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Do You Remember When You First Realized You Didnt Believe Anymore?


lostman42
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I remember the very second that I realized my faith was dead. I was in gym class talking with a kid I just met(who I'm now pretty good friends with) and he mentioned how one of our teachers is a christian.

Then I said without even thinking about it that, "I'm an ex+christian". As soon as the words left my mouth I knew that my time in the cult was over. I had been trying to decide if I should abandon my faith for a few weeks before then, but this is when I knew for sure that I didn't believe anymore.

 

Do you remember the moment you realized your faith was dead?

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Do you remember the moment you realized your faith was dead?

I didn't have an "aha!" moment. It was just a growing realization throughout my adolescence.

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It wasn't that long ago so, I remember very clearly. I had been having questions for a while. I started reading about the discrepancies and then decided to research the historical evidence of Jesus. That's when it happened. I looked up from my laptop and said SHIT; this is all made up!

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I was taking a seminary class (Trinity Seminary School) on the Old Testament and the way the professor was giving his lecture on Moses and exodus from Egypt, I kept thinking, man, this is bullshit. Then, along came 9-11-01 and the WTC bombings and I began to listen to preachers spew their reasoning for the tragedy, including Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson's take on the event. I listened to the rhetoric from the Islamofascists and thought to myself, there is really no difference between these two camps! And, after that everything began to come unraveled. I saw my own religion through new eyes and listened with new ears and put it together with a new brain, and BEHOLD! Hereticzero was born! Seriously, all the crap from a lifetime just fell apart at 9-11 and that was it!

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It's been a slow process over the period of 3 years. I think finding this site in February allowed me to finally give myself permission to admit it to myself. I had been trapped (or clinging???) in a dead faith for about 2 years.

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My belief slowly eroded starting about 1998. That was when I started viewing videos of J. Krishnamurti. What he said made so much more sense than the church or the Bible. I can't pinpoint any particular moment, however. By 2004 I think I was done.

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I never really had a sudden realization either. I'd kind of alternated between belief and nonbelief, even as a little kid, and then eventually the nonbelief sort of overwhelmed the belief. I was probably almost, if not completely done with faith by the time I was in high school. I just never said to myself "I'm an atheist" until later on.

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I remember the exact moment I realized that the god of Christianity does not exist.

 

I don't have the date, but one night I was lying in bed. I couldn't sleep. I had been struggling with my place in the kingdom of God and the nature of my "calling" and how nothing seemed to have worked out according to any of the promises of Jesus or other Biblical doctrines or promises.

 

I had concluded that the only way Christianity could be true is that, despite my desire to know God and be his obedient follower, I must be part of the "predestined damned." I had never believed that a person "damned from eternity" would ever want to serve god. I was never really a strong Calvinist. You know , "T-U-L-I-P."

 

But how else could I interpret God's apparent absence, His not answering sincere prayers for direction and His lack of provision for me and my family to do his will? I concluded that it doesn't matter what a predestined damned person wanted. He's not damned because of his own character and actions. He's damned because God chose him to be damned. If you wanted to serve god, it didn't matter. A damned person can want good things or bad things.

 

Anyway, I concluded that my "predestined damned" explanation was absurd - immoral even. The world behaves as if there is no god. People from different religions will interpret the same set of events according to their own religion. People who tend to use logic, evidence and the scientific method tend to come up with sound explanations that don't seem to need a "god in the gaps" resolution. Or they are at least willing to say, "I don't know - - yet."

 

That night, after much tears and anguish, I realized the god of Christianity did not exist.

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I was 10 and I realized that prayers were not answered in any supernatural way.

 

I made myself sick and neurotic for the next 15 years trying to pretend that I hadn't realized that, but what had been done couldn't be undone.

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Yeah, there was a sudden onset of peace for me, the kind of "peace that passes understanding" that christianity promised but never delivered on.

 

I'd known I had doubts for a while, and had told god I needed a break to sort things out. I had tried to imagine god not existing, but I'd been soaked in christianity for so many years that I couldn't do it. I had weird heretical strange thoughts going through my head. Then I spent hours one weekend reading an atheist site, I thought just to clear my head of preconceptions so that I could reason my way back to being a good christian without all these doubts. One with lots of stories. One that expressed all the doubts I was having. It finally sunk it that the problem wasn't with me, but with christianity, and I accepted that I was an atheist. I had an overwhelming sense of peace, freedom, and contentment that lasted for a few days.

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I had such a long drawn out deconversion that it didn't phase me all that much when I realized that I didn't believe. What got me more was actually calling myself an atheist. It felt like wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time; I knew something has changed but the world didn't give two shits unless I showed it off. I still need to come out and all so I'm trying to keep my atheism shoes shiny :)

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I remember the exact moment I realized that the god of Christianity does not exist.

 

I don't have the date, but one night I was lying in bed. I couldn't sleep. I had been struggling with my place in the kingdom of God and the nature of my "calling" and how nothing seemed to have worked out according to any of the promises of Jesus or other Biblical doctrines or promises.

 

I had concluded that the only way Christianity could be true is that, despite my desire to know God and be his obedient follower, I must be part of the "predestined damned." I had never believed that a person "damned from eternity" would ever want to serve god. I was never really a strong Calvinist. You know , "T-U-L-I-P."

 

But how else could I interpret God's apparent absence, His not answering sincere prayers for direction and His lack of provision for me and my family to do his will? I concluded that it doesn't matter what a predestined damned person wanted. He's not damned because of his own character and actions. He's damned because God chose him to be damned. If you wanted to serve god, it didn't matter. A damned person can want good things or bad things.

 

Anyway, I concluded that my "predestined damned" explanation was absurd - immoral even. The world behaves as if there is no god. People from different religions will interpret the same set of events according to their own religion. People who tend to use logic, evidence and the scientific method tend to come up with sound explanations that don't seem to need a "god in the gaps" resolution. Or they are at least willing to say, "I don't know - - yet."

 

That night, after much tears and anguish, I realized the god of Christianity did not exist.

 

I went through something similar, thinking I was predestined for hell. Though for me it was a long period of doubt and disbelief, and feeling rejected by God. I thought I had sinned really bad somewhere along the line (maybe it was all that evil music after all, someone did tell me I would go to hell for listening to the Beatles!) and God had turned his ear from me and my prayers. While my deconversion was slow and agonizing, and I can't point to one day where I had an "ah ha" moment, it did basically start from the idea that God must not hear me and trying to think of why not. I could never accept the idea of predestined for hell though, what kind of God is that, so seeing those verses and the bible as flawed was inevitable I think, which then lead down that old familiar road of questioning the bible's legitimacy and eventually to the question of is there a god?

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It was 9/11 that really cracked my faith wide open.I had already been though a lot, with losing my sister, mom, dad and husband within a 11 years span.

 

I had already been questioning the whole god thing for many years. I think I was doing the old saying: ''Fake it, till you make it''. I thought for sure if I hung in there long enough, I would truly believe...................

 

9/11 did it for me.........

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I remember the very second that I realized my faith was dead. I was in gym class talking with a kid I just met(who I'm now pretty good friends with) and he mentioned how one of our teachers is a christian.

Then I said without even thinking about it that, "I'm an ex+christian". As soon as the words left my mouth I knew that my time in the cult was over. I had been trying to decide if I should abandon my faith for a few weeks before then, but this is when I knew for sure that I didn't believe anymore.

 

Do you remember the moment you realized your faith was dead?

Although I traced my conversion experience to a specific date (January 9, 1963, at the tender age of not-quite-six) and pitied those whose conversion to the faith was gradual, my deconversion was the opposite and took place over a couple of decades, maybe a bit more depending on how you choose to look at it. I didn't wake up some particular morning as an infidel. However, my wife's long illness and suffering and slow death definitely crystallized things and drove various nails in the coffin, and I began to self-identify as agnostic during that time, probably starting 12 or 13 years ago, and I began to "come out" about a year before her death, or about 5 years ago.

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It was 9/11 that really cracked my faith wide open.I had already been though a lot, with losing my sister, mom, dad and husband within a 11 years span.

 

I had already been questioning the whole god thing for many years. I think I was doing the old saying: ''Fake it, till you make it''. I thought for sure if I hung in there long enough, I would truly believe...................

 

9/11 did it for me.........

I have always thought of it this way: large tragedies are harder to digest and require more rationalizations. They have a tendency to blow out people's rationalizers.

 

Although it's true that god as depicted in the Bible mentions that his followers can expect trials and persecution and the like, he's also depicted as omnibenevolent and caring and unambiguously promises certain rewards and a certain relationship to him. Enough that you can expect certain things, at least in the big picture: protection, enlightenment / clarity, prosperity, comfort, encouragement, answered prayer and so on. You expect your life to comport with that, and when it doesn't, doubts creep in. And when it REALLY doesn't, as when people are dying like flies around you -- in my case, a couple of them were dying like flies impaled on straight pins, in great agony -- you realize that your life is unfolding as if other things were true. As if life is basically random and has no inherent purpose. When everything matches up near-100% with the latter and near-zero percent with the former, an unbeliever is born -- either that or a neurotic and possibly psychotic / delusional madman.

 

For me the biggest sticking point was prayer. Outcomes from prayer were no different than random outcomes could be expected to be. The sole value in prayer was that it incidentally could generate a positive mindset which could cause you to notice more of the positive aspects of any given outcome and has a weak tendency to lead to more positive outcomes -- again, no different than a simple positive attitude. The other slight benefit, a shifting of cares and worries away onto god, only worked up to a point, because when god didn't actually take care of those cares and worries and they came back to you multiplied, the faux comfort of "trusting god" became ineffective.

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I don't think I ever really believed. My parents took me to church and taught me about God, of course. But when Santa Claus was exploded, God received collateral damage. The whole invisible, silent thing got me to thinking God resembled nothing more than anything else. I started thinking maybe he was just made-up. I'm probably six or seven at the time. By age thirteen I've learned some science and read the Bible and suddenly I think it is total bullshit. Before I was even capable of understanding Christian dogma, I had rejected its premises.

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i new my faith was dead about 6 months before i actualy even began looking for other options other than christianity. i knew it was over but i refused to let go and eventualy it just finaly sliped away with a growing knowlage of the truth about religion.

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For me it was several experiences.

 

1) prayer never worked.

 

2) as song called Come to the Isle of Skye by Steven Mcdonald. I first heard it in high school.

 

And it hurts but it's true

When you pray to the blue

And so you reveal, that nothing is real

Nothing but you

 

3) My father took us to the new church in Fresno, CA that we would be attending. He asked me about what I thought. I said it looked like a show.

 

4) My mother's religious family "forgiving" my father for sleeping around on my mom. Then talking about me in the third person while I was in the room.

 

5) The realization in college that I wasn't going to get yelled at for not going to church on sunday. So I quit going.

 

All the rest just faded away.

 

 

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Do you remember the moment you realized your faith was dead?

I remember the time I felt very alone and strange because I had 'turned my back' on Christianity. Soon I started to feel better again, and then I just stopped thinking about it and I guess that's when it was over.

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I was never really a strong Calvinist. You know , "T-U-L-I-P."

 

Huh? Is that some kind of Calvinist in-joke? I'm lost....

 

It's an acronym to help you remember the 5 points of calvinism. It's something like:

 

Total depravity - original sin

Unconditional election/Unmerited favor - god randomly picks a few of the worthless, undeserving humans to save; his choice has nothing to do with you or your merits

Limited atonement - the unsaved go to hell

Irresistible grace - god chooses you, not the other way around, and there's nothing you can do about it

Perseverance of the Saints - once saved, always saved

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For me it was a long drawn out process so it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment that I decided I was officially an unbeliever. When it first got to the point where some things were not making sense to me, I asked questions hoping for some answers that would render my doubts irrational, though I was always given unfullfilling responses by my parents and youth pastors such as "God works in mysterious ways", "It's all part of God's plan", and "God allows bad things to happen so that we will appreciate the good things that much more" (So little Kwame in Ethopia is stricken with Malaria, has an undiagnosed tumor in his brain, is starving to death, and has to take care of his infant sibling because he lost his mother due to starvation, all so Darren in Philadelphia will better appreciate the fact that he owns ten convertables and lives in a big house? Yeah, that seems fair).

 

I began to seriously doubt my religion at this point and was wondering why nobody could give me any answers that I would be content with; basically something that I could cling to for comfort. Despite my doubts though, I found myself engaging in multiple debates with friends and others about the existence of God and the validity of evolution which we had been learning about at this point in time. I was arguing on behalf of God, something that I was having serious doubts about, against evolution, something that I refused to admit made sense to me, and Why? Because I thought it was all a test of my faith. I genuinely believed that Satan was causing my doubts and that by staying true to my faith and blocking out all worldly knowledge that deemed God unlikely or outright impossible, I was being a good Christian. I was literally forcing myself to believe something that I no longer did, and you know what? It was working. That's how badly I wanted it all to be true. I had put in too much emotional investment for it not to be.

 

The thing that bothered me though was that all the others in my youth group seemed to have a closeness with God that for whatever reason, I had yet to acquire. I couldn't fathom for the life of me why despite the fact that I wanted it so badly, I had still yet to truly "feel" his spirit. Was it the doubts that I had? If so, how could I eliminate them? I had pushed them so hard to the backburner that I genuinely believed that they weren't there anymore; was that not good enough? So I had a heart to heart talk with my youth group leader and he recommended that I be "saved". So, the next week I attended a special service, said a prayer, and was re-baptized. After a little while, I still felt the same doubt and did not feel fulfilled as I was supposed to, so what did I do about it? I pretended that I did feel his spirit and once again, lied to myself because I wanted it so badly. Later that year however, news had gotten out that one of the guys in our youth group had quit because of the doubts he was having. He had told the youth group leader, word for word before walking out, "I don't feel that God is really there, I guess I'm just not a good Chrisitian." After we had heard the news, we said a prayer for him and then to my dismay, everybody spent the rest of the evening talking about him in a derogitory manner as if he had murdered his mother. They discussed where he was likely to end up in life without God by his side and about how badly influenced he had been by society. All the while, I was sitting there playing along as if I agreed with the notion of him being a bad person, but in actuality, my mind was racing, as I knew deep down that I was having the same doubts and that it could very well have been me that they were all condemning. I realized at that moment that the only thing that seperated him and me was that he was being honest with himself.

 

From that point on, my transition to admitted atheism was fairly smooth and I was no longer lying to myself as a result, though it did take a few more years for me to open up to my family about it.

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I can remember a few key turning points. It all started watching “The Power of Myth” by Joseph Campbell on PBS. The first time I saw it I was appalled, but was attracted to watching it again the next year and the questions started. This started everything.

 

 

The next big event was my son of high school age and I having a friendly argument with my Mother about aliens and any other whacky thing she heard Art Bell talk about. She’s a fundy too. The discussion dies down with us calling her nutty for her woo beliefs and we all laugh. Mom then goes into how many people in her church don’t believe the ‘fundamentals’ like Jesus being born of a virgin. I remember to this day that I instantly saw that statement through my son’s eyes and thought how that was just as whacky as believing in aliens from space.

 

 

The last big event I can vividly remember is talking a walk into town and admitting to myself that there was no god and instantly I felt a great relief and dare I say, happiness. I can actually remember the location that happened.

 

 

Of course, there was lots of reading and thinking in between these events, but these are the ones that will always stick with me.

 

 

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