I have no clue as to where I fit in

Sent in by Marie-Louise

A Christian friend of mine was shocked and horrified when I recently told him that instead of "readying myself for the next spiritual level", as he is, I am rather calling in to question everything I have ever learnt and ever believed. His response was that it is not so much about the contradictions in the bible, or the fact that the biblegod of the OT and the biblegod of the NT don't match at all, but the relationship you have with Him that counts.

Apparently he uses the bible only as a reference book. He then advised me to "ask, and you shall receive". Guaranteed. No doubts. And I started thinking.

I have spent night after sleepless night asking for a confirmation that all of this is actually true. I would have been happy with a warm and fuzzy feeling if nothing else! I begged for God to convince me through the Holy Spirit that it was not just a myth. Nothing. Nada. Not a squeak. My deconversion did not come as a whim. I did not wake up one morning and decided that today was a good day to turn my entire life upside down. I have been agonising over these doubts for years now, only recently raking together enough courage to voice them.

How can I have a relationship with God or Jesus, if my only point of reference is the bible, written by man, contradicted in many places and not proven to be authentic at all?

How can I love a God who ordered murder, rape, genocide, slavery and human sacrifice, to name but a few. How can I respect a God who shows no respect to women and reduces them to be subservient to men?

How can I base my faith and who I am on stories of a talking snake, a boat that housed a pair of every species of every animal on the entire planet, a flood that covered the entire earth and all the mountains (Everest?), sorcerers, food falling out of heaven, magic staffs, dead people living again, a man being swallowed by a fish, only to be spat out after three days, etc, etc.?

How can I trust Jesus teachings if He won't even keep a simple promise of asking and receiving?

Sometimes I get gripped by fear for even having such blasphemous thoughts, but then I reason that if God in fact does exist, and the gospel of salvation is true, a) He would surely at some point show me the way, seeing that I am honestly seeking the truth, and b) He would be cruel and unfair to give me an enquiring mind, wire me so that I can do nothing other than ask "but why", and then punish me for it.

But then, I am not to concerned, seeing that there are times when I doubt the existence of God all together and I definitely do not believe in Hell.

I am not versed in the rebuttal of apologetics at all. Any good Christian could probably shred my arguments to pieces. However, I cannot go back. I cannot reconcile myself to a belief system that manipulates people, keeps them in check by using fear and tells them that using common sense instead of blind faith is wrong.

I have a theory that at the time of clay huts and flint weapons, religion was formed as a way to keep the community in check. People need something to follow, they need well-defined guidelines, and there will always be the crafty few who will exploit those needs.

I suspect early man looked at natural phenomena (an entire basin flooding for instance), came to the conclusion that God did it, and attached a moral lesson to the retelling of the event.

Right now I have no clue as to where I fit in. I would believe in God for the following reasons:

* The awesomeness of nature, the universe and the creation of life call for such a belief,

* It would be nice to know that someone has my back

Maybe I need to read Richard Dawkins. Both my stated reasons are based on emotions only.

31 comments:

skeptic said...

Actually, I don't think Christian apologists could shred your arguments at all. They would, indeed, probably tell you that you "just need to have faith," faith meaning believing without evidence. If you're interested in reading authors who have reached the conclusion that there is no God, I recommend Richard Dawkins' "God Delusion," Hitchens "God is Not Great," Sam Harris' "The End of Faith" and "Letter to a Christian Nation," and Daniel Dennet's "Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon." These books echo all of the sentiments you have mentioned and provide much more information.

It sounds like you have been struggling with this for a long time. I wish you well in your journey.

exfundie said...

I enjoyed your testimony. I'll refrain from telling you what I think is right in reference to your questions, because I don't think anyone has a grasp on absolute truth anyway. I do know for sure that the Christian god is a joke though. It seems funny to me that many deconversion stories I read (like mine) always start with a real searching for truth and a desire to validate Christian theology. Funny because truth can never be found unless you are open to it, and are willing to be proven wrong. This is especially hard for Christians. At least it was for me when I was one. One recommendation I have is for you to read Sam Harris' book, "End of Faith." He has such a way of describing religion for what it is, and for how (I think) we should all feel about it.

Jim Earl said...

Welcome Marie Louise.

I agree with skeptic. Christian apologists have nothing except faith to convince anyone they are right. If they had any real evidence, they would relish it and share it with the world.

I'll tell you where you fit in. You belong to a large and ever growing group of people who demand more than faith. People who can't swallow the crap being fed to the sheep. You are at an exciting place in your life. Enjoy and embrace it. It will only get better. Cheers, Jim Earl

Anonymous said...

Marie-Louise

You might want to check out Deism. Deism (deism.com). They have lots of information.They believe in a Universal Creator...not the god of the bible, or any other "holy" books.

Anonymous said...

great post; probably mirrors what many of us have gone through. And you alluded to one thing that most religious people fail to see; most aspects of faith are rooted in our own emotions.

I would also like to suggest one other book, it is an older publication (1979), but my favorite on the subject because the author is, and writes as, a layperson, and discusses religion in everyday terms. The book is "The born again skeptic's guide to the bible" by Ruth Hurmence Green.

--Brent S.

Black Bob the Pasta Pirate said...

You clearly need to develop a relationship with HIM...the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who created all. Open up your heart to the Pasta Spirit so he may touch you with his noodly appendage.

Ramen

Anonymous said...

I feel the need to comment on your conclusion regarding reasons to believe in God.

* The awesomeness of nature, the universe and the creation of life call for such a belief,

The universe and nature are INCREDIBLY awesome. That's all the more reason to study them scientifically. It doesn't logically follow that the universe is awesome therefore god exist..The universe is just awesome.

* It would be nice to know that someone has my back

I agree. You sound JUST like me in the final throw's of religion. I remember my deconversion moment. All that was left of my arguments was the idea that it's kind of sad if there is no god..it would be much nicer if there was one. The reply I remember to this day. "it would be nice if there were $1,000,000 in my checking account. But there is such thing as reality. And in reality the balance is MUCH lower. Just because it MIGHT be better with God doesn't mean he exists. Give it time and throught and eventually atheism is VERY liberating. No one is watching over you and judging you, no more stress of whether or not you are forgiven and will go the hell or not. Just enjoy life now and be good to people.

Hells Bells said...

Anon wrote 'All that was left of my arguments was the idea that it's kind of sad if there is no god..it would be much nicer if there was one. The reply I remember to this day. "it would be nice if there were $1,000,000 in my checking account. But there is such thing as reality. And in reality the balance is MUCH lower. Just because it MIGHT be better with God doesn't mean he exists.'

Thank you - that's a wonderful reply - very pertinent to where I am right now.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to add. It's at least possible that a creator or higher power might exist..but I think it's clearly provable that the institutional religons of the world are demonstrably false.

Grease Monkey said...

I really enjoyed your testimony. It is nice to know I am not the only one who is questioning the christian outlook.

My parents cram their religion down my throat. Now I know what to answer them.

Thanks!!

Searching said...

With regards to my comment on God and Nature. Hubby and I discussed it this morning. He recently had the amazing experience of night sky watching with (oh joy) an Athiest friend of ours. Afterwards he commented that upon glimpsing but a speck of the vastness of the universe, he could argue that God might not have been involved in the creation of earth at all. Consider the the billions of galaxies with billions of stars and billions of planets. How do we know that there are not millions of failed evolution atempts out there. I am by no means even remotely scientifically inclined, although I love science. Most of your more elaborate posts go right over the top of my head. However, this made sense to me on a very weird level. Oh, and BBtPP, I prefer the Almighty Creator of all things Lasagne. Spaghetti is just too messy.
Speak again soon
Searching
(formarly known as Marie-Louise)

Cousin Ricky said...

When i came out to my mom, she said, “You realize you’re on your own now?”

Huh? What did she mean, “[Do] you realize...”? That’s exactly the point! What else could i possibly think—that a non-existent god still has my back? It’s as if she didn’t quite understand what i was saying, but thought that i was merely spurning God.

(“Guess what? I’ve always been on my own. So have you, Mom.” I didn’t tell her that; i wonder if i should have.)

Well, she also asked me more than once, “How does this benefit you?” Good grief, talk about missing the point! It wasn’t about what i wanted for myself; it was about my best assessment of reality. Sure, it would be nice there were some invincible force looking out for me. That cool $1,000,000.00 doesn’t sound bad either.

skyeyes said...

Hang in there, kiddo. You are where I was 25 years ago. It gets better.

I'll add another book to your reading list: _Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon_ by Daniel C. Dennett. In it, Dennet cites quite a bit of data to frame his hypothesis about how religions came about and what purpose they serve. It's very readable, and serves the purpose of showing you the machinery that makes the magic thingy work; in other words, you'll no longer obey when the religious sheep say "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain" ever again.

Anonymous said...

You have some valid questions, although I don't know what the problem is with "reduces women to be subservient to men"

Here is how to be truly saved said...

Black Bob The Pasta Pirate Said:

"You clearly need to develop a relationship with HIM...the Flying Spaghetti Monster, who created all. Open up your heart to the Pasta Spirit so he may touch you with his noodly appendage."

That is the truth.

You need to develop a realtionship with HIM, so you will not end up in Taco Bell for eternity

Rob said...

Some reasons why knowledge that god doesn't exist should make you smile:

No one is watching you go to the bathroom
No one is watching you umm....have some "alone time"
"Alone time" is not a sin! :)
No one else knows your inner thoughts unless you want to share them.
You can have sex with more than one person in your life time without any guilt.
Sleep in Sunday's guilt free
You don't have to give any money to "god"
No more confusion about if you're TRULY saved or what EXACTLY you need to do to get into heaven

In time you'll recognize many freedoms and the liberation that is brought from breaking free from superstitious dogma

Evelyn said...

Welcome, Marie-Louise/Searching. Three years ago, I acknowledged all the doubts I had and realized that I no longer believed in the biblegod. It can be an interesting journey away from all that. We've been there and understand what you are going through.

Eris Discordia said...

JEEEEEEESUS!!Ya'll need to git rite with GAWD and pray for the HOLY SPOOK to git into yur head and make yer thots HOLY! You need a PERSONAL relationship with ! You know! The guy who walked on water and turned it into wine (even tho it is a sin to drink it, GLORY!)

How can you turn yer back on the GAWD that made the beeeutiful flowers and cats and the tangelo! Maybe you should call and exorcist to exorcise the evil out a ya (and molest yer kid, too......but that's ok, the kid was asking for it.)

Go to church........git some hep.

PREY!

bhawbpat said...

It's interesting that some newly liberated atheists comment they wish there were a god, to which I can only wonder why would anyone want one? I suppose the need for a god is based on our childish needs for parental protection and help, but freedom and protection are contridictory. People in jail may be very protected, get it?
Bob P

Searching said...

Anonymous, hubby agrees with your observation with regards to subserviant women.

He was very dissappointed last night when he got back from work and the kids were not bathed, his dinner was not cooked and he had to fetch his own damn newspaper and slippers :)

Searching said...

Lately I have been wondering about moral guidelines.

As a Christian, I had the Bible and my spiritual leaders to follow. If I sinned, all I had to do is ask for forgiveness, and all would be washed clean. I realise that the church preaches responsiblity and accountablilty, but the impact of my actions never really had an effect on me.

Now there is no more church, no more homecell and no more spiritual leaders. And I reallise that I am now more attuned to morality than I ever was before. I have to take true responsiblity for my own actions. I have to go to sleep at night and feel at peace with myself.

It is the most liberating experience! I have taken my life into my own two hands and I am in control! Scary too, for I now am accountable only to myself.

Thirty three years is a long time. I grieve for lost opportunities, lost experiences and lost relationships. Yet I look forward to many more opportunities, new experiences and new relationships without the shackles of religion holding me back and turning me into a guilt-ridden, repenting worm.

In the eyes of Christianity I am now truly lost, and I am loving every minute of it

PS
I bought "God Delusion" today. Looking forward to some interesting reading.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Searching wrote:
Lately I have been wondering about moral guidelines.
As a Christian, I had the Bible and my spiritual leaders to follow. If I sinned, all I had to do is ask for forgiveness, and all would be washed clean.

-----
Hi searching,

I'm a tad bit confused here.
Are you the same "Searching" as the one who wrote the following?

"ATF,
You wondered if anyone ever crossed over as a result after visiting this site. I am she. I posted a testimony a while back called " I refused to call myself a Christian anymore"


If you are the same "Searching", I had thought you were the one breaking free from the xtian way of thinking and were having debates with your hubby, with him taking the side of theology?
But then you speak of him with his atheist friend, stargazing and wondering about the universe, in a more non-god way of thinking about it.

So umm, help a toothfairy out and explain please.

Now as far as ethics and morals goes:
There have been endless debates on where atheist get these things from, outside of a god dictating them to us.
While I'm fairly sure you would find some xtians who are only kept in-check in their ethical behavior by their fear of a god punishment, I think that the rest of us fall into basically two classes of behavior.
You have on one side the criminals who would commit their crimes, regardless of a belief in god or not.
You then have what I feel is the majority, that behave for the most part, ethically, because to do otherwise would leave them shunned by society, or worse, land up in jail from breaking human laws.

As far as your post statement that says this:
"I am not versed in the rebuttal of apologetics at all"

I'm quite sure you'll learn this talent, at least one does if one keeps reading the arguments presented from both sides.

I say that because there are 'casual' ex-xtians that didn't become that way because they spent a lot of time researching all sides, but just decided in a casual manner that it must all be BS, much as many would do with other supernatural beliefs who's premises just don't seem to make much sense.
Given that we no longer are kept ignorant by society, as the majority were in times gone by, it's not very hard to discover that a belief in the bible god has to include not only a lot of faith, but a great willingness to dismiss all rational thinking on the matter.

I certainly would think that back in the days when most lacked reading skills and/or didn't have access to a bible, that they were far easier prey for preachers of the bible god, to make into their blind sheep.
As some have suggested, the easiest way to show the bible is nothing more than a fairy tale, is to actually sit down and read the darn thing. Frankly, even the few xtians who actually bother to read any of it, most likely read the parts that make them feel good and avoid the ugly sections.


ATF (who thinks in time you'll get cozy with the idea that you alone determine your own fate)

Bud is the only way to heaven said...

Eris Discordia said...

"You know! The guy who walked on water and turned it into wine (even tho it is a sin to drink it, GLORY!)"

You are wrong Eris!!!!!

Bud is the one who you should seek a relationship with. Who cares that Jesus turned water into wine. Bud turned water into beer, and it made him wiser.

Searching said...

ATF,
Yes, I am indeed the same Searching.

Hubby is most certainly not a Christian. He grew up in a religious home, but he never agreed with the idea of organised religion. Remember, he was the one the first exposed me to the idea of evolution.

We debate opposite sides of an argument for the fun of it and to represent both sides of the coin. I was in fact "unequally yoked with an un believer for the first part of our marriage. That in itself shows that my turn from Christian ways has been a lengty process. By rights I should have married a believer. He never tried to convince me. In fact, he attended an Alpha Course(a course for unbelievers and new Christians) just before we got married. Just because he is such a nice guy ;)

Lance said...

Hi Marie-Louise,

Thanks for the post.

If you are wondering where you fit in, I'll add yet another great book to your reading list. It is called "Doubt - A History" by Jennifer Michael Hecht.

It is basically a history of philosophy and religion told from the perspective of doubters like us. It tells a great story of all the people that you fit in with - going back 3000 years - and how their doubt drove all the new ideas concerning what it means to be human.

Without doubting people, human thought would stagnate.

So not only are you part of a growing group of free thinkers as Jim Earl mentioned, you are also part of a rich history of people that were not afraid to use their brains.

Peace.

Lance

Searching said...

Hi there,

I have a quick question. You sometimes refer to "Pascals Wager" and attacking straw men. What does that mean?

.:webmaster:. said...

Searching,

Here's a couple of links: Pascal's Wager, Straw Man

Anonymous said...

Where do you fit it? You are now a member of the minority group of people who learned how to think.
You are no longer a "mooing", manipulated, member of the herd. That's about 5% of all people. Enjoy your freedom!

Anonymous said...

Cousin Ricky wrote:

Sure, it would be nice there were some invincible force looking out for me. That cool $1,000,000.00 doesn’t sound bad either.

YES! You CAN have ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

http://www.jhuger.com/kisshank.php

Anonymous said...

Sorry...

I should have added...

BY KISSING HANK'S ASS!

eel_shepherd said...

Searching (la ci-devant Marie-Louise),

Concerning being able to stand up to the wordplay of an articulate Xtian apologist in real time --- don't worry about it. You probably also wouldn't be able to look good in open court being cross-examined by a seasoned trial lawyer well-versed in the techniques of cross examination. That's his/her stock in trade, one that makes up his/her daily and hourly thoughts, and serves as the organising principle behind a whole way of life, a life that carries a whole constellation of rewards that the person has decided are worth having. Doesn't mean those are the things that really are worth having. Just that somebody (_else_) thinks that they are. You're not them; you're you.

Religious and nonreligious modes of thought take equal amounts of calories from your system. If you were sitting in a public sauna, and the talk turned to doing long division in your head, and you set out to mentally divide 6,233,818 by 724,232, just think how quickly it would start to seem intolerably hot in that sauna. Same thing with trying to sort out some tricky article of faith, or the message in some biblical story. You couldn't take much of that before you had to make a dash for the showers and cool down before your brain cooked.

So, to repeat, religious and nonreligious modes of thought are both big ideas, ones that fill up most of the available bytes in a person's mind while they are in one of those two modes. And there's not a whole hell of a lot of points of contact between them. You would be quite within your rights to have a real-time discussion with one person who has a religious turn of mind, on the topics of your choice and say that you will reserve judgement until you receive opposing input on the fruits of that discussion from someone of a nonreligious turn of mind. After all, you can read book after book, but if the authors don't happen to address the exact points that matter to you, they won't be of much help.

It's been my experience that religious people are keen to have you make a snap judgement on what they've just said, before you've had time to properly digest their arguments, and while your resistance is low. And I don't like being hustled.

My emotional involvement and contribution to people faced with the Xtian/exXtian dilemma tends to be pretty skimpy usually, because I wasn't confronted by the same hard choice that many of the posters here were. But I must confess that a video from one of the recent posts at this site managed to get through to me. It was this one: http://exchristian.net/testimonies/2007/12/rise-and-fall-of-delusion.html

All I can do is wish you well, and to say Don't let anyone hustle you.

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