Okay, here goes nothing: I'm just getting out. Here I am, about to graduate high school and head off to college, and suddenly I find myself no longer believing in the Christianity of my childhood.
Why? Because I decided to obey the Bible. I Thessalonians 5:21 says "Prove all things."
Prove all things? I'd been listening to (admittedly uneducated and a bit disagreeable) preachers all my life, and approaching the Bible with the idea that it can't contradict itself, therefore any apparent contradictions are explainable.
I wanted to be 100% sure about my faith. I believed I would be.
Instead, I started realizing things like, "I can't really define 'salvation', you know, mom? That's why I don't walk around giving out gospel tracts any more."
And, "If I only accept proof from my side of the argument, how do I know that someone else doesn't have a point?"
And, "Wait a minute: My pastor has NO idea what he's talking about when it comes to science. How do I know any other creationists do?"
Soon enough, by the moving of what I would have once called Satan, and now am tempted to call Fate, my atheistic uncle emailed me. This was not the first time he'd emailed me in an attempt to "attack" my beliefs. It would not be the last. For in the correspondence that followed, he decided not to give me up to my indoctrination. Fortunately, I had invited this.
"Scientists," he said, "go through incredibly rigorous study while in school, usually because they want to make a contribution; not because of money, because usually they won't make a lot of it. I find it disturbing when a fundamentalist Christian with little to no education thinks he knows better than scientists... Do you believe in Noah's flood?"
I gave him my reasons for believing in the flood, while providing him the opportunity to "further test my indoctrination". I also conceded that it was foolish for the uneducated to believe they know better.
And so I got to doin' the math about Noah's ark.
And so I got to researchin' the claims put in my head by the venerable Kent Hovind (comets only last so long, there is no continental drift, carbon dating doesn't work).
And so I got to lookin' at the Bible's contradictions.
And so I got to praying, "God, if you want me to believe in you, you had better give me some proof really soon."
And I was confident that even if I was wrong, it was God's will for me to seek the truth; and if I turned against him, I knew he would still be merciful. That's the kind of Christianity I had. I won't say I regret any of it.
I started with the assumption that (1) There can be no contradictions in reality, (2) My observations can be trusted, and (3) The Bible is true.
Strike that third one.
So here I am. Am I an "atheist"? Probably... I'm not a theist because I'm pretty sure design is bunk, and, furthermore, I believe in natural causation. Agnostic? That's fairly useless, and will probably just make Christians think I'm looking for excuses. Atheist? Can we disprove the existence of God? I don't know. But I think we can quite readily debunk pretty much any religious philosophy out there.
You know what ticks me off, though? All my friends believe this bunk. My family believes it. I've got a little sister who believes it and will grow up living her life based on it. My step-dad will probably disown me. That will hurt since he's the only dad I've ever known. This frees me to look for my biofather, though. I wonder if he's at all rational...
Oh yeah, first I've actually got to tell someone. Nah, I'll be a wuss and wait until college. No way I'm wasting my money on a fundy "university" though. Then I'll also have friends and mentors to support me as I watch my whole childhood social circle fall to bits.
You know what sucks? I gave like my first $5,000 to a bunch of nutters, thinking I was "laying up my treasure in heaven". Can't blame them for being sincere. Probably can blame them for robbing me. That's money I'll never get back. Unless I make money off this atheism stuff.
Shit. Amazing how life can change in like, a week. I was protecting the flood story a few days ago. fml lolol
Please help me. You're supposed to be big, mean, brainwashed God-haters. Prove me wrong, I pray you. Rant over.
Hi Anthony, and welcome. Good on you for having the bravery and honesty to confront these issues. I recognize a lot of my own thoughts and feelings in your story. I was raised in a fundamentalist, young earth creationist, biblical literalist, climate change denying, quiverfull, homeschooling family. I, too, felt that Christianity without airtight apologetics was pretty intellectually wimpy. I delved into apologetics books but I never picked up a book from "the other side" until recently. I was led to believe that evolutionists were liars and non-Christians were "lost" and hedonistic, so why waste my time reading what they had to say? I believed anyone who honestly investigated Christianity would see how right and true it was (thanks Lee Strobel). I thought the only reason Christians left the faith was because they weren't "true Christians" to start, their faith was weak, they were tempted, etc. I was astounded when I discovered that people left the faith while actually trying to delve *deeper* into Christianity. That seemed entirely impossible.
I am so glad I turned out to be wrong. I discovered that there are MANY people (even pastors, etc) who deconverted over very real doubts, and my own faith fell apart slowly over the course of about 4 years, starting when I was 16 or 17 until the start of this year, when I cut the last of my emotional ties to Christianity and embraced my deconversion as a 21 yr old. Over those years, I began to see that god really was not present or active in my life, prayer doesn't work, the bible is pretty freaking scary, Christianity does not have a monopoly on morality (actually, Christian morals can be pretty backwards sometimes), and basically all the philosophical/theological foundations of the Christian faith just don't hold water. I wasn't trying to disprove Christianity, and no one in my life was some "instrument of satan" trying to pull me into "evil and sin". All of these things just unraveled on their own, and the more I scrambled to pick them up, the more they fell apart. You're probably familiar with the verse where Jesus (allegedly) says "the truth shall set you free". That part of the bible is definitely true: I feel more free and fulfilled in my life after becoming an atheist than I EVER felt as a Christian. Of course there's a lot more detail to my story I've omitted for the sake of brevity, but I am glad to share it with you or anyone who is interested.
Regarding your family situation, it sounds like it may be best to fly under the radar until you get out of the house. Not saying you have to be dishonest, but in my opinion making it a big to-do will only start fights and make your life miserable. Luckily, college is a perfect time to start fresh, you can build up a good support group as you said, and you won't have to say that all your friends believe that bunk anymore. :) I very much understand your frustration about your family and friends, though. Almost all of my family still believes and wastes their money and time. All my old friends were believers too (with one exception--she and I deconverted around the same time), and still are, but our friendships drifted apart and now I have new, rational friends. It's a mixture of frustration, incredulity, and sadness.
Anyway, there are a lot of fantastic youtube channels for atheism and debunking Christianity, but my personal favorite is QualiaSoup: http://www.youtube.com/user/QualiaSoup
I gather that you're already pretty convinced of the bible's ridiculosity, but if you want a fantastic resource, check out the Skeptic's Annotated Bible: http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/
I'm also happy to lend a godless hand and chat about my experience or generally offer support of you like, either on this thread or through direct messages. Good luck on your journey wherever it may lead you, I am hoping for the best for you, but I am not praying for you. ;)
Suzanne, thank you so much for your support!
Wow! We are indeed similar. Homeschoolers... ftw? I'm not so sure anymore, lol!
I think I'm going quite a bit faster than you did, though, which both frightens and excites me.
Today I was in ecstasy over how free I am now. Free to, well, destroy myself; free to create the life I want... based on MY DECISIONS, not the work of devils or spirits. So liberating! I know "destroying myself" doesn't sound too pleasant, but... it's part of the decision spectrum that I'm now in control of.
I definitely want to hear your story. What was the first unpatchable hole in your faith? Mine was the inconsistency of salvation instructions (believe in him; call on his name and believe in him; be baptized and call on his name; have faith; have faith and works... etc... I wonder if with a little time and effort in my new mindset I could show two mutually exclusive methods of salvation... )
Of course, once I get to college and, "come out with it", my mom will say she knew she shouldn't have let me go off to a college where I would get brainwashed. That day is going to be the worst day of my life. How did you deal with that?
Thanks too for the resources. Definitely checking them out, I'll let you know how it goes :)
Haha, somehow the fact that you're not praying for me highlights the fact that you're actually helping... TY ;D
I thoroughly enjoyed your rantroduction. I'd love to see Atheist Nexus frame it and put in on their front page. I'd love to see it framed and displayed in every post office in the US lol. Just awesome.
Thank you, Linda! I don't know if I'd want that, though, lol! Toward the end I got noticeably upset and let my writing slip a bit... maybe I didn't need to include the thing about money... and the plea for help is pathetic, lol. You're already proving me wrong though :)
I think you'll find that most of us here are far from the god-hating meanies that we are painted as by theists. I don't hate God. I don't hate Santa Claus or the Tooth fairy, either. I've just never seen any evidence that they actually exist.
I was a solid Christian for a good chunk of my teens and twenties .. the problem is that, like you, I'm a truth-seeker. I wanted to prove my faith, and figured, like you, that reality would support the Bible... but the more I dug, the more I learned, the less convincing the Bible and Christianity was.
There's a reason why the church discourages you from going to non-Christian sources for information. Deep down, they realize that reality does not reflect their faith. They certainly wouldn't admit it openly, but it's there...it's that nagging feeling in the back of their head. Some of us aren't so good at denying the truth, and we want to know more about the world.
Good for you for coming to the realization that the Bible and your faith does not sufficiently explain reality. That's the first step. It's not always an easy journey, but no journey worth taking is easy.
Glad to see you here!
Tom, I think you're right: no meanies so far.
We are soooo problematic, aren't we?
They say not to go to them because they just want to drag you into sin and lie to you. What's weird is that it looks quite similar from this side... Except from here it's not "sin", it's just confusion and, furthermore, hatred of the Other.
Where, exactly, is the journey to? Or is there even an answer to that question? There was in Christianity.
There's some meanies in the atheist world, I hate to say. But that's because we're only people. There's a lot of different personalities out there. Just as there's loving Christians and then there's the Westboro Baptists.
As far as 'the journey' - It's a very Christian notion that every journey has to have a set destination - But the truth is, you don't need a destination to enjoy a journey. Some people like to journey for the sake of seeing what they find.
I use myself as an example: I happen to enjoy travel and have done a lot of it in my life... But whereas religion offers you a guided tour, seeing only what your church wants you to see; life without religion is more like traveling independently. You can still see the same sights, if they interest you, but the difference is freedom. You can see all those sights and SO MUCH MORE on your own. There's more effort involved, as you have to plan things out yourself, but it's worth it, generally :)
Yes, exactly. Christians are supposed to have so much higher ethics. Bunk. One day I know I'll be ashamed of ever being called Baptist. But for now I'm just mad.
I'm glad I'm on a journey now and no longer on the treadmill of religious mind-rape.