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Accepting A Radically Different Worldview...


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Hi everyone,

 

I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts over the last year and a half.  It's incredibly encouraging to know that others have shared the many doubts and questions that I have too.

 

I've been seriously doubting the Bible (at minimum) and Christianity entirely for about 2 years.  I'm at a point where I know that I can no longer defend the position of biblical inerrancy.  I see the many glaring inconsistencies (moral problems, logic problems), contradictions, mythical elements, tall-tales, and primitive ideas in the Bible.  But something keeps holding me back from letting go entirely. 

 

All of my life I had been SO certain - SO, SO certain that I was right.  I don't know how to think otherwise without completely crumbling.  I keep hoping that somehow I'm just not thinking clearly - that the Bible is somehow true even though it doesn't seem that way to me.  I totally get that it's just wishful thinking.  But it is SO wishful, that I can't let go.  I so desperately want (even need!) to feel like there is God who made me and loves me and cares about my joys and sorrows.  I get how narcissistic that is in light of people dying of E. Bola, hunger, etc...  But the thought of an uncaring universe where I am completely unprotected against evil befalling me... where I could, in a single breath, be swept into oblivion is absolutely terrifying and unsettling to me.

 

I think these feelings are especially bad because I was so convinced.  Maybe if I'd grown up already knowing that this is what life really is like, then I wouldn't be having this crisis now.  Can anyone relate??

 

A bit about my story...

 

I was a "surprise" baby to my forty-something parents...  My mom had been raised a cultural Catholic, but wasn't so religious.  My dad was pretty much irreligous/indifferent and an alcoholic.

 

When I was 2, my mom's aunt was "saved" through the charismatic movement of the seventies... tongues, healings, etc.  Through her influence, my mom became a Christian.  At age four, my Dad's drinking was out of control.  My mom left him with me - for a while - then he had a radical conversion experience - through the influence of that same aunt that converted my mom. 

 

My dad totally turned his life around  stopped drinking.  Took a $6/hr job at age 50 - which I completely respect him for to this day.  He manned up and took his responsiblities seriously.  So my mom and I moved back in with him.  I had a pretty fantastic childhood - my parents were able to repair their marriage.  I grew up attending church on Sundays and Wed nights.  I never questioned anything I was taught.

 

From before I can remember, I was singing "Yes Jesus loves me" and memorizing verses.  I cherished the role of the "angelic son".  My Christian aunt was such a sweet lady so I loved impressing her with my precocious faith and biblical knowledge.

 

We bounced between churches - mostly charismatic ones in the beginning...  Once we left because it was starting to become all about the pastor - his booming ministry, TV appearances, book deals.  We left after the pastor admitted to multiple affairs with women he was "counseling"...  

 

In between, we had some decent pastors - men who were actually positive examples of what they taught (imagine that!).

 

During high school, we moved and never bothered to find another church.  My dad and I started golfing on Sunday mornings - some of my best memories of my dad.

 

Late high school, I started to question for a while.  Though we didn't go to church, I still prayed nightly and read my bible - especially to assuage the intense guilt I felt for my "lustful" thoughts (think: normal teenage boy with testosterone).  I started to be confused about the trinity.  How could Jesus be God and man at the same time?  Didn't he say "why do you call me good? No one is good but God" as though he were correcting the man who called him good??  (at least in mark; in Matthew, this is toned down quite a bit and Jesus asks "why do you ask me about what is good?"). 

 

So for a while I denied the trinity.  I was fascinated with the JW pamphlet called "Should you believe the Trinity?".  But then I read about all of their failed second coming prophecies and didn't look any further into that.

 

Shy and self-conscious, I was something of a loner.  Wanting to find friends, I started attending a college fellowship group.  It felt amazing to feel so loved and welcomed by this community.  That social acceptance added credibility in my mind to Christianity and within a couple of years, I was a pretty gung-ho Christian.  A good buddy of mine began studying theology intensely and ended up going to seminary.  He was influential in convincing me of the calvinistic doctrine of election.  Although I hated the idea that God didn't pick some people (and in some sense, consigned them to hell), Romans 9 left me with no alternative - other than to jettison Christianity entirely.  So I became a calvinist.

 

After college, I moved away for grad school where I met my soon-to-be wife.  I attended a pretty loud, rock-out church with super light sermons... my now-wife called the messages "sermonettes for Christianettes"...  She came from John MacArthur's church.  Super fundamental.  The Bible is right and everything else is wrong - psychology, biology, etc.  This movement is big on bashing other Christian denominations - whole series on why charismatics are wrong, why infant baptism is wrong, why catholics are wrong.  It really breeds an "us-vs-them" mindset even more extreme than "average evangelicalism".  Despite this background, my wife was (and still is) a truly wonderful person.  Smart, beautiful, and compassionate like few people I've met.  

 

She invited me to her church - led by a graduate of MacArthur's seminary and we attended there for 10 years.  When I first began attending, we were only friends.  She wouldn't consider a relationship with me unless she could be certain we were on the same page theologically.  We would have lengthy written debates about the age of the earth - she, of course, leaned rabidly young-earth.  Me, more old-earth.  We debated the role of scripture versus science.  Slowly, over months, I came to agree with her.  I KNEW I was being pressured to agree.  I knew if I agreed, I would "get the girl of my dreams" and if I didn't, there was no way we would ever have ended up together.  But even still, I tried to study for myself and come to my own conclusions - not just agree to win her.  Looking back, I really do think my beliefs shifted and I sincerely embraced the doctrines of inerrancy, the exclusivity of salvation through Christ, the satantic blinding of evolutionary scientists and secular psychologists...  I sought recognition as a leader within the church - leading many years of weekly bible study.  I was even "promoted" to the role of designing our weekly home-group curriculum.  I stocked up on commentaries and went to pastor's conferences.  I realize now that I just wanted my wife to love me and I knew all of that was so important to her.

 

Leading a 2 year bible study through Genesis - verse by verse - was the beginning of my deep struggles.  There were just SO MANY problems in Genesis for the inquisitive inerrantist.  Classics like how the sun was created after plants and how Cain found a wife... but newer ones like:  why do the two geneologies (Seth vs Cain) sound like corrupted versions of the same list?  Isn't it odd that both Isaac and Abraham lied to a guy named Abimalech with another guy named Phicol in both accounts??   Why did is seem like the bible was affirming Jacob's breeding technique of waving stripped rods to produce striped goats??   Why was God only interested in giving people land and offspring?  I thought the whole point of the bible was redemption and salvation?  Why was there no mention of heaven??  The prophecy to Abraham that the Israelites would be captive for 400 years seemed incredulous since it was written after the Exodus... Why did God turn Lots wife into a pillar for looking back, but there was no condemnation (or even reproval) of Lot for offering his virgin daughters to be gang-raped.  What a scumbag Lot was.  How on earth is he called "righteous" in Jude?  What the heck?  Etc.

 

My approach for each problem was to consult my oracles:  commentaries, books on bible difficulties, etc, until I found a *plauisible* answer that kept the house of cards intact.  But these challenges to my faith were super-disconcerting.  I would be extremely anxious until I could salvage my worldview... then find a new problem, freak out, re-consult my commentaries, piece together my worldview...  This went on for a few years... 

 

Finally I got to Jude and his quotation of Enoch that came from the non-canonical Book of Enoch and I just couldn't find a good enough answer for that.  It was obvious to me that Jude lifted that quote from a book he THOUGHT was inspired - but wasn't.  I couldn't buy that the bogus Book of Enoch miraculously preserved a 2,000 year-old lost quote from before the flood...  so Jude referenced a bogus quote... So what did that say for Jude?  Maybe Jude didn't belong in the canon.  But then how can I trust the process of forming the canon?  

 

Lot's of other questions began surfacing:  Mark 16 (the longer, likely fabricated ending) promised that people would be able to handle serpents... but many sincere Christians have died trying to do that...  so even if that part isn't inspired, why  would God allow people to think it was??  Shouldn't he have preserved only the inspired part and protected his sincere followers from dying while trying to obey what they thought was his word??  And didn't all those second coming passages make it sound like Jesus was coming back within the lifetime of his hearers??

 

While all of these theological questions were brewing in my mind, I also ran into some very practical ways that Christianity failed to mesh with reality.  In 2007, my wife and I adopted our first daughter at 10 months old.  For the 5 years leading up to becoming parents, our church had pounded many terrible ideas into our minds about parenting:  children are born depraved sinners; their disobedience is sin; we need to spank them diligently to help them not sin and to "save their soul from Sheol".  Well, if you sincerely believe that, and if you sincerely don't want your children to go to hell, then you will spank your child as often and as powerfully as you need to to save them from hell.  In this system of thought, you are actually "loving" them...  The problem is that misbehavior can also come from a lot of other sources that are common in adopted kids:  poor prenatal care, traumatic birth, the trauma of being separated from a birthmother, being institutionalized, being neglected, neurochemical imbalances, and fear to name a few...   This combination of adoption-trauma and eradicate-the-sin-through-intense-spanking led to 3 dark years of us being WAY to hard on our precious little girl.  Our pastor even told us once - when we called him asking for advice - that we needed to "break her will".  It makes complete sense to me that the three kids killed by Christian parents were all adopted.  Adopted kids don't always respond well to spanking because they haven't yet come to trust their parents.  Spanking them actually exacerbates their issues and makes them more likely to go into fight-or-flight mode...  and behave worse.  Thus begins a dark cycle.

 

Thankfully for me, compassion trumped ideology.  I wish it'd happened sooner.  But I came to a point where I said to myself this is not working.  I am not prepared to spank my daughter as hard as it would have taken to gain control and compliance.  SOmething was flawed with my approach.  My wife and I persued a license to become foster parents.  Through those classe we were exposed to "secular" psychology's approach to adopted/traumatized kids.  This made perfect sense.  Our correction was ineffective because our connection with  our daughter was weak.  She had an attachment disorder - which we had been making WORSE through biblical parenting "techniques".  Thankfully, we no longer spank our little girl.  I've asked her forgiveness - and she has forgiven me (she is 8 years old now).  But I will never forgive myself for the a--hole of a parent I was to her in the name of religion. 

 

So, beside all of my theological/academic doubts, I now had these huge new doubts such as:  Why would God have allowed me to cause psychological harm to my daughter while I was trying to be a faithful Christian parent?  Why would my pastor have given me such terrible advice that was so toxic for my family?  Why did secular psychology explain my daughter's behavior (as a normal response to trauma) so much better than the bible (she is an evil sinner)??

 

Other events have also led me to doubt God's providential care:  the death of Steve Curtis Chapman's 5 year old adopted daughter who was ran over by her older brother.  If anyone truly loves God and believes, Steven does.  There is no explanation that can make me have any peace over this one.  What higher good could possibly be served by her death??  I don't have any more room in my heart for "we just have to trust that God's plans are higher".  I'm sick of hearing that one.  Also, the Sovereign Grace sex scandal.  Isn't it comforting to know that when you send your 8 year old daughter to a church retreat she could get gang raped by her sunday school teacher and cohorts??  

 

Thank you for giving me this forum to vent... It feels very therapeutic.

 

Back to my opening thought, though:  even after all of this, letting it all go is still terrifying...  Christianity is all I've ever known...  How do you guys cope with the uncaring universe, loss of providential care, the fear of slipping into oblivion at any moment, and knowing you'll never again see lost loved ones??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Back to my opening thought, though:  even after all of this, letting it all go is still terrifying...  Christianity is all I've ever known...  How do you guys cope with the uncaring universe, loss of providential care, the fear of slipping into oblivion at any moment, and knowing you'll never again see lost loved ones??

 

 

Welcome.  It's a shock at first but when the sky doesn't fall you start to learn new ways.  Come out of your comfort zone and start living your life.  There will be some setbacks but you will have some success too. 

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Welcome to the forums smile.png

 

Thank you for sharing your story, wow, it's very insightful to see how you have come to where you are with your faith, and doubts. It took me a few years of the deconversion process to eventually come to where I'm at now, and that's atheism.

 

Like you're saying, I too once felt that atheism was an empty, meaningless existence. But, on the contrary, it's far from that. Living as a religous person, your thoughts are not your own. Your thoughts are programmed into you, and how to view the world, through religion. Religion tells you the moves to make, whether you listen is up to you, if you don't listen, you feel guilty that you disappointed an all knowing, all powerful god.

 

When you continue on your journey to growing detached from religion, if you continue on with it, you will find that reality isn't so scary at all, and at best, none of us know if a god exists or not. I try to stay open to the idea that one might exist, but there is no proof of one. Once you digest all of that, you eventually come to a place of peace where you no longer CARE if one exists. Or doesn't. You simply give up the need to know. It's a liberating feeling like nothing else. Religion can't provide such a feeling, because it tells you what to feel.

 

All I can say, is continue questioning...and figuring things out for yourself. You will eventually come to a place of understanding things differently, and it won't feel scary. You come to learn that there really is no provincial care, and that death isn't all that scary of a concept, either. That the idea of an after life cheapens this life. Most likely, this is the only life we get, and live it to its fullest. Religion robs people of living life to its fullest because it concentrates more, on an after life. As if this life is a dress rehearsal.

 

My advice. Take each day as it comes. You will have smooth days, and rough ones. Days you feel like praying and days you realize that there's no need. The grip of religion will loosen, if you want it to.

 

Hope this helps a bit. You're not alone. **hugs**

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Welcome to the forums smile.png

 

Thank you for sharing your story, wow, it's very insightful to see how you have come to where you are with your faith, and doubts. It took me a few years of the deconversion process to eventually come to where I'm at now, and that's atheism.

 

Like you're saying, I too once felt that atheism was an empty, meaningless existence. But, on the contrary, it's far from that. Living as a religous person, your thoughts are not your own. Your thoughts are programmed into you, and how to view the world, through religion. Religion tells you the moves to make, whether you listen is up to you, if you don't listen, you feel guilty that you disappointed an all knowing, all powerful god.

 

When you continue on your journey to growing detached from religion, if you continue on with it, you will find that reality isn't so scary at all, and at best, none of us know if a god exists or not. I try to stay open to the idea that one might exist, but there is no proof of one. Once you digest all of that, you eventually come to a place of peace where you no longer CARE if one exists. Or doesn't. You simply give up the need to know. It's a liberating feeling like nothing else. Religion can't provide such a feeling, because it tells you what to feel.

 

All I can say, is continue questioning...and figuring things out for yourself. You will eventually come to a place of understanding things differently, and it won't feel scary. You come to learn that there really is no provincial care, and that death isn't all that scary of a concept, either. That the idea of an after life cheapens this life. Most likely, this is the only life we get, and live it to its fullest. Religion robs people of living life to its fullest because it concentrates more, on an after life. As if this life is a dress rehearsal.

 

My advice. Take each day as it comes. You will have smooth days, and rough ones. Days you feel like praying and days you realize that there's no need. The grip of religion will loosen, if you want it to.

 

Hope this helps a bit. You're not alone. **hugs**

not much i can add other than... do not assume. i had always assumed that the bible's origins did not point to man, and that the bible is infallible. until i researched. this is a video series i recommend to everyone i meet https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA0C3C1D163BE880A

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Back to my opening thought, though:  even after all of this, letting it all go is still terrifying...  Christianity is all I've ever known...  How do you guys cope with the uncaring universe, loss of providential care, the fear of slipping into oblivion at any moment, and knowing you'll never again see lost loved ones??

 

Do you have to 'let go?' Why not just coast a while. Some people call themselves Christians all their life but rarely if ever pray, go to church, or think about God. Whatever gives you comfort, keep. What gives you pain, discard. Life is full of contradictions whether it be religion, work, relationships. But we muddle through anyway.

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You took the important first steps as I always say. "Drop back and punt" was a phrase commonly used by my mother growing up whenever we needed to rethink something. It took the death of my best friend to cancer at the age of 22, despite mine and others pleas, prayers, cries, and begs to this god for him to be spared, before I did just that.

 

 

Back to my opening thought, though:  even after all of this, letting it all go is still terrifying...  Christianity is all I've ever known...  How do you guys cope with the uncaring universe, loss of providential care, the fear of slipping into oblivion at any moment, and knowing you'll never again see lost loved ones??

 

That's when it becomes all the more obvious that you have to cherish each and every moment on the planet. I know the feeling of losing loved ones, as I have already lost my best friend at a young age and will probably never see him again. Same with my parents, my father turned 62 this week and while he is healthy, age does catch up to us eventually. Its just a matter of capturing all that time with those loved one as you can.

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Wow, thanks for sharing your story!

 

I'm SO glad that you chose your daughter over the pull of the church. I can tell how conflicted you are about the whole thing, but it sounds like your love for your daughter and your desire to find the truth is stronger than your fears. That's a big deal. I think there are a lot of peopel who encounter the same conflicts/issues, but don't have the courage to face the truth, so they retreat back into their religion. I think this quote sums it up quite well:

 

"Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for that which he really knows” - Frederich Nietzsche "Twilight of the Idols"

 

These "truths" that we've believed for so long and invested so much of our time, emotion, energy and life into become intertwined with our sense of self and how we view the world that it's a horrible process to remove them. These lies have become our roots and the way we hold onto the world and ground ourselves. When you try to pull up a plant it's a much harder process if the roots are numerous and have grown deep into the soil. With most of us here, pulling these roots out can't happen all at once, because the diseased roots vastly out number the healthy/true ones. It's more of a process of removing them in clumps, while you also begin to grow new healthy roots. Finally,you can get to a point that your good roots/beliefs outnumber the old/bad ones. I think that a lot of us may never be able to fully remove all the bad roots, but we can at least hope to remove the most harmful and destructive.

 

I'm just a few steps ahead of you in this process, having really "deconverted" a few months ago. The question(s) you're asking are exactly where I was in the beginning stages. I felt like my anchor had been cut, and I was terrified. Without the foundational belief in God I felt lost and extremely alone. One night I was having extreme anxiety about everything, and found myself sobbing uncontrollably. I couldn't face a world so foreign and uncaring. I was overcome with doubt and a mistrust of myself (another bad root from Christian upbringing). All the echoes of what I'd been told for years about the arrogance of Atheism and how TRUE Christians don't trust their own intellect, but rely on God. I thought that maybe it was right, maybe I had allowed myself to be decieved by false confidence and the intellectual sounding arguments, and that God really was real. I pleaded with God to give me SOME sign, ANYTHING, to show he was real, and I would come running back to him. It was one of those soul bearing ugly moments where I was totally vulnerable. I waited..... and waited.... and waited.... I waited so long that eventually my sobbing subsided. I think that was the moment that sealed it for me. I had honestly cried out to "God" for any kind of peace and/or indication that he was real, and I (again) came up empty-handed. I realized that even if there was a God, he's a total asshole and I was tired of waiting around for him.

 

I haven't really figured much else out, but that episode finally put the nail in the coffin for me and allowed me to start working on all the other nasty beliefs I still have. I'm slowly coming to realize how putrid and infected some of these beliefs are, and one by one I'm uprooting them. It's not a quick process, but I'm making progress. This forum has been immesurably helpful, both in support and information.

 

I think you're on the right track, just keep asking questions and TRUST YOURSELF. If you haven't already, start looking at/listening to some atheist resources. The more you combat the isolation and indoctrination of the church, the clearer things will be.

 

Good luck, and welcome to the "dark side". *hugs*

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Hey.  Welcome to the forums.

 

I wanted to mainly focus on the "uncaring universe" section.  I have been going downhill from Christianity...or uphill towards being a better person aside from religion, whichever you look at it...for thirteen years.  I have found a great deal of love, compassion, and beauty without consulting a psychotic angry genocidal god.  So i don't view the universe as uncaring.  That's another one of the great evil myths perpetuated by the evangelical movement.  They say that they're not "of this world."  In one way, they're not.  They're hypocritical and sadistic while saying that they're altruistic and noble.

 

Anyhow...

 

Congrats on separating yourself from them gradually.  I don't think that you need separate yourself from spirituality completely.  I haven't.  I've found solace in meditation and the goodness of those in my life who value me as I am.  Truly as I am, not the stupid song that the Christians sing on Sunday morning.  Perhaps that's someplace to start.

 

I would recommend doing research on Christianity's connection to the eugenics movement in the early 1900's too.  I found that very eye-opening.  Specifically, Nazi Medicine.

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Hello and welcome.

 

Strikes me that you are in the situation of having to face the reality of the nonsense of Christianity and your personal need to ditch it, but having no clear worldview to replace it.

 

That is an uncomfortable position.  The world no longer makes sense.  And because it makes no sense, there is no clear way through to a cohesive outlook on life.

 

All I can say is take your time - and it will take time.  Remember that the lack of a clear alternative in your mind to a Christian outlook is not a justification for Christianity.  It just means you have more searching to do, more thoughts to think.  It is possible to let go of an unsatisfactory worldview and to say, in terms of an alternative - however temporarily - "I don't know what I think".

 

Where is your wife in this?  Just she have the same doubts?  Or is she another tie that is holding you in to your Christian background?

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All of my life I had been SO certain - SO, SO certain that I was right.

 

That was an emotional certainty, not a logical or factual or provable certainty, and it became a crutch.

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Hello and welcome.

 

Strikes me that you are in the situation of having to face the reality of the nonsense of Christianity and your personal need to ditch it, but having no clear worldview to replace it.

 

That is an uncomfortable position.  The world no longer makes sense.  And because it makes no sense, there is no clear ay through to a cohesive outlook on life.

 

All I can say is take your time - and it will take time.  Remember that the lack of a clear alternative in your mind to a Christian outlook is not a justification for Christianity.  It just means you have more searching to do, more thoughts to think.  It is possible to let go of an unsatisfactory worldview and to say, in terms of an alternative - however temporarily - "I don't know what I think".

 

Where is your wife in this?  Just she have the same doubts?  Or is she another tie that is holding you in to your Christian background?

 

Great point. I think this keeps people trapped sometimes. We're so used to having an answer for everything with our faith, that the position of NOT knowing all the answers feels very unsafe.

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I wrote a long reply and lost it accidentally.  I'll rewrite it later.

In the meantime - consider a Black Hole - the most destructive, uncaring thing in the Universe.

 

And how there is beauty even there.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VfW7mKnAJOM

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Glad that you have enjoyed it all with us.

 

We all understand why you feel you cannot let go, if it has been ground into you it’s hard to walk away.

 

Also the fact that it’s still the largest mythological belief in the world it’s hard to convince yourself that you are right and they are wrong.

 

As Celsus said the Bible was aimed at Women and Children of the day, these two sects were most ignorant and hence accepted anything at first glance.

 

Interestingly Celsus also points to the fact that Scripture that we know is radically different from that which Jesus teached and who Jesus was.

 

No one here says that you do not need a God, Heck even Celsus was a Neo-Platonist.  I believe in a General God but not a personal one.

 

Your mum believed because she did not want to feel all alone in the world and God like Santa was there looking out for her.

 

Funny that the end of the verse is 'Yes Jesus Loves Me, For the Bible Tells Me So’ Not because you actually felt it or knowingly knew it.  But because some Book said so.

 

See the Trinity in and of itself is BS it was a late addition and many people such as the Ebonite’s / Arianists never bought it!

 

I am the same, I was always a recluse and meeting friends through Christianity made me feel wanted and loved.  Until eventually they grew bored - Then I felt lonelier than before because I then felt it was me they didn’t like or something I did.

 

I went out with a Girl like this - IT was a toxic relationship, mainly because her church was Ultra Conservative e.g. No Music of any Kid and only signing Psalm’s.

 

It’s funny how she could only love you when 'Christianity' says she is allowed.

 

Genesis is definitely an interesting book, Fortunately Enoch and Jubilees open up quite a bit of what actually happened however the problem here is that some of Jubilees just adds even more ludicrous viewpoints.  E.g. Instead of Enoch just 'Being taken way'  Jubilees shows Enoch riding a Horse for 3 days with people following him until eventually he flew away.

 

The concept of the Ark was that God wanted to punish the evil Angels and he did offer many times for them to be saved but they kept ignoring him until he eventually wiped them out. 

 

Although this shows a compassion of God, The other side of the coin is that God also told Noah's sons to take wives for themselves which were these angels meaning that the whole problem is just continued.

 

Although reading Jubilees adds strength to Genesis it in and of itself brings a whole host of new problems, e.g. as much as it defends genesis it fails to defend itself and as such the original genesis arguments still stand.

 

With regards to believing the cannon, just accept that anything before 399 CE was good and everything after his history being edited.

 

The second coming Junk is exactly that, I have heard many arguments at one point I was in so much despair about the rapture and I could not fix the fear I had.  And the more I read the more circles I was lead in by Christian Apologists until I could not tell my arse from my elbow.

 

I am fed up of the cop-out line of Gods ways are not our ways.  Like how much bull shit is that.

 

Ultimately I don’t let Religion become a problem, I believe in A God and it may be Jewish in origin however it’s not the Christian God.  Christianity I am done with completely - After watching the movie Agora I can no longer defend or even stand on the same view point as a Christian.

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Back to my opening thought, though:  even after all of this, letting it all go is still terrifying...  Christianity is all I've ever known...  How do you guys cope with the uncaring universe, loss of providential care, the fear of slipping into oblivion at any moment, and knowing you'll never again see lost loved ones??

 

You've gotten along just fine without providential care your entire life... you just didn't know it!

 

You've gotten along just fine with an uncaring universe your entire life.

 

You haven't seen your deceased loved ones since they died, but you can remember them and smile and laugh at the good times. You don't have to wait for a future "eternity" to love them.

 

And without the simplistic idea that a god created the universe in 6 days, you can finally realize and appreciate what an amazing place it is! You can wonder whether there's life elsewhere. You can watch Cosmos and enjoy it!

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I think there is nothing to fear other than the fear itself. I can't believe the calm I felt when I really started to accept myself and what I believed. Doubting yourself and the value of what you believe without any evidence is a sure way to make yourself miserable. However, this was easier said than done for me. I had been so programmed by Christianity to ignore myself, think by inner most thoughts to be worthless, this step took me maybe 10 years, lots of reading and research. Now, I enjoy better mental health than I have ever done since my induction into Christianity. I had forgotten what it was like to wake up and just feel happy, since my conversion at 10 years of age! My whatever stresses I have now they are real, and usually actionable, unlike worrying about fictional problems like the Glory of Christ.

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Hi Everyone -

 

Thanks so much for your thoughtful perspectives!  Much appreciated.

 

Some that really resonated:

 

[DEIDRE] "That the idea of an after life cheapens this life. Most likely, this is the only life we get, and live it to its fullest. Religion robs people of living life to its fullest because it concentrates more, on an after life. As if this life is a dress rehearsal."

 

Thanks, Deidre, for that.  Whatever else may or may not come, I agree that we do best to make this life count, to focus our energy on treasuring these moments as our only ones as they likely may be, and to work toward solving problems here on earth... 

 

HUMAN:  Thank you.  Looking at those links, I realized that I've always been a humanist at heart.  I love your perspective of affirming the positive of what you believe.  It's not enough to say "I don't believe x and such" but to replace that with what is now believed is so much better.

 

[MIDNITE RIDER] "Whatever gives you comfort, keep. What gives you pain, discard".  Thanks for that - that sounds healthy.  It reminds me of the the verse that says "test all things; hold on to the good."  I never thought I would use that verse to critically examine the BIBLE!

 

[TRAVI] "That's when it becomes all the more obvious that you have to cherish each and every moment on the planet"  So so true!

 

BFUDDLED:  Thank you so much for pouring out your heart and sharing some of your story.  I want to read through your older posts.  I so sympathize with your sorrowful night...  Thanks for this: "I think there are a lot of peopel who encounter the same conflicts/issues, but don't have the courage to face the truth, so they retreat back into their religion."  As I began to share my doubts with a couple of elders/pastors at my last 2 churches, I could totally see the fear in their eyes.  They KNOW deep down inside that the Bible has critical problems.  But they REFUSE to consider them because the consequences are too awful-seeming: giving up their claim to victory over death and their special status in the universe...  It's so funny that the Christian claim is that those of us who question/doubt/reject do so to pursue our lives of hedonism, but we can flip it and say that those who remain in it do so because they can't take the pain of reality...

 

[MISTER TWO]: "You've gotten along just fine without providential care your entire life... you just didn't know it!  You've gotten along just fine with an uncaring universe your entire life.  You haven't seen your deceased loved ones since they died, but you can remember them and smile and laugh at the good times. You don't have to wait for a future "eternity" to love them."

 

Thanks for that MT.  I guess it's like learning to ride a bike when you don't realize your dad let go until you look backwards and you're on your own...  but I really do miss that sense of comfort and assurance when I *thought* someone was looking out for me.  It was a pretty awesome comfort, even if misguided.

 

[ELLINAS] "Where is your wife in this?  Just she have the same doubts?  Or is she another tie that is holding you in to your Christian background?"

 

My wife is making a much slower journey - but she is slowly moving in the right direction.  She still maintains faith in the God of the Bible and holds to inerrancy.  But I don't think she is really allowing herself to think through her beliefs and challenge them.  Practically, though, she has moved a long way from fundamentalism.  She agrees that our old hyper-fundie church was messed up and really set us up to fail as parents.  She sees the messed-up-ness of criticizing other branches of Christianity.  She sees the wacky fundy church culture where everyone is obsessed with the sins they committed in the past week and sits around self-loathing.  She has agreed that spanking our daughters is not healthy.  (though she would say that spanking is still great in non-adoption situations).  She has acccepted the secular psychology explanation for our daughters' behavior problems.  We've seen first hand that mental health has an ORGANIC basis.  We've witnessed the scientific "miracle" of how an SSRI can DRAMATICALLY improve mood and behavior in our daughter.  If she were to pause and reflect, she'd be forced to admit that the biblical explanation of sin causing the mishavior is totally disproved when medications improve the behavior (and spanking and bible memory didn't improve it!).  She rarely speaks about God, rarely reads the bible, and never evangelizes.  We do go to church and pray at meals.  honestly, I think that she probably knows deep down that Christianity can't explain all that we've experienced together - but I think her fears prevent her from reflecting deeply and making the shift. 

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All of my life I had been SO certain - SO, SO certain that I was right.

That was an emotional certainty, not a logical or factual or provable certainty, and it became a crutch.

I looked for this crutch elsewhere, investigating other religions, science, politics etc. It took me a while to figure out its an illusion, that life is meant to be lived and figured out gradually, imperfectly, not "known", that its a bottom up process, not a top down one, where a higher authority who's figured it out already tells you what you need to do to in order to have full and satisfying, happy life.

 

Christians, like everyone on the planet essentially live a bottom up process, contextualised into the societies into which they are born. They can't truly predict the outcomes of what they are doing, or "know" the best way to get the outcomes they desire.  Its just they have FAITH that when decisions are made through a Christian framework, things will work out for the best.  As its based on FAITH and not EVIDENCE, it becomes self justifying.  If things go well, then God is glorious, the Bible is right.  If things go badly, then God has a plan.  If things really and truly fuck up, then its a test from God, or somehow Satan is involved.    The top down framework is never questioned.  Nothing is learned.  There is no progress.

 

To my fundie mother, her decision to raise me as a fundie can NEVER be wrong.  Because of her faith in her fundamentalist Christian framework, any decisions made in it, can never be wrong, regardless of evidence or outcome.  My depression, religious trauma, PTSD, anxiety and accompanying social / career fallout brought on by my fundamentalist upbringing are both my fault for not understanding the faith and all part of Gods plan.  You can't imagine the sort of conflict this causes in our relationship, yet of course, she feels not the slightest bit of remorse or regret as her Christian framework is telling her that she is right and I am wrong.  To question it, is inconceivable.  Yet clearly a depressed, jobless as good as atheist son was NOT an outcome that she wished for as a parent.  So instead she feels anger, towards me, to God, to people who ask about how I'm doing.  Its very nasty.

 

As you can probably tell, this sort of certainty isn't merely a crutch.  Its also a really heavy ball and chain, and a huge set of blinkers.  Its an impediment to achieving the outcomes you desire, an impediment to happiness, both for yourself, and those you love.

 

I hope you won't continue to see it as something you have lost.

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If you talk about an uncaring, random, accidental type of universe as opposed to a God who cares - in view of the way things happen in life, I prefer the uncaring and random! That is how nature works.

 

If you discard the idea of a creator God who especially is concerned about your life then what you have left are just occurrences -things that happen in nature that are nothing personal.  Easier to deal with when something bad happens, at least for me.  In the type of Christianity I was raised with, belief in Christ was everything, yet its incredibly obvious to me that no one is favored because of any particular belief. Everyone dies, and its usually bad.  I prefer facing the facts.  You can conjure up an illusory friend who is "with you until the end" but how is that anything but human thought? I cannot reconcile the idea of a God who loves and cares about me personally with some of the events I have experienced, or with the idea of a long drawn out death I have seen others experience. If God cared about individuals, wouldn't we see a different world? Instead, what we have is the "reward in heaven" promise. Set the reward in some place where we cannot verify that it even exists doesn't solve the problem for me.

 

I don't think anyone knows what happens after death. Heaven always seemed unreal to me. If life continues in another form, I suspect it is reincarnation of some type, although the mechanism for that is a mystery.

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Welcome aboard!

 

It's a process. Plain and simple. I think all exC's had to move through processes that can take years of world view re-establishing. Remaining intellectually honest with your self is the core to hang on to. In your mind you know that it's errant. You can keep pursuing knowledge about Biblical criticism and learning about the archaeological minimalist's like Israel Finkelstein in order to keep pounding it into place. It's not literally true, it's a man made concoction, and it's as errant as is the day is long. The more you analyze it the more it will be laid bare before your eyes. 

 

What I did was read through a lot of comparative mythology work starting with Joseph Campbell. Seeing how the myths are inter-related. What the core at the base of them all turns out to be. I've looked into the modern varieties of Pantheism and natural spirituality, something that may well satisfy your spiritual inclination as well. As you can see by many posters there can be a greater morality to be found stepping beyond the Christian world view. You can even find deeper spiritual senses beyond it as well if that's something you're after. With enough education in spiritual matters you'll find that the Christian depiction of spirituality is very shallow and adolescent in comparison to the enlightenment material found in Eastern culture, for instance. So you don't need to fear loosing your spiritual sense by stepping away from Christianity.

 

And you also don't need to adhere to another religion. You can pioneer the best of what's out there and come up with your own personal world view. That's what so many of us are doing. And you can regain the sort of grounding that was lost when first severing ties with Christianity. You can find new social circles and so on. This place is a good launching point for that. 

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Welcome out. Even if you never take that last step and drop the god concept altogether, you already have figured out what millions of people for years died believing. That took courage. You get to see the world as it really is now and that's pretty cool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks again everyone.

 

A follow-up question for y'all:  Did you guys go through some pretty intense anxiety during your deconversion process??   Some days, I can find peace with my uncertainty.  Other days, I feel a pressing need to resolve my dilemma once and for all - but I'm not ready to be "all out" or "all in".  For me, I feel most safe being simply "uncertain" - until I start feeling bothered about being uncertain...

 

I feel the strong pull of Christianity's "back door" - the fear that if i'm wrong, I'm going to hell.  I've been trained all my life that I should "lean not on my own understanding" and that my heart is deceitful and wicked...  and that if I turn away the only thing that awaits me is swift destruction.

 

But I can compile a HUGE list of everything that seems messed up / confusing / contradictory / inconsistent / and immoral in the Bible...  so it should be easy to walk away, no??  But it's not.  It's very difficult even though it appears obvious.

 

I think I keep wondering if it's just my messed up mind that is seeing everything distorted...

 

Is this Religious Trauma Syndrome?

 

Did anyone experience similar anxiety and fear?

 

THANKS!

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I don't have time to write a very long post, but I just wanted to say YES,  that is normal. At least for me it has been. I've been bouncing back and forth between anxiety and "okay" this whole time. I think its pretty common.

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I'm not sure it's anxiety that I felt, but I definitely felt like the world had turned upside down.

 

But, we haven't been to church in about 4 years or so. I know that if we were still there, I would have a much harder time trying to sort things out. I'm sure I would feel extreme anxiety if I had to sit through worship sermons and Sunday school classes, feeling the way I do.

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