sent in by Jason
I grew up believing that I was in the one True denomination in the one True religion. I was a Seventh-day Adventist, God's chosen remnant church, commissioned with spreading God's truth to everyone, including other Christians who had the wrong message. Basically Seventh-day Adventists believe that the final dividing line between God's faithful and those who have fallen away, is whether you go to church on Saturday instead of Sunday. Pretty stupid, huh?
The reason I was able to agree to believe that for so long was that I only knew other SDA's. I never actually had to think about how ridiculous the whole thing was. Then I went to a non-denominational high school and realized how cruel and arbitrary that dividing line was. These people are going to hell because they go to church on the wrong day of the week? It was ludicrous.
It was about that time that I started searching for information about Ellen White online. There was all kinds of information about how her "visions" contradicted the Bible, and how they were probably caused by epilepsy. I also found out that she was a major plagarist. At that point I decided I was just some kind of generic Christian.
But I had more questions. A Jehovah's Witness pamphlet made me question whether the Trinity was really Biblical. At school I had a "doctrine" class where the teacher would just go through a bunch of standard Christian beliefs and have us memorize that Biblical texts that "proved" it was true. Well, the only texts that could give did not point to a Trinity. They made Jesus sound like some kind of divine being that God had created.
So I started reading the New Testament for myself to see what the truth was. I only got as far as Matthew 16:27-28:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."
It scared the shit out of me. Not only was the Bible not making Jesus out to be God, he made a false prophecy. All the disciples were dead and Jesus still hadn't come back. I couldn't understand how people could read this and still believe in Jesus. Couple that with the fact that his narrative sounded crazy and disjointed, and my faith was only hanging on by a thread.
Then a Christian friend sent me a link to the Skeptics Annotated Bible message board. It was there that I found out about the contradictory lineage of Jesus, and a lot of other contradictions. But it was not the contradictions that shattered my faith completely. It was the absurdities and the cruelty. Why was all this magical, fairy tale stuff recorded in the Old Testament not happening now? Why should I believe these fairy tales and miracles, but not the ones from other religions?
And then there was the cruelty of God in the Old Testament. It became clear to me very quickly that the God they were talking about in there was not the God I believed in. It was a God as cruel as the times. There was no mercy or love from this God. It was just vengence and wrath. I realized that not only was there no evidence for the existence of this God, it was a God unworthy of praise. At this point I ceased being a Christian.
In the time since then I have come to see the ridiculousness of the entire sacrificial system of forgiveness and many other absurdities of Christianity. One of my biggest influences was Thomas Paine's "The Age of Reason." My strongest religious conviction is that there is no such thing as divine revelation. If there is something called "God" that people experience, I think it is something psychological, not supernatural.
I think the only way many people will move forward is if they can get satisfactory explanations of the religious experiences. Hopefully then we can let go of these mythical beliefs and dogmas that so constrain human life at the present time. I don't have anything against people believing in God, I think the problem comes when the believe in a God that someone imagined in the iron age, when cruelty was more accepted.
Anyway, that's my anti-testimony.
How old were you when you became a Christian? Born into it.
How old were you when you ceased being a Christian? 20
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Seventh-day Adventist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Apatheist - Don't care about the question
Why did you become a christian? See above.
Why did you de-convert? It was completely unnecessary.
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)