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BrentF

Hello...and Maybe An Odd Gripe About My Past

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I am 34 and have been a closet agnostic since the age of 10. I just never quite bought the things I was taught.

And my gripe, strangely, is that I don't really have any horror stories to tell. No one molested me. I went to public school

and in a lot of ways had a fairly normal childhood. The thing is, the rest of the Christian part of my childhood circle is pretty

much bereft of horror stories, too. No fucked up homeschoolers, no molesting pastors, no girls got knocked up because

they received no sex ed or were told that condoms were evil, no pastor's kids went off the rails with overt rebellion. From

what I keep reading on various sites, and keep hearing about PKs I do not know, it seems like I must know the only 4

PKs in North America who were neither mindless conformist robots nor herpes-ridden drug addicts . They became real grown-ups.

If there was more stuff going on underneath the surface, well I'm usually fairly good at picking up on stuff like that, so it just

doesn't seem to be the case, at least not drastically.

 

The reason the above is a gripe, is that it all the more easily lets my family and some old friends be comfortable in their exaggerated

notions of how beneficial their faith is. I know that Christian faith is not very beneficial because of other things I have seen and know.

I see the bloodshed in history it has enabled, I see the scary political shit they have pulled more recently. I hear consistently patterned horror stories and scandals on the web and in the media. But my circle...almost as clean as a fucking whistle by both Christian and secular standards. My parents and most of their evangelical friends even (gasp!) have somewhat reasonable political views!

 

I seriously don't know what's going on here, but like I said, it makes them too damn comfortable in their faith. I was also the only

one who ever had open doubts, which also seems statistically odd, doesn't it?

 

Anyway, how's it goin?

 

 

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Welcome to Ex-C!

 

My childhood is similarly devoid of drama and bad representations of Christianity, yet somehow I still felt a need to denounce my faith.   I was always the skeptical one in my circles, asking questions about ridiculous dogma, yet I still clung to my faith until my early 20s.    I am happy to be free from the constant cognitive dissonance... the staying up at night trying to reconcile reality with doctrine... mourning the inadequacy of modern corrupt Christianity.  

 

Enjoy your stay... lotsa cool peeps on here.

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Hi BrentF , my background was very normal and neither of my brothers deconverted. The fundamentalist religion did not have the same effect on them.

 

In fact I would have still called myself a Christian at age 40. Shortly after that, though, things began to change and I started a process of hard thinking which resulted in deconversion.

 

I always took Christianity seriously, but can't say I never had any doubts.  I had a hard time fitting in with the other Christians in church.

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Hey BrentF! Welcome to Ex-C!

 

My thoughts are:

1. Confirmation bias. Something good happens = we're doing it right; something bad happens = we ignore it as non-evidence.

2. The fact that you de-converted at age 10 is more related to your neurological construction, not any truth. Twin studies, for example, reveal that identical twins placed in separate homes from birth will *both* be either inclined towards spiritual things or inclined to skepticism, regardless of their social/family environment (see Michael Shermer's work). The fact that you are not inclined to believe in things you can't see is most likely a direct result of your DNA. In ChristianSpeakTM "it's the way God made you". Now there's a line to pull out when you come out of the evangelical closet. smile.png

 

Hope to see you around the forums!

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Nice to have you in the forum.

 

Just a thought - perhaps coming out of the agnostic closet might help?  I mean - it's possible that others are also in there?  They might be covering it up with churchiness, but who knows what's going on underneath.

 

Since coming out as an atheist to my Christian friends I have discovered that they have a lot more doubts that they were ever willing to admit to me when I was a Christian.

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I pretty much have the same problem. :P There's no deep, traumatic, emotional reason for me to not be a Christian. Anyone around me could argue, "Well, everyone you know whose a Christian is a pretty nice person and doesn't do anything dangerous...why not just be one?" Though, I live in the Bible Belt, where you pretty much assume everyone you meet is a Christan, anyway. :P Maybe you can try to talk to them about how you feel about God now, if you still have beliefs about one. Make them think about the limits they put on God. For example, why does God have to be confined to the Bible? If God is everywhere, why would He seem fit to confine himself to only a certain population of the world? I've surprisenly found people at my school and my family to be fairly open about new ideas about God, as long as you don't go too outladish, such as saying Jesus isn't the Son of God. It may not move them away from the Christian faith, but it may open thier minds to new ideas. I've also found that bringing up my doubts over the veil of sarcasm also works. :P You could also show them horror stories of extremities of the Christian faith, but they could always just hide under, "they weren't real Christians."

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Same here- no real religious trauma.  Just a long slow burn of mediocrity and dysfunction.  Doesn't make for much of a deconversion story.

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Herpes-ridden drug addict?

 

Guilty as charged! happydance.gif

 

Welcome!

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Welcome, BrentF!

 

I think that is how my husband looks at religion... he never really bought into all of it, it didn't really affect how he lived his life, so it is hard for him to understand why becoming an atheist is such a big deal for me.  I don't have any horror stories either, but I feel that Christianity warped my thinking and blinded me to the way the world really works.  Now that the blinders are off, everything makes so much more sense.

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I have the feeling that atheists who were never Xtians not only have an easier time of it. but some of

them kind of look down their noses at us, being Xtrians. Just a thought. I have no proof, of course. bill

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Hi everyone. It was intriguing to see that there are many others who also don't really have horror stories, but still just can't

buy it anymore. I should clarify that my closeted agnosticism at the age of 10 has not been closeted since I was 21 or so.

As far as I know i am still the only one from my childhood circle to have deconverted. Sure, there were a couple of partied-

too-hard for a while but then came back types, but I don't see this as counting as a deconversion, and it seems to add fucking

ammo to that irritating ass cliche that "you deny God to have an excuse to sin" bullshit. It is very offensive to hear this because

I am pretty straightlaced...just like a lot of self-consciously secular people I've met more recently, and my unbelieving distant male relatives

who I take after. I don't think Christians understand that the people most likely to get in trouble with drugs and alcohol or their other cliched hobbyhorse sins are not atheists and agnostics but rather people who don't have a fucking opinion...they are the ones that just get swept along in the moment like a keg-standing herpes-infected fratboy. Christians also don't understand that there is a difference between being a non-virgin on your wedding night

and being a total slut or man-whore. They see sex in a loving adult relationship as just as sinful as a string of one-night stands. I think this is one

of the shibboleths a young pew-warmer most easily sees through.

 

Another source of occasional frustration for me, and another disconnect between my life and what I read on the net and elsewhere,

is the fact that none of my christian friends or family adopt any "interesting" beliefs like preterism, annihilationism, or universal reconcilation*.

These are all things that can be justified somewhat easily from the bible without quite being standard american evangelical horseshit, but

all my christian friends and family just spew the standard stuff where hell means endless conscious torment and the Left Behind books

are literal truth instead of novels. fucking amazing. I wish someone would at least buy into something interesting if not completely deconvert.

 

Has anyone else been occasionally bothered by the possibility that maybe there was a RIGHT WAY to be saved that you never went through?

One of the better tirades out there about this possibility can be found here:  http://www.biblicalexaminer.org/salvation.shtml

This guy's premise is that evangelical altar calls like "asking jesus into your heart" and "giving your life to Christ" do not do the trick like

explicit "trust in the substitutionary atonement on the cross".  Has anyone done something like what this guy says but it still didn't stick?

 

 

*I do actually think that a pretty good case for annihilationism can be made from the bible, and maaaayyyyybe even some form of universalism.

Eternal conscious punishment has been overblown at least somewhat. Preterism is the view that most of the book or Revelation was fulfilled in the

Roman sacking of Jerusalem in AD 70. A sort of smoking gun for this is the fact that the numerical value of the emperor Nero's full name and title adds

up to 666. Most likely John was doing some opium and started fuming about Rome and the Jewish leadership either shortly before during or after

the Roman-Jewish war. The Gospel of Matthew also contains some pretty clear references to these events, but most fundies and evangelicals gloss over these, thinking that allllll eschatological statements are tooootally about TTTTTTHHHHHEEEEMMMMM!

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One of the reasons I cannot be a Christian is that there is no consensus on what a person needs to do to be saved.  There really isn't.  How much faith/belief is enough? I submit that no Christian knows how to answer that question.

 

Then there is the whole certainty thing. I don't see how anyone can know for certain they are saved. Its not like God appears and tells you. in person.

 

Maybe I always had too many questions - the possibilities seemed endless.

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Welcome, BrentF!

 

I think that is how my husband looks at religion... he never really bought into all of it, it didn't really affect how he lived his life, so it is hard for him to understand why becoming an atheist is such a big deal for me.  I don't have any horror stories either, but I feel that Christianity warped my thinking and blinded me to the way the world really works.  Now that the blinders are off, everything makes so much more sense.

 

My situation is much the same! Hubby supports my de-conversion, but he does sometimes say, "I don't want to hear about the church stuff right now." (I do like to rehash the same drama over and over.  Wendycrazy.gif ) But I have mounds of stuff to think through and get off my chest!

 

Where you and I differ probably is that I did suffer extreme emotional torment over the past several years at the hands of my most recent church. I can step back now and see that it was an extremely narcissistic pastor (google that and read the signs -- so true and so scary!), and his kool-aid drinking minions. I think I needed to experience this extreme in order to finally "snap me out of it," otherwise I would have just kept on keeping on.

 

Your choice of the words "warped my thinking" and "blinders" is perfect! 40 years of never feeling good enough, and always questioning if I was doing enough and having enough faith (you're soooo right, Deva!) -- really messed me up. I have an unhealthy dose of insecurity and perfectionism, which makes me sacrifice greatly and go seriously overboard in every endeavor. (This is quite beneficial in my career, I must say! But devastating in my spiritual/religious life.)

 

Brent, I completely understand what you mean about Christians with no interesting ideas. At a Bible study with my small group a couple years ago (a group with a lot of movers-and-shakers and gung-ho leaders from my church), I brought up a topic for serious theological discussion. As Lutherans, we have a doctrine (which is still up on the official web page if you look hard enough, last I checked) that based on the Biblical description of the anti-Christ, the "seat of the papacy" (not the individual popes themselves) is the anti-Christ. Interesting enough in itself, but now even more interesting because about 15 years ago (I forget when), the Vatican acknowledged salvation by faith alone (and not works or indulgences and whatever else); in other words, Martin Luther was right -- the end of the great schism! Therefore, I wanted to know: should the official Lutheran church reconsider its anti-Christ statement, or are there other reasons to keep it intact? These people in my group blank-stared me, not even knowing that the Lutheran church (to which they had committed their lives) had such a doctrine, not knowing about the end of the great schism, not knowing what to say. That topic dried up pretty quickly!

 

At another Bible study with the same group, in early 2012, the group leader decided to discuss the end times, to set people straight and ease their minds with all the 2012 hysteria. He asked the group to talk about their knowledge of end-times prophecies. Of course, they all threw out rapture stuff straight from the Left Behind series, and that is what they believed. The group leader (who had researched ahead of time for the study group) and I were the only two who knew that as Lutherans, we don't believe in the rapture. The others did not know that the widely-recognized "rapture theology" was loosely and liberally strung together from Biblical stuff by some guy over 150 years ago -- not John, not an early pope, not Martin Luther. The group leader and I were the only two who had ever heard about pre-tribulation and post-tribulation and all that (which is, of course, on the Lutheran website, just sayin'). Another dead-end discussion topic.

 

What's ironic (and should have been a giant red flag for me!) is that the best, most intellectually-stimulating discussions I had ever had regarding Christian theology were always with two friends of mine who were atheists. They are true seekers, and know all kinds of stuff about all sorts of religions and spiritualities, and can cross-reference ideas off the tops of their heads. Their knowledge of Christian theology and history always astounded (and somewhat confused) me. Any time I called or visited either of them, they were willing and open to give me the time and discussion I craved. Looking back, I see now how immeasurably patient and gentle they had been with me, even though they may have been wondering why in the hell I was still adhering to this Christianity crap. I can tell you now... Atheists make the best friends!  :)

 

Brent, I'm so glad you are here. Your thought processes and ensuing commenters have been very helpful for me to sort through some of my own thoughts, and that is very helpful to a gal like me. You have already contributed a lot, thank you! No dramatic de-conversion story required.

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