Sent in by Ziggy Blacktail
I grew up in a secular home (my parents are lapsed Catholics but that's beside the point) so the religion was never pushed on me. I remember back in the fourth grade when someone told me about the truth about Santa Claus, I didn't cry (yes, I believed in Santa Claus until I was 10. I mature slower than most people). I remember thinking it made perfect sense. I applied the same concept with God and felt the same.
I started to doubt Atheism during the last two years of college and decided to give Christianity a chance. A couple of factors caused my doubts and pushed me into Christianity. First, I had a girlfriend at the time who was Catholic. She surprised me when I first learned this because she seemed normal...normal in a sense that her opinions weren't limited to the confines of a certain book and she wasn't fanatical about her beliefs (do bear in mind, I never knew anyone personally who believed in this religion growing up). This led me to asking questions about her religion that she was happy to share. Another factor was my college education. As an English major, I encountered biblical references in almost every literature class I took. This led me to start reading the Bible. These two factors brought me to ask Jesus into my heart as they say in Christianese. I settled on the sect of Catholicism (yes, I believe Catholics are Christians despite what some Protestants think) because my girlfriend and my family background was supposedly that (I vaguely remember doing something Catholic when I was eight involving first communion). I read up on it and became interested in it and joined the Newman Center during my last year at college. I also joined a Non-Denominational Protestant ministry that one of my roommates in my last year at college was the president of and encouraged me to go when I told him I believed in Christ.
Although I enjoyed doing things in both ministries, it wasn’t long before I started doubting Christianity. My belief in Christianity started falling apart after my girlfriend and I broke up. We were in a long-distance relationship and it was impossible to see each other. In addition, I was interested in another woman who went to the Newman Center at my college. Although she felt the same about me, she gave me the "let's just be friends" after our first and only date. It was around this time when I realized that a) I can't figure out what God wants from me because I thought he wanted me to be with either woman at some point...or even be friends with them for that matter ( I don’t talk to either woman anymore – they both estranged from me) b) I never heard God speak to me but he seems to speak to everyone else (I never considered the option that people were faking it).and c) I started feeling like I was cursed because it seemed like God didn't care about my needs despite what I've read in the Bible. I also started doubting some of the teachings of Catholicism (like Peter being the first pope even though James was shown as the leader of the first church in Act 15).
I fell away from Catholicism a few months later and tried non-denominational Protestantism for a brief period. my roommate and people in the other ministry were all too pleased to convert me when I ranted about it with them. I confused my emotions here with what God wanted for me. I quickly ended up hating non-denominational Protestantism more than Catholicism. While I did enjoy the richness and depth of the Catholic mass until I grew more and more inattentive during the masses, the non-denominational mass (or service as they put it) was nothing more than a two hour ego-stroking session by their pastor who I swore preached the same exact thing about "you just have to have faith" the two times I there and nobody said anything. I could've tried the other 30,000 sects of Protestantism, but I started to ask myself why are there so much sects? Why did God allow all of these sects to form and thrive despite them having conflicting theologies? This never bothered me before during my Catholic, I believed in the Vatican II doctrine that salvation is possible outside the church and I didn't start questioning the belief until this point.
This led me to believe Christians don't have their act together at all and God must be nothing more than a figment of their imagination. If God is real, then why all the confusion? And why won't he speak to me still and tell me clearly what he wants from me instead of having me confuse what he wants with my self-delusion? I started noticing around this time the reason for the many sects may have something to do with Christians being selective readers. (Just look at Calvinism vs. Arminianism. They use different passages in the Bible to back up their claims.) This eventually brought me to question if Jesus really is the Jewish Messiah and wondered if the passages in the Hebrew Bible used to support him in the New Testament resulted from selective reading by its writers. I looked at certain passages with a more critical eye like Isaiah 7:14 and noticed it was predicting the birth of King Hezekiah in its original context and the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 seemed to refer to the same servant in Isaiah 41 (identified as Israel).
I lost my faith after those readings. I denounced all three members of the Holy Trinity and God did nothing to stop me. He didn't punish me for me it either. I’ve returned to my former Atheist viewpoint since feeling more at peace with myself. One last thing I should mention is some Christians argue that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. Even if that's the case, relationships require open communication and making me play guessing games is not open communication. This made me realized I was right in first place -- he was never there. A brick wall would make a better deity because I can see it and know it won't do anything for me.
Well, that concludes my deconversion story. Accept it or leave me alone.
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)