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Hi,

 

I'm new to this forum tonight as a result of serious truth seeking. I would normally describe myself as a born-again Christian, but as of the last few years, that cannot be true. Before I get too far into my journey, let me introduce myself.

 

I'm a 35 year old husband and father. Been married for 14 years this May, and we have 2 girls...3 years old, and 4 months old. I love movies. Mostly action/adventure, such as The Matrix, Terminator 2, Back To The Future, Jurassic Park and the like. I'm a HUGE Christmas nut!!! My house won 2nd prize for the community Christmas Light display contest this last Christmas. I felt honored, but at the same time, didn't decorate to win anything. Having said that, I plan on getting first prize next year! LOL!!!! I also love video gaming...racing games in particular. Really been into the Need For Speed franchise lately! That about sums me up!

 

Now, I was mainly raised in a Christian home. Most of my childhood life was based on Christian values and beliefs. I accepted the things I was taught, and even strived to have a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. I feel it really was genuine. Especially in my earlier childhood years. Even as a young adult, I feel I was a genuine Christian. It wasn't until just a few years ago that I started to question God's "love". My wife and I were doing a devotional one night, and the passage was 2 Samuel 6:6-7. The story of how God became angry with Uzzah because he "took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled". The Lord struck down and killed Uzzah because this apparently was an irreverent act. That seemed a bit harsh a punishment.

 

Upon questioning this with other Christian family members, it was explained that the ark of God was not properly prepared for transport. Had it been, Uzzah would never have had to stabilize the ark to keep it from falling. But this answer did not suffice. I have since been exposed to many horrible acts of God, leaving me feel angry, bitter, and/or simply confused. I would also sometimes get angry with God when my 3 year old would get sick and I would pray for her to get better. I just could not understand how this peaceful and loving God would allow any amount of sickness on an innocent child. I don't like the usual "God allows pain" or "It's our free will that has caused this suffering" or "God sees the bigger picture" responses. It's all a cop-out.

 

I started reading material from two separate ex-Christians, and what they said started to feel really close to home. I can relate. But at the same time, I still want to believe. This is all very new to me. I do not want to leave Christianity out of anger. Neither do I want to be pressured into joining with other ex-Christians. That makes it feel almost like a cult. I want to be wise about my descisions. So, I've come here for help. I will be talking with my church pastor(s) to also seek guidance. Like I said, I am seriously seeking the truth, not just looking for answers I want to hear.

 

I hope that no matter the outcome, I will be welcomed here. I will also vow not to be the typical "Christian" and judge people for any descision they make, or have made. I hate when Christians do that. So, thanks and I'll be around.

 

Oh, and by the way, I'm a member of several internet forums and I have a tendancy to cluster post, and then retreat for a while. It's just the kinda guy I am! :grin:

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Hey Paradox.

It was the injustice of the idea of eternal damnation that made me deconvert above all. I could believe

in a supreme being,but I could no longer believe that said supreme being would be so horribly cruel, that

it would make anyone suffer forever,just because they didn't worship it or was "saved". Books like

"Misquoting Jesus" by Bart Ehrman helped, by showing all the contradictions in the Bible. As for being

a cult, nothing could be further from the truth. ex-c's have all sorts of beliefs and lifestyles. Our

common thread is merely that we no longer believe in Christianity. For me it's because while I believe

in a supreme being, I can't believe it's the cruel god of

the bible. For others, it's lack of evidence for God and or the cruelty shown in the bible along with all the

evils done in the name of Jesus.

 

As for still wanting to believe, as stated before we have varying beliefs. Not all of us are atheists, and

have left Christianity for other belief systems.(I'm a deist btw).

 

Whatever you finally decide to believe I wish you luck with your soul searching.

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I started reading material from two separate ex-Christians, and what they said started to feel really close to home. I can relate. But at the same time, I still want to believe. This is all very new to me. I do not want to leave Christianity out of anger. Neither do I want to be pressured into joining with other ex-Christians. That makes it feel almost like a cult. I want to be wise about my descisions. So, I've come here for help. I will be talking with my church pastor(s) to also seek guidance. Like I said, I am seriously seeking the truth, not just looking for answers I want to hear.

 

No cult or pressure here. Welcome to the forums! Paradox, we are here for whatever questions you may have. The only thing we have in common, as Tabula Rasa said, is that we don't believe in Christianity. For many of us, our searches have taken years and have been very serious.

 

If you find what your pastor(s) say to be convincing, maybe you could let us in on what they said so you could hear another point of view from the ex-christians. It would be interesting.

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and the passage was 2 Samuel 6:6-7. The story of how God became angry with Uzzah because he "took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled". The Lord struck down and killed Uzzah because this apparently was an irreverent act. That seemed a bit harsh a punishment.

 

Upon questioning this with other Christian family members, it was explained that the ark of God was not properly prepared for transport. Had it been, Uzzah would never have had to stabilize the ark to keep it from falling. But this answer did not suffice.

 

Of course it didn't suffice. One only has to take a minute to THINK about the passage. Which you have now done. The others telling you that nonsense about the Ark not being tied down right is just an attempt to justify the act of a monster that cannot be justified. And anyway it has no bearing on what Uzzah was trying to do, which was to protect the Ark because of an accident that he didn't even cause. You have to jump through some real mental hoops to read into the story that Uzzah deserved what happened to him for his efforts---that is unless you have no sense of justice or fairness at all.

 

What you are experiencing when you question things like the Uzzah incident is a dose of cognitive dissonance. You want to believe that God really is the God of love that you were raised to believe in, but now you have direct evidence to show he can also be a murderous, evil, and unjust being with no regard for human life. You are trying to entertain two wildly opposed ideas in your mind about the same being, and it's causing you discomfort. Things that you have believed for years are suddenly being questioned seriously, and it is really disquieting for your mind. It is not easy to have serious doubts now after having been comfortable with those beliefs for so long.

 

It is pretty clear to me that you have initiated a process that is very familiar to everyone else here here. For some, like me, it took years to deconvert. For others it happened in a matter of weeks or months. What you are going to find is that the more you seek the truth, the more things you will find that directly contravene what you have held as beliefs all this time. It won't be easy, and you stand to be bombarded by others who will try and rationalize things that you will find repugnant. My religious upbringing was very different than yours (Catholic). But the process is still pretty much the same. Once you have set it in motion, there is no turning back unless you go into complete denial of what you find.

 

As for me I'm an atheist. But I try not to bash religious people because a lot of my family are still religious. They are good people. They just believe in something that I don't any more. I have not lost a friend or family member yet as a result, and one is a very devout Catholic who is also a former Nun. We can try and answer questions for you, or point you to lots of good resources both on and off the internet. I hope it all works out for you, whatever you decide. I can't convert you into or out of anything. Only you can do that. Definitely come back after you've spoken to the minister. That will be interesting. We'll see if your experience with that matches anyone else's in here, and I suspect that it will.

 

Welcome to the board. You will find quite an eclectic mix of people in here. :wave:

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  • Super Moderator

Hello, and welcome!

 

But at the same time, I still want to believe.

 

Who doesn't want to believe that we have a benevolent deity that guides our lives, and that there is no death, but we will enjoy an eternity of happiness?

 

The desire to believe and the ability are separate things. Once you see that the Bible makes no sense as an historical text, once you see the Old Testament god in all his petty anger for his own creations, once you see the history of the book and the tens of thousands of interpretations it has spawned, once you see the atrocities committed in the name of god and by god himself, well, how can you still believe? I couldn't.

 

The promises of the New Testament haven't been fulfilled. When have you seen a True Christian perform miracles equal to and surpassing those of Jesus? Have prayers for peace been answered during the last 5,000 years? Has god ever healed an amputee? Does any of it make sense to a rational mind?

 

Good luck in your discovery, and glad to have you here.

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Paradox-DB3,

 

Another old-time programmer in our midst? It might have been accidental, but both Paradox and dBase 3 were made by Borland. :)

 

Anyway, I can totally relate to your situation. My family were in a horrid car accident 12 years ago. I have 5 kids, and my middle child got severely injured. His spine is broken in three places, and today he's bound to the wheelchair. We prayed for years. We got reports from thousands of churches praying for us, from America, Europe, and even reports from Africa. We even got a letter from Ex-president Bill Clinton that he was praying for us. My son can still not walk. And I can say this, every year we have some level of disaster or catastrophe. Last year he had to have a surgery to release a couple of muscles, and it was supposed to be a quick surgery and recovery. He was in the hospital for 6 months, and he almost died multiple times. He suffered. We suffered. If there is a God, he/she/it would know from my prayers between 1996 and 2004, that it only takes a small miracle, like all his scars being removed, his intestines grow back, muscles grow back, and much more, and that he walks again, and I would believe. But that's a small thing for God, right? But it would be a big thing if it converted me again. So I can only assume that God either want me and my family struggling in pain and problems, or God doesn't exist to do squat. I rather believe there is no God, than believe God is so evil to my family.

 

Anyway, welcome Paradox. Hope you enjoy your stay.

 

(And I leave it to Pitchu to decide if this thread should stay in Testimonies, since Paradox is still a Christian--however a doubting one.)

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Welcome to the forum.

 

It is tough deciding what to do, whether to deconvert or not. If you deconvert entirely, there will be times you will want to return to the church and that is not wrong. You have to make sense of what you do and that means reprogramming your mind about 'truth'. What is truth? How do you know when you get it? I had a difficult time discovering truth when I deconverted. I went from being a minister to an atheist in seven years following deconversion and I still have doubts about everything. That is just part of being human and exposed to cult teachings of Christianity for most of my life. I recommend the book, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I put off reading this book but when I finally read it, it answered several questions I had. It was easy for me to reject Jesus but the concept of a god was the hardest for me to overcome. Others from this site have gone back and forth to church and that is ok, too, only you know what is best for you on your road to deconversion. There is no 12-step process for leaving Christianity. It is like a drug, you may have to wean yourself over time in order to give it up totally. You can seek 'guidance' from your pastor but if you want to leave the church you will have to learn to depend on your own intuition. No religion is thinking for yourself. I'm not criticising your faith in your pastor, but pastors want members and members bring money to the altar. Anger is good. It will help you break the bond that keeps you enslaved to Christianity.

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I hope that no matter the outcome, I will be welcomed here. I will also vow not to be the typical "Christian" and judge people for any descision they make, or have made. I hate when Christians do that. So, thanks and I'll be around.

 

Absolutely. Non-crazy Christians are welcomed here for the most part.

 

I had roughly the same feeling as you did when I read the Book of Joshua.

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Hey Paradox,

 

Sounds like we grew up in the same house. Everything from your faith, to movie selection, to love of video games. I can completely relate. And of course, your imminent deconversion. Yours will be a bit more messy since your wife probably has some level of committment and you have children that are just about ready to begin their indocrtination in all of the fantastic, wonderful Bible stories about the first rainbow, fish that moonlight as submarines, and an Ark that carried a few ancestors of every living animal walking the earth today.

With that said, I would recommend that you read the book "godless" by Dan Barker. It is pretty much the greatest, most insightful, and thorough book on the topic of Christian de-conversion. I read this book over the past two weeks (about 2 months after I decided that I am an agnostic) and I found it just amazing. He has an answer to circular, hazy, inadequate explanation that your preachers will throw at you when you sit down for 'counseling' with them. If you can, I would recommend holding off on that meeting until you read this book. They will mostly likely manipulate your fears of hell and bad parenting to keep you in the faith. This book can help you understand viewpoints which make these things a non-issue. The best of luck to you in your search for the truth.

If you ever find yourself playing Call of Duty 4 on Xbox Live, send me a friend invite. I'm known as .... Kaptn Crushnuts. Believe it.

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Paradox, welcome! No pressure here! I think your questioning sounds rational. One of the biggest discoveries for me, coming out of a lifetime of religious indoctination, was that I have the RIGHT to think and act for myself. What a revelation! As for me, I am agnostic. one thing, too is a new appreciation for people who are different from me. As a christian, I felt it was my "duty" to convert everyone around me, and now I just relax in the knowlege that it's ok for each of us to be different from one another. Liberating, to be sure! Glad you're here, hope you find the support you seek! joD

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Since you are a Christian, I believe you should pray for guidance and listen. If you were an atheist, I'd recommend sitting down and contemplating what you truly believe ;)

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Welcome to the forums, Paradox.

 

At this juncture, I'm leaving this thread in "Testimonies," and we'll see how it goes. (If you read the Guidelines for this forum you'll understand why your particular situation isn't exactly a hand-in-glove fit, but it's close enough for now.)

 

Good luck with your pastor! :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi. I'm replying to this thread only as an update on the situation. I understand this in an ex and/or non Christian area of the forums, and that Christians should not post. I'm not trying to be disrespectful of that.

 

Anyway, met with my pastor today. He came to my house. We talked and visited for just over two hours. I must say, my experience with him was much different than some who've posted here. I was not met with hostility or warning of any kind. Instead, he addressed the issues I had and did not try to sound condescending in any way. In fact, some of the issues I raised, he admitted he had no answer for, but instead asked if he could give my name to someone who would know. I said sure.

 

So in short, I felt the experience was positive. While he didn't clear up all issues I had, he did help with others. In fact, I feel like the visit actually left me feeling stronger in my faith.

 

Again, I'm sorry if I shouldn't be posting in this section. It was only meant as a follow-up. If it is deemed inappropriate and needs to be deleted, I will understand.

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  • Super Moderator

I also had a decent pastor whom I still respect.

 

However, he couldn't stop my rational mind from working - and that's his job!

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Paradox,

 

Since you're questioning and truth-seeking, I'm moving this thread to General Theological Issues, where you may feel freer to question and possibly get more challenging responses than is permitted in the Testimonies forum.

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Hi. I'm replying to this thread only as an update on the situation. I understand this in an ex and/or non Christian area of the forums, and that Christians should not post. I'm not trying to be disrespectful of that.

 

Anyway, met with my pastor today. He came to my house. We talked and visited for just over two hours. I must say, my experience with him was much different than some who've posted here. I was not met with hostility or warning of any kind. Instead, he addressed the issues I had and did not try to sound condescending in any way. In fact, some of the issues I raised, he admitted he had no answer for, but instead asked if he could give my name to someone who would know. I said sure.

 

So in short, I felt the experience was positive. While he didn't clear up all issues I had, he did help with others. In fact, I feel like the visit actually left me feeling stronger in my faith.

 

Again, I'm sorry if I shouldn't be posting in this section. It was only meant as a follow-up. If it is deemed inappropriate and needs to be deleted, I will understand.

 

The only thing you need to be very careful of here is the person he has referred you to. If it's just another Christian apologist with the same old lame BS we have all heard before, then guard yourself carefully. Make sure this person, whoever it is, can answer your questions to Your satisfaction before you think anymore about what you actually believe. I cannot stress that enough. Only You can determine in your own mind just what it is that you honestly believe. No one else can do that for you.

 

You and you alone can determine that. No one here, or at any other website, or your pastor, can determine what you do or do not honestly believe, or why you do so. But that is the scary and wonderful part of honest intellectual exploration then isn't it?

 

Let us know how it goes.

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That is why we are ex-Christians and not Christians. We believed this stuff before and found the bible stories and doctrine could not hold up to scrutiny. Many of us are spiritual in spite of leaving xtianity. Not all of us are antiGod just because we are not proIesus. I am exploring Naturalism as a means of spirituality and Universal Gnosticism. Spirituality is what you make of it. Your experiences are yours and I could not expect you to pursue a spirituality like mine even if we went to the same church because I am not you. Likewise your ideas of God and Iesus are going to different even from those who are in your church.

 

If there is no god then what we believe while alive is not going to make any difference except while we are alive to give us peace of mind. While some people can live comfortably with no fear of death, others need that reassurance that their lives have some meaning because they cannot find it in themselves. Religion is the opiate of the masses. It keeps them happy and feeling good about the world when they should be in fear for their lives! Preachers and Priests preach the daily political propaganda whether they intend to do so or not. It is almost impossible to be patriotic or have some function in politics without it bleeding over into the church pulpit. That is how we get weekly devotions about how joyous it is to have laws that regulate our daily lives instead of allowing us to live as we choose to live, free of harassment and pursuing our own dreams. The devil is in the religion and it runs the church. You may not see it now but keep your thinking cap on and think critically about others teach you concerning faith.

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  • 11 months later...

The first post in this thread is my first post here. Man, a lot has changed since then!

 

You wrote, "I hope that no matter the outcome, I will be welcomed here."

 

Now you know. You are welcome here.

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The first post in this thread is my first post here. Man, a lot has changed since then!

And it's been almost exactly one year. Amazing how much can change in such a short time, and how an inquiring mind coupled with intellectual honesty can lead to proper understanding. Your profile says, "Any Gods? Nope" - do you have any idea how encouraging that is to people who are in the same position your OP letter indicates.

 

I live in South Africa which is heavily religious. At the moment there is a massive movement away from religion, and as the author of a book on these things I am often called upon to give talks or advise people who are asking honest questions. Testimonies like yours are extremely valuable and will help in "the cause" so I, for one, would like to thank you.

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Thanks Stevo! That was nice to hear you say. Well, I didn't actually hear anything...it was nice to read! LOL! Anyway, I have everyone here to thank because this place has been a place of encouragement, connectedness, and a place where there are some real genuine and intellectual conversation. Really pushes a person to grow (sorry for the Christian tone, there!)

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Thanks Stevo! That was nice to hear you say. Well, I didn't actually hear anything...it was nice to read! LOL! Anyway, I have everyone here to thank because this place has been a place of encouragement, connectedness, and a place where there are some real genuine and intellectual conversation. Really pushes a person to grow (sorry for the Christian tone, there!)

Did you see the thread I posted? It was one of my first posts here at ExC (like yours was this thread) and check out the incredible response I got to my request. You are way more senior than I am on this forum (I only have about 86 posts at this point) so you will know better than I that the people here are warm, brilliantly well spoken and educated, and friendly most of the time (hehe). Even the ad hominum frenzies that come up now and again are done with that stunningly sharp and witty sense of tongue-in-cheek humor.

 

Okay - enough sentimental slush, and no group hugs please I'm a friggen atheist :grin:

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  • 1 year later...

TWO YEARS THIS MONTH!!! YA!!!! The first post in this thread was my very first post on this site! TWO YEARS AGO!!! (Almost) So, if it was a phase, it's turning out to be quite a LOOOOOONG one! HA! Oh, how I've learned so much since then. And made so many new friends, too! Thanks, all!

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