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Still Trying To Figure It Out


Storm
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I am still in the beginning stages of the Contemplation stage of change regarding where I am trying to figure out what I believe. (For those of you unfamiliar with the stages of change, please reference Prochaska and DiClemente's Stages of Change via a Google search). I realize that there is something wrong with Christianity and the things I have been taught and learned by myself, but now that there are so many leaks in the foundation I have poured in my life, I feel its best to just start over and build a new foundation, but there is just so much stuff to sift through and to dissect and process that it is just overwhelming. Its even more overwhelming when I see several regulars posting that they have been deconverting for over ten, and even twenty years. I will be meeting with one of my pastors today and we will be discussing some of my issues with the bible and christianity and this will inevitably lead to a question of "what do you believe?" I can honestly answer that, at this point in my life, I don't know. I would have to say that I am possibly leaning towards Humanism, but truthfully, I am not quite familiar enough with it to make a declaration.

I understand that I am not obligated to choose anything and I am free to believe what I want, but, there is some comfort found in having something to believe in. I guess that standing on a crumbling foundation at least provides some support rather than standing on nothing, (at least that makes sense in my head). I feel very lost and directionless (although I felt that way as a Christian as well, I had a belief that god was in control and that I would get somewhere if I trusted in him). I guess what I am asking is for suggestions and things that you all did to help you get where you are. I understand that everyone's path is different and what worked for one, may not work for another. But I guess I am just looking for a path to walk down instead of just standing here wondering what I am supposed to do.

Thanks for your support and I hope I can start the journey soon.

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I can't understand how people can adopt a comfortable belief just because it feels good, not because there is any evidence it's true or even makes any sense. My SIL admits Christianity doesn't make any sense, but she still chooses to believe it because that's what her family always did. WTF.

 

I guess our brains are all wired in different ways. What works for me is evidence, logic, critical thinking. Many others don't ask questions and let cognitive dissonance rule their life. Most seem to need a label for themselves, some are content to just be.

 

Good luck in your deprogramming. FWIW, I wouldn't rely on a pastor with a vested interest to give you any honest guidance.

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I can't understand how people can adopt a comfortable belief just because it feels good, not because there is any evidence it's true or even makes any sense. My SIL admits Christianity doesn't make any sense, but she still chooses to believe it because that's what her family always did. WTF.

 

I guess our brains are all wired in different ways. What works for me is evidence, logic, critical thinking. Many others don't ask questions and let cognitive dissonance rule their life. Most seem to need a label for themselves, some are content to just be.

 

Good luck in your deprogramming. FWIW, I wouldn't rely on a pastor with a vested interest to give you any honest guidance.

I will not be relying on anything the pastor says. I am in the process of leaving the worship team because I cant do it and feel the way I do about Christianity, and we are meeting to discuss this. He is not capable of swaying me with anything he can throw at me, of that I am sure. He readily admits that he does not adequately study the bible enough to be of any serious threat to my opposition or questioning.

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I went through quite a bit of the feeling of being foundationless. Some of that was true even as a christian; I could see that god had a few specific commands but I just couldn't make sense of the overarching absolute morals that everyone told me had to be there.

 

What I've ended up with now is the idea that a ridgid logical structure can be comforting, but doesn't actually fit reality. Reality is full of too many grey areas for the sort of rules christianity sets up. So you need more of a few guidelines to hold on to, to figure out which rules apply when. I don't even know which wording, exactly, of the main guideline I use works best for me, but from various sources I've heard of it as the golden rule, compassion for all sentient beings, not being a dick, do those things that support life. It's a much smaller, more vague foundation than the one christianity provides, but it's also flexible enough to apply to all sorts of hard choices that christianity couldn't address. Then there's a few ways that tends to play out in a lot of situations, like how it's best to be honest with people that you want a good relationship with, don't cause physical harm to others or yourself, don't throw temper tantrums, don't break the rules especially if doing so may cause problems for other people, but do break the rules if they are outright immoral.

 

So basically, I'd ask yourself what you really care about. You certainly had a reason to leave christianity - it violated something you consider to be very important. So what are those important things? Start there. That's your foundation. Building on top of it is going to be a lot of work, and you may edit your understanding of the foundation later, but if you didn't already have things you hold to be more important than christianity you wouldn't be going through this.

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I went through quite a bit of the feeling of being foundationless. Some of that was true even as a christian; I could see that god had a few specific commands but I just couldn't make sense of the overarching absolute morals that everyone told me had to be there.

 

What I've ended up with now is the idea that a ridgid logical structure can be comforting, but doesn't actually fit reality. Reality is full of too many grey areas for the sort of rules christianity sets up. So you need more of a few guidelines to hold on to, to figure out which rules apply when. I don't even know which wording, exactly, of the main guideline I use works best for me, but from various sources I've heard of it as the golden rule, compassion for all sentient beings, not being a dick, do those things that support life. It's a much smaller, more vague foundation than the one christianity provides, but it's also flexible enough to apply to all sorts of hard choices that christianity couldn't address. Then there's a few ways that tends to play out in a lot of situations, like how it's best to be honest with people that you want a good relationship with, don't cause physical harm to others or yourself, don't throw temper tantrums, don't break the rules especially if doing so may cause problems for other people, but do break the rules if they are outright immoral.

 

So basically, I'd ask yourself what you really care about. You certainly had a reason to leave christianity - it violated something you consider to be very important. So what are those important things? Start there. That's your foundation. Building on top of it is going to be a lot of work, and you may edit your understanding of the foundation later, but if you didn't already have things you hold to be more important than christianity you wouldn't be going through this.

Thanks VacuumFlux. I needed to hear this. It looks like the things you described fit right in with Humanism. I was looking through their wiki site and they listed their creed. I liked it. I admit there are still things I am unsure of at this point regarding Humanism, but initially, they seem to be on par with where I am heading. Its strange that being a Christian made me who I am, but what I believe has changed. It almost seems oxymoronic.

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Don't expect an overnight deconversion where you suddenly know all the answers and discover "the truth." I was indoctrinated in a very devout, evangelical, missionary home and remained a "true believer" for the first 18 years of my life. It has taken me about 3 years to get from radical Xtian to rational atheist. Trust me, I know that the doubts that create cracks in the walls of your faith are scary and the looming possibility that everything you put your faith in false is terrifying. In the early stages I went through a period of about a year of depression and even suicidal thoughts. Then I became more of an agnostic or deist. I believed in some sort of higher power that would welcome me to an afterlife of peace and comfort but didn't have anything to base it off of. It was just a weaker version of my conception of the Xtian God. I finally took a cold, hard look at my philosophy and did lots of research and realized I was an atheist. And now I feel so much better because of it. There is no fear of God's wrath, no pressure to convert everyone to my religion, no repression of the natural human way in which we all function. Existence is so much more awe inspiring and marvelous when you get rid of the boring "goddidit" answers of man's religion. I encourage you to continue questioning and learning and relying on your brain for answers by using logic and reason instead of giving in to superstition and myth. The reality of a godless existence is a scary notion at first but once you continue down the path of enlightenment I think you will to come to appreciate it more. Good luck on your journey! 3.gif

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Norm, honestly it isn't about "beliefs". It's about truth, honesty, and being able to substantiate the difference between reality and myth. It's difficult for many people to accept the reality that they have been indoctrinated which is just a nice way of saying you've been brainwashed. No problem, all of us were too. That is the only way people become religious.

 

I was a deeply involved Christian, bible teacher, deacon, and elder for more than 40 years. It all stopped making sense to me long before I took any action but it finally reached the point that I could no longer pretend that I believed it anymore.

 

I am absolutely convinced that education is the key to being deprogrammed. And make no mistake about it, you have to be deprogrammed to rid yourself from its clutches. And that process takes time....and often a long period of time. It’s a process not an event.

 

Having been where you are I will offer some advice. Stop talking to preachers. They are the ones that were instrumental in indoctrinating you in the first place. Not a good idea to ask a drug dealer to help you get off of drugs. Stop reading apologist and start reading religious historians like Bart Ehrman, Elaine Pagels, Robert M Price, and Earl Doherty among others.

 

It's the apologist job to tell you all the ways scripture can be legitimately interpreted. It's the historian’s job to tell you if Bible is really true or not. Did those events recorded in the bible really happen? Is there any evidence the characters named in the Bible were real people? In other words is there any independent historical evidence that validates or corroborates the Bible or any of its stories as being factually true and historically accurate?  That is the key.

 

Is the Bible historically accurate or simply a collection of myths, legends, and folklore written in the form of allegory, metaphor, and narrative parable? If it’s the latter then Christianity is simply a modern day religious version of Aesop’s fables. And that would mean the God of the Bible, Jesus, Heaven, and Hell are myths. Why would anyone be afraid of a myth or allow a myth to control their lives?

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The same brain that is helping you understand that Christianity isn't correct will help guide you towards a path to follow. There is no hurry, and me thinks the main thing is that you are on a journey now. 

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I guess what I am asking is for suggestions and things that you all did to help you get where you are. I understand that everyone's path is different and what worked for one, may not work for another. But I guess I am just looking for a path to walk down instead of just standing here wondering what I am supposed to do.

Thanks for your support and I hope I can start the journey soon.

There is such a truth of sincerity in you. It is a process. It takes time. I don't know how to put it in any simple thing to do. You'll have to do what you need to to find what works for you. Above all, listen to that voice in yourself that knows it has to find that path yourself. There is no easy fix, and that's what the flaw of what you, and I were exposed to in these promises of salvation through just believing this or that.

 

Your questions have really touched me. It's like looking back on myself all those years ago wondering where to go. Look within yourself, sincerely, look to the touch of the world around you. Look to express what is within you to those around you. Such truth cannot be taught. It is discovered.

 

Peace.

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I am going through something similar. It has been hard fore to accept this as a process but yet it is. And it isn't an easy one. You have to de-brainwash yourself. And I've yet to accomplish that but I know it will come. Stay strong my friend!

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I guess what I am asking is for suggestions and things that you all did to help you get where you are. I understand that everyone's path is different and what worked for one, may not work for another. But I guess I am just looking for a path to walk down instead of just standing here wondering what I am supposed to do.

Thanks for your support and I hope I can start the journey soon.

There is such a truth of sincerity in you. It is a process. It takes time. I don't know how to put it in any simple thing to do. You'll have to do what you need to to find what works for you. Above all, listen to that voice in yourself that knows it has to find that path yourself. There is no easy fix, and that's what the flaw of what you, and I were exposed to in these promises of salvation through just believing this or that.

 

Your questions have really touched me. It's like looking back on myself all those years ago wondering where to go. Look within yourself, sincerely, look to the touch of the world around you. Look to express what is within you to those around you. Such truth cannot be taught. It is discovered.

 

Peace.

 

Antlerman, thanks for the encouragement. It is my deepest desire to be whatever it is that I need to be. As a Christian, I poured out my heart to god all the time and I almost always left that time with a hole in my heart. I hated it. I always kept asking myself why does a god who wants to be intimate with me and have a deep personal relationship with me seem to always never be around? I get passionate about things and now I am moving into a different place in my life and I feel like I need a direction. Before, I always has a sense that no matter what I did, god was going to get me where I needed to be. Now that I am unsure about whether or not god even exists, I feel very directionless. I understand that this whole process will take a long time, but as long as I am moving forward towards something, towards some type of understanding, I will be ok.

impickle, I read some of your earlier posts in the forum and I would agree that we are very much in the same boat. You have said some things that I can relate to. Thanks for your encouragement. I'll get through this. In some ways, I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me.

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One thing that can help is to take off reading the bible from cover to cover. So few people actually do that. And not a few of us here have deconverted or found much more strength our deconversion by simply reading the Bible with a critical eye and considering all of the contradiction and inconsistencies along the way. 

 

It can also help to turn to Christian apologetics when facing these contradictions and inconsistencies. Not a few of us around here have found much more strength in our deconversion by observing the desperate special pleading and assorted logical fallacies apologists will implore to try and dodge Biblical contradiction and inconsistency. When you can see just how illogical and desperate many apologists will get while trying to shore up the faith, it's difficult to grant that they may be right after all. Often times apologetics = deconversion. 

 

Looking into other religions through comparative mythology is another way of "seeing the light." What we have and what they have are so intertwined and connected that it's difficult to remain of the opinion that the rest of the world is wrong and you right. The human imagination has been hard at work evenly and consistently through all of them. Understanding how Judeo-Christianity has borrowed from and usurped the pagan religions can often = deconversion. 

 

In short, it all boils down to self education as Geezer so wisely pointed out. 

 

It's a process. You can't learn everything all at once. But in your own time and in your own way you can build up a greater and greater knowledge base year by year, decade after decade. And who knows, eventually you may grow into a well seasoned deconvert like the 10, 20, 30 + year members floating around here. 

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Antlerman, thanks for the encouragement. It is my deepest desire to be whatever it is that I need to be.

Keep in mind what you need to be is not something like this or that ideal person or role. It's not about conforming to some image of another. The entire thing is about awakening to yourself and finding that truth in yourself. And then, from that center, you find truth in the world. Don't look for answers out there in this view or that belief. Find what resonates from within.

 

To me, this is the braver and truer path than simply finding another thing to believe in.

 

As a Christian, I poured out my heart to god all the time and I almost always left that time with a hole in my heart.

Probably because you, like me, like so many others, were told to look to God from outside ourselves to fill us. To me, in how I understand what God is now, it is about unfolding what is within you, it is your work to do, then you are able to connect with all that is in the world. It is within and without, but if we are blocked in ourselves, our beliefs directing us away from inside ourselves to this or that truth outside us, it will indeed leave us hollow and empty, or at best simply temporarily distracted from that.
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It is a whole new way to think when you go from always trusting in god to learning how to trust yourself. I think of the phrase "god helps those who help themselves". It is true because I do the work and yet it is untrue because god gets the credit for the work I did. That is such a warped way of thinking. I can now see that. Before, I could not. I have always lived my life with some sense of direction. Now I have no direction. But I have the desire to go somewhere, to be something. To have value. I had a false sense of value with christianity. Now that is gone. To find the reality from within myself is a very foreign concept. It is one that I will eventually grow accustomed to, but at this point, it is very foreign. It took many years to get where I am now, and it will likely take many years to get where I am comfortable again. I cant wait to get there.

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