4/29/08                                                                                       View Comments

One year as a Christian was enough

Sent in by Shadowed One

Ironically, I became a christian due to mental problems, which lead to a psychosis.

I guess an ideal Christian is a eunuch (you remember those parts about them in the bible, don't you?), who had a lobotomy so he has no sinful wishes or blasphemous thoughts.

Well, from that point of view year of taking neuroleptics was very useful. My doubts grew over time, but the moment,when I stopped considering myself a Christian was when I read about God killing 70,000 innocent people because David ordered a census of the people (1 Chronicles 21) .

The book of Job is also pretty stupid. God has a bet with devil that no matter what happens Job will remain loyal to him. To check it out he lets devil kill all Job's slaves and children and "smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." Another nice Christian story.

Also,I was a member of Messianic community, where pastor was very serious about the "don't ignore the OT" stuff. Surely,Jesus didn't cancel the OT, but doesn't that mean,that they should not only obey the "what to eat" stuff and sabbath, but also,for example,stone to death those,who don't? I wonder...

Being a christian I had to feel guilt about anything that's related to sexual desire and to believe, that many people are going to be sent to a "lake of fire" by a "god, who loves them," because they've done something wrong. (George Carlin made great fun of this crap in his "Religion is bullshit" act. You can check it out on YouTube).

Sure makes you feel kinda uncomfortable. Now I feel like I should apologise to my friend-atheist, whom I tried to "save." Or just don't mention it.

Also, my cultural desires are pretty non-Christian. My favorite authors are Camus, Nietzsche and Bertrand Russell, nevertheless I do admire Kierkegaard and a few other religious authors. Music I like is also often pretty blasphemous (industrial,dark-folk e.t.c. ).

Talking about the Christians I got to meet: at their best,they are good tempered, at their worst...

Well, in our community we had a prayer before the begining of the show, they (80-90 % in the community were rather old women) used to form a small circle, aim their hands to the centre (sorry, I just don't know how to say it in English) and try to summon Jesus or Adonai or something. It was sometimes followed by hysterical screams like "We need you, Lord! You promised, Lord!" e.t.c. The "I know the absolute truth" and "you are going to hell,if you do not repent" types of christians are very annoying.

Anyway, I didn't notice any Holy Ghost's killing any "old men." Well, maybe this bullshit IS killing the old men who attend the services, but I am not sure.

Thank you for your attention and sorry for my poor English.

City: Riga
Country: Latvia
Became a Christian: April 2007
Ceased being a Christian: April 2008
Labels before: Jewdo-christian
Labels now: Agnostic
Why I joined: I needed a crutch
Why I left: Don't need it anymore,besides,I HAVE read the Bible

4/25/08                                                                                       View Comments

My seed of doubt

Sent in by Johnny

I was sitting with my pastor at the seminary I was attending for development in Christianity program, and we were talking about one of the finer points in Calvinistic dogma, that being predestination. This was the moment, after 20 years of Christian living, that would instill the mustard seed of doubt into my mind, which would eventually lead to my leaving of Church, of the faith, and eventually any notion of God.

I was raised in a Christian home, by Christian parents. I was taught all of the same teachings that every Christian has heard thousands upon thousands of times. I was pulled out of secular middle school to be home schooled with a Christian curriculum. I had science classes that taught against evolution. I had writing classes with exercises that were always Christianized in theme. I had math classes that had me adding and subtracting problems, with Bible verses on the sides of the page.

I went to Church every Sunday. And youth group every Tuesday. And I had Bible study every Wednesday. And in high school I led a Bible study with jr. High students every Thursday night. I lived and loved in the Church. It was, completely and wholly, my life. My doubts were brief, my emotions high, and I remember praying every night before bed...begging God not to judge me for the sins I still committed against him.

But here I was, 20 years old, at a seminary...never having anything that could be called "a crisis of faith" up until this point, and here speaking to my pastor...I could not accept the idea of God punishing people.

The idea of hell had always bothered me. Why had Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, yet only Christians got into heaven? Why would a god that ultimately is supposed to love us as we are created in his image...why would he throw us into hell? Why would that place even exist? The old phrase, "why do bad things happen to good people?" but on a larger and more eternal playing field.

And with the idea of predestination, came the idea that I made no life choices. I had no free will. While the belief in predestination is not one the whole of Christianity, or even a majority of it, accept as fact...the point was still hitting me on a daily basis at this point that I had no free will. God was so big and powerful that his plan was formed and written millions of years ago (figuratively), and there was nothing I could do to change anything.

My life suddenly felt dark and empty. My pastor even told me that I never accepted Jesus into my life. I was so dead in sin, that Jesus chose to save me. The pivotal moment in my life as a Christian...and it didn't even matter. I had done nothing. And it made me question, why go out and mission to people, when they are already chosen? If God made his mind up at the beginning, why should I try and save anyone?

That was my seed of doubt.

Then college came. I lived in the dorm my first year away for college, and my roommate was chosen randomly. He was, as it turned out, a former Christian who now studied philosophy. Over the course of the year me and him had many discussions about the way of life, the way things used to feel for us as Christians, and my doubt in the faith began to grow the more I read on things in the field of science. Things I had never learned in high school. I was taught about the lies in evolution, and now I was finding out that it was actually my book that had been lying. I learned about philosophy. I learned more about art. And every night I would talk to my roommate, and he would continue to answer my questions about things away from faith.

The last night of my Christian life, the last time I would identify myself as a Christian, I asked Robbie, my roommate, if he thought he was still happy without God in his life. I was so scared that I was going to be lonely and miserable without Him. I thought without Church, and Christ I was going to live a sad life.

Robbie didn't even answer with words. He just sat there and smiled. And that smile warmed me more than the smile of any pastor I had heard or seen in my life. It was a smile of comfort in life, with no mysticism. A life of just...life. No afterlife to worry about, no sins to atone for.

I was 20 years old, and I in that moment in my dorm, I stopped calling myself a Christian. It took me another year before I could fully stop believing in any version of a god, and a year after that until I could argue my points with all the friends I had that were Christians. And most of them still are, sadly.

I am 25 now, and I am more happy now than I ever was as a Christian. I don't have this huge guilt that I am a bad person hanging over my head. I don't constantly feel like I am this evil creature. I don't go about my life worrying about heaven or hell, but just the only life I have in front of me. Now, in addition to grad school and work, I work with people in my own community to help others escape from Christianity in the heart of the belt buckle.

I cannot believe how long it took me to get out, but I am thankful that I have the rest of my life to help others try and get out earlier. You don't have to live a lie. You don't have to live a life away from science and facts, from true enlightenment. You can be free to accept the world as a flawed place, and work on making this world, this earth a better place, rather than just hoping for a good afterlife.

There is hope, after faith.

4/24/08                                                                                       View Comments

Questions and a time to heal

Sent in by Melinda

It has been a hard six months for me since the beginning of my questioning. I started college as a devout Christian, knowing the warnings of other Christians about the secularism of college and the dangers of the information I might receive in classes. After ending a ten month relationship in which my self confidence stooped to an all time low, and my life had been centered around the ex-significant other, I let go and moved towards some of my new friends in college who happened to have more open minds than I did. I became comfortable talking about topics I "should have" felt guilty about and listened to some of their opinions with interest. Not too long later, I met a guy through one of my friends and we hit it off. It was the first healthy relationship I had ever had, in which we were compatible with each other and both felt comfortable, like we had both finally found someone who fit us. The relationship started out wonderfully, until my parents found out that he was a Wiccan.

Even till this very day, 90% of the people I mention Wicca to assume it's some dark, demonic, cultic religion, somewhere along the lines of Satan worshiping, or they think my boyfriend worships trees and roles himself around in his own dung to connect with mother nature. The crude and rude stereotypes of his beliefs, which in their true form are nothing close to what people assume, have shown me that even "open minded" people choose to be ignorant for the sake of prejudice.

The first prejudice I encountered was in my family when he and I first began dating. I was perfectly fine with dating a Wiccan, with no intent to change him, only to understand him, and he understood my Christian views at the time. We made compromises for each other. He came to church with me and made the efforts a decent man should towards my family. My mother was nice as was my father, on the surface, but when I was alone in the house with my mother, she accused me of not caring for my boyfriend's soul by not setting a good example. She interrogated me and forcefully asked if I really intended for us to marry someday, if it happened to work out, how would we raise our children. It says it's wrong in the bible, that I was responsible for his soul, that I was being careless and dense, and the verbal abuse piled on for the first month and a half.

Eventually I had a panic attack from numerous stresses in my life and contacted some of my Christian friends which I had been pushing away because of their beliefs on the matter of my dating a Wiccan. I went to my bible study leader and cried my heart out and explained the entire situation. She told me that my boyfriend had manipulated me, that the panic attack was probably the holy spirit convicting me, and that I should break up with him. With much pain, and a great deal of reluctance, I squeezed her hand and broke up with him over the phone.

After that I spent two weeks in utter pain, wondering why a god that was supposed to be merciful would take away something so positive in my life. Admittedly, my search started when I decided I would go back to my relationship with my boyfriend and find the answers in the faith as to why there were successful interfaith marriages, why there were Christians who interpreted the unequally yoked verse differently, and then from there my questions grew.

Why were there so many different opinions on the bible? Who was right? If salvation was so simple and easy, why were there so many interpretations of how to be saved, how to stay saved, and the very meaning of salvation? Why were there Mormons who don't believe in Christ's divinity and believe as fervently and feel as touched as someone who is "truly saved by believing on Christ." Why were there successful interfaith marriages if it was so clearly a no-no? Why would god go against his own will by "blessing" marriages with two different faiths? Who goes to hell? Do mentally challenged people or unborn babies go to hell? Why are there happy and fulfilled atheists? Why were there liberal Christians?

And my research brought me to many more questions. I found my answers in the logic of rationality rather than the idea of faith. I found out a bittersweet truth: beliefs and ideas are simply that, beliefs and ideas, and they don't decide the truth.

I eventually found out that growing up in a Christian household with older, conservative parents, and me as the only child, I had been protected from the reality of the outside world. I remember being told to investigate the Christian faith when I believed, but never to investigate too far. I was supposed to "test the word of god" and yet stay inside the box of belief. Well, I have learned since then that this is a milder form of brain washing. I have learned that religion is simply a harmless collection of ideas, and no matter what I have been taught, the only reason I believed it was because I was afraid. The only reason I struggle now with reality is because I am still somewhat afraid. But I have pushed through the hardest part and continue to move on. I'm moving out in a month to get out of my parents' Christianity saturated home and start my own life with the influence of a diversity of beliefs, ideas, and information at my fingertips rather than a closed-minded church.

I have found that good and bad are decided by a society's individual moral code. I have found that there is no absolute and that there can be stability in a world with not very many absolutes. I have learned that the human phenomenons of love and morality and compassion are simply products of evolution and beautiful mother nature.

I live a much freer life. However, during this reality check I know I must allow myself time to heal. It is no easy process to suddenly see the ugly truth of something that once was a kind of best friend. The rug has been pulled out from under me, but knowing there are many more others out there who think like me is a great comfort.

4/22/08                                                                                       View Comments

I consider myself a cultural Christian

Sent in by Angela

Let me first start out by saying that I love Christianity. Many of my fondest memories as a child and some of my dearest relationships are based on this religion. But I am not a believer.

There was a time when I struggled to reconcile my doubts about Jesus, the Bible and the Christian Church, but now I am able to completely accept the logic that used to nag me.

Despite my evolution of thought, I have not completely expunged Christianity from my life, and I don't think I ever will.

I now consider myself a cultural Christian.

I feel free to partake in all religious rituals and holidays because Christianity is a part of my family history and culture. I don't skulk away or outwardly protest at family gatherings when a prayer is said, I just respectfully bow my head. I don't take any of it too seriously, it only means something if you let it.

People who have strong beliefs about Christianity or Atheism may see this as a dire conflict to be resolved, but life is too short to spend time quibbling, especially with loved ones.

I am a homeschooling parent and I am teaching my Children about all religions, but they are Culturally Christian and often are read bible stories by their grandparents. I teach them that it should be taken lightly, but to treat all peoples beliefs with respect. Hopefully they will someday come to see that there is wisdom and truth to be found everywhere, in the Bible, in other religions, in nature, in science, and in their own life experiences.

4/17/08                                                                                       View Comments

I was once an MK

Sent in by DK

I was brought up as a fundamental, evangelical Christian - in fact, I am a missionary kid (MK) from Africa.

But it took me 50 years to start seriously questioning anything that I had been taught. I had been brainwashed for so long and knew all the answers and comebacks, but they are is so full of holes - and it is so obvious now that I am an outsider looking back.

This morning on the way to work I was listening to a book on tape, and they mentioned Mithra, who pre-dated Jesus by 600 years. He was born on December 25, had 12 disciples, was crucified, and rose again, and so many more similarities.

Why haven't I ever heard of this before? This is almost PROOF that Christianity is not special - but just a clone of previous ancient pagan religions. This information has blown me away, and although I have already de-converted, I am totally horrified that this is not common knowledge with enough debate material to shoot down any Christian argument.

Do you know if someone has really investigated this to see if Christianity is based on this and all a myth?

Jesus as a Reincarnation of Mithra


Thanks for any input about this.

4/14/08                                                                                       View Comments

Totally de-converted at 72

Sent in by Jay P

I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and had a flawless attendance record – so many “Gold Stars”. Then, there were church camps, becoming a Deacon in my mid-twenties and finally teaching a Sunday school class, made up of mostly teen-age girls (what’s wrong with that picture?)

After a divorce, I was very much an “outcast” in the eyes of my fellow Deacons and life-long church acquaintances. I simply moved out of my hometown and for the next 40-years (other than the 3-years I dated a Baptist minister’s daughter) I never attended a church. Not an atheist during those times, but just generally “not interested”.

Two years ago, my son the doctor, came for a visit. This is the young man, who during his entire life, was raised as a Lutheran – attended a Lutheran college (among others) and during his visits during that period of his life, would constantly use such phrases as, “Praise the Lord” or maybe, “God Love Him/Her” - and others. It just drove me nuts!

But on this visit, we just sat and talked. He revealed to me that he had, for some time, been reconsidering his lifelong path of religious thought. Bottom line – he had stepped away from Christianity. I was shocked! (Almost “giddy” at the news, but shocked none the less.)

Long story short, he suggested that I get on the web and read “Why God Doesn’t Heal Amputees” http://www.whywontgodhealamputees.com/.

This was my first intro into atheism. Kind of a shocker, but the more I read (and it is very sizable) the more I liked it and the better I felt. During that first year, I bought probably 25 or so books from Amazon and found such sites as this one which further assisted me toward de-converting.

Now 72 (two-years later) and totally de-converted from Christianity, I find my life totally improved.

As I read so many posts and appreciate so many stories (many, like mine) of newcomers to the atheist mindset, I often feel the hunger for more information - for backup in the direction they have chosen. Like most of you, I have read tons of books, visited a zillion websites and seen numerous videos. But as times passes, I can now reflect on some of my “findings” as perfect for the atheist “newby”.

I now suggest two sources that are very well done and real “eye openers”, if one has the curiosity to honestly view and hear them.

1. http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/main.htm

Zeitgeist is a 3-part, 2-hour movie. It covers Religion, 9-11 and our Banking and Money system. I am also a Patriot and continuing student of my government and its’ processes. The whole production is well done. I bought their DVD for a donation of $7, as I remember, but have since (as they suggested) made many copies for ready hand-outs to whomever I choose. I am not a “conspiracy” theorist, but my mind is always open to new-found subject matter. This thing is great and millions of folks have viewed it.

2. http://www.truthbeknown.com

This is the website of Acharya S. I know, strange name. She is an archeologist who has written several books, including “The Christ Conspiracy – The Greatest Story Ever SOLD” (under a pseudonym). She also wrote a well documented study guide to the “Zeitgeist” movie, which is also available as a download (I think about $5 donation) and really a well educated (and heavily footnoted) piece of work. Going to her website (above) and looking at the upper right-hand corner, you will see her picture (not to shabby for an egg-head). Click on that photo and you will get a 1-hr video interview that is very interesting and revealing from a qualified educator/archeologist. I also downloaded this interview a couple of days ago and made a DVD, which I will soon make duplicates for handouts. How this stuff “crunches” a good Christian. You’ll never hear about it – but it does!

I hope that this post will prove valuable to you newcomers, as well as some “old hands” that might not have seen these video subjects.

Happy days!

4/12/08                                                                                       View Comments

A stink in God's nostrils

Sent in by Mike Z

I have just recently come to my good senses concerning religion and god. Religion is horrible and there is no god.

I was raised the first 18 years of my life in a United Pentecostal Church, and those were the most awful years of my life. I am gay and going to church three times a week, sitting there listening to how I was going to hell unless I changed my ways, was the most unbelievably horrible mind fuck anyone could receive.

I was told that I was an abomination and a "stink in god's nostrils."

The thing was, I knew I was gay and I prayed and prayed to be "delivered." I had preachers try to "cast out the homosexual demon." Nothing worked. Nothing I ever did at church ever changed the feelings I had when I left the building.

After I got out of the South and moved on I knew I didn't prescribe to that brand of belief, but I thought I had to hold on to to some sort of belief. I remember visiting my older brother and him telling me that he was an atheist. Even though I didn't have the same old beliefs I had before, I was still taken aback at the thought that someone, especially a member of my own family, could just not believe in some sort of "higher power" or whatever you want to call it.

The past couple years I've been doing a lot of soul searching and trying to figure myself out and where I fit in. I came across Richard Dawkins book, "The God Delusion." After reading it, things just became clear. I can now say that I am an atheist. I do however catch myself from time to time saying things like, "Oh Lord, please don't let me be getting sick," or "Thank god I'm not sitting behind that crying baby."

Once in a while I will feel a pang of guilt because I don't believe all the mythology anymore. Does this get any easier, do those lingering feelings ever go away?

An inferior person who needs to be crushed by God

Sent in by John D

For the past two years or so, I've experienced intense bouts of anger, hatred, and depression all wrapped together into one big nasty mix. Yes, I am an ex-christian. I know and am glad the most feared, sadistic, tyrant talked about so much in public circles is not a real being. I no longer have to worry about the things he might do to me if I dare to disobey him, and this was indeed a great relief for me just as much the time of my deconversion as it is for me today.

Yet I still feel extreme bouts of rage and depression due to the fact now that I am an ex-christian, my family and relatives see me as an inferior person who needs to be "crushed." While I am no where close to being some kind of superstar prodigy, I've been a relatively responsible and motivated individual. Despite this, my family and relatives still treat me as if I am the lowest person on the planet. I am really starting to believe they want to kill me, not literally but psychologically.

They call me a young and foolish idolater who will realize the stupidity of my ways one day when God comes for me. They see any and all unfortunate events that happen to me as divine wrath for my heresy. The bad things which happen to other family members who are Christian are just seen as the devil attacking them instead or just pure coincidence.

For example, once when the motor in my car was ruined probably due to making a mis-shift, my relatives believed it occurred because God was punishing me for not following him, and that this was only the beginning of his wrath upon me. Then the following summer, I foolishly posted a message and picture about George Bush on a message board, which resulted in the Secret Service seizing my computer for a hard drive forensics test. The Secret Service interpreted the post as threatening even though I didn't mean it that way. Thankfully, I was only investigated by them and never charged with anything. My family actually cheered the fact that this happened to me. They are extreme right-wing Republicans who said that I hate George Bush because I hate God, and God used the Secret Service to break my will to resist the Lord. No, I am not kidding, they really said this and actually believe it.

I also have gotten sick feelings in my stomach when I receive Left Behind novels from my family. The stuff contained in those books is worse than Mein Kempf. So I guess what they are trying to tell me by giving me these books is that God will cleanse the Earth of the subhuman unbelievers (anyone who isn't a Christian Republican) and finish us off by throwing all of us in a big lake of fire to be tortured for eternity.

Then my "loving Christian" family members send me obnoxious Focus on the Family tracts and write me things implying that atheists and gays aren't real American citizens.

Lastly, when I'm around these fundies, they use all sorts of cruel mindgames like using their young, brainwashed kids as puppets to say nasty, mean spirited comments about how deceived I am, and how they will be all be praying for me. Then they lay judgmental Bible quotes on my belongings when I am not looking.

I could just go on and on about the negative experiences I have had with my relatives in just the past couple of years since I deconverted from Christianity. While they haven't physically harmed me, they have harmed me mentally and emotionally with their psychological games and condemnation. Some people really do treat you as a whole different class of person when you reject their religious beliefs. When I was a Christian, I was never treated like this. I would like to know if anyone else had these types of experiences with Christian family members or relatives?

4/11/08                                                                                       View Comments

Picking Christianity is like a game of Russian Roulette

Sent in by Alan B

As far as I can remember I have been asking questions. To set the scene, I am from the United Kingdom, which is a country whilst not free from religious conflicts is not as willing to show religion on its sleeve with the same pride that America does.

Both my parents raised me, and both my parents are Church of Scotland Christians. They are not the hell and damnation type, which seems to be a recurring theme on these testimonials, but the quiet type. In fact, you can barely tell they are of any religious persuasion. And this is where the questions would come. How come my parents were not as 'angry' as other Christians? Why did my parents not go to the same church as my Catholic friends? etc... The problem is, when you get two separate groups of Christians who both "love" their "god," but don't go to the same church, it is very hard to explain this phenomenon to a child. But here comes a sticking point: My parents would not go to a Catholic church any more than they would go to a mosque (a symbol of another religion where you "love" your "god"). Why not? If my Protestant parents and my Catholic friends practiced the same stuff, why did each not share this celebration instead of cold-shouldering the other party?

This is the key reason why I don't believe there is a god, or any basis behind religion. Surely, if we have three Abrahamic religions and one actually happened to be correct in its assumptions, then the other two are totally false. Picking Christianity would be like a game of Russian Roulette whereby there would be a one-in-three chance you actually got the "truth". This highlights the fact that "god" is VERY MUCH a human invention. People claim to know the workings of the brain of a super-deity, something which we are supposedly not able to comprehend, yet threaten people for acting against "god's will" as if suddenly they knew exactly what this god wanted! This is one of the many GLARINGLY OBVIOUS contradictions within religion which, unsurprisingly, is never mentioned by the religious.

Another thing which I never got hold of was the concept that religious figures commanded respect. Why? Surely if religion was all about the love of some invisible super-deity nobody would have any better grasp of religion than the next person, right? This all sounds a bit socialist all of a sudden, and hell, the churches would never be able to wring money out the elderly if they didn't offer some authority.

But, because both my parents are mild mannered, I was almost angered by their ability to still claim to have a faith, when most of the things they believed in were not the typical conservative Christian values we all know and love. Why do my parents have to call themselves Christian, and why do they have to get caught up in church?

4/9/08                                                                                       View Comments

Sometimes I cry

Sent in by Debbie L

Sometimes I cry.

Sometimes I'm sad to be so far away from what I used to be.

It's like missing home.

I wouldn't ever want to live with my parents again, but hey, there was some really good stuff there, too.

Now they look at me funny when I say I don't go to church. They look at me with sad eyes and remind me that they are praying for me. I'm sure they are, and sometimes it's hard for me to know my choices are breaking their hearts. But, I haven't chosen a life of crime. I've never hurt anyone willingly in my whole life. You'd think I was choosing to become part of the Taliban or something. They send me emails on the dangers of "THE CHURCH OF OPRAH" and how I should warn everyone that she is leading millions astray with her views.

...sigh...

I love Oprah. I know it's cliche, but I love how she speaks her mind, no matter how dorky it sounds, and that she isn't afraid to look convention in the eye and roll her eyes at it. Do I buy everything she says? NO. But, I like what she stands for... for finding your OWN way.

I don't know how to respond to these emails my mother sends me. I don't want to hurt her, but I don't want to let her keep believing I am still brainwashed either.

I've really enjoyed reading the posts on here today. It's the first time I've reached out to find others who aren't 'following' anymore.

4/8/08                                                                                       View Comments

Skeptical monkey

Sent in by Ted Goas

I hope my testimonial is short and sweet. I was raised by two educated, traditional parents in the New York metro area of the U.S. I was introduced to, schooled in, and eventually confirmed Lutheran. At no point was I ever enthusiastic about my religion or going to church. But like many others I took religious teachings at face value, went through the motions and believed what I read in the Bible.

But then I went to graduate school, which turned out to be my turning point. There I learned to question things, filter out bad information, ask for proof, and basically ask “Says who?”

During this time I watched a documentary and heard this quote from Michael Shermer: “Smart people come to revisit things they learned for not-smart reasons,” or something to that effect. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

It made me realize that children can’t control how they’re raised. But we can re-evaluate what we were conditioned to think. After doing so, my story is probably similar to many other testimonials on this site. I converted to militant agnostic / atheist. My fiancĂ© and I constantly research the subject of skepticism (in which the topic of religion naturally falls) and publish our findings on skepticalmonkey.com.

-Ted Goas
http://www.skepticalmonkey.com

I gave God up

Sent in by Sean H

I was raised in a Christian home on "Biblical Principles" (in this case as defined by an American evangelist named William Branham who my parents believed - and continue to believe - was God's prophet sent to this 'final generation' to tell them God is coming, I happen to be his mouthpiece, turn from your wicked ways, etc). Unfortunately for my pastor and parents, however, I have always had an inquisitive mind, and while I went along with all this nonsense, it never sat well with me. In my early 20s I left this fundamentalist group for a more mainstream version of Christianity. I figured that God was probably real but that I had just grown up in a community that misunderstood him. All I found though was that while the lifestyle was more enjoyable and sat more at ease with the rest of society, the same questions remained.

I am now 29 and about nine months ago I started listening to podcasts from people like Scientific American, Astronomy Cast, and The Skeptics Guide To The Universe and I realised that all these fascinating, intelligent, well-adjusted people did not need a god in their lives to find wonder and beauty in the world around them. Something clicked in me and I realised the cognitive dissonance that had plagued me for so long was not due to my mind being 'fallen' or because I was not trying hard enough to 'let go and let God' but because part of my mind was simply determined to propagate this myth that had sustained me and given me alleged purpose for so long.

So I gave God up.

It's not that simple though. I work for a Christian music company. My wife is a Christian. Most of my friends are too. Working through the transition is awkward and at times quite unpleasant but having this load now off my mind makes it so worth it.

tag: , , , , , ,

4/6/08                                                                                       View Comments

A Biblical crisis of faith

Sent in by Jim RL

I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school from kindergarten through high school. I read the Bible often and prayed every night. God was very real to me through college. During college I went to church every Sunday with my grandmother.

I quit reading the Bible when I got to the end of 2 Samuel and it tells the story of God killing 70,000 Israelites via an epidemic because David took a census that God told him to take. I just couldn't accept that story. I had a pretty liberal view of the Bible, but this story couldn't be true. My God wouldn't do that. The God I prayed to, talked to wouldn't do that...couldn't do that. The crisis of faith was never quite settled, but the feelings that story gave me eventually died down.

After college I still went to church in Columbia, South Carolina. I wasn't very comfortable with the more conservative church there. A priest in a homily once referred to NPR as "National Communist Radio". I didn't like the fundamentalization of the Catholic Church, so I went less and less.

I then began looking around at other faiths. I read Taoist and Buddhist literature. I attended a UU service a couple of times and even visited a Zen Buddhist temple. I began meditating and did some Tai Chi. I liked a lot of it, but it wasn't really right for me. But, I need some faith...didn't I?

Last spring I began reading a lot of the atheist bloggers over at ScienceBlogs. Pharyngula and Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge stick out the most in mind. At first the outspoken atheism rankled me quite a bit. I really liked their writing in general, though. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that atheism was a real option. I started thinking "Why not?", and it short order I had accepted that I was an atheist.

It was months later that my wife and I really talked about the issue. Apparently she had gone through a similar crisis of faith, and had given up on God soon after I had. It was a great discussion. I still haven't talked to my family about it. I don't know how they will react, but I am not looking forward to it. The conversation has to happen soon, though.

4/3/08                                                                                       View Comments

Does God really make me a better person?

Sent in by Jason

I call myself a human animal, no better than any other being on this planet, but I fit into the life cycle like all the other species.

I spent my life in a Christian home, with a pastor for a father who encouraged us to attend church and encouraged free thought and questioning. For this I am proud of him. I gave myself to Jesus as an adolescent without knowledge of all the facts and a warped understanding of the world.

Two months ago I changed my mind.

I have been through a mental and emotional roller coaster ride which culminated in me crying with my sister as we realised that when we die, that was it, and we would be apart. The here and now is what is precious and I let go of the hope in a paradise that is carefree and eternal.

It was devastating after believing in it for so long.

I just feel that others must know that they are not alone. I've been through thoughts of suicide as life now appears to be meaningless, and Christian friends keep saying, "If there's no purpose, why don't you just kill yourself?" Little do they know what its like to put such a belief behind yourself.

Love one another, my happiness is your happiness, appreciate all that we call life. Be open to answers, but don't become so bogged down on finding an answer that you give up - give up on life, or give up and just revert back to Christianity. Make decisions when you are thinking clearly.

Let's be an example of an alternative solution. Let us be the good people that others strive to be, the kind of person that makes the religious look at us and wonder, "Does God really make me a better person?"

4/1/08                                                                                       View Comments

But what if you're WRONG!?

Sent in by Philip

I've done it. I've gotten myself out of Christianity.

Now comes the hard part: letting go of YHWH altogether.

The only real problem I'm having with this has to do with this series of vows that I've made over the course of about two years -- absurd vows, having to do with my sexuality, my diet, how much money I spend: all leftovers from being a nervous Christian fearing I wasn't pious enough.

I've given up Jesus, because he wasn't the Messiah. But my timidness at finally giving up my vows has left me in a very awkward position as sort of a pseudo-Jew, still worrying whether or not Jewish god really does exist. If I can just get myself to break these vows, I'll be free. But this is the final threshold, and I don't ever want to look back if I can get past this.

I'm miserable, as this cognitive dissonance is tearing me apart: my rational mind telling me it's mystical nonsense, and my baser superstitious self who keeps saying "But what if you're WRONG!?"

Has anyone else come to a relatively similar point of leaving Christianity but circumstances have left you a bit of a Jew? Any ideas on how to finally hop off the edge?

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