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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 01:51 PM

Why did you leave the christian faith? was it a personal experience? did someone open your eyes? did you just sit and question? did you go through phases? like me, i went from christian, to pagan, to athiest, to satanist, i left the christian faith through a personal experience, i think the moment i started questioning is when the youth group started saying homosexuality is not okay. so, answer my friends, i am curious, i like knowing things.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 02:50 PM

Religion had interested me a lot but I realised that I had never done a lot of reading about it. Just the basic arguments pretty much. And I started getting interested in philosophy at the same time.

So, I just started looking at the arguments for and against god. Then long story short, I don't think a theistic god is a plausible idea anymore. It wasn't really an emotional break up like 'why does god let bad things happen? He mustn't exist!' sort of thing. Because that's wrong and just as bad as 'look at how complex the world is! He must exist!'

Then I started looking at the religions themselves and if I had to pick one, I'd say Islam is the most internally consistent. But I don't think it has any grain of truth though when it comes to supernatural claims. The miracle claims are the worst claims I have ever ever heard.

But then again, I think a lot of atheists have terrible arguments too. (myself included I guess.)

On the plus side, humanism is a much more inspiring philosophy than Christianity ever could be to me.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 03:50 PM

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Why did you leave the christian faith? was it a personal experience? did someone open your eyes? did you just sit and question? did you go through phases? like me, i went from christian, to pagan, to athiest, to satanist, i left the christian faith through a personal experience, i think the moment i started questioning is when the youth group started saying homosexuality is not okay. so, answer my friends, i am curious, i like knowing things.
You like knowing things? Man. I HATE knowing things. You're lucky.

I'm not a Christian because there's too much interpretation of the Bible, and Christians very rarely follow all of the teachings of the Bible and still claim that that they're going to Heaven and all this shit. At least with the Christian faith, society has made it too loose, found loopholes (it's not losing your virginity if it's oral sex!), etc. If I am to follow something, I want to know exactly what I'm following. If I was God, I'd be extremely disappointed in many Christians and I feel that I have a better chance at being on God's good side by believing in God and making decisions that I feel are right rather than making decisions based on something the Bible says. It wasn't a phase, my eyes weren't "opened," or anything else. It's just that it makes more sense for me to be Agnostic Theist than to be Christian, because I never really was a Christian to begin with anyways.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 04:26 PM

For me it was a very long process that lasted years. Everyone in my family and extended family are Christians, and I myself first became a Christian around 8 years old. As I got older I started to question things, especially things like the true nature of God and the extent to which he intervenes in everyday events. One thing in particular that I found odd, even when I was younger, was that many people always talked about how they heard or felt God or the Holy Spirit speaking to them, and yet this had never happened to me. Never once had I ever heard the "still, small voice" that my mom assured me that God uses when he speaks to us. I would read the Bible, see printed words on the page and hear only my own thoughts in my head, nothing more. This confused me for awhile and then I just shrugged it off as maybe God not wanting to speak to me and he would when he felt like it. But as I continued to get older, I began harboring a small suspicion that maybe there was some nonsense being told to me. For one thing, my mom was frustrating me daily by saying things like "You need to pray and find out what God wants you to do with your life!" and I would become annoyed and disheartened because I knew that I could play the "talk to myself all day" game and never get a response (but I was too scared to tell my mom this.) I started to realise that "God" and my mom always seemed to agree with one another an awful lot, and yet "God" also seemed to "agree" with all these different people who had differing opinions on Biblical matters. But they all couldn't be right! In essence, I concluded that most people are just unknowingly interpreting their subconscious thoughts as the voice of God, and that if there is a God he most likely just created the world and then left it to run on its own entropy, without intervening to cause or avert events. The way my mom talked about death particularly irritated me. In late 2001, a friend of my cousin's, whom I had only met once, was killed in a car wreck at age 12, and my mom said something like "Well, at least we know he didn't leave this world before God was finished with him." The fuck was that even supposed to mean? God just uses us like pawns on a chessboard and then chucks us when he's done? I wondered two things: One, how do Christians actually find this mindset comforting (God has the power to prevent death and suffering but doesn't, and in fact may use those things to "accomplish his will") and two, what does this mindset give us that a belief in regular ol' cause and effect doesn't? I consider the death of that 12 year old boy to be the watershed moment when I really started to critique the whole religion thing and actually try to logically pick apart things I was told were fact. As time went on, I began to consider myself more of an agnostic than a Christian, and while I got less religious, my mom was getting more religious. Even to this day, she can barely hold a conversation without trailing off into some mini-sermon about trusting God and praying without ceasing and blah blah. I would read scientific literature and journals and then marvel at how much evidence there was in support of Evolution, despite the creationist claims I had always heard that said Evolution is a fabricated Satanic conspiracy to disprove the Bible and encourage sin. I officially became an atheist just over two years ago, but my parents and family still don't know and I don't plan on telling them anytime soon. As far as I can tell they're all devout Christians, and even my oldest sister who I thought was the most likely to reject religion is still a Christian and now engaged to a Christian guy as well. The Bible Belt is a very unwelcoming place, I must say.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 08:27 PM

I was an agnostic for the first 21 years of my life, so returning to a sort of agnosticism (ignosticism) was sort of a natural course for me. However, while spending my time on here, I developed a sort of militant Christian attitude, that I feel surprised some when they had heard of my conversion back.

However, my conversion away from Christianity had nothing to do with me being hurt, or anything of the sort, but rather, me naturally being a skeptic towards what I was believing. This skepticism, though, was not me doubting Christianity, but rather, me doubting what I was taught about Christianity, and I believe this is what ultimately caused me to convert.

After time studying the bible and trying to interpret it, I realized that there was no honest way to understand the bible. And while I had always claimed that the truth in the bible was blatant, I began to notice that it wasn't. That is, I began to study other people's beliefs about what Protestants would consider "core" doctrines. That of hell, salvation, the nature of god, etc.

Once I realized there was no uniformity within Christianity on these issues, I was curious what god had ever expected us to believe or how we could ever know his precious "truth" that he had seemed to make so relative. The most recent doctrine I dealt with was that of hell. Originally I had believed in a literal hell. And I could convincingly prove it to many people that hell existed, not to a non-believer, but to believers through the use of the bible. But, then, I began researching the annihilation theory which basically states that there is no place of final torment, but that god destroys the soul and ends suffering entirely. Once I started being swayed towards annihilationism, I began to realize that I could convince people of annihilationism, or at least get them to question their own beliefs. And by and large, the only reason people ever chose one way or the other was their natural psychology. Some were indoctrinated and felt they were rejecting a core doctrine of the Christian faith, others felt the need to reform, etc.

But anyways, this was the point when I began to realize that there was no absolute certainty in the bible, and that knowing what it says is almost a useless feat. It was then that I began to realize that if there was a god, he was either (not to use an either/or fallacy) an idiot or he didn't exist. The only other option I had considered was maybe the devil had blinded people from understanding the bible.

At that point, I had began to pray to god. I prayed about my doubting, my wavering faith, and my uncertainty with doctrine. There were even things I prayed for specifically that were "god's will" and that the bible essentially says he longs to answer those prayers, but I never received an answer.

I began to think about all the times I had "heard god speak." I then noticed that nearly at every point I could trace his voice to my own. That god never spoke to me about anything, but that I had convinced myself he had.

It was many minor issues like all of these that forced my conversion. However, I think the core issue for me was the relative nature of the bible, and the fact that it has proven to be wrong in many instances -- plus the blatant contradictions. I began to think that if there was a god, he was a complete idiot for using a bible to speak his "truth" to us. And began to think that even if there was a god, he didn't deserve to be worshipped.

I began to study how the bible and such was compiled and realized there was no reason to even trust the bible because the core principle of Christianity, that the bible is all we need for guidance to Heaven, if fundamentally flawed. The bible doesn't even claim this power, and I began to wonder why we trust people to formulate a book. I just thought that if there was a god, he would have had a better way.

As I began to waiver, I began to study more into the sciences again. While prior to my conversion I was neither for nor against evolution, I began to slowly adopt a more scientific view and realized that it made so much more sense than the bible. And that, unlike the bible, it provided me with real answers. Things that could be tested, things that were falsifiable, yet had support to show that this is how things happened. To show that we evolved, to show that the universe began with a bang. It satisfied me in ways that god couldn't.

While going through all of these series of doubts (and believe me there were more struggles and doubts than just these, these are just the core ones, I have pretty much examined every aspect of my faith and always came to the conclusion that the Christian faith is irrational on all of those issues), I had actually prayed to god. I asked him to prevent me from converting to atheism. Or to give me a sign of his existence because he provided a sign for someone in the book of Kings, so I asked, that he would be merciful and show me one sign, and to forgive me for doubting.

I never received a sign, and I am now an atheist. Apparently god wasn't powerful enough to answer that prayer. And you know, for someone that doesn't want people to perish (go to hell -- or whatever), he sure doesn't seem to care.

It was at this point that I began at looking at god as moral figure and realized that even if he did exist that he was a villain and didn't deserve to be worshipped. And I still feel that way, but, through further studies, and skepticism, I would say that I am fairly certain god does not exist.

Since coming to this conclusion, my life has been rather shitty. My wife and I are getting divorced (seemingly over this very issue), my family hated me for about a month (though they are slowly forgiving me), and the only person who has stood by my side through all of this is another atheist, while all the Christians talk shit about me. So, you know, while that doesn't affect my conversion one way or the other, it definitely doesn't help the case.

Anyways, my life is looking up. I have a new admirer, and am moving out-of-state relatively soon, to a place where I know I have people who care, etc.

But to sum it all up, my conversion was a slow evolution out of Christianity based on core issues with the bible and various doctrines. It had been taking place for about 1.5 years for me to admit it, and upon admitting it, I was rather depressed. To be honest, I was more depressed about losing god than my wife or family. But, things are looking up.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 16th 2012, 11:51 PM

I've found this thread really interesting.. I don't have a very interesting personal experience to add as I never really had religion put upon me- At primary school everyone was 'christian' and I learnt my prayers like everyone else but was never taken to church at home and quickly realised I didn't believe in it. I feel really sorry for people living in the bible belt though- your stories really struck home. Guess I never realised how lucky I am to live in England where being an atheist has for the majority of my life had no effect at all.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 02:30 AM

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I've found this thread really interesting.. I don't have a very interesting personal experience to add as I never really had religion put upon me- At primary school everyone was 'christian' and I learnt my prayers like everyone else but was never taken to church at home and quickly realised I didn't believe in it. I feel really sorry for people living in the bible belt though- your stories really struck home. Guess I never realised how lucky I am to live in England where being an atheist has for the majority of my life had no effect at all.
I would love to live in England


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 03:47 AM

For me, I was never really Christian, because I didn't believe in God. I know this seems kinda messed up, but I just went to church and told everyone I was Christian because my mom made me. What made it a lot easier to say "No, this is not what I am and I won't do this anymore" was when my youth group director told me I was going to hell because I was bisexual and that I could only go to Heaven if I was straight. Now, I guess I don't have a religion. It's not really something I take seriously. If I have faith in anything and if I know what's gonna save me, it's music. But that pisses people off. So I don't really have a religion.


   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 04:52 AM

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Why did you leave the christian faith? was it a personal experience? did someone open your eyes? did you just sit and question? did you go through phases? like me, i went from christian, to pagan, to athiest, to satanist, i left the christian faith through a personal experience, i think the moment i started questioning is when the youth group started saying homosexuality is not okay. so, answer my friends, i am curious, i like knowing things.
The main reason for me was reading the bible and realizing that posing even the most basic questions, for the most part, could only be answered with something like, "because god says so". Another aspect for me was the entire focus of Christianity wasn't on life, but rather on death and was the best mechanism for control of people. As I learned of the different denominations, I began to realize there was controversy as to what aspects of Christianity are correct. I read more of the bible and realized it was so subjective to the point where 200 people could make their own unique interpretations and not a single one could be disputed as incorrect or correct.

Later, I began posing a variety of, "if then" questions to myself about Christianity. The most fascinating one I found was, "if god somehow revealed himself to me, then would I accept him?" At first glance, I thought of course I would because he showed proof of himself. Upon further thought I refused because I don't care for an all-perfect being who is so vain he must have everyone worship him 24/7 otherwise he's offended, a being who refused to reveal his rationale for decisions, a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner, and a being who creates laws that are so contradictory it's impossible to follow all them. To me, that isn't a being I want to be associated with, much less worship.

This sparked yet another such question of why bother worshiping? One quality that an all-knowing being would have is knowing my desires, dedication and dreams, so it would be wasteful energy to go about and pray, worship and whatever else because he would already know all that. To me, the only reasons for this were to enhance one's own dedication with a being I wouldn't want to be associated with and as a social gesture to have others follow suite if they chose.

Upon skimming through different versions of the bible, it was clear that re-writing English versions in different ways didn't only simplify the language, it also changed the meaning of earlier versions. Ideally, the version I would use is the original, however, that is impossible since only a fraction is current intact. This led me to question why is there such diversity amongst versions and one main reason I kept coming to was a way for those in power to have their voices heard over others, document the social norms and ensure political control. To me, the versions of the bible serve little more than historical snapshots of how life may have been like as well as the linguistic contributions.

After years of questioning, I came to the most important question: do I even need to believe in a deity? I browsed through various religions and philosophical views, although for some reason they always tended to be the same ones: atheism, anti-theism, theological non-cognitivism, Satanism (LaVeyan and Theistic) and nihilism. Oddly enough, Christianity wasn't included in there and each time I wondered if it were possible for me to believe, I got further and further pushed away the more I read about it, talked to Christians and even asked priests various questions.

One topic that continuously crept up was homosexuality. I have no problem with views that Christians hold whether they accept it, condemn it or are undecided. The problem I have though is the rationale often used, that is, citing passages that don't have application in modern times. This briefly led to looking at which books of the bible have little to no application in modern times but whether they still should be practiced. Currently it's a stalemate with that.

I began to struggle between my interest in Theistic Satanism (LaVeyan Satanism fell out of the picture for me) and my solid footing in atheism and anti-theism. I created my own little view to manage all of this: atheism, nihilism and anti-theism, while dabbling in Theistic Satanism purely for educational purposes. In other words, I don't believe in it in any way, however, I found it interesting so decided to pursue it.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 06:26 AM

When I was younger we went to church but we never took it seriously. I never really paid attention I: my friend and I actually talked the whole time and got in trouble a lot lol. I always questioned the bible, even when I still believed I was Christian. I always thought of the bible being made up by some random guy but people took him seriously. When I was little I was a "good" kid, but as I started doing bad things I realized I really didn't care about God or what He thought. This year I really started thinking about it and decided that I'm definitely not Christian. I'm still trying to figure out where I fall...Agnostic, Athiest and Satanist are the ones I fish are common beliefs with the most though.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 06:42 AM

Okay well I doubt my response will be as long as the others but here's my go at it.

My parents raised me Christian, they aren't very religious, but they believe in God and Satan and all of that stuff, except they also believe evolution, so yeah. Anyway, I rarely ever went to church, but I was still raised believing the ways of Christianity. And I did go to Sunday school a couple times, church almost every easter, and a couple other times. I even went to a youth group with a friend of mine after I started questioning my beliefs.

When I was around 13 I started questioning it, mainly the fact of Christianity being so radical sometimes to some people, like with being against homosexuality, or being against sex before marriage. At first I believed people should wait, but then shortly after I turned 13, I started to realize, that in my opinion, it was not only okay for people to have sex before marriage but may even be better (again, in my opinion). So I started to look up other religions, for a while I identified as Bahai Faith, but then I realized that wasn't really for me either, so I started looking again. Then I decided on Reform Judaism. It didn't quite fit my beliefs but it was close enough and said that everyone could have beliefs different than those outlined.

That stuck for a year or so, but I eventually just went back to being Christian, still not strict at all. When I was 15 I started second guessing my belief in a God at all, or really any of that. I believed in Evolution, and didn't really believe in a physical God, but I still believed in fate and miracles and things being meant to happen. So I automatically dismissed being Atheist, because as far as I was concerned Atheists don't believe in miracles, just that things happen, good and bad. Well I looked but this time I cut it short and just went and asked on a few different sites what my religion might be based on my list of beliefs. A lot of answers came up with Pantheism, so I researched it, and identified with it for a short time, but fact is, it still involved believing in a higher power, which I just wasn't so sure about, but because of believing in miracles, I felt I had to believe in a higher power of some sort.

Well Pantheism didn't last long at all before I started looking again. I decided to learn about Paganism from my dad who's a Pagan. He said when I went down to see him he'd teach me more about his beliefs and how he was happy that I'd ask him about them and go to him to learn about them. Well when I got there, he gave me a book on Wicca, and told me he thought I may like to learn about that too. He told me about Paganism, but I just didn't quite relate to it. But before I left he also gave me his book that he made a leather cover for and what helped him to decide his religion. Well I read a bit and decided that perhaps I did believe in not only a God but a Goddess too, but since getting those books I haven't had time to practice the ways or anything really. And now I'm back to being not sure if I do believe in a God, but the fact is I can't let go of the idea of things happening for a reason and miracles happening. So as of right now, I best identify with Wiccan religion, but I'm not going to lie, if I can let go of the idea of fate and miracles, then I'll probably be Atheist.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 05:11 PM

I was baptized as a baby. However, growing up there wasn't really any religion in my household. We followed rules, did chores, ya know - we grew up to be good people. My mother always mentioned God and told me to pray when things got difficult. I didn't really understand what that meant so really, when things got hard I simply said "I pray that this works out, I pray for so and so." etc. It didn't really make me feel any connection or feel any differently. That could have been caused by me not being raised in a church setting or me just not knowing what to believe. I'm not really sure. I just didn't understand nor did I know much about the stories behind Christianity.

When I was diagnosed with severe depression, I was looking for something, anything, to hold on to. I wanted more to believe in. So I started going to a youth group where they practiced Christianity and it was a really great thing for me to be involved in. But still, I just didn't feel connected. I guess there's a part of me where I feel doubt about a lot of the stories in the Bible. I mean, I do believe in something bigger than myself. I believe that there IS God. But I don't believe in Jesus or the things the Bible says or I don't know. I just don't like the concept of Christianity. So after I stopped going to the youth group when I was around 17/18, I labeled myself Agnostic because I do believe in something... but I don't know what. And I believe in certain things - spirits, signs, hope, positive thinking, heaven (or a similar concept), and I do believe in miracles. So it's like I believe in a mixture of things.. but not all of it.

Yeah. I'm pretty confused about it all right now. But that's my story. The short version: I just don't feel it. Bam.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 06:39 PM

Once I left private school and started meeting people from other faiths and having some good conversations I came to the conclusion that while I agree with the lessons and basic teaching I don't quite agree with the stories and methods.
That and I came to the conclusion that if there was a God somewhere, or some creator or something like that, isn't it getting a bit ahead of ourselves in thinking that we could even begin to comprehend whatever it is? I highly doubt that it could as simple as some being in the heavens who sends his son down here, or any other religion really. I don't think that we as human beings could begin to speculate whatever it could be, seeing as we can't even figure out how to not kill eachother yet. So why bother wasting time and effort attempting to do the impossble?

And it just doesn't make sense.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 17th 2012, 08:10 PM

I was raised agnostic, became a Christian before high school, & this year I've gone back to agnostic. I had decided I was a Christian because I believed in some of the main beliefs, however after learning more, I've realized I don't. Also, I don't like how judgmental some churches can be (I understand this doesn't apply to everyone). I was going to church, they practically turned their backs on me since my parents weren't members, & also turned their backs on a friend of mine after she came out as a lesbian. So needless to say, I disagree with a lot of their beliefs & overall how they run things. I don't care to associate with any religion at this point.



   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 18th 2012, 05:22 PM

I seriously questioned a couple of the things that were contradictory or just seemed wrong, and with that my faith was gone. Before, I'd never truly questioned, always just thinking 'yeah well, God can do anything so that can't be a problem'.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 18th 2012, 07:51 PM

When I was about 14/15 I just started to question how likely it all was. I paid more attention at church and realised that I disagreed with a lot of what was being said. I went through a period of time where I was scared not to believe it in case it was real, but didn't want to be Christian just because I was scared of what would happen if I wasn't. I went through a Wiccan phase at 16/17 and now just don't really believe in any religion.
My life is actually a lot less complicated now as well.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 18th 2012, 08:55 PM

Louise,

Are you sure it is actually less complicated, or just less stressful? It seems to me having an atheistic mindset would open things to more complications. With religion all you're required to do is read and nod your head and never question anything. Without religion you're actually required to think.

I don't mean to come off condescending, I was just a little put off by your last comment. However, I think I kind of understand you.
   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 19th 2012, 12:59 AM

Even though I grew up in a strict Christian family, my parents were decently laid back. I just had to go to religion school, make my confirmation blah blah blah. I believed in it and wanted to go to church all the time until I was maybe in the 4th or 5th grade. I started to realize that this "God" guy didn't like a lot of things, a lot of types of people. And that really bothered me. The fact that someone who was supposedly so loving and compassionate could hate his own creations the way he supposedly does. So when I was young, it was kind of like.. it's kind of mean to not like someone because of who they are. And when I got a bit older, I just felt like my views no longer matches those of the Church. I read the bible, multiple times. People can quote it all they'd like to me, tell me what's a sin and what is not allowed, but honestly, you can't always believe the messenger. I feel like the people that quote the bible to strengthen their views against a particular topic usually find themselves contradicting other rules, other things that should and should not be done according to the bible. If what I do, who I am, the beliefs I have are so sinful, the Church's God has yet to tell me himself.
I believe in a higher power, but I don't believe in religion.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 19th 2012, 02:25 PM

Even as a stubborn, closed-minded Christian, I'd always had questions that no one could answer and that I had to just "accept." I heard over and over that there are just some things we can't know... God gives us information on a need-to-know basis... The answers aren't important but we should focus on teaching the bible and reaching out since we're the salt of the earth, blahblahblah, you get the idea. So I did what I was told and kept my questions to myself and went along blindly in faith. When my father died, I was pretty pissed off at God but also couldn't accept that he was gone and I'd never see him again. Christianity gave me the comfort that I'd be reconciled with him in heaven someday.

During my 18 years as a Christian, quite a few people tried to tell me how asinine certain aspects of it are and, like I'd been taught, I'd shrug them off with "I don't know all the answers and I don't need to, my job isn't to know all that God knows" etc. It wasn't until I was dumbfounded by logic and had nothing to say that I decided I should probably look in to my beliefs a little more. So, to answer your question, someone opened my eyes. The same person also helped me realize that I don't need religion to find closure with my dad -- after that realization, things happened pretty quickly. I consider myself an atheist.


   
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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 19th 2012, 09:59 PM

Quote:
did you just sit and question?
Yep. Pretty much. I am now an atheist.


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Re: For Ex-Christians - August 19th 2012, 11:34 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Of Mike and Men View Post
Louise,

Are you sure it is actually less complicated, or just less stressful? It seems to me having an atheistic mindset would open things to more complications. With religion all you're required to do is read and nod your head and never question anything. Without religion you're actually required to think.

I don't mean to come off condescending, I was just a little put off by your last comment. However, I think I kind of understand you.
It's actually a fair bit of both. There's too much of religion that I just don't buy and a lot I don't agree with. I can understand where you're coming from, but living a life without questioning anything isn't really living at all, in my opinion. I'd rather put up with any consequential complications of not believing in religion than be effectively oppressed for the rest of my life.
No offence to anyone who is religious. It's just too constricting for me.


Throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year would see me right


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