sent in by S.L. Nield
I come from a family of pure Atheists! My Dad and Mum answered my childish questions 'what happens when you die?' With I believe unashamed and commendable honesty 'I don't know, but you do live on in the minds of those who love you'. 'Does Jesus love us all' 'If he did exist, I suppose he would'. When I got a bit older, I found myself gravitating to Biblegod and all his works! I got involved with some intense evangelical types (Yes, they exist across here) and due to personal circumstance, I reached out and found what I was looking for in them. At 17 I( gave my heart to the Lord, which (honestly)upset my Mum and Dad. My Dad, now dead, lectured me on how it was all pretense, kiddology, as he put it, and my Mum switched the living room light off and said, 'see, that's what happens to us when we die, we just disappear, like that light did'. Even my gentle Uncle shook his head and said, with great regret, 'how can you believe something that has caused so many wars and troubles?' But I had all the answered (I was an obnoxious little snot, superior in my faith, quoting the Bible and looking down at lesser mortals. I became a total bore, bringing everything around to the Lord and his love. My only defence is that it was a bit of teenage rebellion, plus I did feel a bit better plus it was my duty to spread the word)!
My relatives finally came around to my beliefs and once I was clear of their objections and moved into the more rarefied atmosphere of young adulthood I discovered that maybe the Bible wasn't right about everything. The one that got me was how god killed people for not following a coventant that was totally forgotten, made many generations back by a king or group of priests! I thought; Where's free will then? I questioned my Christian elders and they shook their heads, some admitting they didn't understand, others telling me to pray for more faith (I believe, help my unbelief was quoted at me a lot).
But it did not answer my questions; Then I discovered a copy of Bishop John Robinson's 1963 published book 'Honest To God'. I read it in one go and discovered there were other ways of looking at the world, including one that seemed more reasonable to me, the doctrine of Deism. The Deist god created us and left us to it. A bit like planting a seed and leaving it to grow (I know it's a bad anology, but I'm sure you know what I'm trying to say).
Meanwhile, I was now in my mid twenties and across to my early thirties I fought the questions and matured in my faith and was given jobs in the church, like looking after the Sunday School where I made the mistake of telling them, fielding their innocent questions ie 'why does it rain when I want to play out'? Or 'Why did god let my hamster die'? With the Deist philosophy, 'You see, god created us all, wound us up and let us go, and things happen due to nature and evolution, it's nothing to do with god'. I got into such trouble!
Anyhow, fast forward down the years, and the idea that the Biblegod was a cantakerous, grumpy old man, hating people to think for themselves, grew in me, but the fear of eternal damnation, of committing the sin against the holy spirit kept me in line. My questions were shook off, ignored, I was told to grow up, if I was a true Christian I shouldn't question the lord's love, and even my conversion was put in question!
Eventually, I broke off from the church, read the Bible on my own, along with other philosophies, dualism, that god and the devil and equal opposite forces, deism of course, and Unitarian Universalism which says god is one, there is no trinity etc, and even the notion we are all god and god is in us all, ie Pantheism, and it was only Christmas 2004 when I could admit, 'This is all a load of rubbish'.
I was sitting on my bed reading the Bible when it came to me, like a sort of reverse conversion, a god-free revelation;
'The Bible was written by men to keep us in line'!
Not exactly new news, I know, but believe me, the liberation I felt!
Well, the proverbial muck hit the fan! I went to my church and told them what I'd discovered, using my brain and the writings of others. Alright, suppose god does exist. I mean he created the universe and all in it. Would he really care if we didn't give ten per cent of our earnings or decide to have romances with someone of our own sex? I was told I was upsetting everyone, no one wanted to hear my lies, and I could come back to church as long as I could honestly worship god! I was told that I just wanted to live a sinful life, which is a joke as anyone who knows me will know, I live a quiet life and my idea, even now, of an exiting weekend is sitting with the radio on and reading some non fiction!Or if I want a real buzz, I slip in a 'Columbo' DVD and enjoy!
One or two, people I consider true friends, quietly defended me and my honesty, and told me to go out into the world and try my own way.
For the next few weeks, I was telephoned at home, specially on a Sunday, and informed I'd missed the service again, and if I didn't buck my ideas up, I would be off to hell. After all, to forsake such a great salvation left me worse off than I was. Then I was told I probably wasn't saved at all. THEN I was told I'd lost my salvation. I tried to reason but all I was got the equilivant of the schoolkid trick, you know, when you try and talk to them they stick their fingers in their ears and say 'la la la, can't hear you'!
To be honest, one or two were honestly concerned about ME and my eternal salvation, but those were the ones who came around to my going my own way, 'you've got to try doing your own'.
It's been over a year now since I turned it all in, and am still uncertain, shaky about my eternal salvation although about a year back I was making myself a cup of tea when it came home to me, a road to Damascus type thing;
There is no god!
If there is, he doesn't care what you do!
No one will come back and seperate believers from unbelievers!
You have to rely on yourself, cause there is no one else!
To sum up: I didn't give up Jesus because I wanted to live a 'sinful' life, go my own way, I was almost forced into my non belief with great reluctance because reason and logic tells me that if god exists he made everything, or started everything off, and just like a scientist in charge of a lab, he doesn't condemn to eternal punishment those ants who don't waggle their antena in worship of him. If he did, he would be a meglomanic and the other scientists would soon question his objectivity if not his sanity!
Before I close, when I told my Mum she hugged me and said 'welcome back to the real world, love!'
If only my Dad had been around to see this!
All the best.
How old were you when you became a christian? 17
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 41
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Evangelical Protestant Christian
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Deist leaning toward Atheist
Why did you become a christian? To make myself feel better about myself and the world around me
Why did you de-convert? Applying reason and logic; It just didn't make sense!
Tammy08 at Hotmail dot co dot uk
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)