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Has anyone else found themselves going backwards and forwards in believing and basically deconverting many times?

 

That's what has happened for me.  I think I'd like to believe in God, but whenever I try and push forward in belief in the biblical God  and search the bible for instruction it all falls apart, but some how I've been drawn back again and again.   I dont doubt being surrounded by devoted believers is a part of this.   

 

 

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It's likely your religious programming and need for emotional support. Christianity often partially or completely deprives people of their own agency and ability to handle their problems and find confident support in fallible humans. It's difficult to acknowledge the reality of there being few to no constants in this world. Religion also rewires our brains and strengthens the neuron-pathways to produce endorphins upon this sense of comfort. It's also a belief that formerly defined your world view. Religious beliefs are powerful enough to cause intense cognitive dissonance. Your world view was changed and you can no longer ignore the falsies in the bible however your brain is still addicted. I've experienced the bouncing back and forth. I could feel the changes in headspace despite the fact I wasn't capable of the cognitive dissonance. 

 

My advice is to let go and find peace without the bible and Christianity. Instead of searching for a belief in a god, find your own purpose and seek relationships outside of those believer's. Leaving a religion can make you feel like your world has shattered but believe me, once the process of de-conversion is over, there is this sense of peace and clearheaded-ness. You evaluate the world with your own mind and truths and can finally stand on your feet. My mind finally felt free of fear, suffocation, and ignorance. Even if you still perhaps believe in a god out there, maybe consider moving on from Christianity and actively trying to undo your programming. You might just find a freedom that could never exist within religion's boundaries. 

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Hey @freedomwalker,

 

I bounced back and forth. Really wanted to believe for the reasons @KrysLostInSpace outlined above as well as to smooth out the bumps with the fams and my home life. After much study, reading, and asking questions I finally had that convo with pastor ass-hat. His ultimate response, after insulting my reading and studying skills (I hold a B.S. in computer science from Columbia Southern - summa cum laude) he told me I "just had to believe".

 

Despite the ridiculousness of that claim I actually gave it a shot. Worked GREAT...for about...20 minutes. Went to the front of the sanctuary, accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and swore an allegiance.  I was overcome with joy and peace and a sense of belonging. Boy! The architects of the doctrine sure know/knew their shit!

 

But seriously, 20 minutes in and I began to have doubts and a general icky feeling of what I had just done. It was only a few months later that I just cold not stand to listen to sermons and wailing women and what I felt were creepy "testimonies" with references to  boogie men, demons, "talking" to God, etc. And so I, once again, proclaimed my disbelief.

 

I get the family influence difficulties you spoke of in your post, @freedomwalker. Mrs. MOHO is retired and hopelessly addicted to religion. "Reading" the Bible, Bible study, Bible videos, streaming sermons make up the bulk of her day. She is now a member of the youth gig where very young, we're talking 5,6,7 year olds, are indoctrinated and "brought to the lord!" What bunch of scum-sucking, shit-bags praying on those who have no clue what is going on. Listening to a convo with her recruiter the other day stating that "These young people or so in love with the lord and so ready to receive Jesus that blah blah blah!" I wanted to vomit.

 

Different topic that.

 

Anyway most of my friends are fundy's and I like them a lot. I am pummeled with "we're in the end times with all the disease and civil unrest and surveillance and economic issues and blah blah blah!" When I indicate that this shit has been going on for millenniums they respond with "SEEEEEE!" Er..um...see WHAT? But I have to admit I stop and think about all of this but I also realize that Revelations is so vague and flowery in verbiage that it can be applied to a multitude of situations.

 

so, yes...back and forth a few times and would very very much like to remove myself from the daily doctrine and influence but that would entail divorce and...well..23 years and multiple properties into it...that's a toughy. I try to ignore it and hope against hope that my wife's exposure to all the religious crap will someday prompt her to think on her own. I can always hope.

 

As @KrysLostInSpace said there is quite a peace with finally letting go. I left the door open so, if Jesus/God exists they know they can come in if they so desire but I have very little hope that they exists and/or give a shit about me. I had to let go and yes...great peace.

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1 hour ago, freedomwalker said:

Hi @KrysLostInSpace, thanks for your reply and for getting where I am at.   I appreciate what you've said and am mulling over it with cup of coffee ....

Take as long as you need. These sorts of things are tough to work out. Coffee's always a good drink to mull over! : D If you need any catharsis for religion, I recommend George Carlin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE

 

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21 hours ago, freedomwalker said:

Has anyone else found themselves going backwards and forwards in believing and basically deconverting many times?

 

That's what has happened for me.  I think I'd like to believe in God, but whenever I try and push forward in belief in the biblical God  and search the bible for instruction it all falls apart, but some how I've been drawn back again and again.   I dont doubt being surrounded by devoted believers is a part of this.   

 

 

 

I had a bit of this during my deconversion. I was completely frustrated with trying to understand the Bible through any given systematic theology proffered by Calvinist or Armenians. Their systematic theologies were only tenable if you did not read the entire Bible. Once you go through and try to shoehorn theology into every verse, it holds true in one paragraph, and folds during the next. I thought I had the ticket when I ran across tekton apologetics. J.P. Holding runs that website and he would hold that the Bible only makes sense in its cultural contexts. His apologetics are all wrapped around that idea, for example, he would argue that precision was not really important in the 1st century, which is why you have different variations on the empty tomb and who was in it. There is a laundry list of stuff, but it just gives you an idea of his approach. I held onto that idea for a bit, but it would be a matter of time before I ran across another Bible verse that would shake up my worldview and I would go digging across different Christian websites trying to find an answer. Naturally, none of them really agreed and I was left wondering whether or not what I believed was the truth with a capital 'T' or just my doctrine of "itchy ears."

 

I do think J.P. Holding was onto the right idea, but he does not take it all the way to its conclusion, which is understanding the Bible through the historical-critical method. Once I discovered that, and those who argue for it, it seemed there was never really any going back. More and more I realized the Bible is a collection of writings from fallible humans, and that is based on the evidence we have in the 21st century.

 

There were a few times along that journey where I thought I had some new hermeneutic to figure out the Bible, and would be able to withdraw the true teachings of the Bible, but it never held up after a few verses or chapters.  I eventually realized there is no coherent message in the Bible, or if there is, I am not smart enough to figure it out. With either of those holding true, no sense in being a Christian in belief or practice because I could not even define what a true® Christian was.

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Hi @MOHO ,

 

Thank you for writing.....it must be really challenging when you and your partner have such different beliefs......this sure is a weird phase I'm in - talk about double minded!!   I am sure  all the bible cant be true, but then what happens is answers to prayer come to mind and what I would have called 'God incidences '.   

 

I came from fundy beginnings too, and it seems as if people with a less literal interpretation of the bible might in some ways  be able to hang on to their faith more easily....yet everytime I tried to ease off such rigid beliefs, everything collapsed.

 

 

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13 hours ago, KrysLostInSpace said:

Take as long as you need. These sorts of things are tough to work out. Coffee's always a good drink to mull over! : D If you need any catharsis for religion, I recommend George Carlin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-e2NDSTuE

 

Thanks for the link....hes certainly not what you call 'pc'  :D  - i hadnt heard of him before.    

 

 

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Hi @Hierophant, thanks...that's interesting and very helpful.   I'm going to look up the historical-critical method of studying  the bible to see what more I can learn.   Well, maybe after coffee 🙂.

 

 

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4 hours ago, freedomwalker said:

Hi @Hierophant, thanks...that's interesting and very helpful.   I'm going to look up the historical-critical method of studying  the bible to see what more I can learn.   Well, maybe after coffee 🙂.

 

 

 

Here is a recommended reading list from Dr. Robert Price:

 

http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/study_list.htm

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23 hours ago, freedomwalker said:

Has anyone else found themselves going backwards and forwards in believing and basically deconverting many times?

Yeah, especially early on in my deconversion, more than a decade ago. After a decade it kinda petered out. 

 

One aspect of this you might want to consider is that there are various stages where terms and ideas that were rock-hard in their implications can get redefined or recalibrated after your deconversion, leading to some confusion and reassessment as to how to define your new state of belief or unbelief. For example, when I was a fundamentalist any definition of "God" other than the terrifying, authoritarian hatemonger was a "fake" definition and so any kind of abstraction or reinterpretation was not "Christian". There was a stage of deconversion where I began to accept the meaningfulness of the word "God" as a general abstract concept of goodness and goodwill, which would swing me back into wondering whether I was just a more liberal type of Christian. Many years later, I no longer really identify with any use of the word "Christian" because it's arbitrary and meaningless. Frankly, I consider it as a nonsense word that's been spun around historically for political purposes.

 

There's also the case of the trauma-relapse, where when things get scary or hard it's easy to fall back on the emotional pattern of fear and seeking forgiveness from an angry god. I think that can also take a while to completely recover from because you have to address the underlying trauma, which goes beyond any specific logical belief system you happen to have.

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7 hours ago, freedomwalker said:

Thanks for the link....hes certainly not what you call 'pc'  :D - i hadnt heard of him before.    

 

 

He's a pretty famous comedian but he's an older one too. Might be why. 

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I understand the reluctance to "let it go."  But the longer you are "out", the easier it is, and you will reach a point (at least I did) where you will question how you ever believed all those myths.  I've been out about 30 years now.

 

Coupled with other learning in life there are a couple of basic "truths" from christianity I have held onto and have helped me navigate through life.  One is that the love/obsession, of/with, money/power/control is the root of most evil.  The second redeeming truth is to love/respect your neighbor as self.  But to put it in perspective, these were truths discovered by wise men ages before Jesus came along.  

 

HANG IN THERE!!

 

 

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Dear all, thanks so much for your replies.   Well, ......I didnt anticipate  it but reading about the historical critical method led me to thinking more again about the context of scriptures and how they should be interpreted, so I ended up turning to sites about Judaism and the Torah.    When I found some  sites on Messianic Judaism,  i felt that what they said assured me that it would be good to settle on learning from their perspective.        

 

I do wish you well in your journeys....not sure what else to add bearing in mind the rules here  ...

 

 

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18 hours ago, freedomwalker said:

Dear all, thanks so much for your replies.   Well, ......I didnt anticipate  it but reading about the historical critical method led me to thinking more again about the context of scriptures and how they should be interpreted, so I ended up turning to sites about Judaism and the Torah.    When I found some  sites on Messianic Judaism,  i felt that what they said assured me that it would be good to settle on learning from their perspective.        

 

I do wish you well in your journeys....not sure what else to add bearing in mind the rules here  ...

 

 

 

Good luck in your studies. My cousin is into Messianic Judaism, without going on a long discord, you will soon see the Bible doesn't perfectly match up with their beliefs either. Nothing in Paul's writings would indicate gentiles are required to adhere to the Old Testament law - matter of fact, he argues vehemently against it. Paul's writings were the first documentation of Christianity, gospels and especially the ones advocating a Messianic Judaism were written 30+ years later. Messianic Judaism tries to tiptoe in both worlds, they do some OT stuff, Sabbath, dietary laws, etc., but then find excuses not to do all of it.

 

Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself. There is nothing wrong with exploring your options, but I would recommend reading some material that shows the Bible and its claims are often questionable.

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Like you, I mulled over the different religious possibilities for years.  An maybe that's what you need to do to resolve your problem.  But I finally stepped back and looked at the big picture of religion and decided it is all conceived by mankind.  If it all started from one infallable God, why so many different ideas?  In reality, history shows numerous "gods" in the beginning of history,  and a gradual narrowing down to the few we recognize today.  One God, and one truth in the beginning, just isn't logical to my way of thinking.  

 

And all of them seem to spring from individuals.  When God, who is supposed to be miraculous,  appears to all of us at once to give us instructions, then I will believe.     

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That happens. Putting a label as conversion deconversio  might confuse stuff at the moment. It is a process of inner life, that is how I tend to view it now.

 

 I think that Messianic Judaism is something that is EASILY torn apart by Real Jewish Rabbis, like Tovia Singer from Outreach Judaism or Jews for Judaism. By the way, that name is really confusing, as ALL JUDAISM IS MESSIANIC, they are still expecting the Messiah and there are cases throughout history like Shabbetai Tzvi who took that title.  And all Christianity IS MESSIANIC JUDAISM as well, Christ means the Mesia, so  followers of Jesus were literally called the followers of the Jewish Mesia. And yes, even Jews today think that the Messiah will reveal God to the whole world, so it would not be JUST for the Jews, as some King David. 

 

I dk if you visit this site, but be sure to check those rabbis out before embarking on messianic judaism. Who knows, maybe they will convert you to Judaism. I advise against it..but your call.

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1 hour ago, Weezer said:

And all of them seem to spring from individuals.  When God, who is supposed to be miraculous,  appears to all of us at once to give us instructions (emphasis added), then I will believe.     

 

My thoughts exactly!!!!!!!

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YES, for the first three years after I deconverted, I had what I call a "divinstrual cycle". Every January (who knows why) I would suddenly regain faith in God for about 3 days. But the same logical questions kept surfacing like "How can a good God allow suffering?" and that killed it.

 

Recently, in April, I started feeling a sense of spiritual longing but this time I was more ready to handle it. I've been in therapy for a long time, I've grown up a lot since my last 3-day tango with faith, and this time around, I can conceptualize a God that make more sense. What helped me was listening to Peter Rollins describe the four ways to conceptualize God. Thinking of God as a sentient being with thoughts and feelings and plans is only ONE way of seeing God. And for me, that doesn't work. What I call "God" is pretty formless. You could describe it as "That which calls us to love". I recommend the episode if you're open to a new concept of God.

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11 hours ago, decafaholic said:

YES, for the first three years after I deconverted, I had what I call a "divinstrual cycle". Every January (who knows why) I would suddenly regain faith in God for about 3 days. But the same logical questions kept surfacing like "How can a good God allow suffering?" and that killed it.

 

Recently, in April, I started feeling a sense of spiritual longing but this time I was more ready to handle it. I've been in therapy for a long time, I've grown up a lot since my last 3-day tango with faith, and this time around, I can conceptualize a God that make more sense. What helped me was listening to Peter Rollins describe the four ways to conceptualize God. Thinking of God as a sentient being with thoughts and feelings and plans is only ONE way of seeing God. And for me, that doesn't work. What I call "God" is pretty formless. You could describe it as "That which calls us to love". I recommend the episode if you're open to a new concept of God.

I never understood the God is love bit. Is God a feeling? And that word is so used and abused that it is meaningless smtimes

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17 hours ago, decafaholic said:

 

Peter Rollins describe the four ways to conceptualize God. 

 

That is God in a nutshell.   A very simple truth.  Since he is not observable, he is literally a concept that has to be formed in each person's mind.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/29/2020 at 1:24 AM, freedomwalker said:

but some how I've been drawn back again and again. 


Sounds like indoctrination, it’s likely your brain’s emotional software was hijacked at an age when you were too young to listen critically.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 8/14/2020 at 11:29 AM, LostinParis said:


Sounds like indoctrination, it’s likely your brain’s emotional software was hijacked at an age when you were too young to listen critically.

Hi LostinParis, I wasnt young, but I'd just had a breakdown when I was introduced to attending church.   I really wasnt thinking well and I know that there was some prosperity type teachings going on there at the time. 

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I realise it's crazy to go back and forth like this but here I am back again.   

 

I looked into messianic Judaism for a short while but there seem to be so many contradictions and difficulties whichever path one takes.   

 

But having said this I listened to a really encouraging sermon today essentially about changing the world through love and selflessness.   I find the work done by those wanting to help others really inspiring and am moved by peoples testimonies of this happening and how lives can be transformed.

 

Can anyone recommend some reading to help me move forward, retaining the positives?  Thanks for your patience with me.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, freedomwalker said:

Hi LostinParis, I wasnt young, but I'd just had a breakdown when I was introduced to attending church.   I really wasnt thinking well and I know that there was some prosperity type teachings going on there at the time. 

 

6 minutes ago, freedomwalker said:

I realise it's crazy to go back and forth like this but here I am back again.   

 

I looked into messianic Judaism for a short while but there seem to be so many contradictions and difficulties whichever path one takes.   

 

But having said this I listened to a really encouraging sermon today essentially about changing the world through love and selflessness.   I find the work done by those wanting to help others really inspiring and am moved by peoples testimonies of this happening and how lives can be transformed.

 

Can anyone recommend some reading to help me move forward, retaining the positives?  Thanks for your patience with me.

 

 

Well, just a little point here. We can all be inspired by stuff, but be wary. Love and selflesness are one of the most abused terms and are routenely used by conmen, either religious, political, etc. Before jumping in on such movements, maybe you could help yourself with seld reflection, reading and learning philosophy and psychology, etc. I think that, from personal xp too, developping wisdom and critical thinking and feeling is THE most important thing for the world right now. I believe that compassion, true compassion flows from deep understanding, not just an instinct.

     On a practical note, the charity focused atheist are usually in humanist organisations. You can search humanism and humanist org.

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