Quote #47

This is how I feel after deconverting from Christianity. Once I got past the struggle and walked into my new life as an atheist, it truly felt like I’d been given wings. butterfly via Word Porn on Facebook

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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?

Religious Trauma Syndrome

I know posting this will help someone. I also highly recommend the book mentioned in the article. It definitely helped me as I struggled through my deconversion.

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

via A World Without God (A great deconversion blog you should check out!)

Freedom & Control

Here’s a blog post I read today that really made me stop and think. When you’re done reading it you can come back and read my rambling thoughts if you like:

What it is like to be a Muslim woman and why we know what freedom is (and you may not)

(via Out Campaign Official on Facebook)

I found reading this touching and sad and maddening all at the same time. It was timely though as my thoughts regarding religion and life in general lately have revolved around the concept of individual freedom and our seeming obsession with controlling those around us.

My thoughts haven’t been about politics so much but more how we as individuals spend a great deal of time trying to make everyone be like us and then turn around and try to be like everyone else. I had started pondering these sorts of things and I started paying attention to how I try to control others. I was with my husband one day and made a comment about an older lady who had dyed her hair blue or something. Then I caught myself and said, ‘Why in the hell do I care what colour her hair is? Who is she hurting by having blue hair? Why do I feel the need to control her and make her like me? Why do I need her to get back in line like a sheep?’

Maybe it’s an evolutionary thing but I’m really sick of it and I think we can do better. Of course we can’t all just do what we want when we want to all the time. We have to live together and get along and care about others. But it wouldn’t hurt us to start asking ourselves more often, ‘Why am I trying to control this person right now? What is it in me that is insecure and needs to make this person do or be different so that I will be ok with myself and my world?’

And of course, since I blog about religion, these thoughts about freedom and control definitely tie in with my past as a fundamentalist Christian. Religion is a formalized way of controlling not only the behaviour of others but their thoughts too.  Whether it’s Islam or Christianity or any other religion, control is at the centre of what religions try to accomplish. Christians may shake their heads at what this ex-Muslim recounts, but if they honestly looked at all the ways that Christianity tries to control them they’d see what I see. Christianity has mellowed a bit because our society has become more secular and Christianity has had to adapt to survive, but don’t for a second think that the obsession with controlling people’s thoughts and actions has gone away. The call to be holy by its very nature controls Christians. Just with that one word, holy, the wheels of control begin to turn. Then add in the concept of sin and throw in a good dose of guilt for every time you step out of line or don’t measure up to that fixed standard of holy … and your every breath is controlled. Every word, every thought, every action is controlled. While I can’t relate to the extreme examples of control that she describes in her blog post, I found myself relating to her description of her escape and her feelings of being on one side of freedom and then the other. I often don’t know how to adequately describe to people who haven’t been on one side of religion or the other just how controlling religion is and how seismic the change was when I managed to get myself out of that world.

Well – I wasn’t expecting to have so much to say on this topic. I hope you get something from her post as well as mine. I have one favour to ask of you. As you go about your day today, start watching for when you are trying to control those around you. Look for the little things. Most of us try to shy away from controlling others in obvious ways, but look for the little times in your day where you try to make someone bend to your wishes. Watch for when you try to make someone say something or do something other than what they had originally intended to say or do. Ask yourself what in you is afraid of just letting them be who they are. And my promise to you is that I’ll do the same.

Dan’s Deconversion Story

I’ve recently started following the blog Camels With Hammers.  I’m new to following this blog but it looks like a great one.

I’ve seen snippets of his story but here is a link to all of his posts concerning before, during, and after his deconversion (the ones he’s done so far).  It would be a lengthy read to cover all of them, but I’m sure it would be very helpful to someone in the middle of their doubts or their own deconversion (or just interesting for the rest of us):

Dan’s Deconversion

I’d love to hear back from anyone who reads through his entire story.

Memoirs of an ex-Christian

Last week I stumbled across this blog and I was transported back in time.  I had forgotten about this blog but when I saw it I instantly remembered it as one that I visited often in the early days of my religious doubting.  He isn’t currently blogging but I emailed the author to thank him for sharing his story and I let him know how it had impacted me.  He replied and we exchanged a few encouraging emails.  It reminded me of why it’s important for those who have left the faith to tell their stories.  After we deconvert we move on with our lives, but there are others who will go through the same struggles and will benefit in some way from reading about our journey.  Enjoy reading Kevin’s story:

Memoirs of an ex-Christian

An Examination Of the Pearl

I want to share with you a link to a free online book that may interest some of you.  It is a story about a loss of faith – but so much more.   It’s called An Examination of the Pearl and the scope of it is staggering to me.  Click on the Table of Contents and then click on items listed there and you’ll see how exhaustive this book really is!  He covers any biblical or doctrinal issue you can imagine.  If you’re in the doubting stage of your faith then this book is required reading!

I thought I’d give you the author’s words from the first page so that you can get an idea what the book is about:

The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus as comparing the Kingdom of God to a merchant who found a valuable pearl and sold all that he had in order to buy it. No merchant of fine pearls would ever buy one that he had not examined carefully. To take the supreme leap of selling all for the price of one particular pearl would require that merchant to have either found it flawless after detailed examination, or to enter blindly into what might well turn out to be a bad bargain out of impulse, emotion, or deceit.

This book is an honest and unflinching examination of the pearl that Conservative Laestadianism puts on offer as the Kingdom of God. It is a study not just of that obscure revival movement from 19th century Lapland, but also of Martin Luther, fundamentalist and sectarian Christianity, and the Bible itself.

About 18 centuries ago, Clement of Alexandria wrote, “If our faith is such that it is destroyed by force of argument, then let it be destroyed; for it will have been proved that we do not possess the truth.” Many dare not take the risk to their faith, or the faith of those under their influence, of reading or allowing the reading of anything critical about what they supposedly believe. But is that really faith in anything other than the others in the fold who are themselves just repeating the old slogans? They, too, are all too often ignoring the facts about their own unexamined faith that is itself supported only by the claims of others.

There are many such unexamined and fearful faiths competing in the marketplace of religion, some of them also claiming to be the truth outside of which no one will be saved. And without critical reflection like that found in this book, each one is a self-sustaining doctrinal bubble that quivers unsteadily in the air, vulnerable to being poked by the slightest intrusion of fact.

I’d love for you to check it out and to let me know what you think of it:  An Examination of the Pearl

Speed’s Deconversion Story

A while ago I asked one of the commentators on my blog (Speed), if he would mind sharing his deconversion story.  Here it is !  I enjoyed reading it and I know if will be helpful to anyone in the midst of a similar journey.  Thanks for sharing Speed!

I was born into a Catholic home. We didn’t really discuss God or the Bible that much, but we went to church every Sunday unless we were sick. I attended Catechism as well, though I thought it was extremely boring and didn’t teach me anything useful. Plus at our church the priests didn’t seem that nice. Because of that, I started to think there was something wrong with Catholicism since the people who were supposed to represent God didn’t seem like the loving God they were teaching.

My life went fairly normal and I was fortunate to not have to face any tragedy. Because of that, questioning the big things in life didn’t really happen. It was easy to stay in my faith while things were going well.

Then in college, I got very sick with an infection that left me unable to eat. I suffered with this for almost a month and had to be hospitalized. At that point, the questions started coming. Being in a hospital for a while and being surrounded by so many people struggling with health issues, I started questioning why God allows us to go through these things. I had been told that it makes us stronger, but what if Idied? Surely that was possible, and this sickness would have done nothing but taken me out at a relatively young age.

Shortly after I got out of the hospital, I started to feel like I was living a double life. I noticed that about all Catholics I personally knew as well. It seemed in church, we had to act a certain way and be “holy” but when we got home, we were anything but. From the music we listened to, to the movies we watched, to the way we talked, I felt we were being hypocritical. I started listening to non-Catholic radio broadcasts that were very fundamental and realized that I needed to be Christian all the time and not just in church. Plus, these radio broadcasts seemed to be giving a totally different method of salvation which I never heard in the Catholic Church.

At that point, I decided to give my life to Jesus and become “born again.” I knew a pastor from another time in my life and went to him, said the salvation prayer, and then started attending his church services. I even started taking Bible college courses to better understand the Bible.

I remember at one of the church services, my pastor said that God was telling him someone there didn’t have the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I raised my hand. They got together and prayed with me. Nothing happened. Looking back, I realize it’s because I had no intention of acting in front of them and I told myself if something was going to happen, it was going to be from God and not me. After that day, I had doubts about what was going on and I wondered if most of this fundamentalist stuff was just a show.

My soon to be fiancé, whom I met in the Catholic church, was scared not only that I was going from Catholic to non-denominational, but she was scared that I was going to become a priest and end the relationship with her, though I had no intention of becoming a preacher. All of this caused quite a bit of strife in our relationship to the point where we almost broke up. Finally, she decided to follow me out of Catholicism, said the salvation prayer, and we were on the same page again.

My fiancé and I started attending church together. Things seemed to be going well, and we ended up getting married in that church. However, my wife started telling me that she questioned God a lot. She couldn’t understand why the world was like it was while an all-loving God sat back and watched. She didn’t get why salvation was sometimes preached as works and sometimes as just accepting Jesus into your heart, which she had trouble understanding what that really meant.

After we got married, we quit going to church regularly. We decided to take a break from church because we felt worn out from going every Sunday for our whole lives. We also didn’t enjoy the church we were going to as much, so after a little while we decided to try a few other churches. After attending a few, we both knew a lot of the extreme fundamentalists at the church were acting, and some of the people (including preachers) really rubbed us the wrong way. I felt like it was my fault for not enjoying any churches but I kept praying for God to lead us to a great church. Nothing happened. However, I still stayed Christian. I believed in God, but I didn’t believe these churches were being honest and I wasn’t going to force myself to attend church in a place I didn’t want to be.

Along with all of this, we started having problems in our life and we didn’t understand why they were happening. Because we were Christian, it naturally became a matter of asking God why this was happening to us and if it was some kind of punishment or trial.

Plus, I was having my own crisis with Christianity because I, in all honesty, knew I couldn’t share my faith with anyone. How could I ask someone to convert to my beliefs when God was nowhere to be found? We were supposed to have a personal relationship with Jesus, yet I was doing all the talking. What if I converted someone and they said they prayed and nothing happened? Would I just give them the typical “It wasn’t God’s will” response that I knew would give them no comfort? I then started to realize that God was failing me because as much as I prayed, God never seemed to respond.

Then the whole Hell issue started tearing away at me. What happened to my grandparents who had died? Were they being tortured in a place so bad that we couldn’t stand it for one second? I read Mary Baxter’s book about her revelation of Hell and I was shocked. From that point forward, I couldn’t turn on an oven or my BBQ pit without feeling anguish over people suffering in Hell. How could God do this? All I kept hearing was that even though God is love, he’s also just. But was this justice? We find torture barbaric and despicable yet God is doing this to over half of mankind and it will never end. All of a sudden life becomes a whirlwind of desperation and fear. How do you save the world? Nobody should have to suffer through Hell and how can I love God while knowing this is happening?

Then, we had a tragic time in our lives. We lost a close member of our family and I was getting extremely stressed at work. My health started to deteriorate. It got worse and worse but I prayed to God continuously to heal me. Nothing happened. I ended up being taken by ambulance to the hospital and was treated for multiple problems severe enough to where had I not been hospitalized, I definitely would have died. It was the scariest moment in my life, but I felt that at least if I did die, I would be in heaven.

However, in the hospital all of the “why” questions started coming back. Why did God allow all of this? Had I not gone to the ER, I would be dead. That bothered me for quite a while. Then I decided to keep my prayers simple. I just asked God to talk to me; to say anything. I would stay up at night asking for this, and I would clear my mind so I’d know it wasn’t my own thoughts talking to me. I heard nothing. This went on and on until I started to get very frustrated.

Then one evening about a year later, I got sick with bad stomach pains. The pain would come and go, but then it got worse on my right side. I had a hunch what it was but I prayed and prayed that it wasn’t and that God would heal me. I got nothing. At 3 AM one morning, I told my wife it was really bad and we needed to go to the ER. My fears were confirmed…it was appendicitis. I had to have surgery and long story short, my surgery and recovery didn’t go as well as anticipated and I ended up staying in the hospital for over a week.

Then at the same time this was going on, my grandfather had to have surgery as his health was deteriorating. Then all the Hell stuff started coming back and this time, it was even worse. If he died, was he going to be tortured forever since he was Catholic? What about everyone who helped me yet they weren’t “born again?” Did they deserve to suffer for not believing in a God who wouldn’t even speak to me when I prayed every single day?

I started researching Hell and was shocked to see how many people thought the Bible was mistranslated and the Hell I believed wasn’t really what the Bible taught. I was torn as to what this meant. In one way it made me feel better because I had a reason to believe that Hell didn’t exist, but then why did God allow his inerrant word to be sabotaged by translation issues? Then the story of Noah’s ark started to bother me. How could I justify this story? It’s so ridiculous that there was no way as a rational human being I could defend it. I started reading the Bible from the beginning and I was shocked at what I found. I found a God who endorsed ideas that I was taught were terrible. I saw thousands of people slain just for believing in another God. I read about children being killed, which turned my stomach. All of the animal sacrifice was so bizarre as well as the obsession with circumcision.

I started doing critical research of Christianity and every time I read an apologist page, I would role my eyes and every time I read an anti-Christian page, I would agree. It was then I started to realize I was turning. I remember at one time I thought to myself “If I take God out of the equation, everything makes sense.” I didn’t want it to be true, but it was hard for me to convince myself otherwise. I don’t remember what I searched for next, but it led me to a YouTube video for the Atheist Experience. As I watched a few videos, it was like layer after layer of Christian lies were peeled away. I saw how ridiculous Christians sounded as they made excuse after excuse for God. I realized how rational the atheists were and how non-rational my beliefs were. I started finding blogs about people who left Christianity, and I would relate to their stories. It made me realize that I was on the right track and I was justified in questioning things and following the evidence to an understanding that Christianity was in fact, a lie.

My wife was incredible as we talked about my new beliefs, and I think what I said resonated with her because Christianity didn’t sit right with her either. I knew she had hope that we would see all of our loved ones again one day, and I think that was the most depressing point of the conversation. However, I told her that even if we do want an afterlife, we wouldn’t want one based on Christianity where we weren’t sure who would make it and what the punishment would be for those who don’t. She agreed and she still hopes there is a better life after this one without believing Christianity.

Since I’ve left Christianity, I now find life more enjoyable. I don’t worry about people being tortured every day. I don’t have to worry about a God who finds me so terrible, that he had to kill his own son (or himself depending on how you look at it) so I could even be in his presence. I don’t have to try to decipher a boring, contradicting and confusing book to try to decide what is right and what is wrong. I can just live, and enjoy it. I always thought that it was the atheists who were missing out on a life with God, but I realize now it was me missing out on a life without stressing to reach for a God who was never there to begin with. Christianity really was a burden on my life, and I am so glad I’ve been relieved of it.

Am I An Atheist Fundamentalist?

I received these two comments (from the same person) on my site this weekend.  I didn’t approve them but I do think he asks a legitimate question amid all the ranting and I’d like to address it:

From Christian to Deist is a natural progression.

From “Born-again” Christian to Atheist is a natural move too.

Its only natural that a crazy lunatic “born again” Christian fundanmentalist, upon figuring out how false Christianity is, would throw the baby out with the bathwater and become a bat-guano crazy Atheist.

Whereas a ‘normal’ Christian can toss aside faith in a lie and retain belief in God’s existence, I suppose it is impossible for a fundamentalist, especially a Calvinist, to do so.

and …

One of the reasons, I suppose, is that fundamentalists have no critical reasoning capacity.  Their psychology requires a perfect inerrant document of some sort to simply believe in without question.  A Deist has no such thing.  So they can’t move to Deism.  But Atheism has this in so-called ‘science’ (i.e. pop-science).  So the crazy Fundie moves from belief that the Bible is the perfect inerrant receptacle of truth to believing that Science is the perfect inerrant receptacle of truth to be dogmatically believed in with no questions and no critical thinking.  Whatever pop-science says is like the word of God (as it were) to these Fundie Atheists.  Paul was unquestionable as a Fundie Christian — but now having rejected the Bible, Dawkins is unquestionable, Steven Hawkings is unquestionable.  The pop-science on the Nightly News that pretends Global Warming is man-made — UNQUESTIONABLE!!!!! How dare you question the Lord God Al Gore!!!!  There is a psychosis in you people.  You just can’t stand not having some perfect Magesterial authority dictating to you what to believe — you are pawns who have to have your every belief dictated to you by someone else because you can’t think or are too afraid to.  Maybe its because your mother drunk too much while you were in the womb and it caused brain damage — maybe its because you drank too much yourself and caused brain damage.  I’d really like to figure our what it is that kills a person’s ability to think for themselves and makes them a mind full of mush that can give their full unquestioning consent either to the Bible or to pop-science.  Maybe you can help me understand it.  Are you a drunk?  Was your mom a drunk?  Because those are my two best leads on this subject.

“Bat-guano crazy Atheist” – he he!  I kinda like it! My mother would likely be insulted by the accusation that she’s a drunk though! lol

Did I jump from one type of fundamentalism to another?

I’ve spent some time thinking about it and there are a few key things I’d like to say:

1.  Here’s a post I published about my personality profile.  If you read that it won’t be surprising that I feel comfortable within the atheist community!  I like correct answers so it does make sense that I didn’t hang out long in any worldview that I probably perceived as wishy-washy.

2.  I started my blog after I’d completed the journey from Christian fundamentalist to atheist.  I realize now that my site doesn’t document that journey much at all.  There was a full two years where I struggled with a million issues, read innumerable books (my amazon bill was insane!) and thought, thought, and thought some more about pretty much every issue relating to religion.  So looking at my site I can see how someone would think I just made a quick leap from one end of the spectrum to the other.

3.  I did hang out in the grey zone for awhile.  I started out reading liberal Christian material.  Then I remember reading about deism and thinking maybe that’s where I belonged.  I called myself an agnostic for awhile.  Realizing that I no longer believed in any revelation from any god and that no human knew more about the big life questions than I did made me an agnostic.  The hiddenness of god and the problem of evil and suffering tipped me over into the atheist camp.  It wasn’t a quick jump and it certainly wasn’t one I made without any thought.

4.  Am I incapable of thinking for myself?  I certainly relied on books and the internet during my deconversion.  I read things from both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.  I was constantly reading and trying to digest it all and decide what made the most sense and what I could accept.  But in the end I had to make up my own mind about what everyone had to say.  I’m not sure what thinking for myself would look like for this commentator.  Would I have to lock myself in a room and ponder the mysteries of the universe without any outside input?  I don’t think there is anything wrong with hearing what others have to say and then coming to your own conclusions and that’s what I did.

5.  I read this wikipedia article on fundamentalism.  In there, Richard Dawkins says this about the accusation that he is a fundamentalist:

Richard Dawkins has rejected the charge of “fundamentalism,” arguing that critics mistake his “passion”—which he says may match that of evangelical Christians—for an inability to change his mind. Dawkins asserts that the atheists’ position is not a fundamentalism that is unable to change its mind, but is held based on the verifiable evidence; as he puts it: “The true scientist, however passionately he may “believe” in evolution for example, knows exactly what would change his mind: evidence! The fundamentalist knows that nothing will.”  Dawkins has stated that, unlike religious fundamentalists, he would willingly change his mind if new evidence challenged his current position.

I’ve taken part in some online discussions about what would change people’s minds about their current worldview.  I have to admit I was shocked.  As a Christian I believed that the evidence supported my view but I don’t think I ever held the belief that no evidence would change my mind.  But lately I’ve come across Christians who say that faith trumps evidence and therefore no evidence could change their mind.  On the other hand I’ve read atheists’ specific lists of what would change their minds.  Here’s another one.  I think most atheists could come up with a similar list.  But what I see many Christians saying is that it’s ok to doubt – as long as that doubt leads back to God.  And it doesn’t matter which issue you bring up with most Christians – they ultimately say that they just have faith that it is true and that the evidence they’ve been presented with won’t change their mind.  To me this is a huge difference between the two camps:  a willingness to change one’s view if there is sufficient reason to do so.

I’m certainly open to changing my mind.  If I was able to change my views while believing it could send me to a literal hell then I think that speaks pretty loudly to the fact that I am concerned with truth and not just accepting someone else’s views.

Deconversion Story at ‘Thoughts From a Sandwich’

Sharing another deconversion story:

DagoodS – Deconversion Story

[Click on the next chapter at the end of each of his posts.]

I loved reading all of it but was particularly struck by his explanations of the issues that he could no longer ignore within Christianity.  If you are a doubter then you need to read his entire story.  I almost hate to pick out any of it because I want you to read the entire thing, but at the end he has this to say that I really related to:

What happens after a Christian becomes an atheist?  Well…life moves on regardless.  The sun rises, clients call, and newspapers continue to be delivered. While it was a shake-up, much of my life moved forward as before.  I met the following weeks, months and years with a mixture of emotions.

Believe it or not, there was a feeling of relief.  All those questions and attempts to determine what God was thinking, or what God was saying, or what God wanted were resolvable in the simple notion that everything I had learned about God was the human interpretation of what God was like.  It was a human project, with human results.  The unadorned answer to these complex questions?  God was human-made.

It resolves the Problem of Evil.  Resolves the conflicts (both historical and doctrinal) in theistic claims.  Resolves the answer as to why God was so non-responsive, so hard to find.  Resolves why humans provide 1000 different solutions to 10,000 different questions about God.  Resolves why Christian book stores bulge with Self-Help books.

The humanity of God explained why non-believers and believers alike shared the characteristics of good and evil.  Both were as likely to be a person of anger as a person of love.  There is nothing “divine” in being a Christian; nor in Christian “fruit.”  It is humanity looking for a justification to act a certain way.

There was also relief in having been through an ordeal.  It is tiring on the body to deprive it of sleep.  It was tiring on my spirit to be constantly aching for a God I believed in and hear nothing but silence.  It was tiring on my mind to be suppressing the obvious implications of what I read.

I became elated.  For the first time, I could openly read the Bible in any manner!  There was no preconceived dogma which required “scripture to interpret scripture” or that it was God-inspired, or inerrant.  Ephesians could be written by Paul, not written by Paul, or not even qualify to be in the Bible!  Isaiah could be a complete book, or a conglomeration of two or three books.  It could be written in 740 BCE or 450 BCE.  I was not pre-determining conclusions, and looking for evidence to support them; rather I was looking at the evidence, and coming to conclusions.

I want to let him speak for himself, so if you are a doubter, please take the time to read his story.  I’m really glad that I’ve been coming across these wonderfully written deconversion stories lately.  They speak to the human aspect of each deconversion and I love being allowed to follow along as I read about each stage of their journey.  And as always – I hope that sharing this might help someone out there who is struggling with their own doubts and needs to know that others have traveled the same road.