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Never was a true Ex-Christian


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16 hours ago, Henndigo said:

For all the problems we have in the world today, I am glad to have been born in this day and age!

 Me too!  Not to veer off too much, but I grew up with a fundamentalist mother who clipped newspaper articles of anything that pointed to the "end of the world."  Too bad she didn't do the same thing for progress.  When I was still in my conservative Christian mindset I worked with an older gentleman that I adored.  We talked about all sorts of things: the challenges of child-rearing, politics, religion, you-name-it.  I remember one day lamenting in my Christian mind-set about how the world was just getting worse and worse, scarier and scarier.  As someone who contracted polio when he was a young man and spent some time in an "Iron Lung" after serving in Germany in WWII, he was quick to point out how he saw it differently: computer technology was changing the world in fascinating ways, healthcare was evolving, women had a gained a new status (in the US anyway), marginalized populations (LGBTQ, minorities, people with disabilities, prison population, etc.) were getting better treatment, etc.  That conversation had a huge impact on me.  Since then, I've changed my view on a lot of things.  Everything is a 2-sided coin.  Or perhaps another way of seeing it is everything (positive) has an equal and opposite reaction (negative). I've started to expect the bad with the good - which makes it feel as though I'm moving from a more pessimistic view to more realistic. 

Sorry if I've strayed off topic!

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On 8/28/2022 at 12:49 AM, Weezer said:

I also believe we may be in the beginning of a cultural change regarding religion.  But it is leaving a void and what is going to fill the void isn't clear, which concerns me.

 

Consciousness is where it seems to be going....

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4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Consciousness is where it seems to be going....


I think it’s going in multiple directions!

 

Before christianity became dominant thanks to Emperor Constantine, the religious and philosophical landscape of the Greco-Roman world was fragmented, big time. The Average Julius had one or more favorite “pagan” gods they favored, and whom they hoped favored them in return.  For moral guidance, they either followed one or more of the schools of philosophy (often literal schools) or just flew by the seat of their pants.  Educated people generally followed a school of philosophy and often only paid lip-service to the pagan gods: the Epicureans were atheists ahead of their time, for example.  Not surprisingly, Epicureanism is seeing a resurgence as theism declines these days.  Likewise Stoicism which, while not atheistic, does not have a real role for a deity.  
 

So I think as traditional religion declines it will be replaced with a similar patchwork of philosophies, formal or informal, and likely a resurgence in pagan religions, the latter more for the ritual, the mysticism, the social networks and maybe the occasional orgy.  I can see people establishing weekly Stoic or Epicurean groups that have many of the features and benefits of church but without the supernatural beliefs: coffee and fellowship on arrival, life lessons for kids and adults, maybe even a pot-luck lunch!  

 

It’s early days yet, but for most people, SOMETHING will fill the void left by theistic religions.  Humans don’t have a Jesus-shaped hole in their hearts, or even a god-shaped one, but there is a meaning-shaped hole, I believe.  I hope more people will get that from some of the options I described above.  But unfortunately many will also be drawn to get their purpose in life from tribal politics and extreme nationalism, which are all about who they’re AGAINST rather than what they’re for.  That’s very satisfying to the primitive parts of the human brain. 

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1 hour ago, TABA said:

So I think as traditional religion declines it will be replaced with a similar patchwork of philosophies, formal or informal, and likely a resurgence in pagan religions,


I completely left out a role for non-theistic eastern religions/philosophies like Buddhism etc. These will likely grow in appeal in the west too. 

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20 minutes ago, TABA said:


I completely left out a role for non-theistic eastern religions/philosophies like Buddhism etc. These will likely grow in appeal in the west too. 

We've veered way off the topic of the OP. Might should make a thread for discussing this. 

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9 hours ago, TABA said:

 

 groups that have many of the features and benefits of church but without the supernatural beliefs: coffee and fellowship on arrival, life lessons for kids and adults, maybe even a pot-luck lunch!  

 

 

That describes the Unitarian Universalists.

 

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With the purpose of getting back on topic….

 

I signed up here around eight years ago, when I realized I was well on the way to being an ex-christian.  It was great to find a place where deconversion was treated as a feature, not a bug!  I wasn’t ready to introduce myself, but just signing up was a big step for me.  It felt like a reversal of my baptism, and it was both scary and liberating.  
 

A couple of years later, I made my first post.  It was my “coming out” in a sense, even if it was only coming out to people in the same position.  But telling people, even strangers online, and being welcomed and given encouragement, that was huge!  
 

So here I am, more than six years later, and this community is a part of my life I wouldn’t want to give up, like my job, my hobbies, my wife, family, friends.  It’s part of who I am.  Because to me, leaving christianity and theism is a big fucking deal.  Not just drifting away like so many people do, but coming out and rejecting what I used to claim as the foundation for my life.  Going over to the opposition, in a real sense.
 

In an important way, only other apostates from christianity get this.  Believers are appalled, and lifelong atheists can’t grasp what we’ve experienced in making this journey to a place where faith is a bad thing - a vehicle for lies - and where sin does not exist.   
 

So yeah, this is my tribe.  Or rather one of them.  I also have a tribe of Army Aviation veterans and a tribe of West Virginia Mountaineers fans, as well as a conventional tribe of blood relatives.  In each of them, we share something valuable that makes us different from others.  I enjoy the company of other ex-christians.  I enjoy the conversations in the public forums and I especially enjoy the private one-on-one chats I regularly have with a handful of members.   
 

I’ve long since considered myself “Fully Deconverted”, to where I’m completely satisfied it’s not true, to where I can read the Bible or go to a church service or listen to apologetics without any fear or worry.  But another reason I hang out here is because it has really dawned on me how that is not at all true for many other people who are somewhere in the process of deconversion.  And because I have seen the good that is done here, the lives that have been helped.   I have seen people go from literally trembling in fear of being wrong, in fear of hell, to gaining courage and peace.  And this community, my ex-christian friends and I, helped make it happen.  Not long ago I told an atheist friend, referring to somebody who had just made a big breakthrough in their deconverison, that I never thought I would be so happy to see somebody renounce christianity, but also that I had never met anybody who needed to do that so badly.  That’s it, really: there are people whose lives are made better by christianity, but there are many whose lives are made worse.  They come here, and we help them find peace and their own purpose in life.  I guess that’s why Dave started this community, but it’s certainly a big reason I stay around.  I’m proud to be part of this, y’all.  

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21 hours ago, TABA said:

I can see people establishing weekly Stoic or Epicurean groups that have many of the features and benefits of church but without the supernatural beliefs: coffee and fellowship on arrival, life lessons for kids and adults, maybe even a pot-luck lunch!  

 

Yeah, the parts that are just fun socializing. That's really all that church ever was - socializing under the guise of make believe. Beyond church, need only be socializing without the element of having to play a game of make believe while socializing. 

 

11 hours ago, Weezer said:

That describes the Unitarian Universalists.

 

That's what I've heard. 

 

19 hours ago, TABA said:

I completely left out a role for non-theistic eastern religions/philosophies like Buddhism etc. These will likely grow in appeal in the west too. 

 

That's the general social media trend I've gotten involved with. But even in those areas, I've found a majority type consensus on going beyond religion. Mystical and spiritual views beyond religion is where most people that I speak with are in agreement. I've only found resistance to that notion from the minority of liberal christian types who have tried to root themselves into these beyond religion type group settings. 

 

2 hours ago, TABA said:

I’ve long since considered myself “Fully Deconverted”, to where I’m completely satisfied it’s not true, to where I can read the Bible or go to a church service or listen to apologetics without any fear or worry.  But another reason I hang out here is because it has really dawned on me how that is not at all true for many other people who are somewhere in the process of deconversion.  And because I have seen the good that is done here, the lives that have been helped.   I have seen people go from literally trembling in fear of being wrong, in fear of hell, to gaining courage and peace.  And this community, my ex-christian friends and I, helped make it happen.  Not long ago I told an atheist friend, referring to somebody who had just made a big breakthrough in their deconverison, that I never thought I would be so happy to see somebody renounce christianity, but also that I had never met anybody who needed to do that so badly.  That’s it, really: there are people whose lives are made better by christianity, but there are many whose lives are made worse.  They come here, and we help them find peace and their own purpose in life.  I guess that’s why Dave started this community, but it’s certainly a big reason I stay around.  I’m proud to be part of this, y’all.  

 

The whole reason for this community was to have an outlet and community for people who have lived a different experience from the lifelong atheists, basically. 

 

What I've found interesting over the years is how I've seen newbies come along who are openly within say 5 years deconverted, who are almost indistinguishable from lifelong atheists. You'd think that they were lifelong atheists because they show little signs of being the believer type. How could that be? But it is. How doesn someone go from thinking like WLC to thinking like Daniel Dennett or Richard Dawkins within a short span of a few years? One reason that has come up is that many profess to never being very spirtual in the first place, even when they were believer christians. They just sort of went along with the flow and said yes to whatever people were selling. Until they cut it off and stopped going along with it all. But regardless, they still have the experience of being a christian as opposed to never having been one. Never going to church. Never dealing with religious zealots at the churches. And never having to go through withdrawing oneself from the church community and conflict with other family members in the process. 

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11 hours ago, TABA said:

Because to me, leaving christianity and theism is a big fucking deal.  

It really is.  Personally, I'm still not all the way out of the closet.  I don't think I ever will be.  I used to teach at a Christian college. Before I left, I only ever told one of the faculty that I was no longer a believer.  She took it very well and had a very kind response (probably because she is Catholic - and not evangelical).  Just this week I'm getting text messages from a former professor for prayer requests.  I'm crafting my responses carefully because now is probably not the best time to explain that I don't do prayer - at least not in the traditional Christian sort of way.  Sometimes it makes me frustrated - even angry - that I can't express my views as freely as I would like to. But if and when the opportunity arises and the timing feels right, I'd like to be able to talk coherently about why I'm no longer a Christian.  Coming here and reading the many, many eloquent, diverse, and very intelligent responses helps to (hopefully) keep me sharp and ready to respond - if and when that day comes. 

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13 hours ago, TABA said:

 

I’ve long since considered myself “Fully Deconverted”, to where I’m completely satisfied it’s not true, to where I can read the Bible or go to a church service or listen to apologetics without any fear or worry.  

 

 

How do you handle it when you go to a church service and someone asks you to pray?  Or asks you where you go to church now?  Or why you no longer believe?  And how do they respond when you tell them?  And afterwards, are you glad you had the experience?   I have been debating whether to go to a special church function I was invited to, where there are old friends of the family.

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2 hours ago, freshstart said:

 

 I'm still not all the way out of the closet.  I don't think I ever will be. 

 

After a few blunders I stopped saying anything to others unless they ask me point blank.  The majority of people where we live see you in a diferent light if they know you are an atheist or agnostic.

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Perhaps being a true christian is being completely brain washed??   Be thankful we didn't get the full dose!

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9 hours ago, Weezer said:

How do you handle it when you go to a church service and someone asks you to pray?  Or asks you where you go to church now?  Or why you no longer believe?  And how do they respond when you tell them?


The church I attend with my wife is catholic, so none of that ever arises.  Although I do recite most of the formal prayers along with the congregation, and even sing the hymns (usually drowned out by the organ), I never go forward for communion: that’s restricted to catholic believers.  There’s always one or two of us that don’t.  It would be considered somewhat impolite to question somebody about it though.  People probably assume I’m a non-catholic christian.  
 

9 hours ago, Weezer said:

And afterwards, are you glad you had the experience?


Generally, yes.  It’s a beautiful old church and I enjoy the ‘ambience’.  My wife likes it when I go, even though she knows I don’t believe any of it.  It’s usually the start of a Saturday evening out together, so that’s nice too.  Catholics have a Saturday evening vigil mass that serves as Sunday mass. 

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5 hours ago, Weezer said:

Perhaps being a true christian is being completely brain washed??   Be thankful we didn't get the full dose!

Speak for yourself, there, sport.

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On 8/31/2022 at 11:40 AM, TABA said:

groups that have many of the features and benefits of church but without the supernatural beliefs: coffee and fellowship on arrival, life lessons for kids and adults, maybe even a pot-luck lunch!

 

 

On 8/31/2022 at 9:08 PM, Weezer said:

That describes the Unitarian Universalists.


I think I’d find them too new-agey and social-justicey but yeah.  I’d be drawn to something with a bit more focused philosophy, personally. 

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10 hours ago, TheRedneckProfessor said:

Speak for yourself, there, sport.

Perhaps I should have said, be thankful our brains were water resistant.

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16 hours ago, Weezer said:

Perhaps being a true christian is being completely brain washed??   Be thankful we didn't get the full dose!

 

On the subject of brain washing and water resistant brains...

 

When I was a fervent evangelical I was advised to counter the brain washing accusation by replying, "If I've been brainwashed, then I'm glad I've got a clean brain."

 

🤪

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11 hours ago, TABA said:


The church I attend with my wife is catholic, so none of that ever arises.  

 

That is very different from the evangical church I attended.   They were very "clanish", wanting to know the beliefs of others, and wanting to "save" those who were not in the fold.  And if you go back to visit, they seem very quick to pick up on the signs that you are no longer part of them, and if verified, the flavor of the relationship changes. That is why I tend to avoid visiting.  

 

Come to think of it, I don't think I have noticed a big difference with the catholics I know.

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10 hours ago, TABA said:


I think I’d find them too new-agey and social-justicey but yeah.  I’d be drawn to something with a bit more focused philosophy, personally. 

 

They were a "different" bunch of people at the church I attened for a while.  My redneck background didn't fit in well.  The last time I went to church there, there was a middle aged man with hairy legs and a beard who had on a womans dress and hat.  No one seemed to notice.  They are very accepting of diversity, which I give them credit for.  

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