My transition from belief to doubt

sent in by UberKuh

My transition from belief to doubt encompasses a long, arduous journey, but I can summarize it as follows. The Bible states in verses like Proverbs 8:17 and Jeremiah 29:13 that God wants us to learn more about Him and that, when we do, He will reveal His presence to us. These verses inspired me. I understood them as statements of a single promise, not a potential. In other words, I understood that I could count on the fact that, every time I looked for God, He would find me.

These verses initially inspired me, but they later confused me. The deeper I searched, the harder it became to believe that the Bible would fulfill its promise. No one seemed to be able to answer most of my questions and, given that I continued to ask questions when others were answered, the net result was that nothing added up. This became unbearable.

I could cite a number of problems that overwhelmed me, but one stands out because of its prevalence in theological debate. This is the problem of evil. I could not account for God's allowance of, or responsibility for, evil and suffering in the world. Consider the recent tsunami that killed over 250,000 people. These people died horribly by drowning and other effects of this disaster. Why would God allow or, worse, cause this? The Bible contains several stories in which God punished one or more people for their sins. The story of Noah's ark is one. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is another. In the first, God drowned virtually all of His creation because He had grown tired of their continual wickedness. In the second, God explicitly told Moses that he did not care about the innocent, only about the ratio of innocent to guilty, and that he would destroy everyone if Abraham could not prove that a certain number of people were righteous. Abraham failed to do this, so God burned alive the entire populations of two cities. In both stories, God saved one small family, but killed multitudes.

In Romans 3:10-12, it states that no one is righteous before God. Psalms 14:3, Psalms 53:3, and Ecclesiastes 7:20 support this. God gave Moses an impossible test.

Moreover, the Bible states throughout that God is perfectly good. How can this be true if He indiscriminately and brutally takes lives? Why should babies and animals suffer for the sins of rapists and prostitutes? The Bible states that Jesus carried the weight of our sins for us, and that only he could, which means that not only do I not have to be punished for my sins, but that I also certainly do not have to be punished for the sins of other people.

As I mentioned, the problem of evil represents one of a host of questions that plagued me over the course of several years. All of these questions, however different, point to one inescapable conclusion, namely, that God cannot exist. I fought this conclusion repeatedly. I hated that my struggle to know God had led me to His absence. My struggle falls under two categories, the pursuit of truth and the denial of it. Under the first, my relationship to Christianity was supremely satisfying. Under the second, it was torturous. I cannot describe the pleasures and pains I experienced because of this religion.

Religion continues to pervade my thoughts and I continue to study Christianity as well as other religions. I study religion religiously, you might say, although, I am relieved to finally admit that I am no longer religious. I am free from internal religious constraints.

San Francisco
How old were you when you became a christian? unsure; as young as I can recall
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? difficult to answer, but roughly 18 or 19
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Baptist, United Methodist, fundamentalist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? strong atheist, humanist, transhumanist, freethinker, semi-Objectivist
Why did you become a christian? family, tradition, indoctrination, social status/acceptance
Why did you de-convert? logic, empathy, integrity
email: manatees at gmail dot com

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