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Wheelchairman91

Trials, Tribulations And The Long Road To Becoming An Atheist.

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Hi all.

 

I stumbled across this forum by mere chance a few days ago and the idea of it grabbed me, so I thought i'd join on up and share my tale with you all.

 

I was born in 1991 as one of 3 (triplets) into a somewhat moderate christian family in the south of England. Many of my earliest memories are church related. We attended the local Baptist church most weeks and my sisters and I were members of the small Sunday school class for many years. The people there seemed to be nice for the most part and I suppose being a child, some of the more objectionable material simply passed me by. (Interestingly in later years, I found out that my mother objected to some of the more fundamentalist material spouted by guest pastors, she retains her faith however.) As I got older this began to change and I grew more and more uncomfortable in the church as an environment. I was learning a great deal at school both in terms of science and for lack of a better word, sociology (in terms of different religions, sexual orientations, sexual ethics et al) and some of the things discussed in church just plain didn't sit with me right.

 

Still, I carried on attending, after all, if i just trusted in god and Jesus my saviour all would be well no? This went on for a couple of years until 2004. In that year I underwent massive surgery to correct some of the damage done to my body due to my cerebral palsy, my own growth was essentially slowly destorying my bones and joints. It was arduous and incredibly traumatic. A few days after my second bout of surgery my intra-spinal pain relief was removed (for saftey/long term health reasons) and some of the worst pain i've ever felt in my life began. It just so happened that on this particular day, at this particular time I happened to be completely alone, my parents were out of the ward taking a much needed rest, both of my neighbours were recieving treatment and there were no nurses around to help me. What had I always been told to do in moments like this? Ah of course, call out to god for help. So I did, again and again and again. There was no answer, no matter how hard I called no matter how much I prayed, nothing happened. No divine providence or assistance was coming. All of a sudden my world shattered like glass and a veil fell away. All these years where I had thanked god for my determination and resilience in the face of my condition it had been me. Just me. My own strength, my own convicition, my own sense of self that had pushed me through and that was what was going to get me through this as well. I suppose this is what many would call my 'moment of clarity.' But my story does not end so simply as so many do not.

 

Many weeks later once I realised the enormity of what I had understood, I began to feel afraid. What if I was wrong? What if it was the other side wanting me to think that? Had I betrayed god? I was terrified, threw myself back into reading the bible, prayer, attending church all in a desparate struggle to re affirm my faith. Yet the harder I tried, the more absurd it seemed and the harder it became. But what other options were there? All i'd ever really known was Christianity - as relatively mild a form of it as it was - and so I shared my thoughts with some friends at school and stumbled across the idea of agnosticism. Sounded great to me, I wasn't sure at the time regarding the whole god issue, seemed to fit quite well. It did for a while too, until I met some new people who challenged that as well, introducing me to the works of Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. Through discussion and reading over many many months even the idea of 'maybe there is a god?' Seemed strange to me, here were these great minds presenting me with all the contradictions, all the fundamental problems with faith, particularly the Abrahamic faiths, in relatively plain English. All of those doubts that i'd been habouring for years simply melted away. I finally accepted once and for all that there really was no omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient overseer above me... and finally felt relief, almost like i'd been holding my breath for all my life and suddenly exhaled

 

I'm lucky in so far as I was never likely to be disowned for my views, my mother and father had always tried to encourage independent thought, my mother's reaction to the news of my newfound atheism was one of disquiet more than anything else. More than once she would corner me into going to a church service and then afterwards ask me 'did you enjoy that?' with an expectant look on her face. The answer of course was invariably 'no'. Today she has ostensibly accepted my decision but still tries to encourage me to attend church. (I occasionally do for community events but take no part in any prayer.) I'm even close friends with the current pastor's daughter, she's aware of my views but to my knowledge has not shared them with her family. My father was a much easier sell, frankly i'm not entirely certain of his own beliefs and I don't think he is either. My siblings and I don't actively discuss matters of faith very often and generally leave that sphere of existence to each other. Again they are aware of my stance on the matter but do not push me on it, just as I don't push them on their own.

 

Despite all this being the only confirmed atheist in my immediate family can be isolating, even with the number of friends I have who also profess to the philosophy, for example I recently had to attend the confirmation of a friend into the ministry at a local pentecostal church, (of a revivalist bent) some of the things I heard and witnessed throughout literally turned my stomach, negative attitudes towards homosexuality (including one young man who was actively repressing/denying his own in the name of faith, this was lauded by the congregation of course.) and what I saw as the celebration of mental illness - speaking in tongues, trances and other examples of completely irrational behaviour. Needless to say I left as quickly as I could after the end of the service.

 

However at the end of it all i'm simply glad I managed to wake up and leave the faith. I fear that had I stayed for longer whilst habouring the doubts I had, it may have caused me a significant amount of psychological harm.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Wheelchairman91

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Welcome to ex-C!  Sorry to hear about your pain.

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Thank you, it's been a while since i've been a member of a forum, i've been looking for a new community for a while. I look foward to spending time here.

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Welcome to the forum I hope you enjoy your time here.

 

I found that in Church it was lovely when you were first in the door but after the honey moon period is over you discover that Churches and the People in them are really rather evil.

 

There are gossips / back biting / slander and people making up rumours which are unfounded.

 

The reason God did not speak back is because God was too busy helping people with some trivial things such as finding funding for a new church or helping a woman get a parking spot.

 

God has much easier things to get praise for than curing your disease besides even Jesus hates disabled people.

 

What I find strange is that as a Christian I would have always blamed myself for the absence of God,  I thought I must have done something or perhaps God does not love me – Ultimately I always blamed myself for God not intervening.

 

When I told my mum who was a passive believer at best she never pushed me on my view.

 

With parents in the UK it seems that our parents are more tolerant than those in the states who are literally so sucked into the ‘Christian’ way of life cannot see any level of criticism.  Ask Tin Horse here

 

I think Pentecostalism is most likely the worst of them all – It teaches people that either you are so engrossed in Christianity or you are not a real Christian.

 

I have been to Pentecostal services and being a Presbyterian I found it uneasy – people mumbling / crying and running around.

 

Welcome to the forum though!

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Oh the pettiness of people who profess to be 'holy' is unbelievable. There was recently a big schism at my former church that actually culminated in one member calling the pastor an 'agent of Satan' and leaving the church with a bunch of others. He was a relatively recent convert. Being on the sidelines to all this it frankly just left me confused and exasperated. I think you're right about the cultural differences across the US and UK with regards to Christianity as well. Which is ironic considering Christianity is actually enshrined in our (uncodified) constitution and yet not in the U.S.'s codified document.

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Welcome! Good to have you with us. I am sorry about your pain, it must be difficult to live with.

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Thank you for the welcome. My pain waxes and wanes. Its severity depends on a variety of factors, but most days it's bearable. Like background noise.

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You live in a civilized country, so that makes the whole deconversion process MUCH easier. In a third world/fundamentalist country like the USA it can be a nightmare. 

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Something i'm genuinely thankful for a lot of days.

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Welcome wheelchairman.  It's interesting to hear about your "moment of clarity".  I had one as well.  Unlike yours, though, mine occurred whilst I was locked up in the county jail.  Once it occurred, though, there was no going back, just as a sight once seen can never be unseen.

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Hi, WCM!

 

Boy, can I relate! I lived in chronic debilitating pain for about 10 years. I prayed EVERY SINGLE DOG-DAMN DAY and you know what? God didn't answer a single prayer for the most minute relief from pain. EVER. Even all the specialists I saw were like, "Wow, you're fu(ked" (well, in medical speak). Specialists, my own physician, preachers, pray-ers, and healers could do NOTHING!

 

I almost didn't make it. I was ready to off myself. Did I mention that god did nothing?

 

Pain is a terrible thing to endure, especially when you've truly believed that god would be there in moments such as these. Nope. Epic fail.

 

It turns out I have celiac disease, and since being gluten free I am virtually pain free. Woulda been nice if "god", who cares about me so much and knows everything and is all powerful, coulda mentioned something back when I was a kid, no? Mighta changed the course of my life, and all. Instead, I'm hauling my life back from the abyss in my 40s.

 

Sorry for the rant. I feel frustrated for what you've been through and am probably over-identifying with your pain and the existential issues that accompany such pain.

 

Hope to see you around the site! beer.gif

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Wheelchairman91: Welcome. People living in severe pain is a lot more common, I think, than most of us

realize.I admire your strength in being able to face the truth (no god who gets involved with us)while

being in such a vulnerable condition. Most people mindlessly hold onto religion as a security blanket.

 

Since I decoverted I have been amazed at how cold and unconcerned Xtians are or can be with respect to

pain of others(of course.)If they can actually see a person in great pain, then they can relate. But

they have to have it shoved in their face.

 

I was discussing the Iraq war with a Xtian friend, and I was lamenting the great pain and suffering by

the people in Iraq and how tragic it was since there was no cause for war to begin with. Indeed, it was

tragic.But I watched her closely and it was clear that she felt nothing for those people.I simply

cannot understand that kind of person.It is so inconsistent with my former version of Xtianity.

 

Sorry I got off on a tangent. I'm glad you are here and look forward to our interaction. bill

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Hello and welcome! Very well written, and, among other things, I think you need a +1 for using the word "enormity" correctly in a sentence. Fantastic! Looking forward to having you with us!

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Welcome.

 

I'm very sorry to hear of your constant pain.  Not much else I can say really - coming from someone who suffers only the minor niggles of the advancing years, it would only sound crass.

 

You were lucky to have a family able to at least accommodate your change of heart.  The "all or nothing, with us or against us" attitude may be less common here than in the U.S, but it still exists.

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[snip]...All these years where I had thanked god for my determination and resilience in the face of my condition it had been me. Just me. My own strength, my own convicition, my own sense of self that had pushed me through and that was what was going to get me through this as well...

 

This is a giant realization for you at the age you were at the time. Wow! Hold on to that sense of self and self-empowerment. So many people come out of religion with completely shattered self-esteem from years of grovelling before god and suffering for christ and waiting for relief and jumping though the hoops and fearing the evil church folks around them and on and on and on... I'm sure you still have some scars from that kind of nonsense, but it sounds like you got to fast-forward through some of that misery. Does that sound right? If so, and judging by your current age... you really still have your whole life ahead of you! That's exciting for someone like me who suffered abuse from church people into my 40s! Way to go, man! You figured it out early.

 

As for your pain... dude, that sucks, and I hate to hear it. At least you can move forward knowing it's not some silly test of faith from a loving god (omg), and knowing that science and medicine are not the enemy. We get a lot of that junk here in the States. Be good to yourself and never worry about what anyone else (or some absent sky daddy) thinks of you.

 

Thanks for sharing your story. I have been inspired by your words here today.

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