What is it that convinces a Believer that what they have been taught and have believed in is false?

Mdoo1 joined our group and shares this:I'm no former Christian, but I am interested in knowing how the transition occurs. What is it that convinces a Believer that what they have been taught and have believed in is false.

So I'd like to join for that reason.

Share your comments here. Thanks.

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I'm no expert, but I think simple curiosity plays a huge part. If you're not afraid to ask questions, you're likely to be disappointed with religion if you're disappointed with the explanations that it offers. I remember asking a priest in high school (In Poland, religion - read catholicism - is a school subject) to give me the biblical evidence for purgatory. He came up with a NT verse about being thrown in prison for one's crimes (I'm trying to search it up).

I thought, "That's it?" and then realized that a lot of catholic beliefs could be tracked down to an ambiguously worded Bible verse and somebody's private revelation.

Another big factor is taking your religion seriously.

I think that people who go to church only on Christmas and Easter are less likely to ask themselves serious questions about their faith. If you're a a devoted believer (I was) it's very probable that you're going to think about this stuff a lot.
Most believers will naturally seek to strengthen their faith, so they look for evidence (in a broader sense) for a sense of comfort. But then comes the realization that faith is only really justifiable with faith.

It's actually quite shocking if you're going through that for the first time.
I was a Bible College student, hardcore evangelical, and the poster boy for a Christian ingrained in my beliefs. What started the process that has lead me to where I am now was with Biblical translations. I got concerned when Pastors would say "what this really means in the Greek..." I won't bore you with the decade that follows but I ended using what is called a Literal Translation. This was not a pretty read but I felt like I was as close to the original as possible. All the while other translations were coming out of the wood-works. When I would sit in church and read my translation while the pastor read from the Message translation... I saw two different stories being told. I began to ask my pastor but he was not concerned... I was. If this was the inherent word of god there could not be even a single mistake no matter what translation. Well, there were big differences and this was how it unraveled in my "red letter edition" hands.
When you've had enough of the glossing over of "difficult passages" and the verbal gymnastics that always seem to end with the phrase "position of faith" you can either go through the motions to remain part of the church social club or you can get real with yourself and really assess WHY it is you believe what you believe. I find this akin to the drunken "sober moment", if that makes sense to anyone beside myself. Once I began thinking for myself again (after 5 years of religion induced blindness), I began to read for the first time in years. I explored alot of territory in my studies, but the book that really sealed it for me was Sagan's "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors".
I was starting to be disappointed with the quality of the answers that I was getting, but I think the biggest thing for me was realizing that I wasn't feeling the presence of God like other Christians around me. It just wasn't working for me.
For me it was just admitting what I always knew but hid from myself. I don't KNOW what happened to make the transition. It just... happened... and I came into myself. Building up to it was a long, gradual process, though.

I think one of the biggest blows for me was when I was teaching children in CCD, explaining the stories and reiterating what I had been taught at their age and after (2nd grade). I was recounting some story, and realized that what I had said just sounded... absurd. What was I SAYING? What was I DOING? These kids just ate up the most convoluted bullshit that ever came out of my mouth... and in trying to simplify the Eucharist so that kids would understand, and reading the source materials as an adult, I found I could no longer continue the charade. Ultimately, I felt dirty and guilty, and the next year when I was an assistant in the 8th grade and they whipped out all the anti-abortion and abstinence propaganda (all of which I disagreed with, being pro-choice and having made other... choices). I felt like vomiting as the teachers forced more absurdities down the kids' throats and looked to me to nod in agreement. All the teachers and volunteers there loved me and promoted my faith and quest of knowledge. The director encouraged me to read several materials that aided in my turning, and gave me full access to the school's little "religion library", which was full of some of the most unbelievable stuff. For a time, I dove into theology. Then I discovered philosophy... which played a huge part in the deconversion process. When I discovered how humans form their own morality outside of a holy text, and that it was OK to do so and actually encouraged, I was hooked. Also getting addicted to nonfiction science books helped a bit.

The other main event that I can pinpoint occurring at about the same time was an increase in participation of online forums, and subsequently, the discovery of Black Metal, which led to my discovery of philosophy, specifically nihilistic existentialism. The forums provided discussion and had me ask questions of myself and others that I probably never would have at that time if it weren't for a group of free-thinkers I ran across. They introduced me to Black Metal, and through investigation, I discovered an entire underground community of people who thought, felt, and reasoned as I did, and BM was just the beginning. I was no longer a monster or "evil", there were hundreds of people like me out there, and I could explore any question I wanted and debate any topic I wanted over the internet, as there was no one in real life to connect with on that level. Once I began debating AGAINST Christians, I realized I was no longer one of them.

I think the deconversion process requires a few stages, and these are by no means comprehensive of all deconverts:
1. dissatisfaction with current religion in some way, questioning, or emptiness, specifically greater than the "doubt that we all have"
2. this doubt and uncertainty leads to a search for answers
3. the seeking finds an outlet and/or support group
4. the seeking pursues alternatives to their limits
5. after significant time investment (>3 yrs), the seeking accepts a solution and leaves religion
6. deconverted STAYS deconverted and continually updates and expands knowledge base through study, debate, and sometimes mild activism
When my grandfather died about 1969, I moved into his house. Very soon, I discovered he had been receiving mail from a cult known as the Worldwide Church of God. I had heard of the group, headed then by Herbert W. Armstrong; so I was curious enough to read some of the material. Soon I was reading it all and asking for more. (The WCG still exists today; but HWA died in 1986, and the group is much smaller and very different now than it was 39 years ago.)

Over a period of time, this new religious material taught me many things I had not known and asked many questions that I could not answer. But that's OK, because HWA (as his followers knew him), or his son Garner Ted Armstrong (GTA), usually had the answers, and scriptures to back them up. Furthermore, they also answered many of the questions I had wondered about for decades.

After about two years, I had changed enough that I knew I could no longer consider myself a Baptist; so I joined the WCG. This didn't work out very well for me, because I found it impossible to live according to the WCG doctrines. Like keeping the Sabbath Day from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown every week as taught in the Old Testament, for example. Or double tithing, for another example. After all, I had a family to provide for. And there were other examples.

I tried. I really tried. I studied my Bible and other materials more than ever before. I wanted desperately to please my God without letting my family go hungry. But I found it impossible to do, as I thought I understood the scriptures by then. But I think letting go of my original set of Baptist beliefs and changing to the very different doctrines of the WCG set the stage for me to keep on changing when I finally realized they were no better.

After about ten years of struggling in this new cult to understand God's will better and obey Him, I finally admitted to myself that He probably didn't even exist and that the Bible could not possibly be His "Word."

Only then did I understand why He had seemingly forsaken me for such a long time. He wasn't even real! He was only in my mind.

Those ten years were far more traumatic than I have space to tell you here, but they were worth every tear. They brought me the freedom to live my own life and do what good I can because I want to do good, and not because Somebody in the sky tells me what to do and how to live.




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