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tropicalsq744

Need Some Advice And I'm New Here.

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Hi guys. :wave:

 

I don't know if I should post this here but anyway here goes..

 

I'm really confused right now. Been talking to my church youth leader over the past few weeks but it's really pointless. It seems to me that all that matters right now is whether I want to believe or not. I'm from a fundamentalist pentecostal church (aog) so you can imagine how they reacted when I first told them I was questioning my faith (and leaning on the side of unbelief). I wouldn't say we're those extreme charismatic people who go crazy when the holy spirit "touches" them because I think my church is past that "phase".

 

This is actually the second time I'm questioning my faith. The first time was about a year ago. At that time, I never once imagined myself leaving the church and deconverting. It just seemed such a remote possibility. I came out of that period believing that all I've believed so far was true. Of course, at that time, I was examining it from a skewed christian worldview. I read only popular apologetic books such as The case for a creator and so my faith was left pretty much intact.

 

This time however, I fumbuled onto ex-christian.net and it opened my mind to a whole new perspective. Yeah. And I started reading books from the other side (The end of faith, a history of god) and it made a lot of sense. I'm finding myself questioning even the most fundermental of the faith such as the existance of god. Right now, I don't know if I can still call myself a christian but needless to say if I go back to belief, it will never be the same as it used to be. In the past, I took the creation story literally without questioning its validity but right now it seems more like a good story Moses told his kids to keep them entertained.

 

It's been quite some time since I've been leaning towards the side of unbelief or at least liberal christianity. I had this chat with a presbyterian christian friend of mine some nights ago. He believes that evolution is true, although just microevolution and thinks that the creation story is to be read metaphorically. Throughout our conversation I kept thinking, what about those transitional fossils? I mean fine, god created us and other animals and stuff and let us evolve. But why did it take so long for us to come along? Weren't we created to have fellowship with him? If so, what was his purpose in creating all those unintelligent creatures in the past? And how could you account for the age of the earth? I asked him if he was a liberal christian but he just laughed it off and said he merely thought he was being flexible with bible. I guess people don't like the "liberal" label because it takes away what people think is the surest truth.

 

So back to where I am now.. I was talking to my youth minister last week and I tried to honest with him by saying that I don't want to lose my interllectual freedom. He was like fine, although not in an offensive manner. he's more of the mild type. He refused to debate with me on my questions but merely asked me to tell him my decision on whether I still believe or not. To me, that's just the hardest thing to do. Sometimes, it feels as if I'm choosing whether I wanna be damned to burn in hell or not.

 

I originally came out with my struggles about the faith to another youth minister of mine who was more much more emotionally charged than the one I'm talking to right now. At first, he just kept quiet and let me talk. Then, after a few weeks when it became apparent that I was close to losing my faith, he started taking a more aggressive stance towards me with regards with my curiosity with apostate literature. He started calling evolution crap etc. He's an engineer and thinks that evolution is totally nonsense and thinks that christian apologists who embrace even microevolution have been decieved by the devil. He claims to have read stuff up on evolution but dosen't seem to be that well imformed afterall. I mean, ok some fossils (or all?) are reconstructed according to what scientists think those creatures looked like, but that dosen't disprove evolution.

 

Right now, going to church is just a routine. I only go because my mum wants me to and most of my friends are there. Which also means that if I don't turn up, I'll have many questions to answer. Its all meaningless. I used to enjoy going to church (praise and worship singing, the sermon and fellowship) but now it just seems like there's a great gulf between me and everyone in my church. It just dosen't feel like I'm part of their family anymore. I finally can understand how one my friends must have felt during his time in our church. I was assigned to assimilate him into the church so I'm quite close to him. He came to church with all these questions in his mind about God and all (he was a skeptical believer) but no one actually tried to answer any of them. He often mentioned that he didn't feel like he was part of us but I just dismissed that as a product of his upbringing. When he started to trash them I out with me, I realised that they were really valid and started to find answers for him. That's where I realised that apologetics is quite meaningless and fruitless. There was really no point trying to defend something that was meant to be believed in faith. It all comes down to whether you want to believe it or not. And like I said, thats just the hardest ting to do, or at least, after you've been exposed to so much skeptical literature.

 

After reading many of your testimonies, I realised that maybe I wasn't so strong/deep in my faith after all. I mean, some of you guys went through a long period of trying to hang on to your faith but it surprises me that I didn't put up much of a fight to keep the faith. But I guess that's not the point, because I did believe everything christianity taught and held as true, though, without much questioning. I even did crazy stuff (christians call it radical) like sharing my testimony with my class. (My countrys education system is secular by nature but my school is founded by christian missionaries.)

 

I guess this post is really pointless because you guys can't really decide for me whether I want to believe or not so just take it more as a rant/pity party. I'll end here. Thanks for reading.

 

Just wondering, are any of you guys from singapore?

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Wow... it sounds like you're at a rough spot right now. You seem fairly unemotional about the whole thing. I'd say, from your descriptions (compared to my own experience), you are at the point of no return. I tried for a good year at the point you are at... I even went to Unitarian Universalism. It works for some, but not really for me. I went all the way to being a complete agnostic.

 

And welcome! Don't be shy about posting here, I think you can offer some unique perspectives, and you're not going to preach at us, so don't worry about it. We have all different stages and perspectives posting here at times, even though you'll see mostly areligious agnostics and atheists.

 

You might want to talk to a poster named Open_Minded or Amanda. They might be able to offer advice or different ways of looking at religion that you would be comfortable with.

 

I'm not from Singapore, but I'd love to visit someday... I hear it's gorgeous.

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Tropical,

 

O'boy, what can I say... first, you have a brain, use it or lose it. And I can tell you are using it. :3:

 

It's a tough spot you're in. Everytime I hear a testimony like that I feel so lucky... yay... lucky me! :grin:

 

Do you have any friends outside of church? People that are not into religion at all, or Christianity?

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Thanks for replying :)

 

Do you have any friends outside of church? People that are not into religion at all, or Christianity?

 

Well. I do have friends outside of church. Not that many but I'm closer to them than those in the church, ironically. They're not into religion though some of them are quite knowledgable on the subject so I can discuss about it with them.

 

Its antagonising to decide whether I want to leave christianity because there are a few leaders in church who poured their life into mine and have been a great help to me. It feels like I'm leaving my family behind..

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Tropical,

 

Wow, I really hear the struggle within you in your post. Its a hard thing to reconsider everything you base your understanding of the world on and know that your conclusions could put you at odds with everyone you care about.

 

The only advice I can give is to keep reading. When I was going through my deconversion it was books that provoked my mind to think outside the box.

 

You're right in your conclusion that we can't help you make your decision but you can certainly bounce thoughts and questions off the people on this forum. I wish you well in your search.

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Thanks for replying :)

 

Do you have any friends outside of church? People that are not into religion at all, or Christianity?

 

Well. I do have friends outside of church. Not that many but I'm closer to them than those in the church, ironically. They're not into religion though some of them are quite knowledgable on the subject so I can discuss about it with them.

 

Its antagonising to decide whether I want to leave christianity because there are a few leaders in church who poured their life into mine and have been a great help to me. It feels like I'm leaving my family behind..

 

 

That's really great that you have friends you can talk to... a lot of us had only Christian close friends and/or have lost touch with anyone we could talk to. Having a support system really helps. I think you're doing the right thing... reading, thinking... what could be wrong about that?

 

Keep reading and keep thinking, and eventually you'll get to a place where you know what you have to do, even if emotions get in the way. For me, it came to a point of being intellectually honest with myself, and I'm not saying that one must leave the church for this to happen. There are quite a few cultural Christians in the liberal sects of Christianity. :)

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Yeah. It has been enormously helpful that I have friends who I can talk to. I can't imagine going thru all this without them. (It's not as bad as what you guys have gone through but it ain't fun)

 

Just got back from youth service a few hours ago. One of my friends asked me why I was not so involved in church nowadays and basically I just lied to him. I told him that my tests were coming up soon and I couldn't devote so much time to church activities. I guess it's not so hard to see the real reason why I'm shrinking back from being so involved since I tend to be unrestrained in posting my thoughts as MSN nicknames. It's only a matter of time before I have to be honest with him and everyone else in my church I guess.

 

Frankly, right now, going back to believeing again does not seem so remote though it would be an irrational decision given my opposition to the unjustices of eternal punishment in hell. I mean, if it ain't broke, why fix it? Christianity has let me down in some areas but it hasn't harmed me a whole lot. It just seems like it all boils down whether I want to believe or not. And it seems like if I were not to I'll be damned for all of eternity which is really scary and I might say unjust/irrational.

 

I like the way my church accomodated my questioning (maybe not initially, they really tried to persuade me to stop reading atheistic literature, not because it's demonic though). I felt really open and honest when I sat down with my youth minister and told him that I didn't want to lose my interllectual freedom and that it was unlikely that I could still return to belief since my faith has been erroded to this extent. They didn't judge me or bug me for a debate or treat me like I need all their prayers to straighten out my mind but merely asked me for a decision. That is precisely what I don't want to make right now. But I'm afraid I have to.

 

Right now, I think I'll scout around for some liberal churches in Singapore.. though it's hard to find any in this fundermantalist stronghold. I posted a thread on a local christian forum to but it seems like no one knows. I doubt they have even come across a liberal christian. I think most liberals over here are lurkers. lol. I do know of a church here that affirms gays though.. but it isn't the best idea to join them since I'm not ready to come out to everyone yet.. (I'm gay, or at least am confused with my sexuality)

 

SO tomorrow is sunday and yes, I guess I'll have to give an answer to my youth minister. Untill then, bye! :)

 

Thanks for all your replies so far. You guys have been really understanding and supportive. I tink ex-christian.net rocks! :woohoo:

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Tropical

 

I can empathize with you. It took me a very long time to arrive where I am, and I'm not finished travleing yet.

 

I have to agree with others who have posted when they told you to read and think. I would only add that I would like you to be gentle with yourself. Becoming fully human is a tough job. If you find that you can't follow the Christian path, and that you have a different way of loving from the majority you find yourself surrounded by, that's okay. As long as your belief system and your way of loving doesn't damage another human being. (And I'm not talking about people who are intolerant of your choices.)

 

Take your time, use your head, and be confident that no matter what you choose the people who truly care about you will continue to care about you.

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Hey Tropical

 

Check out the following article

 

http://exchristian.net/exchristian/2005/11...n-christian.php

 

This is written for christians who are struggling in their faith.

 

I found the advice quite frank and very down to earth

 

Check it out

 

Skeptic

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Guest revpo

HELLO

When you get time go to your library and get a book called

Thomas Paines...The AGE OF REASON, also use logic and reason after finishing it, it will open up your eyes more.

 

revpo :grin:

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I think it stinks that they are making you decide so soon.... I guess maybe they feel that they have done all they can. I don't think it's right to force a decision... if anyone did that to me, I would have gotten angry and probably would have gone back on my decision because I would have felt I didn't have time to think it through thoroughly enough.

 

Best wishes... let us know how it goes!

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I'm glad you found the forum. Just the fact that you went looking for us indicates that maybe you feel something is wrong with fundamentalist pentecostal churches.

 

Your stuck in a tough spot.

 

I am not from China, but I am aware that pentecostals are targeting China and gearing up to battle the Chinese government... I read it in their magazine

 

I can also tell you that the French have enacted Anti-Cult legislation with a committee of ministers and government officials called CESNUR. You can research it on the web. Most of the rules pertain to safeguarding children... for example... laying hands on a minor child to infill them with a spirit, with or without parental permission, is forbidden.

 

And if you would like to know why... I can forward dozens of e-mails from children raised in pentecostal church, and now.. they are nearly psychotic from the voices in their heads.

 

many of them have come to this board, looking for help

 

My personal experience with the pentecost.... it's not about God

it's about the money, the power, control,

and generally, it is a rich white American man... that wants to be God

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Tropical,

 

I have to say I am surprised to read a testimony from a person from Singapore. I have been lucky to know a few people from your country and they were all atheists, Buddhists, or nominal Catholics.

 

I also found that my Singaporean friends, wonderful people, adhered to rules really well. It seems to be part of the national culture to not go against the establishment, to be obedient to authorities.

 

Perhaps a huge part of your personal conflict has to do with your desire to respect authorities, such as your mum and your pastors. In many ways, I was a lot like you. I thought I owed people some sort of loyalty. I thought I couldn't do that to them--to leave the faith, that is.

 

Like you, for a long time I went to church out of duty. I used to take a book and read it during the sermons, which after a while I found insulting, especially those that demanded money, holiness, or submission of me.

 

But rest assured, the day will come when you will not be able to do it anymore. The day is coming. We do not gather enough courage to leave the faith overnight. It takes time. Everybody has their own timing, so maybe your time hasn't come yet, but it will come sooner or later.

 

I say sit there, Sunday after Sunday, until your whole being completely rebels against the teachings, and then you will leave on your own terms and in your own time--You will.

 

In the meantime, hang in there.

Lorena

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Hi guys. :wave:

 

I don't know if I should post this here but anyway here goes..

 

I'm really confused right now. Been talking to my church youth leader over the past few weeks but it's really pointless....

 

Hello Tropical,

 

I feel your pain. I once was right where you are, as were many here. It will be tough, but in time, it will get better. I hate to say it, but when you are ready, start severing ties with church. I say this not to push you into anything, but to save you from pain. The further in you argue your case and express your doubts to them, the more disturbed your church leaders will feel and they'll eventually take it out on you and accuse you of flurting with satan.

 

At my site, I get emails like this all the time. Everytime a believer tries to get sympathy and knowledge from their church amidst their own doubts, they end up getting attacked and hurt. I have taken tons of it in my time -- trust me! :-)

 

It will get worse before it gets better. When you cut ties, you will be pitied, prayed for, and attacked. You'll beg them to understand, but they won't. I wish it were not so, but experience dictates that your experience of defecting will be a negative one.

 

My advice....

 

First, keep reading and studying. Never let faith hindrances stop you from investigating. From reading this post, sounds like you are on the right track here already! Second, get involved here and with other unbelievers. It's always a plus to have people who support you, or at least, not judge you to such a degree. Third, don't be afraid to ask hard questions for and against god-belief and Christianity. Fourth, expect more hostility from the church. It is sad, but they will likely be your greatest enemies in this struggle. Loss of friendship, loss of a sense of identity, and depression will usually come for a while. But eventually, you'll re-identify with the new you.

 

I appreciate the intelligence in your posts and look forward to seeing you get throught this, hopefully, with as little pain as possible.

 

We are here to help!

 

(JH)

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And if you would like to know why... I can forward dozens of e-mails from children raised in pentecostal church, and now.. they are nearly psychotic from the voices in their heads.

that sounds pretty damn interesting. i wanna know i wanna know! you should start another thread listing these cases... or a link to a site that does.

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I have to say I am surprised to read a testimony from a person from Singapore. I have been lucky to know a few people from your country and they were all atheists, Buddhists, or nominal Catholics.

 

I also found that my Singaporean friends, wonderful people, adhered to rules really well. It seems to be part of the national culture to not go against the establishment, to be obedient to authorities.

 

Approximately 14% of the population are christians (almost all are fundamentalists, like i meantioned earlier) but they weld a disporpotionate amount of influence in the government. The govt recieved quite abit of flak when it was revealed that they funded a christian ex-gay group under the banner of the freedom of choice. These groups were also invited to talk about sex education at national schools (not just mission schools, seculars ones do invite them).

 

We singaporeans tend to be obedient/conservative. But the younger generation is getting more outspoken about their beliefs. :)

 

I think it stinks that they are making you decide so soon.... I guess maybe they feel that they have done all they can. I don't think it's right to force a decision... if anyone did that to me, I would have gotten angry and probably would have gone back on my decision because I would have felt I didn't have time to think it through thoroughly enough.

 

Actually, it doesn't appear to me that the church is forcing me to make a decision. But inorder to move on, they need my decision. I used to help out quite abit in small/cell group meetings.I guess that's why.

 

I am not from China, but I am aware that pentecostals are targeting China and gearing up to battle the Chinese government... I read it in their magazine

 

DOn't get what you mean (i'm coming from the perspective that christians should submit to their authorities). Are you referring to the fundies in america that are putting pressure on the chinese government to grant religious freedom to the christians there?

 

My personal experience with the pentecost.... it's not about God

it's about the money, the power, control,

and generally, it is a rich white American man... that wants to be God

 

I'll say its not always true. there are genuine ministers out there. Most ministers over here are well to do becuase the church pays them well. My mum once told me that methodists prechers here make the most money. Pentecostals/charismatics also are pretty well off. Almost all of the megachurches here are pentecostal in their theology. The pastor of the largest church here (20k) lives in a posh condo in the central shopping district and drives a BMW.

 

The senior pastor of my church lives in a public apartment (where the majority of the population lives). I don't know about how much he earns though, but from the looks of it, he doesn't earnmuch more than the average churchgoer. My church has about 4000 members.

 

Like you, for a long time I went to church out of duty. I used to take a book and read it during the sermons, which after a while I found insulting, especially those that demanded money, holiness, or submission of me.

 

It also surprised me how many lukewarm churchgoers are out there. By lukewarm, I mean those who don't accept all the tenets of christianity. I mean, if you can't fully accept a certian belief system, why continue to practice it? Unless its because of the fear of hell..

 

I feel your pain. I once was right where you are, as were many here. It will be tough, but in time, it will get better. I hate to say it, but when you are ready, start severing ties with church. I say this not to push you into anything, but to save you from pain. The further in you argue your case and express your doubts to them, the more disturbed your church leaders will feel and they'll eventually take it out on you and accuse you of flurting with satan.

 

Thank you for your advice. I dont think im ready to start severing ties with the church but i definately wont get involved besides going for services.

 

My mum was telling me that the lord told her that there would be a major earthquake that will hit indonesia soon (she didnt think it was the recent one, she felt the lord meant it would be over 9 on the ritcher scale) I don't doubt my mother's honesty, she's a genuine believer though not that well versed/exposed to alternative viewpoints to be skeptical about the bible. SO right now, the skeptical part in me wonders why god didnt tell her when its happenning but the cauious side is asking whDOat if its true.

 

Some months ago my mum met someone on the street who gave her a bible verse which she felt was god speaking into her situation. she didnt know who the person was. i really don't know what to make of that incident. Do you guys think it was supernatural?

 

anyways, i told my youth minister that i didnt want to make a decision yet.. and so another sunday goes by. I told him i'll call him up. Guess i'll be explaining my position to him then.

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Hi Tropical,

 

My dad used to live in Singapore and I've visited him there. I had such a fantastic time. I really enjoyed the city, and going out to the Jurong Crocodile and Bird Parks. Then driving over to Malaysia to see the rubber tree plantations and watch the wild monkeys hopping from tree to tree. You're lucky to live in such a gorgeous part of the world.

 

I'm sorry you are having such a rough time, but I'll give another voice to the chorus that I think you are doing the right thing. You're well on your way to gaining firmer inner peace and grounding beliefs because you are reading and thinking things over.

 

I feel your worry that your faith isn't "strong enough" or "deep enough." You don't need to justify that part of yourself to anyone, or to God. Your faith (or lack of it) is a very personal thing. If you had faith before, then you really and truely did. This isn't up for questioning. Faith isn't about what's right or wrong, it's about what works or doesn't work. If you don't want to do this anymore, that's totally ok. We live, we grow, and sometimes the things that carried us through life before just aren't appropriate anymore. There's nothing wrong with this.

 

Don't let anyone make you question yourself or believe you didn't "do it right" or weren't "enough" of a person to handle it. Faith is honestly not really something you can make a mistake with. Whether you believe or your don't, if it brings you happiness, that's what matters most.

 

I wish you the best and hope you have a smooth transistion.

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Hi guys. :wave:

 

I don't know if I should post this here but anyway here goes..

 

 

I'm so glad you did. I read your post on the pin-up where you asked if you are allowed to be here because you don't know if you're a Christian or not. That's exactly where I am.

This is actually the second time I'm questioning my faith.

 

I don't know how many times I've questioned my faith. I've found Christians who tell me it's quite okay to question the faith, and that if one's faith is healthy we do question it. I realize this doesn't help with your decision. But I thought it might help you feel better with questioning.

It just seemed such a remote possibility.

 

I remember that stage. I was so scared I prayed with all my heart for it not to happen. At last I got peace about it. That was about ten years before it happened. The time frame is different because I'm quite a bit older than you.

 

 

He refused to debate with me on my questions but merely asked me to tell him my decision on whether I still believe or not. To me, that's just the hardest thing to do. Sometimes, it feels as if I'm choosing whether I wanna be damned to burn in hell or not.

 

After more than five years I found someone who would listen to my questions about hell. He said something like, "When you die you'll find out." Something must have told him that this was not an okay thing to say because he added in a very different tone of voice, "I guess then it will be too late." I agreed!

 

I had already worked through a lot of it but having him listen and acknowledge the reality of the fact as I understood it gave enormous relief.

 

I guess this post is really pointless because you guys can't really decide for me whether I want to believe or not so just take it more as a rant/pity party. I'll end here. Thanks for reading.

 

Glad you posted, tropical. I'm on a board where they made a forum for liberal Christianity. That feels like home for me. Are we allowed to post links here? Here is the site I'm on in case you want to check it out http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum.

 

Just wondering, are any of you guys from singapore?

 

I'm just an Ontario farm girl.

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Welcome, Tropical

 

Your post to me is anything but pointless. Many years ago, I left christianity for good, and from my perspective, that's was one of the best moves I ever made. It sounds like you're well on the road, so take your time, explore alternatives to the fundamentalist christianity you're enmeshed in now, and do so with boldness. You'll be a better person for it.

 

Other responders have suggested some very good readings, and there are others listed here on this site.

 

And, of course you can always hang out here...

 

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable" (H L Mencken)

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Hello there! I wonder if I might recommend a book for you. It's called "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" by John Shelby Spong. It was the first book critical of Christianity that I ever read, and it was a real eye-opener for me! Spong has asked many of the same questions I'm sure you are going through, and whether you agree or disagree with him it's a book that will definitely make you think. He questions every doctrine the Bible teaches. It's more a book of questions rather than answers. He doesn't tell you what to believe, but he points out how absolutely everything in the Bible can and should be questioned, including whether or not the Bible is really the word of God.

 

I felt much better about being a doubter after reading Spong's book. I can appreciate where you are coming from. I know it's hard when you feel like you just don't "fit in", but yet you don't have enough knowledge to make a definite yes-or-no decision either.

 

It's an admirable thing to admit when you honestly don't know something, and a lesson more fundamentalist Christians would do well to take to heart.

 

Thanks for posting! And welcome to the forum. I'm relatively new here as well.

 

-- Nate

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Interesting read Tropical :)

 

When you're young and christian, the elaborate fairy tale is meant to give you a certain point of reference in regards to civility. The assumptions are at least 1500 years old and reflect the sophistication of those times (or lack of).

 

Our civilization and its rapid pace is violently shaking the foundations, some of which have already crumbled. Coming to its rescue are the apologists trying to adapt the old scriptures to problematic modern discoveries and the fundamentalists that fall back to medieval times to hide :HaHa:

 

As you move out of your christian shell, you'll either throw away the security blanket and move on or decide to fall back. Ultimately each person has a different tolerance level to changes and some people have a real hard time adapting or breaking out of rigid indoctrination. Unbiased information is the key. Read up from all sides of the fence.

 

You either take the car keys or let someone else drive your life for you :close: ... it'll always be your choice.

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Hi guys.

 

Sorry for being away for soo long. I feel bad for not replying and taking you guys for your concern and supportive postings. I've only been reading the ex-c blog occasionally.

 

I haven't been to church since and feel much freer to "do my own thing". Hell doesn't bother me anymore, although there are still times when I think about it.

 

I've come to realize that I'm a lonely person (ever since I "got serious" with god and neglected making REAL friends) and also that I have a problem with trusting my friends (i've been in the closet all my life) . I'm working on it now, instead of depending on some sky god to be my "best friend".

 

Its funny now, when I recall the times when my christian friends were discussing whether we can live without any friends and only depend on god. I mean, like HELLO! Evolution has programmed us to be social creatures and its not like some guy up in the sky can talk back to you when you need advice amd comfort...

 

I do still think quite a bit on religion and stuff although its much less compared to when I was deconverting.. I think you can call me a seeker.. of truth that is.. I'm still open on whether god exists or not, although i'm definitely not going to be a closed minded fundie like my church used to believe.

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It is fine to think about religion. But now you are free to look at not only that one kind of religion, ie Christianity, but can really broaden your mind to all the other systems people have used over the centuries.

 

More importantly, you can now see people as individual people, and not labels (Christian, non-believer). And that means you can build friendships without making sure they are of the right religious mindset.

 

It really opens up the door to building real bonds with people, and not fake ones because you happened to belong to the same broad group.

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