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Believers' testimonies


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Hey :)

 

I wanted to write about something that bothers me for a long time as in the title "Believers' testimonies".

 

I'm sure that when You were coming out as an non-believer to Christian family members or church in general, people were trying to remind You about testimonies that You heard and they tried to talk about "Great Awakenings", people who got out of addictions and occult practices and missionaries who shared the Gospel to wild tribes.

 

I'm planning my coming out in the next week and I'm afraid that stories mentioned above will always disturb me and remind me that maybe there is Jesus' power behind them and I'm wrong about science and evolution. It's hard.

 

Some testimonies are really like fake or believers's exaggeration over stuff that happens everyday even to non-believers...but there are much complex and full of coincidence stories that leave me with confused feelings of wanting in my life the same to happen or that devil is a liar and he invented evolution idea.

 

How do You deal with Your Christian family, friends' testimonies and how do You look at testimonies that used to builed and strengthen Your faith in Jesus that You had in the past?

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I remember how much it felt good to be in a group of people where I seemed to fit. That was a huge thing for me. But the thing that helped me start deconverting was after promoting a preacher for 9 years who described in detail the most outstanding miracles of healing and re-growth of body parts, and even some raised from the dead, and then I caught him red-handed making up a long involved tale about a witch coven confronting him in a church in Germany. I had just seen all the videos from that church prior to him coming back to the USA to preach about what happened there. No witches, just a German translator who had trouble with this guy's southern accent. That was it. From that, he came up with this very detailed story about how the devil was preventing his translator from talking, blah blah blah. And all the guys that work with this man would echo the same kind of stories. That seemed very odd to me until I remembered my training in cults and how people in cults are highly motivated to be "in" with the leader. Then I realized that I had been believing a ton of things without evidence and how that is exactly what believers do with the Bible, believing stories from a book as though they were honest fact instead of made up. History tells us absolutely NONE of the stories from the gospels about Jesus doing miracles and entering Jerusalem, or people rising from the dead after his crucifixion, etc. Cults write things to convince people to join the cult. "These things were written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Kinda obvious when you view it as a cult.

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Thanks Fuego for Your reply :)

 

But I guess that, what You experienced was definitely fake testimonies and Your pastor turned out to be a liar. 

 

And I wasn't asking about historical accuracy of the Bible and all that stuff. In this topic I just want to hear about look on testimonies that were convincing and true for us as believers.

 

And how to deal with people that knew us as believers, were giving us books with people's testimonies, were sharing their testimonies with us and now they find out that we are non-believers?

 

They might ask me, so what is Your explanation to my life's struggles and my testimony. One girl from the church that I know would point to me, that from the childhood she had lots of health problems, surgeries and was very often treated wrong by the doctors and only God walked her through it.

 

So, I should respond to these people, that this is all an illusion and I don't know what?

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Lost said:

...

Some testimonies are really like fake or believers's exaggeration over stuff that happens everyday even to non-believers...but there are much complex and full of coincidence stories that leave me with confused feelings of wanting in my life the same to happen or that devil is a liar and he invented evolution idea.

...

 

A few suggestions:

 

1)  Learn the difference among and between non-sequitur, coincidence, correlation and causation, and learn how to spot them in real time when listening or reading faith-based testimonies from theists.

 

2)  "Wanting in my life the same to happen" is not relevant to the truth claims made in these testimonies.

 

3)  "Devil is a liar and he invented [the] evolution idea" is not relevant to the truth claims made in these testimonies.

 

7 hours ago, Lost said:

...

In this topic I just want to hear about [how to] look on testimonies that were convincing and true for us as believers.

...

 

Learn about the tools that rational thinkers use to "look on" oral and written statements that you previously believed were convincing and true.  Such tools include identifying (i) informal logical fallacies, (ii) lack of evidence and burden of proof shifting, (iii) cognitive biases (including confirmation bias, expectation bias -- see a list at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases) and (iv)  lies, misrepresentations, exaggerations and wishful thinking.

 

7 hours ago, Lost said:

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And how to deal with people that knew us as believers, were giving us books with people's testimonies, were sharing their testimonies with us and now they find out that we are non-believers?

...

Deal with them with intellectual honesty.  For the time being saying, "I don't know", is often a good (and honest) answer.  If pressed you can escalate it to, "I don't know, and neither do you."

 

Be prepared for religious peer pressure, which is one of the techniques many theists will use in an attempt to emotionally control you.

 

7 hours ago, Lost said:

...

They might ask me, so what is Your explanation to my life's struggles and my testimony.

...

What they ask is not important.  Don't take ownership of their emotional need to promote their religious beliefs upon you.  

 

7 hours ago, Lost said:

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So, I should respond to these people, that this is all an illusion and I don't know what?

Take your time.  You are early in the deconversion process.  No offense, but it appears you do not yet have the critical thinking skills necessary to address others about your situation, including yourself.  Perhaps a good response would be, "I have decided to study rational thinking, logic, science and history.  I am doing this because I believe it will help me answer questions that I have."

 

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Everyone doesn't have an emotional come to Jesus moment. That sort of thing seems to happen mostly in fundamentantalist versions of Christianity. Mainstream Christian testimonies is more like, Yeah, I decided to join the church last Sunday & I got baptized."  End of testimony. 

 

I realize there are those that have experienced some traumatic event in their life, or just had a lousy life, and have suddenly found Jesus. I think folks understand situations like that produce strong emotional responses, but it's pretty much just emotion. They know little or nothing about the  Bible, God, or Jesus. And they probably never will. They love Jesus & Jesus loves them and that is all they need to know. 

 

I have not encountered many, if any, Christians that know anything about the Bible's origins & evolution. They think memorizing a few scriptures makes them Bible scholars. 

 

 

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There's a lot of confirmation bias in these things. People are quick to boast about when christianity helped them or worked for them, but if you pay attention there are also a lot of cases where conversion to Christianity has made people more cruel, selfish, or even more worldly (in the sense of becoming greedy). You can find examples of these 'negative testimonies' buried inside people's deconversion stories in this site, in both first-person and third-person. In general, though, people who see these counter-examples simply remain silent out of convenience or embarrassment. 

 

That being said, people struggle emotionally in their lives for a variety of reasons, and certain religious narratives do in fact help them in certain situations. A person may be severely deprived of a particular feeling that should have been provided by a father figure from their youth for example, and compensating it with an overindulgence of and addiction to a recreational drug. Adopting the 'God the Father' narrative might fill such a person with a kind of a fatherly-love feeling, thereby helping them overcome their addictions. Such a person might later claim Christianity miraculously healed their addiction. I do believe that religion does help people live better lives in certain situations, but it's very person-specific, and it doesn't mean the claims of the religion are necessarily true. I think one of the toxic misunderstandings of certain types of Christianity, like Evangelicalism, is the assumption that what works for oneself must be force-fed to other people with blatant disregard for their boundaries or circumstance. 

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1 hour ago, DestinyTurtle said:

 

 

...

 

I think one of the toxic misunderstandings of certain types of Christianity, like Evangelicalism, is the assumption that what works for oneself must be force-fed to other people with blatant disregard for their boundaries or circumstance. 

 

 ^ ^ ^ .   

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Hey Lost,

 

Wow, I have a lot to say about this.

 

First of all, I know the fear. It's the fear that when you ignore those impulses to go back, to pray, to praise god, that you are 'hardening your heart' and will have only yourself to blame on judgement day.

 

In some sense, you are hardening your heart. You have to, because being in the cult so long has meant people have stomped on it until it is goopy mush.

 

But this doesn't mean you are sinful. What you have to remember is that Christianity operates on its own internal logic. By simply thinking "I'm hardening my heart right now", they have already won because you're using their logic.

 

When they question you or preach to you, they will be coming at you from their inside-the-cult perspective, using their internally consistent logic. You won't be able to debate it because you'll have to work on their assumptions just to have a conversation (eg god is real and is the christian god, jesus gave you a gift, etc). When you work on their assumptions you will naturally sympathise with their logic and their mindset and by their logic, they are right. Bam, you just lost the game. It becomes more possible over time to pick it apart on the fly, but they will consistently derail the conversation and because you are still used to the logic making sense, a newly deconverted person finds it hard not to be swept away by it all over again.

 

Instead, you have to remember that there are all these holes that appear in that logic when you stand outside looking in, evaluating the structure as a whole. Don't get carried away into arguments that are based on assumptions your debating opponent *hasn't actually proved yet*. Such as, "the Bible can be trusted for reasons other than 'God says so'". Any argument made using this premise, without first proving it, is never going to be valid.

 

Find those premises when someone makes an elaborate or personal argument, and ask them to prove it first.

 

Secondly, you actually don't have to argue your own case if you don't want to. You'll feel the need to--but it's your former Christianity defence mechanisms jumping to the fore. When you were a Christian, any non-Christian worldview was a threat to how you made sense of the world, and it had to be destroyed as quickly as possible so you could maintain your peace about how you were right.

 

Now? You can let other worldviews be. People are allowed to believe what they want. You don't have to correct them, the existence of their beliefs no longer threatens your beliefs. You are in a much more chilled out position than they are.

 

Remember that your only point is "I don't find the Christian God convincing". They will ask you what you think is better or more convincing -- "I don't know" is fine. Remember, you're not trying to counter-prove anything, not even atheism. Just cause they get all worked up about their case, doesn't mean you need to match  them.

 

They will be assuming that you are coming from another viewpoint that you have to viciously defend in the same way they defend Christianity. When you don't have an opposing viewpoint, they have nothing to cling onto and attack, and it really throws them off!

 

It is perfectly justifiable to become convinced that a theory is invalid because of its own flaws, and then leave it, all without being convinced that a replacement theory is better. You can exist without a theory.

 

If they start to get personal, you don't owe them any kind of answer or explanation. "I'm sorry but that's not relevant to why i left and I don't want to answer it because it's too personal" is fine. They no longer own the rights to hearing all your most intimate struggles and emotions. You get to choose who knows about them. If they think that makes your whole argument invalid then what they think about you cannot be your problem.

 

Thirdly, having said all this, you may find it easier to pick holes in an argument than you think. When you look at people's testimonies with these newfound eyes, you see dozens of other more non-Jesus  explanations, including  "statistically speaking, coincidences have to happen pretty often!" You may not want to say this to your loved one's face: in this case, a smile and an "I'm glad you derived strength from your faith" will do.

 

Youtube some personal testimonies as practice, it's likely you'll instantly start spotting holes in them. If not, watch some Atheist Experience vids where they debunk callers.

 

Also remember that sometimes things in life are weird or unexplainable and creepy. You're going to have to be comfortable with that because life is like that sometimes. I still have things I can't explain--but it doesn't mean that it was the christian god that did it.

 

There could be a whole world of supernatural ghosts, aliens, vampires, angels and leprechauns out there... but none of that means there has to be a god as well.

 

Finally (I'm so sorry about the length of this) I politely question the need for a formal "coming out". I don't know if that's what you have in mind--but if you do, may I suggest limiting it to those who directly ask? You can often just stop going to church and tell people "you don't have to go to church to be a christian."

 

I also encourage you to think about why you are doing this. You may have felt obligated when you were a Christian to"  shine your light" and be a witness to the world--but you don't have to live like that anymore. Away from the cult, which likes to make you obligated to be an open book to aid them in controlling you, can develop a sense of personal privacy and boundaries again. You can hide your light under that bushel for all you're worth now. Nobody has to know unless you want them too. They can be as curious as they like but you don't owe them an unsolicited explanation for anything you do.

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Thank You ALL for Your resonable responses :)

 

And I love Your response austere- it's really well written and heart warming and encouraging :)

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Glad I could help mate

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Hi Lost, there is a lot of good advice above.

 

People in my family appeal to miracles that they say led them to Christ. On analysis, those supposed miracles boil down to coincidences or things that are "in their head." None of the supposed miracles stands up. Confirmation bias is big with these relatives, sigh.

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It is easy. I was born disabled, so I have a trump card against xers.

 

They can NEVER answer me and never did. I suffered HORRIFICALLY in xianism. OMFG. I was abused and taken advantage of etc etc etc, but nothing was as hard as looking up to the sky and trying to love Big Brother. Have you read 1984???? Read the torture parts. Read how he was beaten and tortured. I literally WAS hit and beat up and strangled and all that, but the worse part??? Having to LOVE BIG BROTHER and excuse him and make ALL SORTS of excuses for his not helping me. 

 

Pastor after pastor---- "I don't know why those things happened....." "I don't know why you are suffering.."  "I don't know why you are left in poverty" "I don't know whyI don't know whyI don't know why I don't know why GOd seems not to helping you,"  "Give him time!" Well, several decades later, I get it.............they are all doing OK and fat and happy. If they get sick, they are all now well connected and have money to help themselves. I trusted God and have none of that. 

 

So when someone gives their testimony? HAHAHAHA! I GIVE THEM MINE! Scares the bloody hell out of them,

 

Remember, people fear being like us more than they fear death. Losing faith is worse that being put on the rack and split in twain. .......you remember???

 

Idiots. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was planning to come out to church and 2 friends in a letter in March and now it's April and still I wasn't able to do this, although I was absent in church for 2 and a half week (because of Nursing studies and Dental Assistant Course (during weekends).

 

Also, I was planning in March to just change my phone number, but it makes things difficult, cause I would have to tell lots of people from the beginning my new phone number...in the end of March I realized that I actually can just block certain phone numbers that I don't want to receive anymore.

 

It's all stressful, cause except my problem with church... I have to also battle with hard Nursing Studies, Public Health studies and Dental Assistant Course (mostly I have in these 3 areas low grades), I have to deal with my dad's alcohol addiction, caused mostly because of my debts during never-ending shopaholic addiction mania.

 

I afraid to deal also with coming out with my new, much bigger than before debts and how it will affect his health.

 

Maybe, in April I will give myself a try to come out to church and block their numbers on my cell phone and closing my Facebook account.

 

I live in a town and in country, where people have no idea about struggles that I have.

 

I go to 2 therapists (one is a general psychologist and we have a break from therapy, cause I have to focus now on Addiction Therapy) and the second is from Addiction Therapy.

 

My life is like the weirdest dream, anyone can image. Unless I will meet people that share my life story, I won't believe that there are other folks in this world like me.

 

I was always moral person and I thought that I have respect for money...but after losing faith I developed shopping addiction and huge amount of debt and my room looks like a one, big rubbish. I can't believe that shit! And my dad will probably won't survive my next message about new debts. And I will lose the second parent.

 

I wish I could earn some money abroad, for example in England, but now this whole Brexit thing...and I don't have any support or friends that could help me to go abroad and feel safe there. I can speak and write in English well, but it's not enough to just make a serious decision about moving abroad and leaving only one, close person.

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I would tell them that this is a clear anecdotal fallacy, they are using pinpointed examples and not concrete evidence to support their argument. To which they would probably reply with an appeal to emotions (''But we are talking about people you met at church, don't you care about them? They LOVED you as a child!!) AHAHAH.

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