I found God

sent in by Matt

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free"

I was raised in a devout Roman Catholic family. The most important thing to me was raising my children in the church. However, I fell in love with a half hearted Catholic. We got married and had two kids. My wife's irregular attendance at Mass and animosity toward the church caused a lot of friction in our marriage. I was worried about the effect my wife's attitude toward the church would have on our children's attitude. I was deeply concerned about my children's eternal well being if they rejected the church.

Over time the Catholic sex abuse scandal had a huge impact on me. At first, I defended the Church but it's complicity with child abusers at all levels got to me. I had never questioned my faith before but I started to now. I no longer trusted the Church and finally concluded that Roman Catholicism was not the truth.

I started attending other churches and to avoid making this testimony ridiculously long, I will just say I always found problems with their doctrines.

One day, a man came to my house to give me an estimate on getting it repainted. As he was about to leave he gave me his business card. There was a Bible verse on the back. I asked him about his religion. It turns out he was an evangelical and attended one of those mega churches. He invited me.

I went to his church and I was literally overwhelmed with emotion during the service. It was like nothing I had experienced before. It was uplifting and positive. People were friendly and the church felt like a community, unlike my old RC church. My wife was troubled by my involvement. She called evangelicals arm waving idiots who wanted to destroy women's rights. Of course, I ignored her.

However, my initial positive impression soured fairly quickly. I was troubled by the hostility toward gays and women who had abortions. I did homework help in an afterschool program at an inner city school when I was in college. I met so many undereducated girls with no prospects who had been abandoned often by both parents. For them interest from boys was the only thing that made them feel good about themselves. So they slept around and got pregnant. Some had abortions, some kept the kids but had nothing to offer them.

So, the judgmentalism and hostility of comfortable middle class folks toward these troubled, impoverished, insecure girls got to me. My best friend growing up was gay. Being gay was extremely difficult for him. It caused depression and all kinds of problems for him. Again the judgmentalism and hostility of others towards someone who is really struggling and suffering because of something they can't control troubled me. I had read the words of Jesus and he had said not to judge and to love others. I realised that the evangelicals were not true Christians. They did not understand the teachings of Jesus. They were the false prophets sent by Satan to deceive and confuse believers. They were the wolves in sheep's clothing.

After having attended numerous churches and striking out with all of them, I became confused and unsure of what to do next. I really wanted to have a faith, a religion, something to raise my kids in and get my wife to whole-heartedly follow.

One day, my department at work went out for a big celebratory lunch. A few coworkers at the end of the table were having a conversation. I honestly don't know what they were talking about, but I heard one tell the others that belief in gods came about because people could not understand natural phenomena. When lightning struck people assumed that there were some beings in the sky who were angry with them and punishing them for some misdeeds. People believed they had to appease these angry gods with sacrifices, animal or human.

When I heard this the image of primitive people cowering in fear at a lightning strike or a fiery meteorite popped into my head. I immediately knew that what I had heard was the truth. God was simply then unexplainable natural phenomena.

I mulled this for a couple of days before telling my wife. She was stunned at my sudden change from devout Christian to agnostic. A few days later she told me that everything I said made sense. We literally went from marital misery to marital bliss overnight. I was so caught up in my wife's lack of religion, I failed to see what a good person and mother she really was.

My outlook on life has completely changed. A few years ago I could not have imagined I could function without religious belief. I thought religion was something I couldn't live without. But losing my faith has been nothing but positive. I have a happy marriage now. My kids don't have to listen to fighting parents anymore. I used to drink heavily due to all the stress in my marriage. I don't drink much anymore and I feel a lot healthier as a result.

When a good friend of mine was killed in a car accident last year, I was devastated. But I felt some comfort in knowing it was bad luck and not the work of some supernatural being playing games with people's lives. I didn't have to ponder why God killed my friend rather that a gang member to fulfill his plan for us.

The truth has definitely set me free. I don't necessarily see religion as a bad thing. It can be good or it can be bad. But I have concluded that it isn't necessary. As a religious person, I really lived in fear of my "father" in the sky. I have joy and meaning in my life now.

28 comments:

jim earl said...

Welcome Matt, and thanks for your testimony. Your life is proof that we don't have to have religion to have peace and joy in our lives. In fact, the peace and joy are much more real when it's grounded in truth and reality. I know any religious person won't believe or understand this but you know what I mean. Take care and good luck. Jim Earl

Swintah said...

Beautiful post, Matt.

Albert said...

Evangelical christianity is kind of like fast food, it seems great initially but after a while you realize you'll suffer from malnutrition if you stick with it.

The Finger said...

When Death has his fingers around your throat, who will you call to?

Anonymous said...

"When Death has his fingers around your throat, who will you call to?"

I'll call to Ahura Mazda because he's my favorite god.

Anonymous said...

But Zeus is cool too.

"Gods and mortals alike trembled at his terrible wrath when he was younger, and worshipped his benevolent kindness as he grew older and wiser."

Maybe I'll call to Zeus instead.

Aw, so many gods, so many choices.

.:webmaster:. said...

I'll call to the same person I call to when the Boogie Man crawls out from under my bed.

Oh, whoops, there is no such thing as a Boogie Man -- I guess there's nothing to be afraid of there.

Similarly, I wasn't alive for uncountable millenia before I was born, and not one minute of that time was an inconvenience, or the least bit scary.

I expect that the millenia following my death will be equally inconvenient and scary, which is to say -- not at all.

Jim Lee said...

Seems like your wife is the clever one in your household. As an ex Christian myself and now atheist after a lot of research I must say welcome to the real world. I also want to say this because I know for a fact that the New Testament Jesus is as myth along with heaven, hell, angels, demons, and Satan. To put it in a nutshell so that everyone can understand. Christianity is all bullshit.

Lsettr said...

It takes a lot to admit you have been wrong. Most people take the victim application. I'm glad to see you were honest about it all. I was the one dragging my family to church and getting upset when they didn't want to go. Then I began reading and researching on my own instead of taking what they fed me as truth.

Glad to see you are now looking down your own path. And glad to see your wife didn't leave you...not always are people so lucky.

the finger said...

So webmaster, you believe existance after death is nothingness?

.:webmaster:. said...

I believe I'll go the same place as my cat, my dogs, and every other form of life on the planet.

Before I was born I didn't exist. After I die I won't exist. That's reality.

the finger said...

Webmaster,
Did you come to this belief through what you have learned through science, what you have been taught, your peers, your family or as a rejection of religious belief?

.:webmaster:. said...

You're welcome to read my anti-testimony, Finger.

It's linked in the left-hand column of every page on this site.

Matt said...

Thank you all for your comments.

The Finger
When I was a believer I feared death because I feared eternal judgment. While I don't long for death I don't fear it. It is a normal part of life.

Not that I've ruled out the existence of an afterlife. There may be an afterlife, there may not be. I have no evidence either way. But I no longer live in fear of the angry, punitive Judeo-Christian god.

I studied different christian sects and attended many churches. I thought about Christianity, The Garden of Eden through the crucifixion of Jesus, and realised that Christianity is irrational and nonsensical. Christians cannot even answer the simple question of why their god requires blood sacrifices.

Asking a nonbeliever if they will cry out to "God" on their deathbed would be like asking a Christian if they might cry out to Allah on their deathbed. Strongly held beliefs don't suddenly disappear at death's door.

I know it's hard for Christian believers to understand that atheists/agnostics/Muslims/Hindus/Wiccans/Deists and the like believe just as strongly in the truth of their beliefs as Christians do. But the reality is they do.

David said...

I can't even begin to say how much my heart is grieved for all of you. You are more than entitled to have your own opinion, that is why God gave us free will in the first place. He wanted you to freely choose Him. Why do you think he placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden? To give man a way out, and I see that many have chosen that tree.

I am not apologist for any particular denomonation or sect, but I can tell you that most, if not all of the questions you have can be answered simply by asking them. Matt, I feel for you. Your experience with "religion" is all too common. That's why I wanted to respond, you sound like a man sincerely looking for the truth.

In order to keep this short, I just want to say; don't look to a paticular church or a paticular group of people for perfection. You will always come up short when you expect them to be more than they're not...HUMAN. Christians, not matter what church they go to, mess up. Some have it more right than others, but ALL are in need of Gods grace and mercy. The beauty of Christianity is that you don't have to try to earn God's approval, it has already been done. There is no "test" that you have to take, the test was already taken and you got a perfect score because Jesus took the test for you! All you have to do is accept that, nothing more.

God didn't give us the Bible to teach us science or math, He knew we would figure that out. He gave us the Bible to share with us the reason why we are on this planet, something we would NEVER have figured out, to live in fellowship with Him.

The question you see, isn't what our 3-pound brain can comprehend. The question is what has God chosen to reveal to us from His infinite, eternal glory? You all sound like you have read the Bible...Do you know what happened to those who saw what was inside the arc of the covenant? They died! That's how overpowering God's presence is.

He doesn't want you to worry about knowing all there is to know about Him, we will have ETERNITY to do that! Rather He chose to address an even more important dilema, man has a terminal illness called sin and we don't even know it! We need Him, but we can't get to Him because we are ALL sinners (Romans 3:23). What are we supposed to do then? Trust Him! He has chosen to reconcile us back to Himself through Jesus Christ, not a church or a group of people. Yes those will be in a Christians life, but they are not the focus of a Christians life, Jesus Christ is.

Christian=Like Christ...

I have so much more to share with you, if you have any questions, post them on my blog and I will respond. Matt, I commend you on being a leader in your family. That is something that is desperately needed in America. Just keep asking the questions that come into your mind, I don't have all the answers but if I can help, I surely will.

Bentley said...

David you're so far behind in reasoning, over 2000 years behind.

Your imaginary God created the whole universe in just 6 days, including over 125 Billion Galaxies, but he couldn't figure out how to get people's souls into Heaven, then one day 4000 thousand years, it occurred to God. Eureka!!!! I've GOT IT! I've GOT IT!!, God shouted loudly!!!!! I'll send an angel to inseminate a virgin girl, and whoever will believe that he is the Christ, will be saved for ever and ever. What took god so long to come up with that stupid idea?

Of course, since your imaginary God is the creator of all things and has the ability to do all things, he could have just eliminated all sin and destroyed Satan and all evil by just snapping his fingers, but he thought the virgin birth
Jesus story would be more fun and more believable and he knew there are millions of stupid and ignorant people, that's why a man wrote it, not any god.

It's like Noah and the flood, peoples hearts were continually wicked, this all powerful God could have changed every one's heart, BUT NO!
Your imaginary God thought it would be more entertaining for him to watch all the millions of little babies and children and adults and all animals, grasping for their last breath and suffering, of course Noah having been a (just man), showed his appreciation to God after the flood by getting drunk, besides had Noah's Ark landed on Mt. Ararat, all the animals and Noah and his family would have froze to death before they could evacuate all the animals.

Do you really want to pretend that you are worshipping a God more stupid than you?

Do you not think that if there really was an all loving and just God, that he would let evil torment and kill his own
creations, innocent children and babies burn up in house fires, etc.? Is this the kind of god that you pretend to worship?

Matt said...

David,

"He gave us the Bible to share with us the reason why we are on this planet, something we would NEVER have figured out, to live in fellowship with Him."

I have read the Bible and nowhere does it explain why we are on this planet. Nowhere. In fact, the Bible is a very violent and sexually depraved book. Read it cover to cover if you don't believe me.

Also, my wife is the leader in the family and she is doing a wonderful job. Don't be so sexist. Women are not our property.

the finger said...

Webmaster, if you can't summarize it in a sentence or two, I'm not sure you know the answer.

.:webmaster:. said...

And you FINGER, are a typically lazy Christian, looking to be spoon-fed instead of actually doing any thinking.

How many damned times do you think I've been asked that asinine question in the last 5 years?

I'm glad you're here though Fingy, it's a nice reminder of how moronic I was when I was a fundie, and how glad I am that I escaped.

the finger said...

Matt,
Death is something that I think we all can agree will happen to all of us, whether you have faith in religion or secularism. Therefore, that is a basis we can start a discussion, something we all have in common, all agree upon.

Now if you and I die at the same time, what is out there when we die? It seems to come to a belief system of the after-death existance. The webmaster chooses to believe in nothingness but has not been clear on what derived his belief system. I don't think any of us can prove of the after-life or nothingness. So it just comes down to our opinions of our observations of the life we know of. Would you agree?

the finger said...

Webmaster,
Why are you so quick to attack me? What have I done to you? You don't know me from Adam. I thought you were a free thinker but you have quickly stereotyped me. Cannot we have a free thinking discussion before you try to stereotype me?

.:webmaster:. said...

If you want to have an intelligent discussion, then take the time to read the testimony, and don't try to be spoon-fed or goad out an answer. I feel no obligation or interest in chatting inanely with someone who's not really interested in anything but promoting their own religious agenda.

You're quite transparent.

.:webmaster:. said...

"God didn't give us the Bible to teach us science or math, He knew we would figure that out. He gave us the Bible to share with us the reason why we are on this planet, something we would NEVER have figured out, to live in fellowship with Him."

Ah, what Bible verses teach that? Where in your holy babble did you come up with all that rambling nonsense? We need evidence Davey boy, evidence!

"The question you see, isn't what our 3-pound brain can comprehend."

Again, chapter and verse Davey, unless of course you're an anointed apostle or something.

"...man has a terminal illness called sin.."

Actually, it was a curse laid on us by your favorite Bronze Age deity supposedly because some caveman ate an apple.

"I have so much more to share with you..."

Now that's a comforting thought! And we should seek you out because...why? Davey, go sell your used wares on your own site. I know it's lonely over there, but think of all the prayer warrioring you can accomplish!

Perry said...

Thought-provoking, bitter-sweet post, Matt. Welcome to the real world. Your new-found enjoyment can only grow bigger and better with your family. And those work colleagues whose table talk triggered the final decision.

Death has no fingers. Nor any other members or human attributes. Your call will be simple, "bye everyone - been nice knowing you."

Matt said...

The Finger,

"Death is something that I think we all can agree will happen to all of us, whether you have faith in religion or secularism."

You cannot have faith in secularism. It is not a religion. Religious belief requires faith because faith is believing in something you cannot prove to be true. Secularism is non religion and therefore does not require faith.

A lot of believers play this game of trying to equate religious belief with non belief as if they both are systems of faith. They are not.

The believer says I believe in the existence of God even though there is no proof. Therefore that is an act of faith: believing something that cannot be proven.

The nonbeliever says I don't believe in God because there is no proof that God exists. This is not an act of faith because it is based on fact. The fact is there is no proof that God exists.

If a god appeared in the sky tomorrow and every single human on the planet could see and hear him, only then would nonbelief require faith. Since a god had shown himself to us and therefore provided proof of his existence, it would then be an act of faith to deny his existence.

When I ask believers to prove to me that God exists they always inevitably use faith as the basis of their belief, not fact. When a nonbeliever says they don't believe it is because they lack factual proof.

freedy said...

David,..once again you fundies make god lower than an animal.
"We're put on this earth to fellowship with him",and if we
don't?,he sends us to a fiery eternal torment!Don't you realize that makes him out to be worst than
a serial child rapist killer?How can you guys continue to believe
this crap?

slingshot said...

Another christian, trying to use death to scare us into joining the christian church! They have to strike fear into people, because if they allow somebody to think about christian theology, that person won't believe it!

Hey, "the finger," christianity is nonsense.

SpaceMonk said...

When death comes for me I'll give him 'the finger'.

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