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In The Thick Of A Possible Deconversion


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I think I may be currently turning into a former Christian. This idea is still scary for me. I'm in a place where I don't actually know what I think and/or believe about, well basic foundational core beliefs.

 

A few months ago I read the first 15 pages or so of Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" and it was so well written, so full of excellent points that I could not argue against, points that made total sense. I felt for the first time that maybe the faith I've believed in my whole life isn't true. But at the same time I felt very afraid of what that realization would mean for me and was sent into an emotional breakdown, sobbing on my husbands shoulder in fear and pain. The crumbling of the world view I was given as a child came with overwhelming pain. I still haven't picked up that book again. But I have continued to do some searching, just in a slower, less dramatic way.

 

Basically I'm going from what feels like a brainwashed state over the last 20 years in a Southern evangelical Christian style of belief system to an what feels like having my eyes opened to a new cosmology completely. I will try to sum up the beliefs I'm finding myself gravitating towards and I welcome your comments.

 

Things I'm realizing:

 

Actually, the bible isn't inerrant.

 

Wow, the bible seems like it's probably a man made story that is kind of sloppy in the way it was put together and has contradictions and violations of basic morals in it.

 

That makes it very hard for me to believe in the God of the bible.

 

But it is also hard to not believe in Him because of my fear of hell, and because I have actually felt like I was in a relationship with this person God/Jesus before so it feels like I might be betraying a real person, a real relationship by my lack of belief.

 

I am astounded to find out how common it is for people to actually want to believe but find that they can't. In the evangelical Christian culture, this is not known or admitted. They like to say that people who don't believe, refuse to believe so they can go on living selfish, sinful lives. That just doesn't make sense. Never did actually.

 

It seems that hell is probably not real. It would be an understatement to say that this is a huge revelation to me. (no pun intended)

 

Wow, hell probably isn't real?!

 

It seems completely unjust for God to create a system in which humans get infinite punishment for finite sin. It seems over the top cruel. I feel that I wouldn't even decide to send child rapists to hell for eternity if I had that kind of power. I mean, sure if given the power, I'd give them something awful like total castration and 80 years worth of beatings or something else really rough, but I would simply not have it in me to wish eternal misery on someone. Eternal misery! Ughh. Sick idea.

 

I have never allowed myself to question the character or rightness of God before. It is terrifying to do so. But once I let myself open my mind, I can't keep from noticing how unjust this idea of hell is. My Christian mom pointed out to me that I was making a value judgment about God and that that is not acceptable.

 

All of the above can not be seen by those who believe because the very belief is self protective in that the Christian can not allow themselves to truly consider such blasphemous things to be an actual possibility.

 

As Tarico brought up in chap. 14 of The Dark Side...how can heaven be free from suffering if those in heaven will be aware of the existence of hell and that there are people in it? That thought would be upsetting to those in heaven therefore heaven would have suffering in it. (a major contradiction) Or for this awareness to not be bothersome to those in heaven, they would need to have no compassion, mercy, empathy and therefore can not be holy as the bible claims those in heaven will be. This is a huge contradiction and one that would be hard for me to get over in order to try to keep the faith.

 

I have gone through moments of very real fear of hell as I've gone on this spiritual quest. In conversations with my husband (who is on a similar journey as I am on) when we've come to the point that it seems clear that the Christian doctrine isn't true I have started to almost panic and said that we ought to try to believe just in case it's true so we don't go to hell. He told me that was something called Pascal's Wager and I was surprised to hear that, sat and thought about it and then said- well, it sounds dumb, but we ought to take the wager! And I meant it. I practically begged my husband to take the wager.

 

Now that I'm further down the road of education in this area I've started to realize that hell may actually not be real I'm starting to feel less afraid of it. But then I think "Oh man, the devil must really have a hold of my thoughts!"

 

The above sounds like a brainwashed person to me.

 

I have actually felt like God is lurking nearby feeling very sad and disappointed in me for reading Harris, or Tarico etc. I still feel like I'm doing something very wrong when I type in "exchristian.net". I know that if my mom knew I was going on this site she would chew me out while simultaneously crying in fear for my soul. This makes my quest for truth very uncomfortable, difficult and scary. I wish I felt more freedom to explore.

 

I've heard that before the bible was written there was at least one other religion that involved a very similar story of virgin birth, sacrificial death to pay for sins etc. This gives me a lot of doubt about the bible but I have yet to confirm those claims by research. Anyone know where I can read about this from a reputable source but a source that isn't too difficult to read?

 

Even years ago when I still considered myself a Christian and never would've imagined that I could actually lose my faith someday...even then, I was starting to feel repulsed by the bible when I read it. Something about the way it sounded was disgusting to me. It sounded like a bunch of weird, made up crap, sort of like what the mormon doctrine sounds like. It just sounded like crazy talk to me. I felt very disturbed with myself for having such feelings. I guess I've been on this journey longer than I realized.

 

Does it sound to you all like I've been brainwashed? Is it possible that I am actually moving away from God and towards Satan and hell by thinking this way?

 

I realize that this may be a messy display of my thoughts- and that is exactly how it feels inside my brain. Thank you for your company as I try to sort out my thoughts/feelings.

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You've actually put your thoughts down quite well. It is a very confusing time when the filter in your brain begins to fall away. All I will do is encourage you to keep on searching.

 

As for the "christian" traditions that actually have pre-christian origins, I can't help you, but I'm hoping someone else will post them. I'm interested in them also.

 

Welcome to the world of reason

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Welcome, tumalo.

 

It seems like you're doing okay with your realizations. Once you've seen the man behind the curtain it's impossible to go back.

 

The religion can fill an emotional need for people, and if you are emotional by nature, you will naturally fear losing the false comfort you've had. Everyone reacts differently to learning that their faith was a sham. It depends on the individual's personality stability, support group, and the degree and length of indoctrination suffered.

 

It always takes some time to adjust, but you will get through it. Thinking is good, really!

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Welcome Tumalo!

 

I struggled with the fear of hell too. Mostly with the heartbreaking thought of while I was "saved" all of the people who weren't would go to hell. It ate at me more times than I can remember. After a lot of anguished thought I finally came to the liberating idea that an all powerful god who can create the universe, with all it's billions of stars and galaxies by sheer force of will, isn't some petty tyrant who created humans just to kiss his butt or torment them if they didn't.

 

I believe there's some sort of power, an animating force that runs the universe, but I know just by looking up at the night sky, it's not a mean old man with insecurity issues.

 

Hang in there Tumalo, you WILL get through this.

Tab

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I have never allowed myself to question the character or rightness of God before. It is terrifying to do so. But once I let myself open my mind, I can't keep from noticing how unjust this idea of hell is. My Christian mom pointed out to me that I was making a value judgment about God and that that is not acceptable.

 

All of the above can not be seen by those who believe because the very belief is self protective in that the Christian can not allow themselves to truly consider such blasphemous things to be an actual possibility.

 

Does it sound to you all like I've been brainwashed? Is it possible that I am actually moving away from God and towards Satan and hell by thinking this way?

 

Hi Tumalo,

You wrote that very well, and did a wonderful job of honestly explaining where you are.

 

As for your Mom saying you can't make a value judgment about "God", all you have to realize is that you are only making a value judgment about is a fictional character in a book, and about human beings that are trying to sell the idea to you. It is acceptable to make judgments about books and the characters in them, correct? I think even your mom would admit to this. Of course she would say that is true for all books except hers.

 

As for whether or not you are moving away from God and towards Satan, all you need to ask yourself is "Am I moving toward what I know to be good and right and just?" Which from your analysis of the acts of the god in the Bible, and your abhorrence of the concept of hell, tells me you are indeed moving in a good direction. What is moving you away from the Christian god, is not your desire to go lead a life of sin, but it is your inner goodness that screams out to your conscious mind that the faith you grew up in is simply not good in any sense of the word.

 

I don't believe in a personal god that knows or cares about us, but if I was going to believe in God and Satan and some weird war between the two, I'd make a bet that it was actually Satan that fooled people into writing the Bible. Think about it. If Satan could put a bunch of contradictory information about a god that was both evil and good in the book, and then get people to believe that book without question, he could get them to believe all sorts of crazy stuff and to confuse the hell out of them. He would be able to distract them from the goodness in their own hearts to believe a lie. He could also write the Koran and then get people to fight and kill each other for thousands of years.

 

No, I'd say you are moving in the right direction. If there is a God, I think you are one step closer to understanding her/him/it.

 

So the bottom line for me is that I feel I could stand before a good god and say, "I used the logic and reason you gave me, in order to choose the best things this life had to offer, and to work to make this a better place for me and those I share the planet with. I chose what was good and right and just, and I rejected that which was abhorrent to me." A good god would understand how complicated it is being a human on this planet and extend the grace necessary for us. On the other hand, if god is not good and does indeed send people to hell because they could not believe in a bunch of strange stories from an old book, then it would be hell for me to spend eternity kissing his ass and singing his praises.

 

So I am choosing to avoid hell, by rejecting that fictional character from the Bible. (Well not really, since I don't believe hell exists, but I like the sound of that.)

 

--------------

 

Sorry for being so long winded, but one more thought.

 

 

If there is a god, I would not be surprised if a Christian got the following questions upon their arrival at the pearly gates.

 

God - "Did you really think I would send people to hell after all the confusion and suffering they endured on Earth? Why would you believe I could be such an asshole?"

 

Christian - "Well the book said so."

 

God - "And why the hell did you believe that book? A child could see the silliness of it, and all the contradictions."

 

Christian - "But, my religious leaders told me I had to believe it."

 

God - "Why did you believe them? Couldn't you see how wrong they had been throughout history?"

 

Christians - "But, but, but.... They scared me, and I didn't want to burn forever."

 

God - "Come on, I gave you a brain, and I gave you the gift of reason. I'm sorry you chose not to use them. You kind of wasted your life because of it, and you missed out on a lot of love and goodness and compassion because of your believe in such an evil creator."

 

 

 

Of course I don't believe that will happen, but it seems more likely than the Christian version.

 

Good luck on your search.

 

Peace,

 

Lance

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Welcome tumalo!! I really enjoyed reading your post- I could've written that myself as we've had a very similar struggle with the thought process. And I thought you expressed yourself very clearly and well. Hang out here and you'll find a lot of help and encouragement and gain the assurance you're on the right path.

 

Deb

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Sorry for being so long winded, but one more thought.

 

 

If there is a god, I would not be surprised if a Christian got the following questions upon their arrival at the pearly gates.

 

God - "Did you really think I would send people to hell after all the confusion and suffering they endured on Earth? Why would you believe I could be such an asshole?"

 

Christian - "Well the book said so."

 

God - "And why the hell did you believe that book? A child could see the silliness of it, and all the contradictions."

 

Christian - "But, my religious leaders told me I had to believe it."

 

God - "Why did you believe them? Couldn't you see how wrong they had been throughout history?"

 

Christians - "But, but, but.... They scared me, and I didn't want to burn forever."

 

God - "Come on, I gave you a brain, and I gave you the gift of reason. I'm sorry you chose not to use them. You kind of wasted your life because of it, and you missed out on a lot of love and goodness and compassion because of your believe in such an evil creator."

 

 

 

Of course I don't believe that will happen, but it seems more likely than the Christian version.

 

Good luck on your search.

 

Peace,

 

Lance

 

I enjoyed that dialogue- good way to think about it!

 

Deb

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Lance, that was a great post! I especially liked this part:

If there is a god, I would not be surprised if a Christian got the following questions upon their arrival at the pearly gates.

 

God - "Did you really think I would send people to hell after all the confusion and suffering they endured on Earth? Why would you believe I could be such an asshole?"

 

Christian - "Well the book said so."

 

God - "And why the hell did you believe that book? A child could see the silliness of it, and all the contradictions."

 

Christian - "But, my religious leaders told me I had to believe it."

 

God - "Why did you believe them? Couldn't you see how wrong they had been throughout history?"

 

Christians - "But, but, but.... They scared me, and I didn't want to burn forever."

 

God - "Come on, I gave you a brain, and I gave you the gift of reason. I'm sorry you chose not to use them. You kind of wasted your life because of it, and you missed out on a lot of love and goodness and compassion because of your believe in such an evil creator."

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Welcome to the forums, Tumalo -- and Lance, too.

 

So much smart and caring words have already been posted in this thread, so there's not much I can add (except to encourage more of the same!).

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Thanks for the feedback on my little fictional dialogue between God and the Christian. It helped me in coming to peace with my decision to bail on Christianity. I needed to find a way to remove the fear of hell that was pounded in to my head early in life, and the idea of being able to face a good god with confidence did it for me. Realizing the god of the Bible was more like a devil then a deity also helped.

 

I usually post on the main ExChristian site. I think I might start playing here in the forums more often now.

 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Lance

 

- So where does an old un-hip guy like my find a good avatar?

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Finish opening your eyes, and see the world and experience it for yourself. And even if there is a hell, it would have to better than being stuck in a "heaven" worshiping a God that is so blood thirsty he sent his own son to dry a very brutal death.

 

Actually, it's common to have doubts, fears, and worries. Some people can shake them quickly, some people it takes years. But almost everyone has them.

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A few months ago I read the first 15 pages or so of Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" and it was so well written, so full of excellent points that I could not argue against, points that made total sense. I felt for the first time that maybe the faith I've believed in my whole life isn't true. But at the same time I felt very afraid of what that realization would mean for me and was sent into an emotional breakdown, sobbing on my husbands shoulder in fear and pain.
Does it sound to you all like I've been brainwashed?

Yes,it does. What's your husbands relationship with religion,by the way? And I don't usually ask that,but are you in your twenties or ... ?

I still haven't picked up that book again. But I have continued to do some searching, just in a slower, less dramatic way.

Oh man. That's quite a problem,if even reading Sam's letter is too dramatic. You see,the problem is,that you were indoctrinated with your religion as a child,just like all the muslims,hindus, krishnaits, jews e.t.c. and you're threatened by it's claims. If you'd been raised a muslim,the thought of not believing in Allah would be as horrofying to you for the same reasons.

.how can heaven be free from suffering if those in heaven will be aware of the existence of hell and that there are people in it? That thought would be upsetting to those in heaven therefore heaven would have suffering in it. (a major contradiction) Or for this awareness to not be bothersome to those in heaven, they would need to have no compassion, mercy, empathy and therefore can not be holy as the bible claims those in heaven will be.
Exactly. I too came to think of this argument on my own .
I've heard that before the bible was written there was at least one other religion that involved a very similar story of virgin birth, sacrificial death to pay for sins etc. This gives me a lot of doubt about the bible but I have yet to confirm those claims by research. Anyone know where I can read about this from a reputable source but a source that isn't too difficult to read?

Much more than one. Here's something you can begin with:

http://debunkingcreationism.blogspot.com/2...-parallels.html

Also I myself haven't read "Deconstructing Jesus" by Robert Price,but I think,that it's probably a good book on the topic.

I've started to realize that hell may actually not be real I'm starting to feel less afraid of it

Good for you! And I think,you should continue reading Sam's letter,when you'll feel like it.

Is it possible that I am actually moving away from God and towards Satan and hell by thinking this way?

Well,for an idea to be true it can't be contradictionary,so the answer is no (you've already mentioned the problem with "heaven and hell",for example) .

sort of like what the mormon doctrine sounds like

Well,yes. And do you think,that you'd had any better reasons for your beliefs if you were raised a mormon? Or it'd be exactly the same reasons?

Wow, hell probably isn't real?!

^_^

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Welcome, tumalo.

 

I could have written your story word for word and attached it to my own life a few years ago. I completely understand and feel for what you're going through right now, but once you finish opening your eyes to what you're realizing you'll probably feel truly free, as I did and many others, for the first time in your life. It's exhilarating to finally realize that you CAN be a kind, decent, caring, moral person without the fear of hell and the idea of a god looking down on you and telling you what to do.

 

The fear of hell and all of that can take a very long time to go away. I compare it to a kid who has just been shown by her mom that there is absolutely no monster in her closet, but the overwhelming fear remains even after the comforting words are spoken and mom has turned on the lights and shown her it was safe.

 

Keep exploring, keep *thinking*, and best of luck to you.

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What is moving you away from the Christian god, is not your desire to go lead a life of sin, but it is your inner goodness that screams out to your conscious mind that the faith you grew up in is simply not good in any sense of the word.

 

...

 

- So where does an old un-hip guy like my find a good avatar?

 

Hi Lance,

That was a great statement! The first reaction of many believers is to accuse those who are deconverting of preferring evil over good, and this is almost never true. My own mind cried out to know the truth, and when I got enough of a shock to step back and question my own beliefs, I saw the truth that my beliefs were a hodgepodge of pagan and cultic thoughts glommed onto the Jewish religion, which itself has little historical verification (I'm thinking of the Exodus here).

 

As far as avatars, you can use many different graphics program to grab part of a picture, or get one from avatarity.com, or many other places on the net by searching for "avatars".

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This spiritual quest takes the energy out of me. That's why I haven't been replying/discussing but I wanted you all to know that I have been reading everything you've given me and I'm so very appreciative of all of your comments and reading suggestions. Really, thanks. Especially thanks for all of the compassionate, empathic encouragement. It's funny how Christians think their best witnessing tool is to be loving to others and they think that that will amaze people into thinking Christianity is the way. They really aren't aware that non-Christians can be as or even more moral, loving and compassionate than they can be!

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Tumalo, you sure describe the feelings and emotional turmoil that I had during my deconversion process.

 

I want to wish you the best of luck and just let you know that once the emotional turmoil is over you will feel better and not afraid. And you'll be glad that you made the break but maybe a little mad that you ever believed any of it at all.

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Maybe a little humor will help your day. I searched on this forum and found no reference to this well known internet joke. This joke is mentioned on snopes.com which found history of the question dating back to 1960. Here's a link to that page:

 

http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/hell.asp

 

However, I always liked the version where the guy got the girl and have decided to post it here.

 

A true story: Dr Robert Shambaugh of the University of Oklahoma school of chemical engineering had a written take home exam for his graduate students in thermodynamics. Shambaugh is known for asking questions such as "why do airplanes fly?" on exam papers.

 

His May 1997 question for his Momentum, Heat and Mass Transfer II class was: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."

 

Most of his students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's law which, as we know you know, describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system, or some variant thereof.

 

One student, however, wrote the following: "First, we need to know how the mass of hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today.

 

"Most of these religions state that, if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell.

 

"Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in hell because Boyle's law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the volume of hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added. This gives two possibilities:

 

"1. If hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.

 

"2. If hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

 

"So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my freshman year that, 'It will be a cold day in hell before I sleep with you', and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that hell is exothermic and has already frozen over.

 

"The corollary of this theory is that since hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct . . . leaving only heaven, thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting, 'Oh my God!'."

 

The author, it is claimed, got an A+ for the answer.

 

 

I hope y'all enjoy.

 

Steve

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This is my first post. I hadn't planned on posting but after reading your post I wanted you to know that you are not alone. I just de-converted as well. It does leave a sense of emotion or withdrawal in me. I don't have the same support system I had before but I understand that it is a false sense of support. I can't turn back. Christians always say "The truth shall set you free", well, it did for me. I know truth now and the only truth is reason. You are not alone. Let us all take this journey together.

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This is my first post. I hadn't planned on posting but after reading your post I wanted you to know that you are not alone. I just de-converted as well. It does leave a sense of emotion or withdrawal in me. I don't have the same support system I had before but I understand that it is a false sense of support. I can't turn back. Christians always say "The truth shall set you free", well, it did for me. I know truth now and the only truth is reason. You are not alone. Let us all take this journey together.

Welcome hudsonrw. Just wanted to say that have used that exact same way of describing my deconversion - the truth has set me free, too. "The veil has been lifted." Woo-hoo!

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This is my first post. I hadn't planned on posting but after reading your post I wanted you to know that you are not alone. I just de-converted as well. It does leave a sense of emotion or withdrawal in me. I don't have the same support system I had before but I understand that it is a false sense of support. I can't turn back. Christians always say "The truth shall set you free", well, it did for me. I know truth now and the only truth is reason. You are not alone. Let us all take this journey together.

Welcome hudsonrw. Just wanted to say that have used that exact same way of describing my deconversion - the truth has set me free, too. "The veil has been lifted." Woo-hoo!

 

 

Thank you. I 'm glad that I found this place on the net. I really did feel alone with my thoughts. I don't want others to feel that way.

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Welcome! Welcome!

 

Pascal's Wager was mentioned....

 

Here is an excellent site with very good resources about the god-man ~

 

http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/central.html

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Welcome to the forums, Hudsonrw. I'm glad you found this place, too.

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Thanks for the feedback on my little fictional dialogue between God and the Christian. It helped me in coming to peace with my decision to bail on Christianity. I needed to find a way to remove the fear of hell that was pounded in to my head early in life, and the idea of being able to face a good god with confidence did it for me. Realizing the god of the Bible was more like a devil then a deity also helped.

 

I usually post on the main ExChristian site. I think I might start playing here in the forums more often now.

 

Thanks for the welcome.

 

Lance

 

- So where does an old un-hip guy like my find a good avatar?

 

Hi Lance! I didn't finish reading the thread, so maybe you already received an answer. Try this site for free avatars. Just watch the sizing so it fits here. Have fun! http://avatars.jurko.net/

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have gone through moments of very real fear of hell as I've gone on this spiritual quest. In conversations with my husband (who is on a similar journey as I am on) when we've come to the point that it seems clear that the Christian doctrine isn't true I have started to almost panic and said that we ought to try to believe just in case it's true so we don't go to hell. He told me that was something called Pascal's Wager and I was surprised to hear that, sat and thought about it and then said- well, it sounds dumb, but we ought to take the wager! And I meant it. I practically begged my husband to take the wager.

 

Now that I'm further down the road of education in this area I've started to realize that hell may actually not be real I'm starting to feel less afraid of it. But then I think "Oh man, the devil must really have a hold of my thoughts!"

 

The above sounds like a brainwashed person to me.

 

I have actually felt like God is lurking nearby feeling very sad and disappointed in me for reading Harris, or Tarico etc. I still feel like I'm doing something very wrong when I type in "exchristian.net". I know that if my mom knew I was going on this site she would chew me out while simultaneously crying in fear for my soul. This makes my quest for truth very uncomfortable, difficult and scary. I wish I felt more freedom to explore.

 

 

This is EXACTLY what Im going through right now and i have NO CLUE how to get over it

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