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I thought I'd add my story into the mix. I left Christianity about a decade ago. I was raised fundamentalist Christian. I didn't have a chance, lol. I was in church pretty much every time the doors were opened because my parents dragged me there. They were very deeply involved in committees and programs there, so even when there wasn't a church service going on, I was often at church.

 

Not everybody from my old church seems to have been damaged in the way that I was. I can only conclude that my brain is wired very differently from theirs. As such, I can't deal with belief systems where there are all these "invisible beings" hanging around.

 

I used to be creeped out sometimes by the idea that god could see me when I went to the bathroom. It wasn't that I thought the creator of the universe had nothing better to do than watch me pee. It was that I'd been told god was EVERYWHERE. If that was true... where would he go? I visualized him as this giant thing with a million eyes that somehow could view all things simultaneously but couldn't really "not" view them because he was god and by definition was everywhere. (A lot of the Christian god definitions are pretty problematic.)

 

In addition to that, there was pretty much a demon behind every bush as well. The devil was everywhere. I don't think my mother understood that the many nights I couldn't sleep, that I cried and shook and had panic attacks and paced the floor... that saying: "It's just an attack of the devil" was making the problem WORSE. JUST??? Excuse me... JUST? Yes... telling me the devil is basically skulking around in my room at night is not helpful.

 

The idea of angels didn't help. It just stressed me more because suddenly there are these invisible epic battles happening all around me. And since some bad things happen in the world... sometimes the angels lost their individual fights. THAT kind of thinking will mess you up. How did I know I had an awesome Bruce Lee angel and not some lameass yellow belt angel? (no offense meant to yellow belts).

 

And god being EVERYWHERE didn't help either. I'd seen the bullshit he'd caused in the bible already. The genocide and mass slaughter, the awful crap for tiny little things, hell, the rapture and the psycho plans surrounding that. Then there was the Job debacle, and the fact that god didn't always answer prayers, and even if he did, he didn't always answer them positively. So from very early on "god" wasn't someone I could trust. I knew he could and would hurt me just as likely as the devil would.

 

This resulted in me growing up, never having a solid sense of safety or privacy, much like many children who are products of abusive homes. This really sucks because other than the religious crap, my parents were and ARE wonderful people. And I don’t blame them. They are as brainwashed as I was, and as much anger as I’ve had at the institution of Christianity, I just can’t be angry at someone else caught in its web. Christianity hasn’t caused them the same kind of psychological problems it caused me. So leaving for them might be more harmful than helpful. Either way, I’ve made peace with them being who they are.

 

Even though it took awhile to get to a place of mutual respect and understanding that religion will NOT be discussed between us, my mother and I are now very close. And my dad was never particularly vocal or pushy about religion in the first place. My parents always loved me, always showed that love, and never used Christianity in an abusive way. It wasn't THEM. It was my mental wiring combined with the tenets of Christianity themselves. Often when I meet fundamentalists and the way I was raised comes up they think my parents were some kind of monsters. No, they weren’t and aren’t. It was the beliefs themselves, not the people holding them.

 

Apparently, other Christians, including my parents, could simply box up the disturbing shit or the shit they didn't understand, and put them in the attic of their brain to think about later, or most likely, never at all. My mind doesn't work that way.

 

Finally, I'd had too much. By that time, I was an adult and out of my parents' house. Luckily, I'd married an atheist. Also, luckily, he wasn't a hard-line "all spirituality is stupid and everybody needs to think just like me" type of atheist. He was there supporting and loving me and letting me make my own choices. He supported me all the way down the very hard road of leaving my faith. It was a huge amount of upheaval and panic attacks, another emotional hell I thought I’d never get through. I inched out of it a bit at a time til I was totally out, but I tried some other things.

 

Atheism wasn't really an option for me. I made some atheist friends and I tried to think that way briefly, but ultimately the only thing that allowed me to stick there for any length of time was the "fear atheists would think i was a brainwashed moron or illogical or a child" for not accepting an entirely mechanical and materialistic universe. Even though THAT didn’t make any more sense to me personally than Christianity had, and from a psychological perspective, it was nearly as harmful. (Again, only speaking about me, not anyone else. I fully accept and respect that many atheists are being 100% intellectually honest and it’s the right philosophy for them.) I couldn’t see the atheistic worldview as anything but meaningless, pointless, depressing, nihilistic, life-denying, and terrifying. The idea of dying and there being nothing made me almost as much of a basket case as Christianity. The only improvement was lack of invisible beings watching me pee or trying to “take me out”. And it still gnawed at me that it didn’t really fully make sense to me, but I wasn’t sure what “would” make sense to me.

 

I tried some pagan belief systems but it became clear to me that given my psychological make-up that was going to be problematic as well. There was still too much invisible good and evil stuff lurking around for me.

 

Finally a few years ago I came upon Buddhism. I’d discovered it early during my deconversion but I’d only been exposed to the western atheistic version of it, and had quickly discarded it as the same kind of nihilistic worldview.

 

I didn’t discover the eastern version until much later. Once I’d figured I was going to have to just “figure something out” and create a “build-a-bear” version of spirituality for myself, I started laying out what I thought seemed both most reasonable and logical “to me”, as well as what also would be most emotionally healthy (i.e. nixing invisibile beings and “magic”). I kept this as a loose system of belief for awhile until one day I stumbled upon Buddhism again.

 

I kept finding all these ideas inside the path that lined up with things I’d come up with on my own when I’d decided to hell with trying to fit myself into anybody else’s box. (As a result of the “to hell with boxes” idea, I don’t feel compelled to accept every single idea I come across if it doesn’t work for me.) So that’s where I am. I’m happily Buddhist. I do still have beliefs that some here may find silly or irrational (which is fine by me, I find lots of stuff silly and irrational, too). I do feel the universe has purpose and meaning, but I don’t believe in a deity who does or can interact personally with this plane of reality we’re all living on. In fact, I don’t believe any invisible beings are skulking around. Buddhism is a framework for me that makes sense, lines up with my cosmology, and is the first spirituality or philosophy that hasn’t made me anxious. (Score!)

 

Part of why I’m here is because I wanted a place where I could speak with other like minded people and have intelligent discussion. And also because I feel I have things to contribute that can help those who are just leaving and going through the hell part of this journey.

 

Anyway, that’s my story. Thank you for reading.

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Pup, I saw this thing one time where a Japanese guy with a thermal camera was taking video of an airliner taking off. You could see the jets running and the exhaust coming out and everything. And there was an object moving around the plane, but you couldn't see it with your eye.

 

Welcome to ex-C. poke.gifpureevil.gif

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poke.gif

Nice try Pup Poke you. I poke you. Capiche? I am the one who pokes you. You do not poke me. When there's poking around here to be done I will be the one doing it.

 

LOL

 

Nah, but seriously. I don't believe in magic or the supernatural or any of that Jazz, but I do think truth is stranger than fiction. And perhaps we try to capture that with myth and metaphor.

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LOLz. Remember like two days ago when you said you didn't like me and I was all like: "Well I don't want your stupid friendship anyway, so there!"?

 

Yeah... I don't really see the way I believe as "supernatural" per se. I just think consciousness creates matter instead of the other way around. It's the only way it makes sense to me. But it's been hopelessly anthropomorphized with all the monotheisms. Plus, I think anytime one speaks about anything that they can never "fully" comprehend (because of the limitations of being human and not all-knowing) it devolves (evolves?) into the language of myth and metaphor. It can't be helped.

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LOLz. Remember like two days ago when you said you didn't like me and I was all like: "Well I don't want your stupid friendship anyway, so there!"?

:HaHa: I'm stupid. I'm an emotional embecile. "I don't like you." :HaHa: I hope I didn't say it all like that. You should have said, "So? You don't like me. Isn't that special? What do I care? Go fuck yourself."

 

Yeah... I don't really see the way I believe as "supernatural" per se. I just think consciousness creates matter instead of the other way around. It's the only way it makes sense to me. But it's been hopelessly anthropomorphized with all the monotheisms. Plus, I think anytime one speaks about anything that they can never "fully" comprehend (because of the limitations of being human and not all-knowing) it devolves (evolves?) into the language of myth and metaphor. It can't be helped.

Ah, I see. Cool. Crisply said. I believe there are natural entailments associated with matter ( i.e. relations between things like energy, charge, mass, space, time, etc.) which give rise to material properties. And I believe inference (inferential entailment) is a part of our cognition. I draw a distinction between natural and inferential entailment.

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LOL you said something like... welcome to Ex-C. I don't like you, but people change. hahahahaha! And that was like two days ago. This is my personal best! I'm writing it down!

 

and interesting, re: the other stuff about matter and such.

 

I mean don't get me wrong, I believe in "weird shit" like souls and reincarnation and etc. LOL, don't want to misrepresent myself as if it's all some "grand metaphor" or something haha. I just don't really see it as a supernatural belief. I guess because the word supernatural to me just comes out in my brain as "made up crap because you don't know how it works". And I'm not saying I "know" how anything works, just that that's how it makes sense to me as a genuine possibility given all the information we have, so if that was just the nature of things it wouldn't be supernatural, it would just by definition still be natural. LOL. Lots of stuff we've discovered is fairly weird like some of the weirdness in quantum physics but it's not called supernatural just because it's weird. And then there are some things like string theory which really can't be proven and that's REALLY weird... and we don't call it supernatural. We also don't call multiverse theories, parallel dimension theories, holographic universe theories, or any of the other weirdness that has come out of quantum physics, supernatural.

 

So, I guess where I'm going with this is... why is everything weird still "natural" unless it involves a soul or higher consciousness? Seems like a bias to me. LOL But actually, more likely it's probably a resistance to anything that sounds too much like religion. Which is understandable. A lot of people don't want "woo" in their lives. And I can understand that. I don't want anyone to have "woo" who doesn't want it. I just think having an idea about how the universe works isn't "supernatural" just because it may not be the standard materialistic view.

 

And I'm not really trying to debate/argue here, just rambling and thinking "out loud" and mainly clarifying so it doesn't come off like I'm going: "Oh yeah, I'm just talking metaphor"... no I really believe in souls. LOL

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LOL you said something like... welcome to Ex-C. I don't like you, but people change. hahahahaha! And that was like two days ago. This is my personal best! I'm writing it down!

I am a manifestation of pure evil. I wish it weren't so. But it's true and I have come to accept it. Your personal best is very good, but that will not prevent me from pulling the light from your soul.

 

And I'm not really trying to debate/argue here, just rambling and thinking "out loud" and mainly clarifying so it doesn't come off like I'm going: "Oh yeah, I'm just talking metaphor"... no I really believe in souls. LOL

It's cool. I believe our understanding of ourselves is quite poor. So when people speak of souls it doesn't really phase me.

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Hello badpuppy, thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like your life is in a good place now. Good for you.

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Welcome to Ex-C, badpuppy. I am glad to hear you have found peace. And it's quite a journey you have had to bring you to such a place!

 

The demon thing always creeped me out, too. In perfect hindsight, it's strange that seemingly normal people can talk about invisible beings (good and bad) without being committed to psychiatric care.

 

There are some tenets of Buddhism that appeal to me. Right now I'm just enjoying living in the rational world! Maybe you can share some of your thoughts and experiences about Buddhism some time.

 

See you around Ex-C!

 

Peace.

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Hi! Like you I was bought up in a Christian home and my head was filled with lots of crap. Fortunately I never had fears of demons or God watching or scarey stuff like that, but it certainly did mess up my view of reality and screwed me up in many ways. My parents too, meant well and were genuine. They too were brought up in Christian homes, so knew no better. They never broke free of the indoctronation and neither did I until I was in my late 30s.

 

One mistake I believe some ex-Christians make is to attempt to fill the gap left by one silly religion with yet another silly religion. It's like there's some notion that we as humans should adher to some form of religion and acknowledge some form of higher power. And it's only natural because we're conditioned from birth to acknowledge someone higher up and when we become adults we are often left with no one we can look up to in that role, so we look for some kind of God. However, I don't believe there's any need for that. What I believe is that we evolved as social animals and as a result what we need for a fulfilling and happy life is healthy relationships with real people. Unless you can get that, nothing else is going to fill the gap.

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@Positivist I know, right? (Re: demons and psychiatric care). It seems like anyone who actually takes these beliefs to their logical conclusion who does seem to have problems IS committed. I guess it shows that most fundamentalist christians either don't really LITERALLY believe what they say they do, or else they are not taking things to their logical conclusions either due to cognitive dissonance or general stupidity. (I would say lack of education but I think if someone is too genetically stupid, there isn't much one can do to get them to understand more complicated issues.) Though there are plenty of Christians who are smart people, in those cases it seems to be indoctrination and cognitive dissonance. We don't like to accept it, but nearly anyone, given the right conditions, can be brainwashed.

 

I've shared a few of my thoughts in the Ex-Christian Spirituality section, but if you ever want to know more specifically how I view things, my inbox is always open.

 

@OnceConvinced yeah i see both my parents and grandparents as "lifers". Whether or not they would have still chosen such a path if they didn't think there was a hell, I'm not sure. I've been thinking a lot lately about why so many Christians reject doctrines like "universal salvation". You'd think that if there was strong evidence within one's faith that a certain harmful doctrine was in fact not true, they'd jump on it, especially if they could do it while STILL maintaining an infallible bible perspective.

 

I used to think they were just vindictive and secretly wanted there to be a hell, but the more I think about it, the more I think they don't want to go there (that line of thought) because deep down they think Christianity isn't all that great of a religion. If they drop hell belief, there's no reason to keep any of the rest. Some universalists claim they still follow Christianity based on a sense of genuine gratitude, and that's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't mean it's the right spiritual path for most people, and some people are happiest and most functional with no spiritual path at all. In such a situation where there was universal salvation, my guess would be that the deity in question wouldn't give a shit what anyone intellectually believed about the nature of the universe... given that we'd all be mentally retarded by comparison to a supreme deity. My guess is that things would be more behavior based, so there would be little reason to follow a religion that didn't actually deeply connect with you.

 

I'm thinking it connects with much fewer people than follow it, but they are scared of hell and death and have convinced themselves that they love their captor. Much like Stockholm Syndrome. It is amazing what the human mind will do to survive. This seems like survival to me. And I understand that by the same token someone could say my Buddhism is some kind of "survival thing", just a kinder, gentler one. I can neither confirm nor deny that because I don't know. What I do know is that I'm where I'm most happy and I'm not in any way intellectually impeded by a harmful system of belief. And I don't really think there is any way of viewing the world that is universally beneficial or that brings out the best in all people.

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One mistake I believe some ex-Christians make is to attempt to fill the gap left by one silly religion with yet another silly religion. It's like there's some notion that we as humans should adher to some form of religion and acknowledge some form of higher power. And it's only natural because we're conditioned from birth to acknowledge someone higher up and when we become adults we are often left with no one we can look up to in that role, so we look for some kind of God. However, I don't believe there's any need for that. What I believe is that we evolved as social animals and as a result what we need for a fulfilling and happy life is healthy relationships with real people. Unless you can get that, nothing else is going to fill the gap.

 

Your first sentence seems to say that all religions are silly. You may believe that, if you like, of course, but to me that is a statement from someone who hasn't really taken the time to explore other religions. Not all of them are about a "higher power". There is no higher power in Buddhism that is outside of yourself. It depends on the psychology of the person. Some people may be satisfied with atheism. Others may not. That does not make them silly.

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@Deva, I originally responded to the same thought. But then I deleted it because even if I find the insinuation that anyone who isn't a materialistic atheist is somehow weak-minded or less intelligent or logical, offensive, it's still someone's right to hold that opinion and share it. Just like I find Christianity pretty much repulsive on all levels. I respect their right to believe it but I can't respect it as a sane or loving philosophy. Though, while I think atheism can be a perfectly reasonable position, I have a hard time respecting extreme hardline atheism. It just doesn't seem super logical to me and seems somewhat emotion-driven at times. So if I can hold that view, then others can hold the view that I'm silly or stupid or whatever helps them sleep at night. It would be hypocritical of me otherwise. And of course I'm not saying what you should say or think either haha! You, likewise have the right to your view (similar to my own, in fact) and to express it. I'm merely explaining why there is a blank post from me now haha! I said some stuff that, while not particularly rude, was probably more preachy than I'd like and for what? Because someone might think I'm silly? Pffft. Not worth the potential drama. In the end people who think ex-christians who end up in other spiritualities are trading one woo for another are just going to think that way.

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I said some stuff that, while not particularly rude, was probably more preachy than I'd like and for what? Because someone might think I'm silly? Pffft. Not worth the potential drama. In the end people who think ex-christians who end up in other spiritualities are trading one woo for another are just going to think that way.

 

Yes, badpupp, I get this reasoning, and I understand it. I don't want to come across as a fundy Buddhist, because that is the last thing I want to be, or be seen as. I was reluctant to reply at all, but I guess I have been on this site a long time and seeing the "silly" thing over and over - I have just reached a point where I feel compelled to challenge it.

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Ha! And I'm definitely not disputing your right to! I can definitely understand the urge. After all, I originally wrote a freaking novel, then deleted it. There is an Ex-Christian Spirituality forum so I wonder why there isn't a hardline atheist forum? Like a place they can call the rest of us stupid with impugnity. LOL It's like... I can understand the reason for the Ex-C Spirituality forum and when I'm on other sub-forums, I'm a little paranoid about expressing my spiritual views at times... mainly because while leaving Christianity doesn't necessitate leaving all religion, a lot of people do and for a lot of people ANY religion is going to bug them. As people recovering from a bunch of religious BS I can see where my presence as someone with an actual belief system might be, well, not welcome. Even though it's not Christianity or monotheism or any form of "one true wayism", i can still understand the repulsion even if I think it's a bit unfair.

 

Oh and you do NOT come across as a fundy Buddhist.

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There is an Ex-Christian Spirituality forum so I wonder why there isn't a hardline atheist forum? Like a place they can call the rest of us stupid with impugnity. LOL It's like... I can understand the reason for the Ex-C Spirituality forum and when I'm on other sub-forums, I'm a little paranoid about expressing my spiritual views at times... mainly because while leaving Christianity doesn't necessitate leaving all religion, a lot of people do and for a lot of people ANY religion is going to bug them. As people recovering from a bunch of religious BS I can see where my presence as someone with an actual belief system might be, well, not welcome. Even though it's not Christianity or monotheism or any form of "one true wayism", i can still understand the repulsion even if I think it's a bit unfair.

 

Oh and you do NOT come across as a fundy Buddhist.

 

I don't want to stir this particular pot in public, so I will PM you with my thoughts. Thank you for that last sentence.

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I don't want to stir this particular pot in public, so I will PM you with my thoughts. Thank you for that last sentence.

 

LOL probably not a good idea. My intention in deleting my original comment on the issue was NOT to stir the pot, but in a sense I've stirred it anyway, so FAIL on my part. I have a long way to go with regards to discerning when it's best to keep something to myself and when it's best to share it publicly. It's definitely a challenge because I fight between two sort of warring ideas:

 

1. The need for honesty of expression and no self-censorship

 

2. The understanding that without some level of self-censorship on a public forum there will be more drama than I actually want.

 

i.e. if I have the right to express an idea someone may find offensive, they likewise have the right to reply to me. At some point that sort of thing nearly always becomes a pissing contest and I don't want to get into that, so it leaves me back with self-censorship, while wondering if that's good for me or bad for me. Do I flourish in an environment where I feel like I have to self-censor? But do I have the right to flourish at the expense of someone else's comfort? I've got lots of random mental blah blah going on this morning.

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I've shared a few of my thoughts in the Ex-Christian Spirituality section, but if you ever want to know more specifically how I view things, my inbox is always open.

I will check those out. Thanks for the transparency, badpuppy!

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Welcome to Ex-C, badpuppy!

 

I can totally identify with the first part of your post. I also took all the teachings about the spirit world very seriously and literally and to think that all those spiritual beings surround me all the time was a very uncomfortable feeling. I was also taught that God saw everything, even the thoughts in our heads, so I didn't even have my privacy inside my head!

 

Actually this made me almost crazy. Every time I had just a moment of a "bad" thought I flew into a panic thinking I have offended God and he will punish me for just thinking something wrong. And there I went to pray immediately to ask for forgiveness. This then developed into a slight form of OCD.

 

After all Jesus said being angry at someone equals to murder and having a lustful thought is equal to adultery. So all these teachings messed me up really bad.

 

Since I deconvered I don't have any of these obsessive thoughts any more, no guilt (and while I was a Xtian the guilty feeling was constant), no sense of being watched all the time, not any of the bullshit! So I know all these were a direct result of Christian teachings.

 

I'm very much content with an atheist/agnostic worldview myself and also content with the thought of going to non-existence after dying. I get a sense of "spirituality" (the world being used very loosly here) from studing the wonders of the world around us, the Universe, the strange phenomenons of quantum mechanics etc and when thinking how we all came from the matter of the Universe and we will go back there one day. When I look up at the evening sky that's a kind of "spiritual" experience and feeling for me even without beleiving in gods, higher powers, spirits etc. Oh, and I especially love the idea of Multiverse and all the consequence of that theory. I hope that one is true!

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"" I just think having an idea about how the universe works isn't "supernatural" just because it may not be the standard materialistic view.""

I like that.

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@Suzy Oh yeah, I forgot the thoughts part. Ugh. Yeah... NO privacy. Holy crap that's an insane belief system. It seems like fundamentalism is a major cause of OCD. It's a huge freedom just not being "watched all the time", I agree. It's a miracle most of us didn't end up in padded cells when you think about it. Re: atheist/agnostic worldview, my husband is the same way. He sees no personal need for any kind of spirituality or beliefs. He's not a hardline materialist... he is more a "weak atheist" in that he simply lacks any spiritual or god beliefs and sees no need for them. He doesn't say there is "nothingness" after, but like you, he's perfectly comfortable with it if that's the case. But because he isn't so extreme about it, he doesn't feel compelled to try to make me see things like he does. He saw first hand how unhealthy certain types of beliefs were for me, and how unhappy I was trying to be atheist and seems genuinely happy for me that I've found something that works for me. I think one of the reasons our marriage works is because we both respect the beliefs/philosophy/viewpoints of the other and neither of us tries to make the other change. It was an incredible gift to me that he stayed out of the way except when I needed him for support and let me find my own way without any coercion toward anything in particular. I very much love and respect him for that because he was the only safe haven I had when going through all that turmoil.

 

I like the multiverse theory, too!

 

@midniterider thanks!

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