What Led Me to Leave Christianity?

Back in October I received the following comments and questions from a visitor to my blog but life was too busy for me to really give it a well thought out answer. But I’m taking the time today! And I’d like to mention here how much I appreciate respectful comments and questions like this even if the author and I don’t have the same viewpoint. Also, if you’ve followed my blog for very long you know that I don’t write posts very often, but when I get in the zone, I write long-winded ones – lol! So I somewhat apologize for veering off topic – this turned into a revisiting of my deconversion. But I hope it gives my readers a bit more insight into my journey and maybe it will even help someone who needs to know they aren’t alone in their doubts and questioning.

Brenda, I am a fairly recent “convert”, if you’d like to call it that, to Christianity, and in comparing my own conversion to your “de-conversion” or what have you, I am really struck by the fact that we both cite reason and evidence as two of the main factors spurring us to change sides, so to speak.

So, I must ask: What really clenched it for you? What convinced you that Christianity is false? What convinced you that God does not exist? I ask only because I didn’t believe in God or in Christ’s divinity until two years ago when I actually began looking at the evidence, and saw that a lot of it points to Christ, that a lot of it corroborates historical/geographical details from the Bible, that there are good reasons to believe in an infinite-personal Creator of the universe. Have you looked into these matters much? I mean, as someone who had grown up assuming that the only way to be a Christian was by blind faith, I was stunned!

I go to a church where about 40-50% of the congregation is from an atheist/agnostic background. Conversions happen everyday, literally; it’s very much the norm to see a college-educated atheist or agnostic come to our Bible studies for a few weeks or months and wind up accepting Christ. I was one of them. So, to hear of someone abandoning their faith–especially after 20 years–is quite surprising to my ears. Anyway I was just wondering what your thoughts would be on this.

~Leggatt

Hi Leggatt – thanks for your comments and questions!

What convinced me that Christianity is false?

Here’s a link to My Story if you haven’t read it already. In there I talk a bit about how I started doubting the Bible’s infallibility and from there I started realizing that if the Bible wasn’t perfect then how in the world would I know what was true in it and what wasn’t? It was a frightening experience. I had trusted the Bible as my perfect guide to truth and in a pretty short period of time I realized it was likely just written by a bunch of ancient people who didn’t know much at all about the world and wrote it out of their own ignorance.

That realization freaked me out! If the Bible didn’t have some ultimate truth in it, then where was truth to be found?? I went on a desperate search through books and online to try to find some way that I could recognize and discern truth. I looked at more liberal branches of Christianity, deism, agnosticism, new age material. I was desperate to find some sort of solid ground where I could plant my feet and at least feel like I was on the right path towards truth.

I read and read and read to no avail. But then I reached a turning point. I realized that all of these ideologies were just guesses. All of the people putting forth these ideas and thoughts and guesses were just people like me. They didn’t know any more about any of it than I did. I had been looking around hoping someone somewhere knew more than I did and could show me the way or at least point me in the right direction. But I realized they were all just humans like me who were born not knowing anything and were taught by those around them to think a certain way and while that could look very authoritative, they were just guessing. Almost all of their ideas came from looking around just like I did and they tried to make sense of it and put their own spin on it and called it truth.

So pretty quickly I decided that my best course of action from that point on was to stick with science. It’s not perfect but more than anything else out there it seeks out evidence and makes that its highest goal. No wishing, no hoping, no faith, no manipulation, no using people’s feelings to convince them of anything. No ancient books, no loyalty to ancient wisdom if it doesn’t hold up, no praying, no ceremonies … nothing is sacred … except truth.

And then I took a deep breath, looked around at the world, and I felt peace. You don’t hear that very often, that something as ‘cold’ as science or atheism could give someone peace – but it did. There’s a peace in doing away with all of that other stuff and just saying to anything that comes across my path, ‘Show me the evidence and show me the truth. If you can’t do that for me then I don’t have the time or room in my life for it.’ That was a filter that cleared so much garbage out of my mind and I could then just look at my life and love the people in it and start creating the kind of life I wanted. And I haven’t regretted it for a minute.

But you asked me about evidence and all I can say is that I just don’t agree with you that the evidence is there. You can do searches on my blog and you can visit my Links page, my Bible page, and my Books page where you can see many of the blogs, websites, and books that I read during my deconversion that ultimately led me to where I am now. Many of those will do a better job of explaining in-depth the problems with the Bible and why I absolutely think there is no evidence for the truth of the Bible or any of its core teachings. [Edit: Visit this blog’s Journey pages for some in depth Biblical Criticism. There are many more out there as well. This one is another good one.] You mentioned that you found historical and geographical details from the Bible to be convincing (which I don’t) but even if some of those things were true, it doesn’t mean that anything else the Bible teaches is true. It doesn’t follow that because a historical fact might be true that therefore the spiritual teachings in the Bible are true at all.

Here is a post/page that I wrote explaining why I will never return to Christianity and it probably summarizes well the problems I discovered within Christianity as I went through my deconversion journey: Would I Ever Return to Christianity?

In hindsight, I honestly think people choose religion out of fear and then once they’ve latched onto a worldview they only see the evidence that fits that storyline. What are people afraid of? Everything. Death mainly. There is fear that we are alone in the universe, fear of just living with our mistakes without any chance of truly redeeming them. Fear of hell. Fear that has been built into us as children. Fear that is likely wired into us from our early evolutionary beginnings as humans. It’s a scary world – whatever your particular fears might be. Religion holds out a branch and says hold on! We have some solid ground for you and we have almost all of the answers for you! But instead of grabbing onto that branch and all of the baggage that comes along with it – I would urge my readers to look at their fears directly. Realize that some of them are founded in reality (death, catastrophes, loss, loneliness, pain …) but that some aren’t (hell, sin, all of those worries about bad things you think will happen but don’t …). And the best way to face those hard-to-handle things in life is to take a breath, face the reality of what’s in front of you, know you can handle it, and build the life you want in the here and now. And don’t forget to grab onto all that wonderful and awesome stuff that is out in the world while you’re at it! Love, sex, friendship, births, achievements, music, art, nature, conversation, smiles, laughter … they are all out there to enjoy while we’re here!

Well Leggatt (and the rest of my readers), I hope that gives you some insight into my journey. I didn’t want to rehash all of the research I’ve done regarding the evidence for or against Christianity – I’ve already documented that on my blog over the past few years. If you find any posts that you’d like to discuss further and in more detail I am open to that.

Do any of my readers want to chime in with their own thoughts on this topic or on anything I shared?

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38 thoughts on “What Led Me to Leave Christianity?

  1. My journey was similar. My first 28 years of life was an unflinching devotion and faith in Christianity. Slowly, on my way “out,” I began realizing that those evidences of God of which I was so certain were due to perspective. We see what we want to see. Once we’ve accepted something as “truth” we tend to filter our experiences through this “truth.”

    I’m in a place now where what I want more than anything is to live life without any of these filters. I want to see what’s really there – however scary it might be. The best way I’ve come across so far to accomplish this is through science. While understanding that I am not capable of pure objectivity and even seeing that science/scientific interpretation is fallible, I take comfort in the rigors of the scientific method. And although I live my life as an atheist, I’m agnostic in my core. Just as I don’t want to filter experiences through belief in a deity, I don’t want to filter through a staunch belief that there is no possibility of any higher power.

    So this is my “formula” for seeking truth right now. I’m fairly content with it, and it seems to me to be a healthy, motivated way for me to live and understand life. That’s what I find is most important. If being a Christian or practicing any other religion or belief or having NO belief in any deity is working for you, then who am I to say anything? To each, his/her own. It’s only when your beliefs infringe upon my rights that we have a problem. (And as simple as that is to say, yes, it is sometimes difficult to sort through those gray areas too.)

  2. Fascinating post. I am a recent departer, after 34 years of serious Christianity. The reasons were without doubt entirely historical. If it helps, you can read about the evidence, reasons, and journey @ http://www.jerichobrisance.com, the Journey pages. The apologists are running a good game, but after 20,000 pages of investigation, there just isn’t a serious question about Judaism and Christianity being false. Heartbreaking, plain and simple.

  3. Brenda,
    That was a great reply. You said almost everything I would have said. I’m really glad though that you addressed the evidence issue because I find that to be a big lie that Christians keep passing around. I heard it too when I was a Christian that we have evidence supporting The Bible and that the prophecies get fulfilled and all kinds of other stuff. But as a Christian, you tend to trust other Christians telling you this stuff so you don’t validate it yourself. Not everyone has the time to, but I never went looking for sites that countered that viewpoint until I left Christianity and found lots of sites saying there was no evidence outside of The Bible for the events that are contained within. There’s also so much debate on if a prophecy was fulfilled that it just seems like people are making connections from statements to events to validate their beliefs. If there was a lot of evidence for The Bible outside of it, you’d think we’d hear a lot more about it outside of Christian circles. Kinda reminds me of the whole creation mess.
    Even if you don’t post often, I certainly enjoy reading posts like these. Hoping to see another one soon!

  4. I was always a kind of symbolic Christian – that is, I didn’t take it literally, but as a kind of image of the human journey. However, it’s strange that eventually I couldn’t do that, as there is too much nonsense in everyday Christianity, which I couldn’t live with. I feel sad actually, as I lived with it for 50 years, but for some reason, I am moving on now, and leaving it behind. I suppose an example of stuff I couldn’t live with is the idea of being saved from sin by the death of Jesus. Now, I can see that symbolically, but then most Christians don’t do that! It also means that other religions are also valid symbolically, which is a bit awkward. Well, I can see the funny side of it.

  5. Hello Brenda, I was wondering, you mentioned that God was your best friend, did you become convinced that you had imagined God? or that you were crazy? because that’s where i’m at right now. i can no longer handle the depression and fear that Christianity causes in me. The God I met was sweet and kind, nothing like the Bible… but I haven’t heard from him in so long that i’m beginning to think it was craziness. and after soooo many years of waiting for the truth that will set me free, and my life only getting smaller and more terrifying, i’m wondering how I can leave Christianity, and still love God…. do you think this is possible? can i call God something else? can i ignore the roman catholic death bible we are stuck with and just love God? i don’t want to be without him, but i want to ditch the terror… advice?

    • Hi Elaine

      I want to reply to your questions and comments. Things have been very busy and I’m heading out of town for the weekend, but I will try to reply early this coming week sometime. But yes, I took the atheist route, but there are others who choose different paths where they still believe in a god but not the Christian God. So don’t lose hope! Take a deep breath – you have time to figure this out. Try to think of your life as a journey and you can go down different paths at different points in your life. I know some of the visitors to my blog have beliefs similar to what you are describing. I will find out the names of their blogs and post them for you when I can.

    • Elaine, you sound just like me! Did I make up an imaginary friend for myself? Am I crazy? The God of the bible is not the friend I thought I knew for so many years. I would love to contact you. My email is nate(underscore)and(underscore)sarah(at)hotmail(dot)com.

  6. I love Jesus and I don’t want to be without God. The more I know about God thru the Bible ( some of the things that He did or did not do ) the more upset I am with HIm. Im desperately trying to have a relationship with Him without the constant fear of being punished if I do something that angers Him. i don’t understand a lot of things about Him. For the past many years I just treat Jesus as my best friend without reading the Bible or being the “devout Christian “,. This year i tried to be devout. But the more I try the more confused I become when so many crazy things are happening and God does not seem to intervene. Worst still when I read the Bible. Today being Easter Sunday, I feel like Ive lost it when I saw the horrific pictures of Christ on the Cross from Passion of Christ. For years Ive avoided looking at all these pictures. It upsets me tremendously that God wanted Jesus to die such a horrific and brutal death. Can someone please advise? I still want to be with God but I don’t understand Him. Throughout my Christian life i suffered in silence, not daring to even tell people my conflicting feelings about God. Finally today i told a caring church staff and for first time Im writing this and at the same time fearing that He will punish me soon by letting some horrible thing happen to me and my family. I sometimes feel that I am going insane.

    • Hi Mary,

      I hate that you’re going through such anguish over this, but I understand it. I was a devout Christian for many years myself, and I know how painful these doubts can be.

      First of all, let me encourage you to take to heart the words in Matthew 7, where Jesus says, “seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you.” If any promise in the Bible is worthy of reflection, it’s this one.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in God, I don’t think Jesus was divine, and I think the Bible is just a collection of stories, teachings, and history written by regular people. But there’s logic in this promise. If God does exist, and if he/she/it is rational and compassionate, then you shouldn’t have to fear any doubts you might have, because doubts are necessary when you’re looking for truth.

      The philosopher Marcus Aurelius said it in a different way, and it’s one of my favorite quotes:

      Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.

      To me, those two quotes are very reassuring. They help me put aside the fear of judgment and keep a clear head when I try to examine all the evidence. I would encourage you to not ignore these doubts, but investigate them. Truth has nothing to fear. If you start digging deeply into your theological beliefs, there are only a couple of things that will happen:

      1) You’ll find that Christianity was true all along, and you’ll likely find information that helps you resolve some of the fears, anger, and confusion that you’ve experienced with it. Thus, you’d end up a much happier, fulfilled person.

      2) You’ll find that Christianity is not true, in which case, it will be no more necessary to be afraid of God or Hell than it would be to fear Frankenstein’s monster or vampires.

      If the second scenario happens, this is no reason to feel despair. Many of us who have left religion behind feel a freedom and happiness that eluded us while we were religious. If you like things about the character of Jesus, there’s no reason you can’t continue to admire them or use them in your life. MLK wasn’t divinely inspired, yet we still admire what he did for equality. The same can be true of religious figures and religious literature.

      I hope some of this is helpful to you. I know Brenda would love to help you in any way that she can, and I would as well. Please feel free to reach out if anyone here can be of any help — and you can always contact me through my own blog as well.

      Good luck to you! I wish you all the best 🙂

  7. I could have written both of your blogs! I was a Christian for 30 years. Raised my kids in church, homeschooled, taught in youth group, etc. I’m not sure if I ever really believed what I was supposed to believe, but it was safe and comfortable and great to be part of the “family”, And if it meant o wasn’t going to hell, then i would believe. Five years ago it hit me that the whole thing seemed foolish to me, and that frightened me because of 1st Corinthians 1:18. I, too, have studied and read everything I can get my hands on, and feel no closer to knowledge and understanding and faith. I’m almost 60 and always thought I would be one of the old church ladies taking food to the potlucks and teaching the younger women to love their husbands and be godly wives. I don’t know where I stand now. My 30 year old daughter has become a Jewish roots Christian and keeps sabbath and Torah holidays and feasts, and is teaching her 4 year old to do it. She is happy. I see bondage.

    • Messianic Judaism is one of the more lethal forms of belief today. I have been there, was there for several years, sorry I was “gentile” and in spite of really wanting to be, n o t Jewish. How do they explain the rank elitism of only “Jews” being allowed to make aliyah in Israel? No more snobby group exists and I am NOT anti semitic, just stating the facts, ma’am. Hopefully, your daughter will get sick of it like my husband and I did. But coming out is admitting you are wrong and that’s a tough nut to crack.

  8. Brenda, thank you for your writings (including your “My Story” post which I read before this one). As others have said, you accurately describe the emotional, well-thought-out journey out of Christianity I’ve experienced. Some people have a slow journey, others have a longer one – but no matter if it’s 6 months or 2 years or more, I believe each journey should be validated as personal, important and meaningful.

    I agree about your comment of fear, and how you mentioned one view can limit us. As a writer, I am glad I’m no longer a Christian because I feel I gather more inspiration from everywhere through one vibrant lens rather than through a narrow slit of light.

    Thank you for providing a place for sharing not only your inspirational journey but to let others share theirs.

  9. There must be a huge groundswelling of people disillusioned with the inconsistencies and outright lies they are learning and will continue to discover within that web called church/religion. Thank the goodness that you are helping pave the way for those of us seeking a way out of the morass and fear. It is a difficult journey taking those first steps but dang rabbit, truth has a way of pushing you out of the nest. Appreciate you!

  10. It seems there are a lot of people who convert or deconvert. What seems to be rare is someone who has tried Christianity, left it, and then gone back. The comparison between a Christian leaving Christianity and an atheist becoming a Christian is not a good comparison. They are not looking at the same evidence. The Christian has the experience of being a Christian, which for many includes years of disappointment, disillusionment, frustrations… with Christians, with churches, with the Bible, with God. In the end, the hypothesis “there is no God” seems to fit the data better than “Christianity is true”. There are other options perhaps, but for many they’ve had enough and their reasons for doubting Christianity apply to pretty much any form of the supernatural.

    It is easy to see why an atheist could be attracted to Christianity. It offers meaning and hope and community and an experience of the supernatural. And at first there can be dramatic life changes. But then questions crop up… Whether someone then deconverts depends on how much they are willing to lose in terms of social cost, and how committed they are to intellectual honesty, and how much the cognitive dissonance bothers them. Oh, and there’s that fear of hell business. That’s a biggie. I’m still plagued with “what if I’m wrong and I go to hell!” But one can’t pretend to believe. If I try to believe just to escape this hypothetical hell, what do I do with all my other reasons for not believing?

  11. Hi! I know these posts are not very new but I just stumbled onto your page and I am so thankful for that. I am 20 years old and struggling so much with my faith and I am feeling almost the same way you did when you were doubting. I have all of the “big questions” and I am so stressed out about them. I disagree with almost all of what I am being taught through the bible. I just want to thank you for your helpful story and encouraging words. -Ashley

  12. I’m just not sure about God anymore but I have one question for you…..what are we counting from, 2015 years from what? I thought we were counting from Jesuss’ birth and 33 years later there is geological evidence of the earthquake that shook Judea, in 33 AD on Jesuss’ death. I have Freidrichs Ataxia condition and I have been waiting for healing ever since I became a Christian over 5 years ago. My life has been getting worse and worse ever since I became Christian because there are a lot of things that don’t add up and the whole hell thing scares me. I don’t think that God can be loving and at the same time call himself a consuming fire and that Jesuss’ death saved us from eternal torture.

  13. I’m going through this in this part of my life. I’ve given up my Christian belief, and am almost starting God. Almost. Reason being is that when I was a Christian, your told Homosexuality is a sin and that all Homosexual’s go to hell. Well, lo and behold, I end up gay. I go through some trouble at school and everyone finds out, including my mom. So now everyone’s telling me I’m destined for Hell. So I started reading the Bible lightly and started to try becoming a better Christian. I’m told if I can pray and believe enough, I could be made straight. I’ve been trying for 3 years now. I prayed all the time, I cried, had such bad anxiety I was sick alot. Then I started to do research and learned that what you basically said about the Bible. When the praying didn’t work, I feared God abandoned me. So I did research and many sites later. I’ve decided to leave the Christian faith cause of the hypocrisy and lies. I feel so much happier with the world and myself now. Alot more accepting of myself. Your article helped bunches, the one with the “Gods checklist 2.0” video. I want to thank you for helping me to become better with myself and those around me.

    • Wow Koda!

      Thank you so much for your comments and for sharing your story! It means so much to me to know that my site is still helping people even though I don’t blog here much anymore. I keep the site up for people just like you! People who need to hear from someone who struggled with leaving Christianity, but did, and was better for it.

      Please, please, believe me when I tell you that you are wonderful just the way you are. I truly hope that you reject anything that makes you despise yourself in any way.

      It’s been five years since I officially started calling myself an atheist. Trust me when I tell you that Christianity is utter nonsense and you are wise to walk away from it. Follow reason and kindness and become your best self. That will be much easier without the shackles of Christianity weighing you down.

      Feel free to post more of your thoughts or questions.

      I wish you all the best. I hope you embrace stepping into the freedom that awaits you!

      • Also, another note about Christianity, I like how when your a kid, there’s the children school where you learn to love one another and all the good things about the faith. Then you grow up to 13/16 and you have to join the adults. There you learn about how, despite loving all his children, God supposedly hated anyone that isn’t a devote Christian. Then your told everything YIUR doing is wrong. And you learn the hypocrisy of the faith if you’re lucky. Its a faith built on hypocrisy and death. So I left.

  14. I’m a 31 year old mom (and up until October, was also a home school mom). I’ve always had doubts, but was led to believe my doubts were because of a sin preventing me from having an abundant relationship with God. Or I wasn’t reading my bible enough. Perhaps I was filling my mind with too much media that isn’t edifying. Basically only put biblical truth in my mind and always be meditating on Gods word.. Well, lately I had this awful thought I voiced to my best friend and our church worship leader. “Doesn’t this sound like brainwashing??”

    And it’s been a struggle for me over the past several weeks. I’ve been reading evidence against Christianity and then reading responses against that evidence from Christians.I promised my friends I wouldn’t just give up and turn my back on it. I would spend a lot of time searching and reading my bible. The more of the bible I read…the less I believe.

    My husband is devastated and angry. My close friends who I have shared my strugggles with are all trying to bring me back. Sending me links. Praying for me. They will be sorely disappointed.

    Which brings this thought to mind. People are begging, crying out… desperately wanting to know that God is there like the major bibles say he is. Why is he ignoring them? I’d never ignore my own children.

    I don’t think I’m an atheist. Maybe one day I’ll make it to that point, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

    Looking forward to reading more about your journey. Glad I found this blog.

    • I’m not the blog owner; hope you don’t mind if I chime in.

      I’m sorry to hear that your loved ones are reacting so unkindly to your investigation and changing ideas. If it’s any consolation, you’ll find many deconverts in the blogosphere and secular movement with similar experiences.

      FWIW, I say good on you for pursuing truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. But only you can decide what relational costs you’re willing to pay/risk in being honest with people about it.

      If you didn’t know, atheism and agnosticism aren’t mutually exclusive. Quite a few atheists (perhaps the majority) don’t necessarily believe that no gods exist, but there just aren’t any that they do believe exist. In my case, I’m convinced that the Christian god in particular does not exist, though.

      Best wishes in your journey. 🙂

    • Hi Nadia! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with me! I always feel so privileged that people are willing to share their stories with me.

      I always like to respond with well-thought-out replies. I am very busy with school work right now, but I will reply back within the next couple of days.

      In the meantime, know that my thoughts are with you and please look around my blog. I’m sure you will find much that is helpful to you here.

      I know this is an online world, but if it helps any, you are very welcome and among friends here.

      I’ll reply soon.

      Brenda

    • Hi Nadia,

      I apologize for taking so long to give you a proper reply.

      I too realized (once I had left religion) that it was so similar to brainwashing that it was scary. The use of fear and manipulation, and guilt and control…

      I too did a TON of reading during my deconversion. Amazon profited wildly from my experiences! And I agree with you: Once you start reading the bible more impartially – just really reading what is there without the ‘god/christian glasses’ on – it’s a really horrible book and totally unbelievable.

      I know how devastating a deconversion can be for those close to the person. Try to hold your ground while still keeping the lines of communication open with those you truly care about (your husband is one prime example). Other people can just be ignored. This is your journey and no one has the right to decide any aspect of it for you. If you are like me, then you likely feel the need to live an authentic life. This is not always an easy road, but I hope you are comforted to know that I and others who have posted on this blog (and those who have their own deconversion blogs) have walked this road as well. You are among friends here.

      I encourage you to check out my book list and other resource pages. Feel free to post more comments or questions here.

      I wish you the best on your journey,

      Brenda

  15. I just want to say thank you to everyone that’s taken time to post such thoughtful and personal reflections. I’m going through my own journey of (what I think will end up being) deconversion and it’s so comforting to know that I am not alone!
    Brenda – I appreciated your story so much, in fact at times it seemed like you were taking the words right out of my mouth.
    Everyone else – Very often one of the things that I miss most about being an active Christian is the sense of community that often comes with it. You all have shown me though that a community can grow regardless of religion, so thank you for that.

    I don’t have much else to add at this point because I am still very much in the thinking and processing phase of this. However, I am heartened by what I read today and will definitely use the resources that have been provided. Thank you everyone!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and a bit about your story! I am always so thrilled to know that my blog has helped even one person!

      You are definitely among friends here. Feel free to post further comments or any questions you have.

      I wish you the best on your journey.

      Brenda

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