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When Did You First Doubt?


ag_NO_stic
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In my mid 20s, I read the Bible cover to cover. While reading the Old Testament and how the Jews were constantly being punished by God, I remember thinking "I'm glad I wasn't an Israelite." But I had another decade of blind faith before I started having the doubts that led to my deconversion. 

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In my mid 20s, I read the Bible cover to cover. While reading the Old Testament and how the Jews were constantly being punished by God, I remember thinking "I'm glad I wasn't an Israelite." But I had another decade of blind faith before I started having the doubts that led to my deconversion. 

 

Yeah, I had that thought about Moses hitting a rock and not getting to see the land of milk and honey because of it. Like geez, my parents are excessive with their discipline, but they only ground me for like a week haha.

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Around the time I turned 20. Throughout my teens I'd been learning more and more about the negative sides of Christianity, both from friends and acquaintances, the media, and from reading the Bible. As a large part of my faith rested on wishful thinking, removing the "wishful" bit did its part to remove the faith.

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They started on me so early it never occurred to me to doubt. It helped that I was sent to a Catholic school, which is used to fielding questions about faith without denying science.

 

My first puzzlement came when we studied paleontology in 7th grade. But the next year, when one of my classmates had the guts to ask how evolution meshed with the Adam and Eve story, the teacher was able to harmonize them.

 

It was at this age (13 - 14) that I wondered how it was even possible for people not to believe in God.

 

I was 19 when I got semi-involved with the Moonies, and they planted my first doubts about the infallibility of the Catholic Church. I quickly regained trust in the RCC after I bailed from that cult, but I could never quite shake off the Moonies' contention that an eternal hell was not reasonable. At no time during all of this did I even slightly doubt the existence of an all-powerful supernatural personal creator, or question the basic Christian narrative.

 

My next brush with doubt came when I was 31 or 32. Some atheist told me about the invisible Martian who is right here observing us. Of course I did not deconvert on the spot, but I could no longer take the existence of God for granted. In retrospect, it was at that moment I became an agnostic theist.

 

Over the next few years, as I read books on the fringes of Catholic and Christian thought and got exposed to the Web, doubts started to creep in, but I was always able to beat them back or spackle them over. But the single event that shocked me into my final crisis of faith came directly from the Roman Catholic Church.

 

I was just short of 39 years old, and celebrating one of Pope John Paul II's legacies, Divine Mercy Sunday. The priest handed out booklets on how to make a good confession, and the booklets had the imprimatur certifying them as official Catholic teaching. What I read in there gave me grave doubts about the RCC's capacity to make moral assessments. Try as I might, my faith never recovered.

 

Sometime along the way, I read Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. Invisible Martian, invisible dragon, what's the difference? While this book didn't cause my crisis of faith, it helped ensure that I would end as an atheist, and not just some wishy-washy generic Christian.

 

I think I was 41 when I first heard the assertion that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. I was almost 42 when, after explaining to someone why intelligent design is bad theology, I started wondering whether I had any reason at all to believe in a supernatural intelligence.

 

It was shortly after I turned 42 that I started to look for any sign that Christians are any better behaved than everyone else. You know where that went! I became an atheist at 42 years, 3 months, and 10 days.

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They started on me so early it never occurred to me to doubt. It helped that I was sent to a Catholic school, which is used to fielding questions about faith without denying science.

 

My first puzzlement came when we studied paleontology in 7th grade. But the next year, when one of my classmates had the guts to ask how evolution meshed with the Adam and Eve story, the teacher was able to harmonize them.

 

It was at this age (13 - 14) that I wondered how it was even possible for people not to believe in God.

 

I was 19 when I got semi-involved with the Moonies, and they planted my first doubts about the infallibility of the Catholic Church. I quickly regained trust in the RCC after I bailed from that cult, but I could never quite shake off the Moonies' contention that an eternal hell was not reasonable. At no time during all of this did I even slightly doubt the existence of an all-powerful supernatural personal creator, or question the basic Christian narrative.

 

My next brush with doubt came when I was 31 or 32. Some atheist told me about the invisible Martian who is right here observing us. Of course I did not deconvert on the spot, but I could no longer take the existence of God for granted. In retrospect, it was at that moment I became an agnostic theist.

 

Over the next few years, as I read books on the fringes of Catholic and Christian thought and got exposed to the Web, doubts started to creep in, but I was always able to beat them back or spackle them over. But the single event that shocked me into my final crisis of faith came directly from the Roman Catholic Church.

 

I was just short of 39 years old, and celebrating one of Pope John Paul II's legacies, Divine Mercy Sunday. The priest handed out booklets on how to make a good confession, and the booklets had the imprimatur certifying them as official Catholic teaching. What I read in there gave me grave doubts about the RCC's capacity to make moral assessments. Try as I might, my faith never recovered.

 

Sometime along the way, I read Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World. Invisible Martian, invisible dragon, what's the difference? While this book didn't cause my crisis of faith, it helped ensure that I would end as an atheist, and not just some wishy-washy generic Christian.

 

I think I was 41 when I first heard the assertion that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. I was almost 42 when, after explaining to someone why intelligent design is bad theology, I started wondering whether I had any reason at all to believe in a supernatural intelligence.

 

It was shortly after I turned 42 that I started to look for any sign that Christians are any better behaved than everyone else. You know where that went! I became an atheist at 42 years, 3 months, and 10 days.

 

How interesting! I am still "recovering" and so, therefore still an agnostic. That being said, I think there is this deeep part of my mind that knows I'm more atheist than not. Thanks for your feedback, I am fascinated by others' experiences with christianity.

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The question: how can heaven be heaven to you if you know your loved ones are screaming in hell?

 

The question: if god is so good and powerful, why am I watching these children weeping at their father's funeral?

 

Between these two, there was not much option but to doubt

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  • 6 months later...

My first doubts started in childhood. I was raised by strict, evangelical, southern baptist parents, and was "saved" when I was 5 years old. Over the next several years I would often wonder why I wasn't feeling that peace and joy that Christians always talked about. Why wasn't I hearing that still small voice, the voice of the holy spirit inside of me, guiding me to follow god's will. Why did I not enjoy going to church or reading the Bible? Why did I usually feel like my prayers were hitting a brick wall? I just chalked it up to not having a close enough relationship with god, not spending enough time reading his word, or talking to him. I just knew I needed to try harder. So glad I don't have to worry about all that crap anymore! :D

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  • 1 month later...

I remember one time entertaining the thought that maybe God didn't exist. This thought lasted a couple days, and it scared the shit out of me. It would be about another 15 years before I wouldn't be afraid to ask the tough questions. I don't know why I was so intimidated. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

My first real doubt came when I met non-Christians at my university who were not the evil people that Christians said they were. Those non-Christians were actually more Christlike, and they encouraged me to study the Bible in its entirety, as opposed to the Christians I knew who resented my study of the Bible.

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Almost a decade ago I was on a Christian forum.  I shared with them how an interdenominational group in my city was working together to feed the poor during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Suddenly I was verbally attacked and accused of being a non-believer because I was working with people from the wrong Christian denomination.  It was the first time that Christians I had thought of as friends had treated me like an outsider, a foreigner and an enemy.  I was informed that I do not love Jesus and that the person I think of as Jesus isn't the real Jesus but rather an imaginary fake Jesus that I had created in my own head.  Because Real-True-Christianstm hate Seventh Day Adventists with extreme prejudice.  Furthermore the accusations never let up.  It continued until I gave up on the Christian forum.

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I discounted doctrines and social views for a long time (I accepted evolution, I didn't believe in hell, that gays were bad etc) but I was still a Christian until I read Genesis again and really thought about the contradictions and illogic in it. I was 49 when that happened, that's how long it took. The internet played a big part, especially nonstampcollector on youtube.

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  • 5 months later...
On 6/15/2017 at 11:04 PM, Cousin Ricky said:

I was just short of 39 years old, and celebrating one of Pope John Paul II's legacies, Divine Mercy Sunday. The priest handed out booklets on how to make a good confession, and the booklets had the imprimatur certifying them as official Catholic teaching. What I read in there gave me grave doubts about the RCC's capacity to make moral assessments. Try as I might, my faith never recovered.

 

Hey Cousin Ricky, I know its been more than a year but I just stumbled across this and I'm super curious what was in that imprimatur that gave you doubts about the RCC's moral assessments? I too was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school, and their ability to mesh all the bible stories with science kept me in the faith after I started doubting. It was also some of the RCC's teachings on morality that alienated me from Catholicism itself and, ultimately, Christianity.

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 I always had flickers of doubt here and there that never amounted to anything. These were the first to really take root:

 

Senior year of high school. Respected mentor shared with me that she struggled with going to our church because the worship did not draw her in, specifically referencing the service that morning which I had thought was lovely (it was a little heavier in classical music that day. Our church had some exceptionally talented musicians, could be musically snobbish at times, but you couldnt complain that the music was bad). I started thinking, why should someone of such strong faith need a certain kind of worship music (read: hypnotizing) to feel close to god. I started to question the psychology of musical worship and it was never the same for me again. Worship went from being very special to me to suspect to somewhat repulsive. I hated the idea that I was being manipulated through music into having a spiritual experience. Questioning was so much easier after this because music had been significant in tethering me to my faith.

 

19-20 years old. My boyfriend and I were "struggling" with the extent of our sexual relationship. Our prayers were useless in changing our behavior. The "Holy Spirit" was of no help despite my sincere pleas. I also found it questionable that our guilt was so mismatched despite us both being sincere christians--me having more than him. I started realizing that my guilt was putting strain on our relationship while our "sin" brought us closer together. Why were gods commands making me feel so unloving? I decided to try to stop feeling guilty about it as a test to see if it was god making me feel guilt or the product of bad teaching and unfortunate reading materials. It was shocking to me how quickly it was gone and I started to realize that I was more indoctrinated than I wanted to admit.

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2 hours ago, Eowynesque said:

Our church had some exceptionally talented musicians, could be musically snobbish at times, but you couldnt complain that the music was bad). I started thinking, why should someone of such strong faith need a certain kind of worship music (read: hypnotizing) to feel close to god. I started to question the psychology of musical worship and it was never the same for me again. Worship went from being very special to me to suspect to somewhat repulsive. I hated the idea that I was being manipulated through music into having a spiritual experience. Questioning was so much easier after this because music had been significant in tethering me to my faith.

 

That's so interesting to me because musical worship was probably the first and main thing to rope me into Christianity! I love classical music and have played the viola since I was 10, and a good portion of my most serious playing was as part of my church's music group. Even as I began to seriously doubt, I remember brainwashing myself with the thought, "well, only God could have inspired Bach to write something as amazing as St. Matthew's Passion! Only God could have inspired worship as moving as the Mass of Creation's Glory to God!" It's crazy how emotional music can be. How intrinsic to human experience, really. One of my first thoughts once I admitted to myself that I was an atheist was that Bach's entire repertoire is a beautiful testimony to how creative and passionate the human mind can be, even without divine influence. I like that thought a lot better :)

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