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Adam5

Why Did I Believe Nonsense For So Long?

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Hello to all Atheists, Former- and Deconverting-Christians!

 

Its taken me a while before I have summoned up the courage to write a testimony.  I thought I'd wait a while after de-converting whilst my thoughts settled down, as I had a bit of trouble letting go of it all.  On a couple of occassions even going back to church thinking that I had made a mistake, and then realising again why I left.

 

I have been an ex-Christian for almost two years, and have been reading things on this forum on and off, and found it very helpful. Thanks everyone for what you do here.

 

Looking back, I am still confused as to >why< I believed in Christianity for so long. I was a full-on Christan for about four years.

 

Like most, I think up-bringing played a big part, although neither of my parents were religious and the UK is a lot more secular than the US. I did as a child attend Sunday school, then church choir.

 

I stopped going as a teenager, and spent most of my life as what you'd call a cultural Christian, just going at christmas and easter.  But I think the (self) indoctrination at childhood was definately a factor.

 

I got married first time round to a women I only knew for a few months. Which was a crazy thing to do. I think this was partly because of the folly of youth, but partly cause I thought (cause of religious thinking) that co-habiting was somehow wrong and sinful. I met my soul-mate shortly after I got divorced, and we got married.

 

My wife who is not religious was, now I look back on it, very understanding, about my religious phase. I was totally consumed by it. I am sure that others will relate, but when you go to church, read your bible, take part in church actitvities, meet friends at church, etc. this can become your life.

 

I can see the attraction of it, the comfort factor.  But it didnt work out for me.  I knew about the problems with the bible before. All the errors and contradictions. But its only after you've been in it a while do you start to understand how ridiculous a belief system it actually is. 

 

I am sure its obvious to people here the god of the old testament is absurd, but the new testament is if anything even more absurd! How can any sane person think that a woman was impregated by a ghost, her son casts out demons, raises himself from the dead (along with hoardes of zombie saints) and goes up to heaven on a cloud?

 

More to the point. How did >I< believe this?

 

Was I going mad? It has to be a mentally illness of some kind.  I look back now, and think "was that me?"> I can't believe I believed in such nonsense.

 

Like many I cherry-picked my beliefs to assemble some kind of belief system and leave out the things which were abhorrent, like hell and much of the old testament.  I knew back then it wasn't the word of God, but still kidded myself into thinking it was somehow crucial to my life.

 

I guess its the emotional ties which are strong. Once you have invested so much of your time and energy, its difficult to admit you are wrong. Difficult to say you have wasted so much time and deluded yourself, lying to yourself.

 

And the funny thing, is we look at Muslims and other faith groups and think they are crazy, without questioning ourselves and our own cherished beliefs. The human mind is very strange how it works.

 

It wasnt all bad.  I like the music, and there are plenty of nice people who go to church. They are still nice people regardless of whether they believe in strange things.

 

I feel a lot happier now without the pressure of thinking someone or something "up there" is reading your thoughts, and without believing in heaven and hell. This is it, one life.

 

And having your Sunday's free is pretty good too smile.png cheers, Adam.

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Nice to see you again.  I'm glad you are working through this stuff.

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We all wonder how we got duped and stayed duped for so long. You let down your guard, turn off your brain, succumb to difficult circumstances, family and friends. We don't have to be stupid to make mistakes. We're only stupid if we continue the charade after we know better. 

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It is frustrating, but helps one stay humble I suppose...

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I wondered the same thing about myself -- I grew up in a very religious Christian home, but I still felt surprised I didn't wake up sooner. 

 

After I read up on psychology, sociology, and human nature, it made more sense as to why and how I was deluded and why other people I care about still are. 

 

Don't be hard on yourself. Celebrate your new freedom and be very glad that you found your way out!

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I was over 50 when I figured it out! The deconversion seemed sudden, an "a-ha!" moment, but looking back I realize that I had been modifying my position for a long time since what my church taught didn't really fit the Bible in a lot of ways. Once I had the "a-ha" moment, I realized that the reason was that nobody's church teaches exactly what the Bible teaches, because the Bible is horribly inconsistent.

 

 

And the funny thing, is we look at Muslims and other faith groups and think they are crazy, without questioning ourselves and our own cherished beliefs. The human mind is very strange how it works.

 

I used to actually warn people not to be too critical of Mormons, etc, because what "we" believed looked just as crazy to some people. I should have figured it out then!

 

Welcome aboard!

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Nice to see you again.  I'm glad you are working through this stuff.

 

Hi MyMistake, nice to "see" you again too. Like a few here, working through pyschological set-back of religion slowly but intend to get there in the end.

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We all wonder how we got duped and stayed duped for so long. You let down your guard, turn off your brain, succumb to difficult circumstances, family and friends. We don't have to be stupid to make mistakes. We're only stupid if we continue the charade after we know better. 

 

Hi Florduh, nicely put.  Clever people can believe in stupid things.  They are just good at finding reasons and excuses for believing in them. I think upbringing plays a big factor with religion. I feel sorry for those people born into fundamentalist families, where its evern harder to undo the programming.

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..After I read up on psychology, sociology, and human nature, it made more sense as to why and how I was deluded and why other people I care about still are. 

 

Don't be hard on yourself. Celebrate your new freedom and be very glad that you found your way out!

 

Thanks.  I agree psychology has a lot of the answers.  One psychology book I have read is "The Believing Brain" by Michael Shermer, explaining how we construct beliefs and the psychology behind spiritutal faiths and pseudoscience.

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Everything you wrote resonates well with me. I totally get where you are coming from. Living in sin, the comfort factor and emotional ties, church life consuming your world, absurdities, feeling stupid for believing, and finally... freedom. Thank you for sharing.

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I was over 50 when I figured it out! The deconversion seemed sudden, an "a-ha!" moment, but looking back I realize that I had been modifying my position for a long time since what my church taught didn't really fit the Bible in a lot of ways. Once I had the "a-ha" moment, I realized that the reason was that nobody's church teaches exactly what the Bible teaches, because the Bible is horribly inconsistent.

 

Hi MisterTwo,  I am glad I am not the only slow learner :)  I also modified my position for a long time before leaving. I think like many people I had views more akin to a Deist for many years, and I think a lot of people who attend church on and off are like that.

 

Yes, the bible is a book of contradictions. Putting it politely!  I basically stopped believing because the evidence wasnt good enough. You chip away at the core beliefs until all the superstition is gone, and what you have left does not resemble Christianity in any meaningful way.

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Everything you wrote resonates well with me. I totally get where you are coming from. Living in sin, the comfort factor and emotional ties, church life consuming your world, absurdities, feeling stupid for believing, and finally... freedom. Thank you for sharing.

 

Hi, glad you liked the post. I am working on the "freedom" bit but have not mastered my zeds on a sunday morning or evening just yet.  But its nice being able to read the papers, mow the lawn and catch up with other stuff.

 

Cheers

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Sunday morning in the US (especially here in a Bible belt small-ish town) is the perfect time to hit the grocery stores. Just my family and a few workers. So quiet and crowd-free. It's actually fun to browse together. We chat about which night we are going to cook what, send our 8-year-old girl around the corner aisle to find the next thing, toss the rolls of paper towels down the aisle to daddy with the cart, etc. Sounds kind of lame, but it's nice little family time. Sunday night we make pizza together (the crust from scratch and all), and watch a movie.

 

No guilt, just loving our free time together.

 

Sunday mornings I always had to go to church early for one last choir run-through before the service, and daddy and daughter came half hour later for the service. After first service, during the coffee hour, I helped set up the mics and guitars and such for the contemporary service, with one last run-through of the music. Daddy and daughter ate a few donuts and went home, while I stayed for the second service. I left home at 7:45 am and got home around 12:30 pm. Not very family-oriented, huh? I'm glad that nonsense is behind me. Freedom!

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In my case I was disciplied by a PhD and noted professor of economics. I do not think I thought critically, instead I was reacting to the last 12 or so years of my life which were rather hedonistic but also marked by intense academic achievement. Being an innately spiritual person this left me feeling empty and even a little guilty. Jesus etc seemed to be a coming back to the source and an antidote to living day to day without "meaning".  I never critically assessed the historical accuracy of the Bible or rationally examined the behavior of the OT "God". I suppose I accepted Calvinist theology about the total depravity of man and thought man didnt deserve anything but Hell from the perfect God, so anything less was in a way a blessing. Im ashamed of my gullibility now.

 

More critically, what most led me to leave was the utter uncaring, judgmental attitide I experienced in the year leading up to and following my divorce. A fuller explanation is provided in my testimony in the that section. These people just seemed utterly berift of any supernatual annointing. So the whole "indwelt by the Sprit" doctrine seemed absurd and hollow. Also, the doctrine of Hell for "unbelievers" finally appeared as a monstously cruel doctrine. Then I started examining the Bible more critically and from there the absurdity and implausibility grew until it hit me it was all a concostion of nonsense, cruelty delusion and deception. A vile stew indeed! After that I saw Christians in the light of the falsehood of their faith and they seemed bizarre, misled and delusional. Just off the beam kooks in many cases. It is my firm conviction that looking back, Evangelical Christians are some of the nastest people I have ever encountred in my 55 years (and I have encountered a very wide variety of people).

 

 

Yes I am rather mystified still as to why I was so taken in. Rest assured I have learned from it and even my reaction to my former gullibility has been developmental for me. Once burned twice cautious. Mostly, I just am happy to be out of it.

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..More critically, what most led me to leave was the utter uncaring, judgmental attitide I experienced in the year leading up to and following my divorce. ..

 

Hi DrGuitar, I do think its strange that Christians talk-the-talk about being caring and non judgmental but some often come across as very judgmental people.  A lot of people feel rejected by whatever church they are/were in because they are divorced, re-married, co-habiting, gay/lesbian, single, or lots of other reasons. So those people have to exist on the margins of a church or are excluded altogether like re-married catholics.

 

Its one of the benefits I think of coming out of faith, is we can now have a positive view towards people we meet, without pre-judging someone cause they dont match the rules of some bizarre religion.

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So true about those xians being judgmental about divorce!  I'm not sure I'd even go so far as "judgmental" in regards to my own ex-church, but more like they had no clue what to do or say to me and my ex, now that we weren't that happy family unit any more.  They just seemed befuddled that we broke ranks, so quit talking to us!  I noticed they got that way with anybody that was "different" from that narrow biblical model they have!

 

It is VERY funny how absurd the bible stories are when you see them with clear eyes!  When you learn the stories as a child you simply take them at face value, and the adults say they're true, so your child's brain accepts them as true.  When you finally THINK about them, they are so absurd and downright funny!  I now get a kick out of listening to preachers on the radio because they go on and on so angrily and seriously about these made up stories!

 

It's very nice having "god" out of my brain reading my thoughts -- that's another strange concept, isn't it?  And not having to rush around on Sundays to prepare for Sunday school/church, getting the kids ready, lessons ready, then everybody run to different ends of the church -- priceless!

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Aggie: "It is frustrating, but helps one stay humble I suppose..."

 

Well, one would think so. But I've seen a few exchristians who could not honestly be described as humble.

 

bill

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Aggie: "It is frustrating, but helps one stay humble I suppose..."

 

Well, one would think so. But I've seen a few exchristians who could not honestly be described as humble.

 

bill

True enough, Bill.  Trying myself to drop dogmas and not pick up new ones.  It's a constant temptation to pretend that I know more than I do or that I am better than others.  Here's one of my favorites from the Desert Fathers... “A dog is better than I am, for he has love and does not judge.”  I still have plenty to learn from Christians (both by their strengths and their weaknesses...)

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Aggie: "It is frustrating, but helps one stay humble I suppose..."

 

Well, one would think so. But I've seen a few exchristians who could not honestly be described as humble.

 

bill

True enough, Bill.  Trying myself to drop dogmas and not pick up new ones.  It's a constant temptation to pretend that I know more than I do or that I am better than others.  Here's one of my favorites from the Desert Fathers... “A dog is better than I am, for he has love and does not judge.”  I still have plenty to learn from Christians (both by their strengths and their weaknesses...)

 

 

 

Hi William, great post. Humility to me is not believing that you are better than everyone else. Religion is supposed to be about humility but ends up teaching dogma and making a person intolerant. Viva la difference. Have a good weekend.

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Indeed, it is scary the decisions you make "under the influence". How can you trust yourself? Oh yeah, you're not supposed to. You're supposed to trust God. Are we just puppets of God then? 

I look back on my time as a christian and see myself as very passive. I just waited around for God to tell me what to do or direct me or show me a sign. I wasted so much valuable time! Ugh! I let opportunities pass me by because I didn't think God wanted me to do something. I'd look desperately for any kind of sign that he was communicating with me.

I feel so stupid about that now.

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