the knowledge to really confirm it. The more you learn about it and give yourself over to critical thinking - the more absurd christianity becomes, until it eventually loses all of its grip on you. Christianity doesn't survive in the light of reason.

 

I didn't have to deal with a christian family (thankfully). If I were you, I would just kind of keep things to myself and learn everything you can that helps you move into a life of reason. There are tons of resources online and in books. Education is the key to freedom.

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I left in stages, over several years.

 

It wasn't easy.

 

Re-programming the way you think is not a bowl of cherries. At least it wasn't for me.

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Leaving any religion is a difficult process. Religions are worldviews--i.e. they determine moral codes, cosmologies (i.e. they describe how the universe came into existence), one's purpose in life (e.g. to glorify God and to enjoy him forever), etc. When you leave a religion, you are normally left without answers to these major life-questions. This is very disconcerting.

 

Some people, when they leave a religion, look for another worldview which will answer all of these questions (e.g. people who commit themselves to Objectivism or Materialistic Naturalism or Neo-platonism or another religion) and others are content to simply leave those questions "open" for a while. For me, the latter was more appealing. I felt that I had been controlled by a "system" for too long. I didn't want to jump into another system that tries to explain every question.

 

I'm still comfortable not having firm answers for everything. As a philosophy PhD student, I've been exposed to hundreds of systems (e.g. phenomenology, existentialism, Kantianism, Neo-Kantianism, conventionalism, etc., ad infinitum). I try to consider myself a philosophical taxonomist--i.e. I make myself aware of all of the various theories while not committing to any one of them (though, I certainly will lean toward one theory or another).

 

Having been a slave of the Christian way of thinking for so many years (I got a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees in biblical studies and theology and was an ordained minister), I decided that I didn't want to rush into any other system because I saw how I was able to rationalize so many anomalies when I was committed to a particular worldview. I don't want to grab on to any old system and then be its slave. That's just trading masters.

 

Another thing that helps is that I always keep reminding myself of things that make being a Christian impossible for me. 1 Samuel 15:3 records God as telling an army to kill men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys. Zechariah 14:2 quotes God as threatening to send an army to rape women if the country is disobedient. According to many parts of the Bible, it seems to be the case that God does, indeed, "hate faggots." I, on the other hand, am actually pretty fond of my gay friends. I don't want to worship someone who thinks my friends are evil and would deny them the happiness they've found with their partners.

 

Even if it turns out that Christianity is true, I couldn't worship a god like that. In fact, I feel morally obligated to oppose a god like that. I remind myself of this whenever I look back on what I "gave up" when I left Christianity (or, more appropriately, when Christianity left me against my will).

 

And this "looking back" happens less and less as time goes on.

 

If it gets really tough for you, I would recommend counseling. Though I don't know her personally, I know from other friends that they found Marlene Winell very helpful. She is a psychologist who wrote a book called Leaving the Fold. She had a website, but I just checked and it looks like it is down. It was marlenewinell.net. Perhaps, it will be up and running again in the future.

 

Anyway, this site is a great place for working through issues. I really enjoy it. I try to stick with the "Ex-Christian Life" forum because most of what I read on the other forums seems woefully ill-informed on both sides. It's rare to find commenters who are both theologically and philosophically savvy enough to carry on a good discussion. The internet is the Romper Room of apologetic debates.

 

On this forum, though, I have found the discussions of every day life to be of great value. I've read mothers whose parents baptize their children without permission, men or women married to fundamentalist spouses, younger adults who still have to live with their Christian parents, and people like you who are open and honest about the struggles of leaving faith. While most of my days are filled with reading Heidegger and Sartre, Quine and Kripke, Kant and Strawson, etc., I can honestly say that I find the far less "sophisticated," practical discussions here every bit as insightful as anything else that I read or study. It really is a nice place they've put together.

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I know just where you're coming from. I've tried so hard to be a Nietzsheian, but I just Kant.

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Hey Realist, and welcome. I’ve been out for about 17 years and I think that my family is still unaware of that fact. I don’t know what others may think of that and I don’t care. I don’t go to church. I don’t engage in God talk. I don’t pretend. But I also feel no desire to tell them that in my view their beliefs rest on myths. I also have no desire for them to worry over the fate of my soul.

 

I suppose the question to ask yourself is why you would want to tell them. What is your motive in telling them? If your motive is to be honest then I applaud you. If your motive is to challenge their beliefs then what’s the point? I think that Christianity can often be viewed as an institutionalized defense mechanism and to challenge it can merely serve to reinforce it.

 

I wish you luck in whatever decision you make and again welcome.

 

As a philosophy PhD student, I've been exposed to hundreds of systems (e.g. phenomenology, existentialism, Kantianism, Neo-Kantianism, conventionalism, etc., ad infinitum).

I think that’s cool exbeliever.

 

I try to stick with the "Ex-Christian Life" forum because most of what I read on the other forums seems woefully ill-informed on both sides. It's rare to find commenters who are both theologically and philosophically savvy enough to carry on a good discussion.

I wish that we could better meet your standards. I am interested in carrying on good discussions and being informed. I’ve been too immersed in questions that have their roots in biology however to delve very deeply into philosophy. Yet I know that I cannot escape philosophy. I think whether we are aware of it or not we adhere to our various philosophies. I’m not terribly interested in being theologically savvy however.

 

If you were to try and educate an aspiring biologist then what philosophies would you bring to their attention? I feel that I should try and address my own philosophical ignorance, but I have little interest if it will ultimately have no bearing on biology.

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It's still fairly new to me so I still have the tendancy to pray over my food and pray before I go to bed.

When you pray over your food, are you alone? And have you noticed if your food prayers are conditional? For example, do you pray over fast food? Or do you only pray over food that has been prepared by someone else at the table?

 

If you only pray over food that is actually prepared, then really you are just offering a socially approved and reinforced gesture of thanks and respect to the provider (the one at the table...not in the sky). And there really isn't anything wrong, or necessarily religious about this.

 

As for praying before bed. Are you actually praying? Or are you conversing to an imaginary friend? I have always had a running dialogue going in my head a lot of the time. This is inner discussions I've come to realize are from myself, to myself. Talking to yourself isn't nuts, and some days it's the most intelligent conversation avaliable. So you may as well take advantage of it.

 

Its been draining me a little and I need a little help. Did any of you tell your family and friends or are you just keep it to yourself?

 

Not right away. It took me over a year. Take it easy. One problem with going public regarding belief systems, people feel they have a right (no...a DUTY) to challenge your perceptions. They try to ask you about things they think you haven't though about, and they really expect you to have the answers to life, the universe, and everything. And they can act mighty smug and sanctimonious when you don't have clear answers that can be understood at a third grade reading level (anything more 'complicated' obviously isn't true). This attitude is highly aggrivating and even hurtful in the early stages of deconversion. Don't open yourself up to religious victimization until your knowledge base is more solid.

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Talking to yourself isn't nuts, and some days it's the most intelligent conversation avaliable. So you may as well take advantage of it.

Right on White Raven! Oh excuse me, I mean to say that I agree.

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How did you guys cope with leaving christianity for the first few weeks or months. Its been draining me a little and I need a little help. Did any of you tell your family and friends or are you just keep it to yourself?

 

I could've dealt better with it, but I was also going through a very bad breakup at the time, so that complicated things.

 

I was kind of letting Xianity go in steps. I wasn't a total believer one day and a total unbeliever the next. Over the course of about six or seven months (from the date of my breakup to the date I officially renounced Xianity for good) I tapered myself off; I either stopped churchgoing or dwelt on my deconverting when I did, I gave up dogmatic bits about God one by one (his supposed omnipotence, omnibenevolence, omnipresence, the inerrancy of the Babble, the historicity of Jebus, etc), and also slowly explored again and began to accept different bits of freethought or Pagan belief.

 

It wasn't the best of times in some ways. 27+ years of Xian programming which stated that I needed Jebus-belief and the Babble if I wanted to be saved, be a moral person, or be considered "good" by God in any way does a number on a person. For a good while, I thought I was actually "evil" because I wouldn't live by Xian moral and spiritual law anymore. It took a little time before I could finally get used to what I knew deep down, that there was no God and that the Babble is solely the work of a human mind, not a deity.

 

Xianity inspires fear in its adherents, even when they don't realize it. I never felt fearful or neurotic as a Xian because I thought I was on the right path. However, I was taught the Hell doctrine and accepted it fully. I believed that defiance of Xian doctrine led to eternal suffering. So, when I started to deny Xian dogma, the Trojan horse Xianity implanted in my head opened up and the decades-old Xian programming went into action.

 

But, after a time, my brain won out over my fear. I learned more, sought more information, re-read all the criticisms of Xianity that I did when I was Xian but this time with an objective point of view, and decided for myself what I would believe.

 

It takes time, but you get over it. Just hang in there and stay the course. Life is war and war is life - life is full of struggles but when you struggle back and endure, you will triumph. Today, I don't worry about Hell, God, Jebus, or anything of the sort - because I know and understand their origins, their flaws, and the utter cruelty of something portrayed as sooo "wholesome" and "good."

 

You'll make it out. Just keep up the fight.

 

And welcome :wave:

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I wish that we could better meet your standards.

 

I guess my comment did sound a little snide, huh? Sorry, I didn't mean it to be insulting (although I see why it is so despite my intention). I only meant to offer some of my experience with the value of ex-christian.net.

 

I am interested in carrying on good discussions and being informed. I’ve been too immersed in questions that have their roots in biology however to delve very deeply into philosophy. Yet I know that I cannot escape philosophy. I think whether we are aware of it or not we adhere to our various philosophies. I’m not terribly interested in being theologically savvy however.

 

If you were to try and educate an aspiring biologist then what philosophies would you bring to their attention? I feel that I should try and address my own philosophical ignorance, but I have little interest if it will ultimately have no bearing on biology.

 

If someone wants to debate with Christians about the falsity of their beliefs, one should know what those beliefs really are (i.e. they should be "theologically savvy"). [Personally, I feel that digging a hole and filling it back up again is more productive than debating Christians, but for each his/her own.] I find that a lot of internet atheists misrepresent Christian theology so terribly that their arguments are embarrassing--for some reason, this is especially pronounced when they debate Calvinists on one extreme and process theologians on the other. A better understanding of theology would help internet atheists form better arguments.

 

As far as what kind of philosophical education is good for an "aspiring biologist," I would say logic and philosophy of science. If you are going to be primarily making arguments related to science, it is important to know (1) what constitutes a good argument and (2) how to defend a particular philosophy of science.

 

A basic awareness of sentential and quantified/predicate logic is extremely useful in any kind of debate. One should also know about modal logics (particularly S5) and maybe even a little about paraconsistent logics (though, this isn't necessary).

 

As far as philosophy of science goes, it seems that most science programs don't offer much in the way of underlying theories of science. Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is, of course, a must. Other important articles would include:

 

Kitcher, "1953 and All That: A Tale of Two Sciences"

Carnap, "Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology"

Goodman, Fact, Fiction, and Forecast, Pt. 3

Bas van Fraassen, "To Save the Phenomena" (in Papineau)

Larry Laudan, "A Confutation of Convergent Realism" (in Papineau)

John Worrall, "Structural Realism: The Best of Both Worlds?" (in Papineau)

Brian Ellis, "What Science Aims to Do" (in Papineau)

Richard Boyd, Realism, "Approximate Truth, and Philosophical Method" (in Papineau)

Nancy Cartwright, Fundamentalism vs the Patchwork of Laws (in Papineau)

Stathis Psillos, Causation and Explanation. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2002. Chapters 5-9.

 

For internet atheists who want to debate Christians on other issues, I would love to see more familiarity with epistemology and moral philosophy because these are the issues that come up the most (and are some of the most painful to read on both sides).

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Thanks for ya'll replies on the subject, it really helps. I still have those feelings that now I deconverted that there is a special place in hell for me. I know it will take time to overcome a lot of the church bullshit so I just have to be patient. That whole revelation story about christians ascending to heaven and Jesus coming back is still in my head because it scared the shit out of me the first time I heard it. Oh well, time will heal all wounds. :grin:

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It isn't an easy process and so it doesn't happen overnight. I also found it hard to stop praying and I've tried to return to my old Christian beliefs several times now. I guess in a strange kinda way I miss them. I miss the comfort and the traditions but I know I'd rather have the truth. Sometimes, I wish this was a quicker process...like I could click my fingers and be done with it.

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I just kept it to myself at first.

 

There are no rules. Whatever you are comfortable with, that's the right thing to do in regards to telling or not telling anyone.

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I actually did not go to a family dinner tonight because I just can't take them and the xianity together anymore.

 

Congratulations for standing up for your beliefs!

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It seems you do believe in a God or you wouldn't be praying.

 

No, this is not what it means. It means the brain--the pathways of neurons--are trained to react in certain ways in certain situations. This is thought patterns. Thought patterns are learned behaviour. It takes time to create or forge new pathways. I never read up on this but that is exactly what it felt like to me. It felt like my very brain had to re-train itself on how to think about the world, the universe, and my place in it. It felt like I had to forge new pathways in the jungle. That takes TIME.

 

Realist, I sure know what you mean about feeling evil. I could not bear to think about it, so I would push it out of mind. Deep down I knew beyond a doubt that I was okay. It kept coming back and I kept holding it at bay and just not think about it. I realize now that was identity crisis. That, too, is a psychological process. Over a matter of many months, even years, this struggle diminished. By now it's completely gone. You named this thread very appropriately. Leaving Christianity is NOT EASY.

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This has got to be the most important part of de-converting: know your reasons. You will likely have a lot of people going after you when they find out you no longer believe the same myth they do. Make sure you know enough about yourself and what led you to deconvert before you let anyone know you have de-converted or they will find a way to coerce you back into the fold.

 

If you can't seem to get a good grasp on exactly what led you to this, ask other people what their reasons were and read some of the testimonials. If you read about what other people were experiencing and what ultimately led them to de-convert, it might shed some light on your situation.

 

For example: I can point to two things that happened in my mind that made me never want to called a christian again.

 

-I stopped seeing christianity as a positive influence in my life. The more fundies I talked to, the more this happened. There's a reason Penn Jillette said "Read the bible because we need more atheists".

 

-I stopped believing that the christian idea of creation was true. I never had a very strong belief in either science or religion when it came to the idea of the world's origins. The pendulum then took a strong swing towards science as I heard more about each of them. The more I heard about science, evolution, and the big bang, the more it made sense. The pieces fell in place, one thing led to another. The more I heard about the creation story, the more I found myself saying "what the FUCK, that doesn't make any sense".

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This has got to be the most important part of de-converting: know your reasons. You will likely have a lot of people going after you when they find out you no longer believe the same myth they do. Make sure you know enough about yourself and what led you to deconvert before you let anyone know you have de-converted or they will find a way to coerce you back into the fold.

 

If you can't seem to get a good grasp on exactly what led you to this, ask other people what their reasons were and read some of the testimonials. If you read about what other people were experiencing and what ultimately led them to de-convert, it might shed some light on your situation.

 

For example: I can point to two things that happened in my mind that made me never want to called a christian again.

 

-I stopped seeing christianity as a positive influence in my life. The more fundies I talked to, the more this happened. There's a reason Penn Jillette said "Read the bible because we need more atheists".

 

-I stopped believing that the christian idea of creation was true. I never had a very strong belief in either science or religion when it came to the idea of the world's origins. The pendulum then took a strong swing towards science as I heard more about each of them. The more I heard about science, evolution, and the big bang, the more it made sense. The pieces fell in place, one thing led to another. The more I heard about the creation story, the more I found myself saying "what the FUCK, that doesn't make any sense".

 

I'm not sure if this is the way you wanted this thread to go, Realist. Mman suggests finding out other people's reasons for leaving Christianity and then lists his own. My big reason was that I cannot see how Jesus' bodily death could benefit human souls. I think I searched it out very thoroughly. I've searched the Bible in vain for an answer. I've asked the few Christians who would allow such questions. I'm near the end of a two-year program of the study of theology. I think I have explored two major and very different systems of theology--the Mennonite/Anabaptist and the Lutheran--and been exposed to the theology of many others.

 

As central as the belief is to Christianity, I think I should have come across the answer if it exists. The fact that I did NOT find the answer suggests to me that there is no answer. That means I cannot profess to believe that I am saved by belief in the shed blood of Christ, and therefore I am not a Christian.

 

I am aware that these days there are forms of very liberal or marginal Christianity that allows one to identify as a Christian without believing these essentials. However, it does require belief in a divine being, and I'm just exhausted of trying to relate to a nonexistent being. If hell doesn't exist and this life is all we get, why bother. On top of that, I learned in this forum that atheists can be very decent and moral people. Thus, I don't have to compromise by foundational values by rejecting christian belief.

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For me, it was helpful at first to read why others have left xianity.. I have my reasons and it is helpful to know that I am not alone.

 

It is good to know your reasons, but I really don't think that it is up to us to defent our leaving xianity to xians.. unless you choose to do so. The oneness is not on us but on them. For this reason I am choosing not to tell my family now of my apostosy. Some friends know, since I have discussed with them over the years some issues I have had with xianity for a long time.

 

It is harder to leave expecially when your whole life has revolved around xianity,and yah the fear of hell is drilled into us from childhood.. I haven't really missed praying that much, since I have slowly stopped believing in xianity... I did have my moment the other day.

 

Really I don't believe in any sort of diety type of god anymore...and I cannot believe that the bible is gods divine word for mankind...as well as a few key issues that xianity says is an abonation.. Ulitmalty I realized that if I didn't believe those things I no longer wanted to be part of xianity.I clung onto the belief in Jesus for a while.. then I started to read the bible in a different light.. and couldn't believe anymore.

If anything I do believe perhaps in lifeforce energy and good and evil.

 

I have taken what I don't believe in.. and am trying to figure out what I could possibly belive in and what I value. I am most comfortable saying I am a humanist, and maybe a bit of a mystic.

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