For me it was a gradual process throughout my time in college and the seminary that started my freshman year. As I would come up with questions and doubts I would drift towards agnosticism and then when I'd find a weak answer I'd swing back to theist. As my study progressed I would be forced to revisit the topic and the cycle would continue. I was probably a deist about half of those five years, an agnostic at least one of them, and true Adventist very little of it. By the end of my brief stint in the seminary I had completely rejected creationism, the authority of scripture, and the doctrine of salvation, so I finally called it quits.
I did a pretty good job of keeping my doubts hidden from those around me, enough so that my senior year at Walla Walla I was the dorm chaplain and at the end of my second semester in the seminary I was elected president of the Chaplains Club.
This did cause some social issues since I didn't quite fit in with the "good" kids and definitely different fit in with the "bad." I can definitely say that those I spent the least amount of time with in college would be the ones I would want to have a drink with now.
If you want a more detailed account, I did a five part series on it in July 2010 on my blog.
So, how did you come to fall outside of the remnant?
I happened all at once on my 25th birthday. It had been brewing for awhile, I guess, beginning in early college. Away from home, I knew religion was now my choice, and I chose to stay on the path of Christianity. I didn't know anything else, and the was afraid of not attending church, drinking alcohol, having premarital relations, etc. Guilt (which I interpreted as the voice of the Holy Spirit) kept me from those things. I went to church weekly but began having problems really feeling the presence of a god. People would get up front at Week of Prayer and testify about God leading in their life, how God spoke to them, but I could never hear God talking to me. I wished I wanted to pray and wondered if there was something wrong with me that kept me from understanding divine guidance. Sometimes I'd get jazzed up about having a friend in God but my life always regressed to the mean, which was me making things happen for myself with no supernatural intervention whatsoever.
I began to let myself do things that made me feel guilty (tattoos, beers, skipping church). Soon those things became familiar and normal, but I retained little twinges of remorse about these things. I still felt that someday, I would understand what all the believers were talking about when they said they had a relationship with God but I had no idea how that was possible. To have a relationship with something that was invisible and increasingly imaginary.
After graduation when I got a job as a nurse, it happened that I had to work every other weekend. I wondered whether to request Saturdays off. Not that I had been to church in the last two years, but I was still waiting for that adult time, when my childish indiscretions would seem less appealing and I would really gear up and get Christian. I ended keeping quiet about wishing I had Sabbaths off and proceeding with a basically secular lifestyle.
The self-sufficiency I experienced as a member of the work-force cemented my secular habits. It was easy to see that I could be well-fed, happy, and comfortable even though I didn't commune with God. I was taking care of myself. I still really wanted to want God, though. I was touched with the idea that I'd see my sick old patients in heaven someday, newly restored. I still attributed the beauty of the earth to a divine hand, and had no problem accepting the creation story.
Bit by bit, though, I began to question biblical lore. Was I really supposed to believe in a talking donkey? That we got our languages from the Tower of Babel? That there were invisible angels helping us? That when we got to heaven, everything would be perfect and amazing and we could fly to other planets and ride lions and see dead loved ones? Whenever I thought about belief in God, it was to wish I could accept these things like a good Christian should.
Meanwhile my dad was getting sicker, and that brought up questions about the possibility of an afterlife. Is Dad going to go to heaven? Am I going to go to heaven? How do we get to heaven? Do I really want to be alive forever?
My boyfriend (now husband) had been reading Dawkins et al. and making his own switches from belief to atheism but kept his ideas to himself because he knew it bothered me. I was worried about what would happen if we ever had babies. I didn't want to fight about how to raise them. It seemed that this possible future was when it was really going to be crunch time, when I would start needing to nail down my convictions and get some gospel in me. But I didn't know how I was going to guide others to God when I couldn't get behind him myself. I figured it was probably a bad idea to every have babies, since how could I fight with myself and my husband over these things?
Everything about Christianity, or any supernatural belief for that matter, was getting harder to believe. Religious people had to be less and less extreme before I wrote them off as kooky nutjobs. It came down to one thing I held onto: The complexity of life. The world and the universe seemed too big and intricate and beautiful to've happened through natural means. But every time I thought about evolution, it made more and more sense . . . but at the same time I was afraid, because I knew it would teach me things I wasn't ready to accept.
I finally worked up the courage to do a previously blasphemous thing: Learn about evolution. I wanted a book about evolution that was basic and non-abrasive and not too advanced because I knew next to nothing about how evolution worked.
I picked up Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True from the library, and that was it. I finished it the day before my birthday. It was the most exciting thing I'd ever read. The simplicity of it all. How could life have happened any other way? Evolution wasn't about chance at all, I realized, but the opposite. It was perfect. The volumes and volumes of evidence for evolution were overwhelming. I felt connected with every living being as a peer, as part of a dynamic system of growth and life - Not as a ruler or master.
The next day was even more exciting: I realized that I didn't have to believe in God. No one had ever told me that before. I didn't have to try anymore. I was an atheist! No longer was that a dirty word. It was wonderful and right. I realized that when my dad died, he was just going to die--and that was okay, because I when I died, I would just die too. Suddenly all these questions, even silly ones (why does fruit taste so good?) were answered (because it evolved too!)
Suddenly information wasn't a scary thing that I had to shut out for fear it would intrude on my beliefs. Suddenly my worldview was open to modification, to reason, understanding . . . to observable facts, testable proofs . . . science.
I became free of guilt. I was in love with the possibility of a future . . . I realized that if I ever had babies, I could teach them to think and feel and be aware, and I would never tell them lies.
I have been high on knowledge ever since.
great testimony ;)
When I had just left the church and got a job people where I was training kept on thinking I was Mormon. I hadn't yet lost the sheltered innocence and hadn't started drinking coffee yet. I finally stopped it by talking about going to the bar more.
What should discredit both prophets is that coffee and alcohol in moderation can do wonders for prostate health and cholesterol, respectively.
I live in Idaho now where just about everybody is either Mormon or ex-Mormon. Pretty crazy stuff.
Brain damage + extreme emotional distress of a religious nature =EGW visions.
What's interesting is that Joseph Smith and Ellen White were both from the same part of New York and he was only about 10 years ahead of her. Something sure wasn't right about that area.
only we didn't get magic underwear