Total Believer to Total Bullshit (now with less calories)

sent in by Joey JoeJoe Shabadoo

Well, it's been a long road and I imagine it will only get longer. All of this started when I was very young and as far back as I can remember my parents took me to the local Lutheran Church every Sunday (Missouri Synod - very traditional). The only way of not going was to be deathly ill. I don't remember ever being thrilled about going to church except to play with a couple kids that also went there. Going to church on Sunday morning was so ingrained into me that to not go just felt weird and strange. As I reached school age I was put into a private school that was pretty much run by Southern Baptists. So at that point religious instruction was an everyday thing (except on Saturday of course). My home life wasn't great but I have to say I miss those days (anyone remember Tom & Jerry cartoons, those were awesome, it was great to be young and innocent).

When I reached the middle school years the religious stuff started getting heavy. I had Bible class every day at that private school I was still going to and our teachers tried to not only instruct us in Protestant doctrine but also turn us into little loyal Republicans. At the time my mom voted Democrat and that didn't mean much to me but when I mentioned it one day there was an uproar at school. I made a note to never mention politics again. It was during this period (middle school and early high school) where I would say the most damage was done. The damage I'm referring to was to my critical thinking skills. All logic and reason were twisted beyond belief and sometimes I feel very angry that someone didn't help me. I know that would have been difficult at the time especially since I was steeped in a religious environment almost everyday. Even today I have some animosity towards my father because I feel he failed me as a parent to provide me with the critical thinking skills that are necessary to discern fact from bullshit.

Somewhere around 14 or 15 I became a very committed Christian and there was even a brief moment where you might say I had a religious experience. Not only did I believe everything about the gospel but I also bought the whole creationism bit too. I truly believed that 200 years of geological investigation were in error and that I was right. My faith was such that it didn't bother me a bit that I didn't know a thing about geology because I was sure I was right! I even believed that Catholics weren't real Christians and that they were going to hell. At this point, my faith was pretty much fundamentalist Southern Baptist which I'm sure you all know is almost beyond description (to someone not steeped in it).

After graduating from high school and spending some time in college off and on, I slowly became a little less religious and was more accepting of non-fundamentalist people. I started attending a covenant church and to this day I was never quite sure what they believed, but it was a friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I lapsed back into a very fundamentalist church again which unsettled me since sometimes they would preach things that I thought was bullshit (for example, babies, less than 1 year old, can go to hell). Somehow, what little critical thinking skills that were left slowly crept forward again and I started to think!!! I would formulate arguments in my head for both sides and run through the consequences. Some of these internal debates were again unsettling so I decided to research some of these things. I began to look into how the Bible was put together, who was involved in selecting the books, what manuscripts do we have today, etc. Over the course of a year or so I pretty much came to the conclusion that a lot of stuff in Christianity is bullshit and the rest consists of grand claims that are untestable. Also, in terms of form and function, Christianity is very similar to many other religions and the psychology of belief is pretty much the same for all religions. I am now an agnostic and hold the opinion that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. As far as I can tell, there are no deities and no grand plan for the universe. So I have decided to create my own purpose for my existence and hopefully contribute at least a little bit to our knowledge of the universe.

I just remembered what the trigger was that brought my critical thinking skills back into use. I was at the library and I read something by Richard Feynman and it was different than anything I could recall reading and it really got my neurons working again. Its a shame I didn't discover his writings earlier.

How old were you when you became a christian? 15
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 24
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Baptist
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Agnostic
Why did you become a christian? Really believed it was true
Why did you de-convert? the light of reason plus research

9 comments:

Daniel said...

Interesting "ex-imony". Thanks for sharing with us. I feel the same anger at times, but then realize that those around me didn't have the critical thinking skill to impart otherwise they would've been agnostics too, haha.

freedy said...

Your right! "all religions are the same."

JeffXL said...

Welcome to Ex-C! I was raised LCMS, too.

I hated going to church and Sunday school. It was so very mind-numbingly dull.

The chuch we attended was much more tame than other LCMS churches-- because it was on a college campus maybe?

Jim Lee said...

Cannot understand why you consider yourself agnostic? To me. agnostics are those sort of people who want to straddle the fence, to be on the safe side. Research, logic and reason tell us there is no God or Gods. Like yourself I took it all on board in a serious way for a decade. Research proves that all religions are frauds, and Christianity would have to be the greatest of all frauds. Today I'm very proud to label myself atheist and I don't give a stuff who knows it. I've done the hard yard through extensive research.

Nanabanana said...

I was raised LCMS as well...and I am 61. However, I had the same feeling about church and sunday school, catechism and confirmation that you and others mentioned!

Welcome to the freeing world of truth!

Anonymous said...

Joey JoeJoe here, thanks for the comments. Sorry for leaving out all the interesting details of my deconversion but I didn't want to get into terrible detail since I haven't really made it known to my friends and family that I'm no longer Christian. There are many friendships that I value highly and I will wait for the appropiate time to tell them.

Regarding Jim Lee's comment, yeah, I'm pretty much an atheist. I use the agnostic label since that is what I'm most comfortable with and I'm not a real stickler for labels. I'm definitely not a fence sitter and I'm actually quite embarrased when I remember what I used to believe. In a way though, I may have never seriously analyzed my beliefs if I hadn't turned so fundamentalist. I could have ended up a pew potato Lutheran ("I don't need to think because Luther wrote everything down in his catechism").

By the way, the most ironic thing regarding my deconversion experience is that I actually appreciate life, beauty, and the universe now than ever before (ironic in the sense that religious people don't expect this to happen). The other day I saw Saturn through a telescope and it was one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen. I don't know what it is but seeing a blurry image in the freezing cold can bring more wonder than all the pictures and descriptions out there. If you get a chance, visit your local observatory!

J.T. Finally Free said...

Great Story!! Glad to see you found your way out of this madness we call christianity. Welcome to the site!! Religion is just awful!! Isn't it?? I would say that 60% of the world's violence stems from Religion while the other 40% has to be dealt with by an ethical society. I don't think evil comes from a "Satan". I just think as human beings we are still going through the evolution process and some of us are more F'd up in the head than others. And to be honest with you I cannot see how religion has made this world a better place when you consider the violent history of both Christianity and Islam. These finatics are driving mankind to destruction. It is really crazy. We will never progress as human beings as long as religion is in the mix.

freedy said...

The step from believer to agnostic is a big one!The step from agostic to athiest is not.
Jim,..show a little patience man!
lol,...peace freedy

Dano said...

The only thing an agnostic is saying is that he doesn't know what force created everything, and that it probably can't be known with human intelligence.
Dan

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