sent in by Daniel Neubacher
First of all, I'm not the typical exchristian, since I was never a complete member of this religion. Actually, before I entered those times in which I started to feel so drawn to seeking God I had already been quite a convinced atheist. What I find so hard to understand about myself is why I, then, felt so drawn to God, felt so thoroughly that God has to exist. I had no traumas to overcome, and no deep fears to calm with the God thought. I was ... bored with life, and I felt that God would be some kind of vehicle for me, something by whose help I could somehow enter life again and get to enjoy happiness. I had no fundamentalistic notions of belief, I pursued a God of magical realism, someone who would show me the way into bliss, it was monotheism and pantheism, all in one.
Some months ago I asked my friend what I talked about in those time, since I have already forgotten much. He told me I would have gotten lost in math, and that I would have talked of a convincing proof I would have found in numbers that God would be a part of the universe. Perhaps I thought of a spirit that roams this world, a spirit thinking of itself as being God. Perhaps it was another outflow of a confused pantheism.
A very confused time followed, a time where I lost much of my personality. Eventually, after a suicide attempt by which I imagined I would get to heaven, I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I got prescribed very ineffective meds, and over the years that followed my doctors only changed the dosage of that med, but never the medicine itself. I'm still not completely sure, but perhaps it was this med which then caused me a time of great suffering. The schizophrenia had harmed my initial manic joy about having found God, and as I tried to cure this I started reading the bible. Which turned out to be a very frightening experience. I found that I could not really get this book to prove to me that my happy pantheistic lover God really existed ... in truth, the perspectives for me and even the whole majority of humanity became to look very bleak. I began to discuss this online at a few bible forums, and when I talked about how I dreaded the end of the world and the high probability of all my family and friends ending up in hell, I was simply told this would be the way of things. Amongst others this way the prime reason for me never being able to reconcile myself to this God. However, I believed in this God, believed that he existed.
After a while though my schizophrenia got worse and worse, probably because I didn't allow myself to believe in common sense hopes like that anything will usually turn out well if I work on it. Meanwhile, my christian "friends" at those forums told me that my schizophrenia was in truth demonic possession, another thing to add to the list of what I feared and dreaded but could not escape. I went to a local pastor to talk with him about that, and he prayed with me and blessed me ... but it didn't work. I still have great respect for this pastor though, he told me with great conviction that christianity did many mistakes in its history, and that especially fundamentalism should always be taken with many grains of salt. Not so much because of the fundamentalism itself, not because of its teachings and doctrines themselves, but rather it were its adherents which that pastor was suspicious of not having pure intentions. After all, what must a man be like who in one moment preaches from fire and brimstone for the majority of humanity and in the next minute talks of how much praise this God deserves who has saved him?
Anyway, my schizophrenic suffering got still worse and worse. I heard voices, had hallucinations, suffered from frequent nightmares and bouts of anxiety. I felt like I was no more myself but only a bag full of pain. I tried to counter this what I then believed to be the effect of christian beliefs by simply embracing atheism again. But for that, it was too late. I *could* not learn to disbelieve in the existence of this dark and evil God, I could not unlearn to always look for interpretations of happenings so that this evil God would be excused.
Then, after a period where things got slightly better due to a wonderful holiday I had with my parents at a beautifully peaceful landscape in Germany, I talked with my doctor again, and she said she would have decided that I should go to the hospital again to get tested for another med. I was very happy, and as it turned out it was the best thing I could hope for. The doctor at the hospital prescribed me with a new med, and in the course of 10 days, believe it or not, almost all of my schizophrenic symptoms vanished. The voices disappeared, the nightmares, the hallucinations ... anything. I began to feel like myself again, which was the greatest gift I ever had been given.
This was in autumn 2003. With the exception of a few days things have steadily improved. I'll be having a job again soon. Girls look very interesting again.
And religion stopped playing a big role. I found again how in my country religion is a private matter ... and no grounds to wage social wars over. I found how many people live their lives without religion, and live well. I also found other people with different religions, and how they, also, live their lives well. Another thing I rediscovered was that the christian concept of sin is not at all so depressing: it simply describes sins against God. At preventing sin against a human, against groups of humans or against the whole of humanity christianity is not a bit better than any other religion or worldview. In fact, it seems to me that many atheists or agnostics have a better grip on morality than many christians have. It even seems to me that many christians wouldn't have a morality if they didn't have their God with all his weird rules.
I told some of my new thoughts to the christians I had met online ... and discovered the true nature of some of them. They told me how I had never been a real christian, that I would have never gotten "reborn", that my evil spirits had overcome me etc. They even began to kinda threaten me by telling me that I could get side effects from my meds and that my meds wouldn't keep me healthy forever. Totally in disrespect of what medical science has to say, of which I have started to stay informed about.
As far as my current worldview goes that's where I still have some difficulties. I'm no real atheist or agnostic, the label I feel closest to is humanism. I'm trying to unlearn idealism for realism.
Ok, that should be all. Thanks for this site here to be there.
Have a nice day!
Became a Christian: I never completely enlisted in a church but was seriously religious for 3 years
Ceased being a Christian: I started becoming less and less religious again since I got 25
Labels before: freeform christian
Labels now: adventurer, pursuer of simplistic sagedom
Why I joined: strange impressions, without any real evidence I somehow "awoke knowing that there is a God", and that I would have to do a work for him
Why I left: stress, fear, uncertainity, doubts
Email Address: DNeubacher@gmx.net
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)