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What Was The Pivotal Moment For You?


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Guest goodfaith

I have drifted in and out of churches for years, sometimes realising quickly that it wasn't a place for me, but often forming bonds of activity or friendship which kept me there.

 

What prompted me to give up the whole religion this year was something very simple. After many social problems at the UMC church I'd been attending I wrote to the head pastor and the bishop, proposing some ideas about where the problems had come from and what needed in my opinion to be done.

 

Neither responded. Not a word.

 

And suddenly it hit me that these were people who believe they are entitled to their position, some kind of religious authority, an egotistical response to other humans...they believe if others suffer it's because God wants that, and to paraphrase Christ 'why should they do a thing to lift their burdens'.

 

It was just what I needed to see the light, that the churches I have experienced have very little to do with Christ's teachings, where Christ even enters the picture it's as an idol to worship. The concept of self-sacrifice or serving others has been lost.

 

Actually- we were all serving the pastor and bishop!

 

I left and won't ever go back or see things quite the same again. I can happier and a better person away from all that.

 

*

 

Was there a pivotal moment for you when you realised- this is wrong for me?

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Was there a pivotal moment for you when you realised- this is wrong for me?

 

I think my most poignant moment was in High School learning about the rest of the world. See, we had a teacher that encouraged us to question all the American History we had been taught to that point, and debate whether America could be defined as a success based on the intentions of the founders.

 

Now, that was fun, and I realized America wasn't always fighting the good fight, and that authority often covers up what it doesn't like, and more importantly, that I had been wrong about things that I believed and the truth was a wonderful feeling.

 

So there I am reading a about the rest of the world, and reading about how many millions follow Islam, how many millions are Buddhists, how many millions of Hindus etc.

 

And suddenly I was like 'All these people believe they are right, the same way I believe I am right. We can't all be right. We could all be wrong though.' That thought kept me probing for answers and I stripped religion away piece by piece.

 

Daniel Quinn writes that losing your faith is like taking 100 steps. Once you take a step, you can't go back. Some people sprint, some people crawl, some people never make it the whole way. But you can never return to the blissful ignorance you left behind you regardless. I don't know which step that day was, maybe I leaped over 10 or 20 steps, but I will always remember the realization that someone across the world could believe something radically different, and feel as close to God, and yet they were supposed to be 'heathens' and 'lost souls' to me.

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Allowing myself to realize for the first time in my life that the bible wasn't the inerrant word of god, through rational review of the facts, dissolved my faith. I forget which particular scripture it was, but during our deconversion my husband and I were discussing some part of the new testament gospels (maybe in Mark), and the fact that it could not historically be true, and I thought, "If the gospels aren't true, then there's no point to any of it!"

 

There have been many, "supporting" facts and moments since then that have confirmed for me that christianity (and religion in general) is bunk, but since all of christianity is ultimately based on the saving grace of jesus, once that was dispelled there was nothing left in it for me to believe in.

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I'd had so many doubts, etc. My daughter had been very sick for a few years. She had been in and our of hospitals, trying different treatments, etc. Finally, after a couple of serious drug reactions, she decided to take it into her own hands and just try something different. She went on a raw foods diet, and (short story here) within months was cured, out of her wheelchair, walking, etc. Everyone at church was going on about God's miraculous healing, etc. Then, one person, pulled me aside and whispered, "But I wonder what would have happened if she hadn't tried the raw foods?" In other words, Bethany used her own common sense, listened to her gut, and recovered beautifully. And God was getting all the praise. No one seemed to get it that she had worked incredibly hard for this healing. We're talking totally changing her diet, juicing veggies every day, going back to physcial therapy 3 full days a week. I remember as that person said that, a "lightbulb" went off in my head. it's like we "prop" up this god with our own hard work, debasing ourselves and trying to make him look good. That was the final straw for me!

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Welcome to the forums, goodfaith.

 

So many different things can be triggers to converting from myth to rational thinking, but my guess is that in every case it's a little bitty bit of rational thinking which opens the floodgates.

 

Glad you're here.

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Well, as a kid and teen, had NO CLUE that world history happened outside of the beginning...ie the Garden of Eden, where Bible events would have been geograhically located. Thought that history began there, people populated the earth after the whole tower of Babel thing, etc etc. Had no idea people lived in other locations, had developing cultures, etc.

 

Started to learn more about world history, got my hands on a Bible that had a timeline about what was happening in the rest of the world during the events of "x" book of the Bible. That started the wheels turning...hmmm. Who says "our" story/bible is valid...As time went on over a period of 10 years or so, got to be exposed to more such as evolution facts, genetics, geology, etc (I think I have read almost everything in the TalkOrigins site!) and had the opportunity to read intelligent refutes to people such as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel...who now sounded pretty trite and lame after that.

 

So, my faith pretty much was shot after that. I like my rational reasoning mind much better!

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It wasn't the first step, but the most pivotal for me came during a youth conference the summer after my freshman year at college. I had already walked away from the strain of Christianity that I had been raised in and was questioning everything else but I was pressed into going to this conference by my then boyfriend and my parents, who thought it would take my mind off some stuff going on at home at that time. I still considered myself a Christian and had many ecstatic experiences at the conference where "I felt God". But then I had to attend a seminar in the afternoon where I had to listen to a woman getting her masters (and who implied that she taught at a respectable university) in biology completely misrepresent and lie about scientific facts to prove creationsim over evolution (never once touching on any biological subjects though, an irony I have come to appreciate years later). At the end of her talk she said "You cannot be a Christian and believe in evolution." That sealed it for me, if there was no place for me in Christianity then I wanted none of it. I stormed out of the seminar in a rage and spent the next few hours walking around the woods on the grounds of the conference and trying to devise ways to get back home right then. But eventually I was forced to come back to the days closing activities by my then boyfriend and his youth pastors, but the resoluteness remained.

 

Best and worst experience of my life.

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Guest goodfaith

Thanks everyone.

 

I feel it's really important for me to work through the residual bad taste all this left for me about my faith ( which is nothing to do with my religion after all! ) If I don't I'll drift back again, already people are trying to involve me in their churches, and I'm a full-time musician so some of my work is inevitably there.

 

"Everyone at church was going on about God's miraculous healing"

 

That is something I have always hated about christianity: if the person gets worse and dies, God has given them rest, if the person recovers, God healed them...and if they suffer it's because it's best for them?

Which leads to a lot of hateful thinking:

 

One of my neighbours said after the hurricane last year 'we're ok because we're alright with God'; I hate that, and the implication that all those other people who pray or serve have it wrong and me, a tiny minority has it right...

 

'Inerrant word of God' is another ridiculous idea, knowing how the bible evolved and that some things got taken out, others inserted, in the course of history.

 

I hope people who are having a hard time anywhere and wondering why god is punishing them are comforted by rational people who don't promote superstition and fear of reality.

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I'll quote from my testimonial

the moment,when I stopped considering myself a Christian was when I read about God killing 70,000 innocent people because David ordered a census of the people (1 Chronicles 21) .
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I had doubts off and on throughout my life. Inevitably something or someone would coax me through the mental gymnastics of Xianity and back into a wondrous relationship with the Alfuckingmighty.

 

My own mental issues never went away though; no matter how much I prayed.

 

Two years ago modern medicine totally fixed me and I could not figure it out. Healing is promised in the Bible. A sound mind is a promised fruit of the spirit.

 

I received neither until I went to a doctor and he figured out what the problem was.

 

There is nothing that will ever overcome that hurdle in my mind. Anything that Xianity can come up with is just a lame excuse and the only honest answer is, "I don't know."

 

So fuck it. Don't need it. Don't want it. I'm such a happy heathen now it's ridiculous! :D

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?

Welcome.

 

In my worldview authority is meant to be broken and shattered. "Cause I say so" doesn't work anymore.

 

On Principle.

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I lingered as a Christian for many years with doubts. I was pretty disillusioned by the end of high school. I started to read about other religions when I was about 15 and started reading things about evolution. I started to be attracted to Hinduism and Buddhism at that time. I do remember one particular book that was trying to prove the Flood and Noahs Ark were real and becoming disgusted. Then I went off to college, and had no desire to go to any church for about 12 years. In college in 1978 or so, I took a course on religion and it was mainly focused on Buddhism. That interested me enough that I have kept the book from that course to this day.

 

I did go back to church later after some heavy shit went down in my life and I had to move back home with my parents. It was a much more liberal church than what I was raised in (Episcopal)but I found that beyond the ritual that I was attracted to at the bottom it was the same old thing. I realized gradually that none of it made sense and that it had damaged my life in various ways. I would say there was no particular pivotal moment, it was very gradual.

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One of my neighbours said after the hurricane last year 'we're ok because we're alright with God'; I hate that, and the implication that all those other people who pray or serve have it wrong and me, a tiny minority has it right...

 

Yes, the special protection idea. As Christians we are taught to believe that just by virtue of our belief that nothing bad is going to happen to us, or if it does, it will eventually be put right in heaven. I hate it too, because it works up people's expectations, and experience tells us it is so obviously wrong.

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Guest adonisai

For me, it was when I realized that God was cruel beyond measure. I had believed in him my whole life but never really thought that deeply about it, I suppose. Then I got married to a man who was a regular church goer. I never was. And when I would go with him something just felt so wrong to me. But I couldn't explain it so I thought I would go and read the Bible and really ask God to show himself to me. I thought I was saved but that never felt right either. So I kept asking over and over again and nothing ever came in. I thought I must have done something wrong. I still felt exactly the same. I know myself well enough to know that there was never any change and no "Holy Spirit" was living in me. Still, I thought it was me that was wrong and I wondered why I just couldn't get the hang of things?

 

Then I really began to THINK. AHHHH, that's the kicker. I began to read the Old Testament but I read it like it was a Harry Potter book, not like it was the word of God, and then something kicked in. I began to realize I had been lied to my whole life, and I got angry. I still am angry because I think religion is a cult and the people in it are brainwashed. If you have kids and you see them being brainwashed, too, it really sucks. The pivotal moment for me was when I began to see that these people were worshiping a God that was much more cruel than any human being could ever be. I found myself knowing that I was better than God. If this God could do anything, why have a lake of fire where he would burn people forever and ever? We would have the intelligence of an ant compared to a God who could create the universe and yet he had HUMAN enemies? It was absurd. And I know that I, as a human, couldn't torment my worst enemy for even a minute. Yet this God would torment people for eternity, some of them for the simple reason that they were born into the wrong religion. It still really, really pisses me off today because I just wish these Christians could see their God for what it really is. They should be more than happy to realize that it isn't real. Because God is not a HE, God is an idea that was born in the head's of some ancient men who wrote the Bible because they knew fear worked. If they could get these people to believe that there is some sorry-ass God in the sky that will burn them up forever and ever, THEY will have control over these people. And that's the end of the story. It is all a lie.

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Even after leaving church for about 3 years, I still felt like I was a believer and that the church just wasn't being spiritual. I was following a certain "on fire" preacher and had invested nearly a decade with him promoting him around the world. Then I caught him in some blatant tall-tales he was trying to pass off as miracles, and I had video evidence to the contrary. He was known for his many tales of astounding miracles, so this was like a grenade to his whole "work". Angry supporters of his wrote to me saying that they were there when he raised the dead. But personal testimony doesn't override video showing exactly the opposite. This was the shock that made me not only question and reject him and his group, but then be willing to question and reject the religion that had bound me for 30 years. I'm now trying to analyze the process to see if I can help replicate it in other Christians.

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For me it was during an anthropology course. I grew up Southern Baptist and we were taught that homosexuality was a sin. I had a best friend at the time who came out of the closet. I was criticized for remaining friends with him. I went through a lot of questioning of my faith. The anthropology class covered a tribe that practiced homosexuality as a right of passage into manhood. I kept thinking about how these people in this tribe were exempt from society and Christianity and by their "nature" homosexuality was not wrong. That cracked my faith beyond repair. And the four horsemen (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, etc.) shattered the glass from their.

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The defining moment for me came about 12 or 13 years ago. I had been a "give a shit, I guess I'm a Christian" for quite a while. Mostly not attending church. Then I sent away for some material from American Atheists. I really thought about what I read hard and long and finally accepted the fact that I was also an atheist. I remember a friend of mine and I were having a loud discussion about it and I blurted out loud for the first time---------------"I'm an atheist dammit". That's when my real serious reading of people like Robert Ingersoll and Bertrand Russell started. And many more since.

 

Haven't regretted one moment of it.

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Guest goodfaith

"give a shit, I guess I'm a Christian"

 

I think that's what turned on its head for me, I really did think Jesus meant well, and to bring together people of all backgrounds and nations and religions. And I studied the Bible carefully, at one point translating the NT from the Greek to get a fresh perspective- I had always felt some of the rituals, like eucharist, were wrong. I saw that they were important to other people's faith but I would never do them myself, they seemed irreverent if that makes sense, not very loving or civilised.

 

But that's not what christianity is, or what it teaches, and down here in the Southern US there's a whole lot taught that is way off from Jesus and unconditional love, in fact some of the people revel in the concept of punishment and in identifying and criticising 'sinners'...and some of them worship Jesus as a God.

 

Thanks for all your replies & welcomes.

The main thing the people seem to be saying is there came an incident or a time when they could no longer fool themselves or pretend: same for me too.

 

Christmas Eve last year was the biggest night of phoney-baloney my whole life, I kept thinking 'what am I doing here' and at one point walking through the hallway where there were candles casting shadows and eerie music playing I thought 'this place is evil'.

 

A few of the people tried to stay in contact with me when I left but I think truthfully they thought I should go back, and I've been adamant I will never. I doubt if any one of them will remember me in a year- another thing which convinces me, I have always been pretty loyal and loving, whereas in a cult you're only accepted and loved for being there and doing what someone else says.

 

In my heart that someone wasn't 'God' or whatever people want to call it. It was cult and habit and tradition.

 

I deeply hate superstition of any kind- it causes so many social problems, abuses, wars...but we don't see our own culture as an outsider, it makes sense simply because we're used to it.

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I'm one of those rare people who questioned the religion even as a kid. I still accepted a lot of the bullshit I was fed, though, because I didn't have a way to refute it at the time. Hiigh school, especially senior high, did a lot for me to help me refute a lot of the apologetics and lies I was fed by my parents, clergy, and society at large. At the end of high school, I was not affiliated with a religion, but I didn't know if I would eventually return to xianity or not. What finally got me to realize that religion, and this religion in particular, were bad was the documentary Religulous, especially the part when Maher tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. I never knew that the townspeople were about to rape the angels god had sent and then Lot offers his daughters to the mob to rape. When I heard him say that, I instantly thought, "Wow! WTF is this?! Is that true?" I got a bible and read the story and, sure enough, according to the bible, this happened.. Then I read the rest of the story where the cities were destroyed and Lot's daughters have drunken sex with their father. THEN I went back and read the stories that I had been told in Sunday school, like the story of the enslaved Jews in Exodus. I had never known that god hardened the pharaoh's heart and that's why he wouldn't let the Jews go. I also didn't know that god killed not only the first born Egyptian children, but the firstborn animals, as well. What a thing for a just god to do. That was it for me. I knew that I could no longer live the lie without being a total hypocrite.

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Homosexuality I think. It's tough to say what "the" pivotal moment was though. The more I learned about it, the more convinced I was that it had genetic origins. And because God is supposed to be in charge of all that, I couldn't understand why he would make people that were designed to be sinning machines.

 

Another big event was when I went to a website which chronicled all of the horrible diseases people can be born with. Same issue as before. I stopped calling myself a Christian that very night, and shortly thereafter discovered that I was not able to convince myself to believe in any sort of loving or personal god.

 

So yeah, that about sums it up.

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Mine was watching the last five minutes of a documentary about the exodus from Egypt not actually happening. I had always assumed the OT to be pretty much historically factual, except for the creation story and the flood. Once I understood that the OT was just another tribe's mythology the whole house of cards came tumbling down. There were a lot of other points along the way, but that was the one that got me to take my godgoggles off and look at reality.

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Guest goodfaith

Yes, the atrocities of the OT being used as trite 'lessons' or the simple ignoring the presence of these abhorrant stories...either way it can be offensive unless someone stands up and says 'this is evil'. And that's not usually the case.

 

I wrote about it when I first started blogging, there was a Billy Graham ministries email in my inbox where the writer was oblivious of the actual atrocity of the scripture they were using...

 

http://ingoodfaith.wordpress.com/2008/04/2...t-about-values/

 

The Old testament has been used to justify so much human evil.

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I'm not exactly sure when my pivotal moment occurred but I know 09-11-01 was a large part of it. When I was those towers coming down in the name of Allah, followed by Robertson and Falwell's retoric within a few days, I began to look at the God I had grown up with differently. During this time, I was also reading through the bible, I saw Genesis as pure rubbish and after through research I saw Revelation as a drug induced dream. The more I read(read through the damn thing 5 times), the more I disliked, discrepincies, rubbish I was able to decipher from this supposed word of god. With each turn of the page, I slowly loss my faith and glad that a fellow brother in christ had challenged me to do so. The bible itself brought me to the world outside of Christianity.

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