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RaLeah

The Mental Barriers To De-Conversion

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Something along the lines of:  jesus loves me soooo much that he died for me--me! a worthless sinner!  No one has ever loved me that much.  How could I betray that love.

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"The devil is trying to trick you" ploy is an oldie but goodie.  Along with its kissing cousin, the ever-popular "God is testing you" gimmick.  Interesting how questioning / doubting / rejecting one's faith can be attributed to the activities of either one of these deities, depending on the particular apologist's angle.  Still working together after all these years....

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Once I became brainwashed in my mind the only information that seemed valid was from the Man of God = the pastor.  He even did sermons on "the authority of the pastor"...so that limited my mind to looking at any information, especially if it conflicted what the mog=manAgawd says!

 

Very hard to overcome...somehow the pastor gets inside people's heads that THEY are the only real authority so in your brainwashed head, even if you hear information that sounds good and right, if it doesn't line up with what the pastor teaches it is dismissed.

 

I'd love to write more, but im soooo tired. This is a very interesting topic you bring up RaLeah!

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"The devil is trying to trick you" ploy is an oldie but goodie.  Along with its kissing cousin, the ever-popular "God is testing you" gimmick. 

Actually the "god is testing you" gimmick was one of the things that helped me deconvert.  I got to the point at which I asked myself, "How many times does god really need to test my faith before he is satisfied that it is strong?  I mean, after all I've done for him already, how much proof does the mad bastard NEED?"  That was the beginning of the end, if memory serves.

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RaLeah you are always one of my favorites.. you think!

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Here in the US, and perhaps elsewhere, Christianity is explicitly tied to patriotism. This is also, for many, a major hurdle blocking de-conversion. "Atheism leads to communism, blah blah blah ..."

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The very first thought that led to my de-conversion was why would a god reject my familly just becaue they weren't "saved."  I didn't want to believe in this god who would banish my kids and husband from heaven.  That wouldn't be heaven to me.

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RaLeah, as far as I'm concerned this is a 5 star  thread. *****

Thank you so much for putting a lot of thought and time into this thread.

 

Right to this very day, I still wonder if the devil has me 'blinded'. We were taught (and brainwashed) that the devil is the 'angel of light' and could disguise himself to make you think anything was 'good', when it was really bad. I used to constantly wonder if a certain thing was from god or was I being tricked by the devil? Constantly. We were taught to become very aware of the  devil's presence and we were taught that you must learn quickly how to discern the different spirits. It was enough to drive you insane. I went by what my 'gut' was telling me and trying to compare things with what scripture taught. As I said, this message is presented in Pentecostal churches so strongly, that you spent a great deal of your 'thinking and praying time' wondering if a certain situation was from god or possibly a 'trick' from the devil. I made some very major mistakes in my life because of this thinking. Mistakes that I am still paying for. It's a mind fuck.

 

I'm looking very forward to following this thread. *hug*

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RaLeah.. your posts are a marvel. LOVE to read them.

 

Oh Margee, I HATE that little doubt about being 'fooled by the devil' that sneaks in every once in a while. Intellectually I know it's bunk, but it's SO insidious… I despise doubting my own ability to judge reality. It can bring on an panic attack in a heartbeat. hate hate hate it.

 

That one gets to me much more than the Hell thing… because I became convinced a long time ago that eternal torture was not possible for any entity that was a creator. It's just logically and morally ridiculous.

 

Anyway… It seems related to a lot of other kinds of narrow-mindedness. The isolation with others who think exactly like you can support racism, sexism…etc… I've noticed that the wider I make my world the less bigoted I am. Meeting people of other cultures and faiths, travelling to other places, reading material that challenges my preconceptions of, anything. This opens the mind. All of the above barriers have an element of isolation… insularity. It's fear based… and strangely the exact techniques abusers use to manipulate their victims. The very first thing an abuser will do is start messing with your self-esteem, then comes the isolation… it's classic.

 

The one difference is the sense of elitism…. the 'we are special' thing. This is the final hook…so the pattern is: isolate them, take away their individuality (conformity to the group/enforcement of tribal mentality), tear them down(self-esteem destruction), brainwashing (repetition), then build them up (elitism/patriotism). Cults and the military also use these techniques.

 

So I think we could say they are all victims of Stockholm syndrome, in a way. It's subtle… but really effective. Breaking through these barriers is difficult - and I don't have the answers… maybe people who work with ex-cult members know more about it. I also think that's one reason ex-military people have such a high rate of mental health issues (exposure to brutality is another, PTSD)

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RaLeah.. your posts are a marvel. LOVE to read them.

 

Oh Margee, I HATE that little doubt about being 'fooled by the devil' that sneaks in every once in a while. Intellectually I know it's bunk, but it's SO insidious… I despise doubting my own ability to judge reality. It can bring on an panic attack in a heartbeat. hate hate hate it.

 

Ya know Ravengirlfriend...if this 'doubt' can happen to you my sweetheart...someone who I consider to be a huge intelligent person on Ex-c...I won't feel so bad today. Thank you darlin'........

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The sad reality is that most people just refuse or don't have the capacity to think.  The list in the OP is probably of the justifications they use to deflect criticism (from outsiders, not of their own mind you as they don't bother to think critically), but as they already KNOW they are right, they generally just don't bother with questions in the first place. 

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Barriers to deconversion for me:

  • Didn't want to dissapoint my mom, didn't want to abandon my upbringing. Didn't want to invalidate fond childhood memories of church, sunday school etc.
  • The idea that a creation needs a creator died hard for me. It always felt natural for me to beleive in a creator. It took a lot of reading before I could even imagine how a creator might not be necessary
  • Biblical prophecies like Israel becoming a country
  • Dreams where i thought I saw devils
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What a great thread! These are really important to talk about. I thought about these mental barriers a lot when I first deconverted and they made me FURIOUS.

 

1. Your professors have a PhD in atheism and you only have a kindergartener's understanding of Christianity. If they seem convincing, it is because they are a lot cleverer than you, the silky-tongued devils.

 

(Never mind that at least half my professors were Christians or at least highly sensitive to religious people)

 

2. Presuppositionalism: atheism only makes sense if you already believe it. Worldview is everything. You are incapable of making sense of you sensory experiences which is why we have the Bible and a Christian worldview.

 

(Others have mentioned this, but it was presented to me in this specific way)

 

3. You only dislike Christianity because you want homosexuality to be okay. You just want to sin.

 

(Particularly frustrating and effective because it came from a peer, my best friend, and it was also sort of true. I wanted certain Christian rules to be false before I let the religion go altogether. It makes sense now because, duh, Christianity is all about telling you that things that make you happy are sins.)

 

4. You. Will. Go. To. Hell.

 

The anti-mental barrier for me was "all truth is God's truth." I figured, if Christianity is true, I'll come back to it eventually, inevitably! I just need to wander a bit and explore ideas. I never did come back, obviously.

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These are all so true and I can relate to them all, being young both in age and de-conversion.

 

The one I'm currently struggling with is a bit of a rabbit hole:
I rejected Christianity in reasons that ultimately trace themselves back to reason and critical thinking. 

But how can we trust reason and critical thinking? 

This sounds like a no-brainer at first, but I mean philosophically; if we can't trust reason and critical thinking, what reason is there to not embrace Christianity with open arms? 

So I'm worried that rationality is irrational, and that our entire premises of thinking are inherently flawed, hence rejecting Christianity is not rational...? Wendytwitch.gif

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Thank you, everyone, for such thoughtful replies and kind words. 

 

Something along the lines of:  jesus loves me soooo much that he died for me--me! a worthless sinner!  No one has ever loved me that much.  How could I betray that love.

 

Getting you to first believe you are worthless and sinful and disgusting and therefore require God to sacrifice Jesus to take the punishment you deserve... is just a vile tactic. Imagine telling a young child they are disgusting and sinful in need of salvation. You're crushing their own sense of goodness and making them think the only reason their conscience guides them to do something nice for someone else is God urging them to do it, and when they feel a pang of conscience when they're considering doing something wrong, they attribute that to God as well, not to their own innate goodness. This feels like a form of child abuse. Demolish a child's sense of self-worth, replace it with a proxy.  

 

Once I became brainwashed in my mind the only information that seemed valid was from the Man of God = the pastor.  He even did sermons on "the authority of the pastor"...so that limited my mind to looking at any information, especially if it conflicted what the mog=manAgawd says!

 

Very hard to overcome...somehow the pastor gets inside people's heads that THEY are the only real authority so in your brainwashed head, even if you hear information that sounds good and right, if it doesn't line up with what the pastor teaches it is dismissed.

 

I'd love to write more, but im soooo tired. This is a very interesting topic you bring up RaLeah!

 

This goes along with the above: crush your trust in your own logic, substitute the pastor's counsel for your own. Don't question authority. Blindly obey it. (Yeah, THAT sounds healthy!)

 

Here in the US, and perhaps elsewhere, Christianity is explicitly tied to patriotism. This is also, for many, a major hurdle blocking de-conversion. "Atheism leads to communism, blah blah blah ..."

 

This is a great point and one that I left out: But God is right up there with mom and apple pie for patriotism. They seem to imply: You aren't a REAL American if you are an atheist, gay, minority, etc. You can feel included as an American. It also works as a fear tactic: We don't want communism, do we?? Be afraid! 

 

RaLeah, as far as I'm concerned this is a 5 star  thread. *****

Thank you so much for putting a lot of thought and time into this thread.

 

Right to this very day, I still wonder if the devil has me 'blinded'. We were taught (and brainwashed) that the devil is the 'angel of light' and could disguise himself to make you think anything was 'good', when it was really bad. I used to constantly wonder if a certain thing was from god or was I being tricked by the devil? Constantly. We were taught to become very aware of the  devil's presence and we were taught that you must learn quickly how to discern the different spirits. It was enough to drive you insane. I went by what my 'gut' was telling me and trying to compare things with what scripture taught. As I said, this message is presented in Pentecostal churches so strongly, that you spent a great deal of your 'thinking and praying time' wondering if a certain situation was from god or possibly a 'trick' from the devil. I made some very major mistakes in my life because of this thinking. Mistakes that I am still paying for. It's a mind fuck.

 

I'm looking very forward to following this thread. *hug*

 

Thanks, Margee. Yes, it can be VERY confusing trying to figure out what God wants you to do... or whether it's your own sinful nature or the devil. How confusing was that?? I remember praying about which career to choose--if I were a REALLY good Christian, wouldn't I be a missionary in some 3rd world country serving God in poverty? I felt guilty for choosing something else. 

 

But that awful paranoia about the devil... it can really paralyze you in your decision making. It's awful. I'm glad our eyes are opened now. 

 

RaLeah.. your posts are a marvel. LOVE to read them.

 

Oh Margee, I HATE that little doubt about being 'fooled by the devil' that sneaks in every once in a while. Intellectually I know it's bunk, but it's SO insidious… I despise doubting my own ability to judge reality. It can bring on an panic attack in a heartbeat. hate hate hate it.

 

That one gets to me much more than the Hell thing… because I became convinced a long time ago that eternal torture was not possible for any entity that was a creator. It's just logically and morally ridiculous.

 

Anyway… It seems related to a lot of other kinds of narrow-mindedness. The isolation with others who think exactly like you can support racism, sexism…etc… I've noticed that the wider I make my world the less bigoted I am. Meeting people of other cultures and faiths, travelling to other places, reading material that challenges my preconceptions of, anything. This opens the mind. All of the above barriers have an element of isolation… insularity. It's fear based… and strangely the exact techniques abusers use to manipulate their victims. The very first thing an abuser will do is start messing with your self-esteem, then comes the isolation… it's classic.

 

The one difference is the sense of elitism…. the 'we are special' thing. This is the final hook…so the pattern is: isolate them, take away their individuality (conformity to the group/enforcement of tribal mentality), tear them down(self-esteem destruction), brainwashing (repetition), then build them up (elitism/patriotism). Cults and the military also use these techniques.

 

So I think we could say they are all victims of Stockholm syndrome, in a way. It's subtle… but really effective. Breaking through these barriers is difficult - and I don't have the answers… maybe people who work with ex-cult members know more about it. I also think that's one reason ex-military people have such a high rate of mental health issues (exposure to brutality is another, PTSD)

 

Thanks, Ravenstar. Yes, it makes me think of Stockholm syndrome too. Thank you too for expanding on the brainwashing techniques, the break-down of self, the isolation, the pressure of conformity... it's subtle, indeed. 

 

What a great thread! These are really important to talk about. I thought about these mental barriers a lot when I first deconverted and they made me FURIOUS.

1. Your professors have a PhD in atheism and you only have a kindergartener's understanding of Christianity. If they seem convincing, it is because they are a lot cleverer than you, the silky-tongued devils.

(Never mind that at least half my professors were Christians or at least highly sensitive to religious people)

2. Presuppositionalism: atheism only makes sense if you already believe it. Worldview is everything. You are incapable of making sense of you sensory experiences which is why we have the Bible and a Christian worldview.

(Others have mentioned this, but it was presented to me in this specific way)

3. You only dislike Christianity because you want homosexuality to be okay. You just want to sin.

(Particularly frustrating and effective because it came from a peer, my best friend, and it was also sort of true. I wanted certain Christian rules to be false before I let the religion go altogether. It makes sense now because, duh, Christianity is all about telling you that things that make you happy are sins.)

4. You. Will. Go. To. Hell.

The anti-mental barrier for me was "all truth is God's truth." I figured, if Christianity is true, I'll come back to it eventually, inevitably! I just need to wander a bit and explore ideas. I never did come back, obviously.

 

That first one, "your atheist professors are clever and can trick you," that scared me away from going straight into a secular university (leading to 2 semesters of hell at Christian colleges.) But like you, I discovered many of my professors were Christians as well. But this is really just trying to protect you from a competing idea at odds with Christianity. If you're never exposed to other ideas, you can't consider them. If you never consider them, you can't change your mind. 

 

And that "you just want to sin" drove me crazy! I did not. But just to prove it, while I was de-converting, I went to church, tithed, didn't drink, stayed chaste (bleh), and basically did my very best to live a life above reproach. Not just to prove it to them, but to prove it to myself that the quest for truth came first, and not because of any other lesser desire. (But looking back... so what? I mean, it didn't hurt me to abstain from stuff, but I didn't really need to do that after all.) And so what if some ex-C's motivations for questioning their beliefs was because they wanted to do something the Bible condemns? Why would that motivation be any less valid than another? I say, whatever it takes to give people the ability to form a reasonable doubt about their Christian beliefs, it's a good thing. 

 

These are all so true and I can relate to them all, being young both in age and de-conversion.

 

The one I'm currently struggling with is a bit of a rabbit hole:
I rejected Christianity in reasons that ultimately trace themselves back to reason and critical thinking. 

But how can we trust reason and critical thinking? 

This sounds like a no-brainer at first, but I mean philosophically; if we can't trust reason and critical thinking, what reason is there to not embrace Christianity with open arms? 

So I'm worried that rationality is irrational, and that our entire premises of thinking are inherently flawed, hence rejecting Christianity is not rational...? Wendytwitch.gif

 

I hate that the Bible says, "Lean not unto thine own understanding" and variations on that theme all throughout. It's wrong. It's drummed into us, and it's 100% wrong. What should we trust more than our own brains instead? Other people? (Pastor, parents, friends?) The Bible--why? Our emotions? Sure, all that, but definitely not our own brains. No way. 

 

Rationality is the most rational thing we have. Somewhere during my letting go of Christianity, I realized I don't always have to have the answer for everything. It's okay to say, "I don't know." It's okay to say, "I'm not sure, but for right now, I think X, Y or Z makes the most sense." And to keep updating my understanding with evidence, information, and logic. 

 

Feelings can certainly be misleading. Other people can be wrong. (Pastors disagree with other pastors even.) I do tend to give some credibility to experts (historians, scientists, psychologists, etc.) particularly where there's a consensus. 

 

So, for what it's worth, I would say that trusting reason and critical thinking is the best option we have to understand ourselves and the universe around us. (No one ever discovered a vaccine by praying for an answer; they got it by using their brains and the scientific method.) 
 

======

 

Thanks again, everyone, for all your comments! I'm enjoying the discussion very much. :)

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Another big one for me was number 2 and 4 where it seemed as if there wasn't one person in my surroundings

(friends, family) or even my city that didn't believe in god. I asked myself, how could it be that so many people believe? Everyone believes. They have 'felt' god and his miracles like you thought you felt a few times. I was standing out like a sore thumb. It was like I had a rebel heart and soul!!! Wendytwitch.gif I felt so different and terribly all alone in this. I asked myself sooooo many times, how could ALL those people be wrong???

 

Thank 'god' for EX-c!!

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Another big one for me was number 2 where it seemed as if there wasn't one person in my surroundings

(friends, family) or even my city that didn't believe in god. I asked myself, how could it be that so many people believe? Everyone believes. They have 'felt' god and his miracles like you thought you felt a few times. I was standing out like a sore thumb. It was like I had a rebel heart and soul!!! Wendytwitch.gif I felt so different and terribly all alone in this. I asked myself sooooo many times, how could ALL those people be wrong???

 

Thank 'god' for EX-c!!

Yes Margee. That is another one, you look around and everyone seems so...happy...content. Nobody is questioning or showing any doubt, outwardly anyhow. Everyone is "amening" to the preaching, no dissent. I used to look around at the congregation as the pastor was preaching and the look on the faces of the flock, they were eating up every word being preached. I looked and wondered, "doesn't anyone see anything wrong with this picture...does anyone feel like I do that something is not right?"  Then I would blame myself that I should not be doubting like that! I would then try to line up my reality with what i was being told reality should be- according to the buybull.

 

It is very difficult to overcome because there are so many webs to untangle to get yourself out.

 

We all here at Ex-C should pat ourselves on the back that we escaped!woohoo.gif

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Another big one for me was number 2 where it seemed as if there wasn't one person in my surroundings

(friends, family) or even my city that didn't believe in god. I asked myself, how could it be that so many people believe? Everyone believes. They have 'felt' god and his miracles like you thought you felt a few times. I was standing out like a sore thumb. It was like I had a rebel heart and soul!!! Wendytwitch.gif I felt so different and terribly all alone in this. I asked myself sooooo many times, how could ALL those people be wrong???

 

Thank 'god' for EX-c!!

 

Yes! This exactly. Everyone around me just believes without a second thought. Doubt anything - even Christianity - but God exists. God always exists. It's so nice to join people who realize that that's not a given.

 

 

 

 

 

These are all so true and I can relate to them all, being young both in age and de-conversion.

 

The one I'm currently struggling with is a bit of a rabbit hole:

I rejected Christianity in reasons that ultimately trace themselves back to reason and critical thinking. 

But how can we trust reason and critical thinking? 

This sounds like a no-brainer at first, but I mean philosophically; if we can't trust reason and critical thinking, what reason is there to not embrace Christianity with open arms? 

So I'm worried that rationality is irrational, and that our entire premises of thinking are inherently flawed, hence rejecting Christianity is not rational...? Wendytwitch.gif

 

I hate that the Bible says, "Lean not unto thine own understanding" and variations on that theme all throughout. It's wrong. It's drummed into us, and it's 100% wrong. What should we trust more than our own brains instead? Other people? (Pastor, parents, friends?) The Bible--why? Our emotions? Sure, all that, but definitely not our own brains. No way. 

 

Rationality is the most rational thing we have. Somewhere during my letting go of Christianity, I realized I don't always have to have the answer for everything. It's okay to say, "I don't know." It's okay to say, "I'm not sure, but for right now, I think X, Y or Z makes the most sense." And to keep updating my understanding with evidence, information, and logic. 

 

Feelings can certainly be misleading. Other people can be wrong. (Pastors disagree with other pastors even.) I do tend to give some credibility to experts (historians, scientists, psychologists, etc.) particularly where there's a consensus. 

 

So, for what it's worth, I would say that trusting reason and critical thinking is the best option we have to understand ourselves and the universe around us. (No one ever discovered a vaccine by praying for an answer; they got it by using their brains and the scientific method.) 

 

======

 

Thanks again, everyone, for all your comments! I'm enjoying the discussion very much. smile.png

 

Thank you very much for the insight, RaLeah - I must agree that your posts are very edifying indeed!

"Lean not unto thine own understanding" has always bothered me too. When forced to go to church on Sunday, our pastor was giving a sermon on how "The Bible says that those that don't believe are going to hell. I find it incredibly distasteful, but the Bible says it, so that proves it." And I'm just sitting in the pew like eek.gif

I do think my panic has to do with the OCD and anxiety that I suffer, and I will just have to learn that I will never be able to "prove" reason, it just works and works well. Easier said than done, but hey, that's deconversion. Also reading Bertrand Russell's Problems of Philosophy and seeing if that helps. I know you guys will be here for me though :) 

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Thank you, everyone, for such thoughtful replies and kind words. 

 

Something along the lines of:  jesus loves me soooo much that he died for me--me! a worthless sinner!  No one has ever loved me that much.  How could I betray that love.

 

Getting you to first believe you are worthless and sinful and disgusting and therefore require God to sacrifice Jesus to take the punishment you deserve... is just a vile tactic. Imagine telling a young child they are disgusting and sinful in need of salvation. You're crushing their own sense of goodness and making them think the only reason their conscience guides them to do something nice for someone else is God urging them to do it, and when they feel a pang of conscience when they're considering doing something wrong, they attribute that to God as well, not to their own innate goodness. This feels like a form of child abuse. Demolish a child's sense of self-worth, replace it with a proxy.  

This is something I would never imagine doing to my son.  How my parents were able to justify doing it to me is beyond my imagination.  I have no words...

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Another big one for me was number 2 where it seemed as if there wasn't one person in my surroundings

(friends, family) or even my city that didn't believe in god. I asked myself, how could it be that so many people believe? Everyone believes. They have 'felt' god and his miracles like you thought you felt a few times. I was standing out like a sore thumb. It was like I had a rebel heart and soul!!! Wendytwitch.gif I felt so different and terribly all alone in this. I asked myself sooooo many times, how could ALL those people be wrong???

 

Thank 'god' for EX-c!!

 

Yes! This exactly. Everyone around me just believes without a second thought. Doubt anything - even Christianity - but God exists. God always exists. It's so nice to join people who realize that that's not a given.

 

 

 

 

 

These are all so true and I can relate to them all, being young both in age and de-conversion.

 

The one I'm currently struggling with is a bit of a rabbit hole:

I rejected Christianity in reasons that ultimately trace themselves back to reason and critical thinking. 

But how can we trust reason and critical thinking? 

This sounds like a no-brainer at first, but I mean philosophically; if we can't trust reason and critical thinking, what reason is there to not embrace Christianity with open arms? 

So I'm worried that rationality is irrational, and that our entire premises of thinking are inherently flawed, hence rejecting Christianity is not rational...? Wendytwitch.gif

 

I hate that the Bible says, "Lean not unto thine own understanding" and variations on that theme all throughout. It's wrong. It's drummed into us, and it's 100% wrong. What should we trust more than our own brains instead? Other people? (Pastor, parents, friends?) The Bible--why? Our emotions? Sure, all that, but definitely not our own brains. No way. 

 

Rationality is the most rational thing we have. Somewhere during my letting go of Christianity, I realized I don't always have to have the answer for everything. It's okay to say, "I don't know." It's okay to say, "I'm not sure, but for right now, I think X, Y or Z makes the most sense." And to keep updating my understanding with evidence, information, and logic. 

 

Feelings can certainly be misleading. Other people can be wrong. (Pastors disagree with other pastors even.) I do tend to give some credibility to experts (historians, scientists, psychologists, etc.) particularly where there's a consensus. 

 

So, for what it's worth, I would say that trusting reason and critical thinking is the best option we have to understand ourselves and the universe around us. (No one ever discovered a vaccine by praying for an answer; they got it by using their brains and the scientific method.) 

 

======

 

Thanks again, everyone, for all your comments! I'm enjoying the discussion very much. smile.png

 

Thank you very much for the insight, RaLeah - I must agree that your posts are very edifying indeed!

"Lean not unto thine own understanding" has always bothered me too. When forced to go to church on Sunday, our pastor was giving a sermon on how "The Bible says that those that don't believe are going to hell. I find it incredibly distasteful, but the Bible says it, so that proves it." And I'm just sitting in the pew like eek.gif

I do think my panic has to do with the OCD and anxiety that I suffer, and I will just have to learn that I will never be able to "prove" reason, it just works and works well. Easier said than done, but hey, that's deconversion. Also reading Bertrand Russell's Problems of Philosophy and seeing if that helps. I know you guys will be here for me though smile.png

 

 

Yep, they get you young, telling you that you cannot rely on your own mind, your own brain, your own ability to reason. You can't even trust a fact. You can't even trust your own eyes. You can't trust thousands of experts all over the world... not if they aren't Christians, filtering all information through a Christian point of view. This one hurts me the most, because I know there are many Christians who will never, ever be able to enjoy a science program on Nova without scoffing at it if it contradicts their Bible. Not refuting it with counter-factual information, no, but with their beliefs. Not refuting it with actual information and knowledge, but just dismissing it outright without giving it any consideration whatsoever. They "know" it's wrong about the age of the earth, the fossils, etc. because they've already concluded that if it contradicts the Bible, so then it must just be a guess, or they're just making it up out of thin air, rather than asserting a verifiable fact. 

 

That's so.... wrong. 

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Thank you, everyone, for such thoughtful replies and kind words. 

 

Something along the lines of:  jesus loves me soooo much that he died for me--me! a worthless sinner!  No one has ever loved me that much.  How could I betray that love.

 

Getting you to first believe you are worthless and sinful and disgusting and therefore require God to sacrifice Jesus to take the punishment you deserve... is just a vile tactic. Imagine telling a young child they are disgusting and sinful in need of salvation. You're crushing their own sense of goodness and making them think the only reason their conscience guides them to do something nice for someone else is God urging them to do it, and when they feel a pang of conscience when they're considering doing something wrong, they attribute that to God as well, not to their own innate goodness. This feels like a form of child abuse. Demolish a child's sense of self-worth, replace it with a proxy.  

This is something I would never imagine doing to my son.  How my parents were able to justify doing it to me is beyond my imagination.  I have no words...

 

 

I agree, it's horrifying. 

 

Also, telling a child they should be grateful to this divine being who did something HUGE for them, and it's sinful and bad not to accept that....

 

I mean, you're telling a kid they should be grateful someone died for them for something they didn't do and didn't ask for... but they should be grateful... because they are naturally evil and deserve hell... that's so sick. 

 

I still remember on my first day of school, my FIRST GRADE TEACHER passing out brand new maroon-colored Bibles to each of us, then telling us this story of our sinfulness and that's why Jesus had to die in our place because we all deserved hell, and me thinking, "What? I'm going to ask my parents about this when I get home. This can't be right...." and then my parents saying, yes, it is. I mean, I grew up in the church, and I'd heard of Jesus dying on the cross, and that meant we could go to heaven, but I hadn't heard that I deserved hell just for being born. I felt crushed. And I still remember that feeling. And I was only 6 years old when that happened. I remember it like it was yesterday, how hard it was for me to understand it. I wasn't Adam or Eve. Why is it fair that their choice meant I was so evil I deserved hell forever? 

 

I tell you this: If I ever have children, I will never, ever let them hear that message from anyone in my family. If it means I can't leave them alone for babysitting for even half an hour, so be it. I won't have them go through that. 

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I raised my child agnostic, (with a pagan flair_ I was a Witch during her early years, but didn't involve her in more than special feast dinners on the high holidays and take her on walks in the woods and such and try to impress on her an appreciation for nature and other living creatures).

 

She has since decided she is an atheist.(before I did, actually) I am so glad I had her after I left the church… any 'spiritual' questions she asked me I prefaced with, "well, some people think/believe ____________, what do you think?"

 

Then I had her read Genesis when she asked about Christianity (she was 12) … she laughed her ass off, seriously, tears running down her face, she turned to me and said, "Mom, do people really believe this?" She still can;t figure out how Catholics are Christians (not sure why)

 

I'm glad I raised her this way, because she has some challenges, ADD, OCD, anxiety, and she did experience a pretty severe depression at puberty.. what would the guilt and shame of religion have done to her on top of that?

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This is off-topic, but just to tell you how good our memories are....

 

My first grade teacher was one of the meanest people I have ever known in my life. (Adults called her "strict" which I thought meant "mean" for a long time.) The ONLY time I saw her smile was when another adult or teacher was talking to her. She never smiled at us. 

 

My parents were reading a joke book with me once, and they urged me to tell her a joke in the book. (And yes, I still remember the joke.) I was horrified at the thought. No, no, they said, she'll laugh, I promise. I was literally shaking when I approached her to tell her the joke, and for a second afterward, I swear I saw a flash of outrage before it registered to her that my parents had put me up to it, expecting to hear her response to the joke later, at which point, she broke into a forced laugh and smile. I felt total relief in that moment, right after that first horrible moment of paralyzed fear when I saw her annoyance flash first.) And so when my parents inquired about it later, I told them she laughed, and they were like, "See? She's not so awful." Ha. Little did they know. 

 

She hated kids though. She hated me. On the last day of first grade, she spanked me for passing a roll of toilet paper to a girl in the next stall who was out of toilet paper, because I rolled it along the floor to her too fast, and it rolled all the way past her to the wall. My teacher made me roll it up again (gross) and accused me of "wasting school resources" and although I was too terrified to ever do anything out of line that might get me a spanking (like so many of my classmates through the year) I didn't get to avoid it that day. 

 

I realize later that I might have gotten a pass throughout the year because my dad was a deacon in the school-sponsoring church. Teachers probably went a little lighter on me because of that, but I did still get spanked enough to forever hate the idea of spanking a child. 

 

Spankings and swats should never, ever be allowed in school. But in my private Christian school, they were not just allowed, they were over-used... all the way up through middle school. I mean... gross. (Mostly, the swats were carried out in private with one other teacher present as witness to make sure the swats were not abusive.) 

 

In second grade though, we had a spank-happy teacher who'd have you stand and hold her desk while she swatted you with the paddle in front of the entire rest of the class (no other adult as witness), and once--I kid you not--she had about 10 kids (nearly half the class, I counted) line up at her desk and swatted one after the other. She accused them of rushing through the end of their literature worksheets (handed out right before recess, and you had to stay and finish until you could go play) so that they could go to recess instead of taking their time to find the right answers in the story instead of taking wild guesses so they could go play. (Like a good little girl, I missed out on 5-10 minutes or more of recess every time to make sure I always answered each question from the text, but I still remember just being floored by her SPANKING my classmates for wrong answers on a worksheet. I mean, give them a bad grade on it, okay... but swats?) I also got spanked the next time for answering a section of 3 questions "incorrectly" on one of those literature worksheets: Unscramble the following 3 sentence from the story. I thought we were supposed to solve it like a puzzle, you know... unscramble... not hunt for that sentence in the text and get it exactly right. (And what a stupid exercise: unscramble a sentence by finding it in the story?? Really? That's using critical thinking skills... not.)

 

So actually, my second grade teacher was the worst person I've ever met in my life. She smiled once in a while though.

 

On the plus side, I got so many spankings that year (along with EVERY single student in my class that year) that this was when I learned how to take a spanking without crying, thanks to the example of some of my classmates. (If you smirked though, you'd get another one, so you'd keep a straight face, try to look a bit penitent, and then quietly take your seat afterward.) 

 

Anyway... If you are thinking of sending your kids to a private christian elementary school, because they'll get a better education than they might in a local public school, and what harm could it do or whatever when they're that young, I'd urge you to think about that decision very carefully. 

 

I have no idea if this school still employs spanking to this day, but it sure seems to me like a form of child abuse. From my adult atheist perspective.  

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This was a biggie:

 

It's a sin to show the lack of faith to question the existence of the Christian god or the TruthTM of Christianity.  It's a really bad sin that can land you in hell forever because you left the path and now there's no hope for you.

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