My decision to become agnostic did not happen overnight. It took several years before I came to realize exactly what I believed. I grew up believing Christianity was fact so it took time for me to kill that virus that had infected my mind. I hate to be harsh for those of you who are Christian reading this. But that is what I believe Christianity is: a virus of the mind. My hope is that you will read this article and hopefully it will allow you to question what you believe. I can't imagine anyone would want to believe in something that is not true. You don't believe the moon is made of cheese? or do you? I challenge you to read this article with an open mind. Explore the questions and really stop and think about them. Why do you believe what you believe? Do you know why? I sincerely only want to be where the truth is. If someone can convince me that Christianity, or any other religion is truth, then I want to be there. But unless I have concrete evidence I can't just go on blind faith.
Let me give you a little bit of background. I grew up in a non-traditional Christian Mennonite family. You would not have known we were Mennonite based on our family lifestyle. We dressed and looked like a typical American family. I went to public school, watched most things on TV, played games, had a very fun childhood. At home we said a quick prayer before meals. In public restaurants we did not pray. I guess my parents were ashamed??? We went to church on Sunday mornings. I attended youth activities which did included bible studies as well as fun activities such as ski trips, water parks, etc. That was pretty much it. I never saw my dad read or carry a bible. My mom was more religious than he was but even she really didn't talk much about it. Religion was pretty much in the background for me growing up. On the surface we appeared to be an average American family.
In my teen years I had always assumed Christianity was truth because that's how my parents raised me. Going to church each Sunday I had assumed the stories I learned were fact. The pastors and leaders of the church presented the material as fact. My parents believed it, so why shouldn't I? I had no reason not to believe it as an early youngster learning many new things. The great thing about church was that I didn't need to pay attention all the time. It was like school that didn't have tests. So I didn't really worry or care to much about it. I enjoyed spending time with other friends at church and that was my focus.
In my early twenties I continued to assume Christianity was truth. And in my mid twenties I started to become more serious about it. I never questioned it for the simple reason that my parents had brought me up to believe it. I thought Jesus was just as historically accurate as George Washington is. I never once questioned its validity. SO I continued to attend church and became very religious during my twenties. During that time I wouldn't have considered myself religious. I was just trying to do the best I could at following what I had believed to be God's truth. I prayed to god, memorized scripture, and I was very active in the church.
I didn't question the historical accuracy of Christianity until my early thirties. One Sunday at church our pastor mentioned the fact that the Bible is not in every country in the world. He stressed that we must work hard to present the bible into every country so all could hear Gods word. Up until that point in my life I had assumed that the bible was in every country of the world. I had assumed that every person on this earth had heard about Jesus and was given the chance to accept him or reject him. If you accept it you go to heaven. If you reject it you go to hell as the bible says. But if not every person on earth is given the chance to believe as my pastor indicated, what kind of system is that? It doesn't sound right to me. Instinctively I believe God is a fair God that loves all his Children. Just as we love our own children that we as parents are responsible for. SO damning someone to hell because of life upbringings beyond their control seems absurd to me. This really influenced me to start researching the religion deeper because I was really starting to question its validity.
This started my years of skepticism (in my early 30s) of the validity of Christianity. I stepped aside and assumed everything I learned about Christianity was wrong. I pretended as though I was an alien from another planet coming to earth for the first time. From this perspective I am presented with thousands of religions. So many that it would be impossible to research all of them. Unless I wanted to devote all of my free time to this type of research. But with life as busy as it is, it would still take a lifetime to do that. I did spend a few years researching and it consumed much of my free time. I started to look into various religions to see what they had to say. Not one convinced me they had the truth. I looked into just about every Christian denomination, as well as Mormonism, Jehovah witnesses, Jain, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca. I went from church to church Sunday after Sunday and I sat and observed the congregations and listened to the sermons. At the end of the sermons I'd go talk to the pastor and would usually sit down in his office to discuss religious beliefs. I had many questions... Not one Pastor could answer my questions without sounding like allot of fluff. Here are my questions and concerns I presented to pastors as well as people in the congregations:
Basically, these are ten reasons/concepts why I'm an ex-Christian...
1) Why do you believe what you believe? The majority of people will give an answer based on their bible. Or they will say its how they were raised. Why do you believe in the bible? Why do you assume your parents are correct in what they have taught you? You have to get to the root of what you believe. What makes the Bible real to you? Most Christians can't answer this other than it was passed down from generation to generation and is a very old book. So what!! Grimm's fairy tales are old. But I don't believe that to be truth. How do you know its truth? Most will say you must have faith. Or even blind faith. That is not good enough for me. I must have evidence. Especially since we are dealing with the supernatural. I should sense some kind of supernatural experience and that is simply not the case. I think people fool themselves into believing they have such an experience. But it is really only a virus of the mind affecting their thought.
2) IF the Bible has not made it into all the countries of this world, that means people are damned to hell for reasons beyond their control. That thought really troubles my mind. The bible says you must come to Jesus in order to make it into heaven. It seems very illogical that God would send millions of people to hell because they never got a chance to hear his word. How can you believe something as horrible as this? Christianity claims to be a supernatural phenomena. IF this is the case, then I think EVERYONE on this planet should have access to it. God in all his infinite powers should give EVERYONE a chance to hear his word. I shouldn't have to search hard for it. It should be as readily available as the morning sun is on a hot summer day. But that is simply not the case. I can't accept the fact that God would send innocent people like this to hell. When I talk to Christians about this concept they say we can't know what God would do in a situation like this. God may in fact save his children if they are not given the chance. However that is NOT what my bible says. The bible clearly indicates you must come to Jesus in order to be granted access to heaven.
3) We as children often follow what our parents teach us out of instinct. I grew up assuming Christianity was truth because that is how I was raised. My neighbor grew up atheist and assumed that as truth because of how she was raised. Our distant neighbors in other countries grew up believing Muslim, Hindu, etc was truth because of how they were raised. Its often difficult to convert someone to your line of thinking (no matter what it is) because of how they were raised. Do you believe in Christianity because that is how you were raised? Or did you really think about its origins and how it came to be. If Christianity is 100% truth as it claims to be, is it fair to be raised in a family that does not teach it? Which means the chances of a Hindu or Muslim converting to Christianity is slim to none. Is that fair? Not at all!!! And you can't blame the people that were raised outside of Christianity. Yet that is what happens because the bible says these people will burn in hell. It doesn't matter how good you are. If you do not come to Jesus and accept him as your savior, you will burn in hell according to the bible. So according to Christianity, my good friend that believes in the religion called Jain is going to hell. Even though he is a moral individual and believes 100% in his religion because that is what he was raised to believe.
4) Why are there so many Christian denominations? If the bible is perfect as it claims, then we should not have any mis-enterpretations. But as you know, that's why we have different denominations. Because one group interprets various scriptures differently than another. IT seems to me that if we have a perfect book as it claims to be, there should be only ONE denomination called Christianity and that's it. Or God in his magnificent power should set it right and tear down the walls of uncertainty! I can understand the Christian concept that God has given us free will, so we can make our own decisions and lead our own lives in order to accept or reject Christianity. And if this is a true concept, then I would expect the religion itself, and the people that organize and lead it to have unity. Otherwise there is much confusion about which church to attend as a new comer. What is Baptist? What is Mennonite? What is Methodist? Why not just ALL CHRISTIAN!! That would make more sense. But seeing there is so much confusion amongst the believers makes me question the validity of the religion itself. And I've discussed with many non-Christians raised atheist or agnostic and they are so confused looking at all of it they don't even want to think about attending. To them it looks as bad as a satanic church does to a Christian. A Christian wouldn't step foot into a satanic church. Neither does a non-Christian want to step foot into a Christian church. Both are appalling to the individual. Its all a matter of perspective.
5) The bible talks about the Holy Spirit which Christians pray and communicate to. Even during my religious years it always bothered me that prayer always seemed so one sided. I would pray to God, but not hear words back to me like when speaking in a normal conversation to someone. How do you hear God when you pray? Most Christians say you must quiet your mind and listen. Well sure I can do that, and I did. I would claim I heard revelations from God as a Christian. But now I know I was only fooling myself when I did that. Watch the movie "Saved" and you'll see how God can speak to you. Christians will say you can tell what your hearing is from God if it lines up with scripture. This just seems like a bunch of b.s. to me. If I'm really speaking to God in the supernatural, then I think I should see a vision or really hear him with an auditory voice. NOT have to interpret the words that are in my own mind to see if it lines up with the bible or not. Which bible should I pick? The book of Mormon? holy bible? It just doesn't make sense.
6) Along with prayer is the Christian concept of speaking in tongues. Many Christians don't believe in tongues anymore. Yet many do. Its in the bible so why shouldn't it exist if the bible is real? The bible doesn't claim these have ceased to exist. Yet that's what many people will say. If you attend a church that speaks in tongues its very interesting. As a dedicated Christian, I wanted desperately to be able to speak in tongues. I prayed many many times for this to happen to me. But it never did. I talked to many religious people about it and they said it was a gift that God would give you if he thinks you should have it. One religious friend claimed he received the gift from God. He said he just started babbling and that was all it took. So was this man really speaking another language aka tongues? Or was he just babbling nonsense. In the bible, it claims they had interpreters there to help people understand what was said. I don't see this in churches today that speak tongues. Perhaps that is why other churches don't believe in it or practice it. So how can one church believe in it and not another church? Either you're given the gift or your not from my understanding when I read the bible. Or perhaps the reality is that these are just fictional stories in the Bible and it never happened to begin with. That's why churches that don't believe in it don't want to mess with it. Because they know they don't have people with the gift to interpret tongues. Because its all made up and is fictional stories.
7) I had another interesting religious experience that goes along with the concept of speaking in tongues. At one church I visited, the people were walking up to the front of the church and the pastor would touch each person and they would miracucly fall to the floor passing out. They had someone catching the individual so they would not fall on their head. But the pastor claimed it was God touching them and they would then have a supernatural experience from this event occurring. I was a visitor that Sunday but I wanted desperately for that experience to happen to me. So I prayed to god with an open mind and walked up to the front of the church. The pastor touched me but nothing happened. He whispered in my ear for me to just fall back. So I did. But I had expected a supernatural experience to occur and it was nothing more than a load of b.s. This experience didn't cause me to step away from Christianity. But as I look back on the experience I can add it to my list of stuff that just doesn't make sense. Looking back on this event if this was a true supernatural experience I would have expected to have passed out without needing a pastor to whisper the words "just fall back" to me. I saw a similar thing on TV where they had what was called laughter of the holy spirit. The entire church was laughing in hysteria as the pastor touched them. It looked to me like the same kind of b.s.
8) There are MANY contradictions found in the bible. Just go to this site and see as many as you want: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/index.html Do you know how the bible came to be? I didn't just appear out of the sky from God. It is actually 66 books joined into one, written by many authors which claim they were divinely inspired by God. And then, a vote was taken to determine which books would make up the bible. The books that didn't make it are called the apocrypha which the Catholics believe. How do we know the men that wrote this bible were divinely inspired? Could they have been as divinely inspired as I was when I was religious?? They didn't have a bible to line up their thoughts with. So as a result they got direct revelations? It doesn't make sense that they did, and now we don't! It seems to me this could all be made up. The stories of the bible could very easily have been made up and not divinely inspired. Why not? That idea seems to be more of a reality than it being divinely inspired. Otherwise there would not be so many contradictions.
9) As we get towards the end of my list you must be wondering what is my core belief? I would call myself an agnostic. I look around me and I think its highly possible that the world and the universe were created by some higher power. The diversity of life is a big visual that is obvious. All the different animals, vegetations, people etc. I am uncertain if evolution is how we originated from. But I can accept the theory. And its possible God created and used evolution to create our world. The fact is I just don't know. That is why they call it the "theory of creation" and the "theory of evolution". They are NOT fact! But I do believe in God. I don't necessarily believe in the Christian God. But I believe in a higher power. I still pray to God and ask this higher power to reveal himself to me if it should be found in a particular religion. But I have yet to have that answered. I've finally reached the point in my life where I am finally content in what I believe. I still believe in many of the concepts of the bible. Such as thou shall not steal, lie, etc. Other concepts I may not believe in. For instance living with someone before you are married. I believe marriage is a good thing. But I believe I can love my partner in life and not have to be married to her in order to share a building together. If I'm committed in my soul to her, marriage can wait. I bring this up because many Christians think I'm living in sin because of my current roommate. I am not living in sin because I don't believe the bible is truth to begin with. But I believe I love my partner and I respect her and we can share a life together as a married couple or as a non-married couple. Sharing the same building is irrelevant.
10) If the Christian people themselves are supernaturally inspired by God, then why don't they know about my lack of faith until I bring it up. I lived for along time (in the closet) about my agnostics beliefs. Yet no one knew this. Why didn't God tell them? Even as I have now come out of the closet people don't know. The last church I attended was a very large church which I became a member of. The pastor never contacted me after I left. Probably because he has no clue that I left. Other Christian friends contacted me after I left. But the conversations always turned to, "you need to get back into church brother". It always seemed so fake. My real friends are my friends not because I'm a Christian, but because they accept me for who I am. A person shouldn't judge you because of what you believe. This has deeply hurt me. Leaving the church has only left me with memories of what I thought were friends and a good life. But the reality is they didn't care nor do they care after my deconversion. That is a big turn off. If Christianity is real and if God speaks to his children, something supernatural should have occurred and it didn't.
That is basically it! If I am to believe in something that claims to be 100% truth then it better be perfect and make complete sense. God should appear as a vision in the sky for everyone to see. I have prayed countless times for God to appear to me and really speak to me and help me find the truth. But I hear nothing when I do this. This makes me question everything. But I've come to the point in my life where I'm done questioning and trying to figure out what is truth. I believe we don't have the answers and we never will. The only thing we can do is live our lives the best we can. I try to love my neighbors as best as I can and to be there for the ones I love. If God is really found in a particular religion somewhere, I believe he will reveal it to my heart. Because it is my complete desire to be where God is. And from my conclusions, God is not found in religion. I can only hope he hears me when I talk to him in my mind every now and then.
To close, I want to share with you a quote that sums up what I believe.....
Cultivate and trust your own genius. You are
it. Everyone else's genius is just as precious.
Act accordingly. If what you are taught makes
no sense, you are beginning to learn. Be
suspicious of whatever society says you must
do. The social order is necessary, but often
not in your best interests. Follow your nose
wherever it may lead. Use your eyes, ears,
mind and heart well. They are all you have.
--- Philip Mitchel Hatfield.
1939 - 2001
Was: Mennonite, Baptist
Converted because: My parents raised me to believe it
De-converted because: skeptic of roots
email: cincyunixguy at yahoo dot com