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Author Topic:   Deconversion experiences
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 1 of 299 (593315)
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


Dear fellow EvC Forum members,
After a hiatus of a couple of months I've decided to pop back in and see what's new at EvC. And aside from a few new technical features (keep up the good work Percy) you guys seem to be pretty much where I left you, same old regular posters, same old discussions.
This contrasts rather sharply with my own personal development over the past few months. During this time I've reevaluated many of the personal beliefs that I've espoused on this forum, most notably my religious beliefs. I now consider myself something of an agnostic, though I don't make a meaningful distinction between agnosticism and atheism, and labels aren't important anyway.
It's hard to point to a single reason for why I lost my faith. The Creation-Evolution debate certainly had nothing to do with it, as I never saw any conflict between a belief in a higher power and an acceptance of the natural processes that produced mankind. Rather, I think I just became less averse to being critical of myself and my religion. At some point the scales just fell from my eyes and I realized that I had no real reason to maintain my belief in God. There was only blind faith, and what good is faith when it could just as well be used to form the basis for any quack religion?
For a while I existed in a state of limbo, not really sure what I believed, and fearful of the implications of either "belief". I am unfortunately predisposed to depression, and this didn't help. My existential crisis (for lack of a better word) caused more than a few sleepless nights.
Only recently have I begun to feel more secure in my non-belief. I think my non-belief is more justified and subjectable to rational critique than my Christian faith ever was. Despite this, I still feel a tinge of cognitive dissonance whenever I'm around my very religious family. For some reason that I can't quite put a finger on, God almost feels more real to me when I'm surrounded by Christians. I'm ashamed to admit that the paranoid idea that the Devil might be deluding me still occurs to me.
I'm curious whether anyone else here who has gone through a deconversion recognizes any of this. Is it usually this difficult? How long did it take you to go from a fairly deep religious conviction to non-belief in God?
Respectfully,
-Meldinoor

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by frako, posted 11-26-2010 5:32 AM Meldinoor has replied
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 Message 6 by iano, posted 11-26-2010 8:41 PM Meldinoor has replied
 Message 7 by RAZD, posted 11-26-2010 8:41 PM Meldinoor has replied
 Message 9 by Buzsaw, posted 11-26-2010 10:09 PM Meldinoor has replied
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frako
Member (Idle past 424 days)
Posts: 2932
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 2 of 299 (593324)
11-26-2010 5:32 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


Well when i entered the age of reason 6-7 years old i started to question stuff, luckily the pastor that led my sundey scool was what we call a wordly person. (he was a biker, knew how to hold a sermon whitout everybody dieing of boredom, baseicly he was not your typical bible stomping whit a stick up his behind preacher). So during sunday school i asked more and more questions like what science says and what the bible says the more and more i questioned the bible of being a true word of god because if it is wrong on some things how can we be sure it is not wrong on other things. So after i fihnished sunnday school, i thought to myself well god is probably different then what the bible says (god of the gaps), the more i learned about the world and how it works the less place god had in it. So preatty soon the only thing god did in my mind was he snapped his fingers made the big bang go bang and then went to sleep for 15 billion years and is still sleaping now. Well soon i realised that was a silly idea. So that last place where god should go got removed and i became a full atheist.
I had it easy my mother was an atheist or more of an agnostic, and my father never went to church, though he sometime payed for a mass or 2 for his father my late grandfather. So i was not fed all the bullshit by force and it was easier for me to shake it loose.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 5:54 PM frako has not replied

  
nwr
Member
Posts: 6445
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005
Member Rating: 5.2


Message 3 of 299 (593378)
11-26-2010 5:34 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


I'm curious whether anyone else here who has gone through a deconversion recognizes any of this.
There are probably many different ways of going through this.
For me, it was several decades ago. I never thought there was a conflict between science and religion. I thought it obvious that the Bible was not a science text book, and that the Adam and Eve story was a fable, that the Noah's Ark story was either a fable or about a local flood and farmyard animals.
There was always the problem that prayer seemed to be like talking to a brick wall. But I managed to put that to one side.
What really bothered me were:
  • the miracles; why did the age of miracles seem to end at about the time there were skeptical scientists to check on those them;
  • the resurrection; the description in the Bible is kind of vague, so how can we be so sure of it;
  • the claim that Jesus was son of God, when he mostly described himself as "son of man". It seemed a bit forced.
  • the contradictory genealogies for Jesus;
  • the emphasis on the teachings of Paul, over the teachings of Jesus;
  • Mormonism; nothing seemed more obvious than that it was a made up religion. And if it can have that many followers as a made up religion, then Christianity could just as easily be a made up religion.
In my case, the transition was relatively painless. I was at graduate school, away from my Church friends, so personal ties did not get in the way.

Jesus was a liberal hippie

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

Replies to this message:
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Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 4 of 299 (593379)
11-26-2010 5:54 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by frako
11-26-2010 5:32 AM


Thank you frako.
frako writes:
So preatty soon the only thing god did in my mind was he snapped his fingers made the big bang go bang and then went to sleep for 15 billion years and is still sleaping now. Well soon i realised that was a silly idea. So that last place where god should go got removed and i became a full atheist.
So you went from theism to atheism via deism? Similarly, I came to realize that history could easily have unfolded as it has without divine intervention. God was essentially relegated to acting as a first cause, but of course I still believed that he intervened in the lives of his followers, even if these "interventions" were indistinguishable from non-divine phenomena.
frako writes:
Well soon i realised that was a silly idea. So that last place where god should go got removed and i became a full atheist.
For a lifelong Christian, just realizing that a belief is silly doesn't necessarily make it go away. I suffer "withdrawal symptoms" because, even though I can't justify rationally a belief in God, I haven't convinced my more irrational side that God isn't there. I still sometimes catch myself praying before I go to work, bed, or before I do just about anything. It's a habit that will take some time to break.
frako writes:
I had it easy my mother was an atheist or more of an agnostic, and my father never went to church, though he sometime payed for a mass or 2 for his father my late grandfather. So i was not fed all the bullshit by force and it was easier for me to shake it loose.
You were lucky. My immediate family live across the Atlantic from me, and I'm not too concerned about how they'll react. But my grandparents are providing me room and board, and they are very devout. My grandmother is frail and the only reason why I have not made known my loss of faith. I worry that the revelation would be too hard on her.
-Meldinoor

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by frako, posted 11-26-2010 5:32 AM frako has not replied

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 5 of 299 (593385)
11-26-2010 6:19 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by nwr
11-26-2010 5:34 PM


nwr writes:
There was always the problem that prayer seemed to be like talking to a brick wall. But I managed to put that to one side.
This was never a problem for me. Most of my prayers were for rather small things that could easily be attained without divine intervention. A prayer for a "good day at work" was almost always "answered", and an occasional exception didn't bother me.
nwr writes:
In my case, the transition was relatively painless. I was at graduate school, away from my Church friends, so personal ties did not get in the way.
Personal ties do have a big impact. When I'm around Christians, especially my devout relatives, religious belief feels more "right" (can't quite put a finger on why) and I feel increased guilt for the doubts that I have. Similarly, when I was a Christian, I always felt more devout when I had taken part in Christian activities, like church. It bothers me because I strive to be rational about my beliefs, and not to be a "pack animal" that goes with the flow that I just happened to have been born into.
Sooner or later I'm just going to have to "come out" as a non-believer, but I haven't yet decided how I'm going to break it to my family.
-Meldinoor

This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by nwr, posted 11-26-2010 5:34 PM nwr has seen this message but not replied

  
iano
Member (Idle past 2059 days)
Posts: 6165
From: Co. Wicklow, Ireland.
Joined: 07-27-2005


Message 6 of 299 (593403)
11-26-2010 8:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


Melindoor writes:
Rather, I think I just became less averse to being critical of myself and my religion. At some point the scales just fell from my eyes and I realized that I had no real reason to maintain my belief in God. There was only blind faith, and what good is faith when it could just as well be used to form the basis for any quack religion?
Would you say the the god you believed in would applaud your decision (the God I believe in would, I think).
In which case, (muted) congratulations are in order.
-
For a while I existed in a state of limbo, not really sure what I believed, and fearful of the implications of either "belief". I am unfortunately predisposed to depression, and this didn't help. My existential crisis (for lack of a better word) caused more than a few sleepless nights.
Only recently have I begun to feel more secure in my non-belief. I think my non-belief is more justified and subjectable to rational critique than my Christian faith ever was. Despite this, I still feel a tinge of cognitive dissonance whenever I'm around my very religious family. For some reason that I can't quite put a finger on, God almost feels more real to me when I'm surrounded by Christians.
I really can't imagine what it must be like to be undergoing so great a shift in such a monumental area of life. My deconversion went the other way around and so the sudden exposure caused me to tremble with excitement and joy. This must be a far more sobering experience - although by many accounts it's something one can get used to. Rejoice in even.
Phew..!
Good luck in dealing with what might turn out to be painful aftershocks.
Edited by iano, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 9:48 PM iano has replied

  
RAZD
Member (Idle past 1524 days)
Posts: 20714
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004


Message 7 of 299 (593404)
11-26-2010 8:41 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


On the other hand ...
Hi Meldinoor, I hope my response does not lead to others dragging this thread off topic by responding to my position.
It's hard to point to a single reason for why I lost my faith. The Creation-Evolution debate certainly had nothing to do with it, as I never saw any conflict between a belief in a higher power and an acceptance of the natural processes that produced mankind. Rather, I think I just became less averse to being critical of myself and my religion. At some point the scales just fell from my eyes and I realized that I had no real reason to maintain my belief in God. There was only blind faith, and what good is faith when it could just as well be used to form the basis for any quack religion?
I've always disliked organized religion, as it seemed to have little to do with living by the precepts. Perhaps this is why I have preferred the Buddhist faiths, especially zen and an emphasis on individual personal development. For me, faith is a personal journey, rather than a follow-the-leader behavior, and there are many paths to the top of the mountain.
...I've reevaluated many of the personal beliefs that I've espoused on this forum, most notably my religious beliefs. I now consider myself something of an agnostic, though I don't make a meaningful distinction between agnosticism and atheism, and labels aren't important anyway.
Curiously, I've gone the other way, from strong atheist to agnostic deist. There are several reasons, but the largest was that I could no longer support the atheist position. The logic was too flawed, and the only "evidence" was the apparent absence of evidence for god/s, arguments that begged the question, and other logical fallacies. More and more it seemed that the strong atheist position was just as flawed and self-referential as the strong theist position, and just as willing to ignore the shortcomings. Both strong theists and strong atheists strike me as being smug in their self-delusions.
It became evident to me that the only rational position, based on logic and the perceptible testable objective empirical evidence, was pure agnosticism - that the theist side was not supported by evidence, and the atheist side was not supported by evidence, that the answer was not known, could not be discerned from our current knowledge, and that either position could be true.
Thus I became an open minded skeptic - a better description than agnostic imho - open to the possibilities, but skeptical of any one position\belief being more valid than any other position\belief.
From there, it seems (to me, anyway) that the Buddhist\Zen\Deist position is the most logical belief on the theist side, although I remain skeptical.
I'm curious whether anyone else here who has gone through a deconversion recognizes any of this. Is it usually this difficult? How long did it take you to go from a fairly deep religious conviction to non-belief in God?
It was not hard for me, as it was more like opening ones eyes during learning new things.
I expect the rabid hordes of hard atheists will now descend and try to shred my position, so I will note that this is not the thread to discuss this, as my personal belief is not the original topic nor is it related to it, nor do I intend to discuss it, as I do not need to justify my personal beliefs to anyone but myself.
Curiously, many of these atheists are past believers in a strong christian theism, and they should be able to relate their experiences in deconversion rather than take this thread off topic.
It seems to me that part of the human psychological behavior pattern is to swing hard to the other extreme rather than rest in between. It seems (to me anyway) that the most ardent anti-smokers are ones who have recently quit, the most ardent anti-drinkers are ones who have recently quit, the most ardent anti-theists are ones who have recently quit, so I hope you can find some balance.
Enjoy.

we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Meldinoor, posted 11-27-2010 2:23 AM RAZD has replied
 Message 20 by Dr Adequate, posted 11-27-2010 9:31 AM RAZD has seen this message but not replied

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 8 of 299 (593412)
11-26-2010 9:48 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by iano
11-26-2010 8:41 PM


Hi iano,
iano writes:
Would you say the the god you believed in would applaud your decision (the God I believe in would, I think).
That's actually a very good question that I have asked myself on occasion. I don't think my motives for leaving the faith were by any means contrary to what the Bible teaches. All I did was apply reason to determine whether my beliefs were justifiable or not. Had I done the same in a conversion to Christianity, no Christian would have suggested I was doing it "for the wrong reasons".
I prayed often during this process, asking God for guidance, discernment, and wisdom. I asked God to make the truth evident to me. I really didn't want to make a rash decision. Of course, agnosticism is not so much a decision as it is, well, indecision. The only choice I made was to be honest with myself about my lack of faith. I can't "choose" to believe anything without a reason. I have to be convinced first.
I imagine that if God is a good and loving god, He would be patient with my doubts and guide me back to the faith. That's what I hope at any rate, assuming that He really is there.
-Meldinoor

This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by iano, posted 11-26-2010 8:41 PM iano has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 50 by iano, posted 11-27-2010 6:29 PM Meldinoor has replied

  
Buzsaw
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 299 (593414)
11-26-2010 10:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


Re: From Faith To Disbelief
Meldinoor writes:
It's hard to point to a single reason for why I lost my faith.
Hi Meldinoor. It's great to have you back. I hope you'll remain active.
Over the decades I've counseled many in a non-professional manner as a layman in business dealing with the public. During the Viet Nam War I counseled newly recruited Marines in a Ca. Christian Servicemen's Center This was near Camp Pendleton were young newly trained Marines were about to be shipped out to the lines in Nam where things were hot and heavy, thousands of GIs coming back in body bags. Many of these men received Jesus as Lord (I say Lord/master) and Savior, committing their lives and souls to him, being anxious no doubt, about their destiny.
While in the USAF myself I was an activist apologist for the Biblical record and was the religious guy in the barracks who some came to on occasion to talk religion etc.
I've done some jail volunteer counseling and witness over the years with some of the church men who did that sort of ministry. In the jail ministry, quite often I encountered men who had once made a profession of faith of some sort. I would i ask questions as to what faith they had been in etc. For those who had professed a spirit born experience, i.e. born again I would tell them where I guessed that they had began to fall away from their commitment.
I would suggest three things which evangelical Christians needed in order to remain strong in the faith and to grow spiritually. First, read a chapter or more of the Bible daily. Second pray to the Father in the name of Jesus daily in a pattern somewhat like the Lord's Prayer as a model, but pray long enough to offer praise to God, to thank God for all blessings which come from him ultimately and to make request for all of their needs and concerns for that day. Thirdly, attend some assembly of believers at least once a week.
Invariably, in the jails, the men would admit that it was when they began to get lax on one or more of the above three things, they began to fall away from the faith.
Without being too nosey, I'm wandering what sort of faith and doctrine you originally had? Was there a specified time of conversion when you could say from that point you had become a Christian? What was the criteria for your conversion to Christianity in the first place?
Perhaps your faith was shallow and had never reached a significant amount of depth. Jesus spoke of the different soils which the sown seed fell on, some on rocky, some dry, some by the wayside, etc and some on the good soil where it took root. Did you ever have the assurance that your faith had taken root? Did your religion even practice and teach the need for a conversion experience?
I hope this helps in some way. I will have you on my prayer list as you go your way, trusting in God to, by his Holy Spirit, to nudge you in the way you should go. Often God works in interesting and unusual ways when we ask him. Perhaps he will bring about something unique for your ultimate good, in a manner so that you will know it came from the living God, Jehovah.

BUZSAW B 4 U 2 C Y BUZ SAW.
The Immeasurable Present Eternally Extends the Infinite Past And Infinitely Consumes The Eternal Future.
Time Relates To What Is Temperal. What Is Eternal Is Timeless.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

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articulett
Member (Idle past 3490 days)
Posts: 49
Joined: 06-15-2010


Message 10 of 299 (593416)
11-27-2010 12:02 AM


I had trouble believing as a kid, because it seemed like there was so many religions that believed so many different things, and I could never tell if I was believing in the right invisible beings with enough fervency and following the right rubric to win the pass/fail test. No one seemed worried that they were in the wrong religion and no scientists seemed to be doing any testing to find out which one was the right one (Which had the most miracles? Which leaders were the most holy/infallible? The best at prophesy? Whose prayers were answered more? Who prayed for bigger things and got bigger results? etc.?)
I ended up putting religion on the back burner, and decided I'd probably figure it out when I grew up. I was afraid to think about it too much, lest I lose faith and suffer for ETERNITY. And I suspect that's the position most believers are in now-- they've just learned not to even think if god might not exist-- they are afraid to think such a thought.
I still thought you could "feel" the truth, so I later segued towards new age beliefs because they "resonated" with me. They felt more logical and loving than what I'd been raised with and the believers in such things seemed like much better people than the Christians I had known. The Christians didn't even agree who was Christian-- and they sure didn't share each other's beliefs And I knew enough science to know the creationists were whacked. (I was raised Catholic, so evolution wasn't a problem.)
I later figured out that faith and feelings are good ways to imagine you know something, but they aren't good ways to find out the truth at all. Instead they lead you to fool yourself and confirm those biases.
I actually lost my faith in souls, first. There is a man named Clive Wearing (you can see him on youtube) who lost the function of his hippocampus due to encephalitis. He can't make any new memories. It's amazingly tragic. He cries because he's missed seeing his children grow up-- only he didn't. He just can't remember anything for more than 7 seconds.
It just made me think: If you can't remember anything without a working hippocampus, how can you be anything without a brain at all? And this goes for all those with various sorts of brain damage or seizures or chemical induced changes-- or blind people. If the soul could do something, why didn't it step in and do the job of the malfunctioning organs? When we anesthetize the brain, the person can't feel, think, or remember anything! And if there were any evidence for a soul, why weren't scientists testing, honing, and refining that evidence. As I researched the subject, it became increasingly clear that souls are an illusion. Despite eons and an eagerness to believe in such things, there wasn't even an iota of evidence we could build upon or test or measure and find out more. Compare that to the ever increasing evidence we have regarding evolution and DNA. And the information is the same for everyone, no matter what they believe-- even if they don't accept evolution, their DNA still tells the story of how they got here.
So there are no souls... or rather, there is no more evidence for souls than there is for fairies.
Without souls, who needs gods? Souls that can suffer eternally are the whole reason you supposedly need gods and faith and allegiance to some church-group.
But there is no evidence that any invisible form of consciousness CAN exist-- this makes gods, demons, Satan, and souls as unlikely as Thor, Xenu, Thetans, sprites, gremlins, and all other invisible and or supernatural being humans believed in. There is no reason to believe in some of these beings and not others. If there was such evidence, scientists would be grabbing at it and testing it like mad --eager to learn more for themselves and the rest of us. (Hooray --I no longer had to worry about hell or reincarnation or which divine truths I might be missing out on or whether I might suffer in some afterlife because I didn't believe the right unbelievable story in this life. )
Humans are clearly good at making up such beings or attributing things they don't understand to supernatural agents. Humans are also very good at confirming what they've been indoctrinated to "believe in" and manipulating others into their beliefs. When people feel like some transcendent feeling came because of their faith, naturally, they want to share that feeling and they do so by sharing their faith. But that doesn't mean the good feeling came because what they believed had any basis in truth. (Google Tom Cruise and Scientology is you want to see a very successful man who is very convinced that his wacky religious beliefs are responsible for his success.)
If scientists cannot know about which invisible undetectable beings are real versus which are not, then that means your priests, gurus, friends, parents, self-proclaimed prophets, indoctrinators, and people on this forum cannot know either. They can imagine they DO know just as the Scientologists, Moonies, and every other religion imagines they know, but they don't know-- they have "faith". And faith is not a means of knowledge-- faith is "belief without or despite evidence". Believers just "feel" like they know. And their "truths" conflict with each other and many other equally heartfelt truths. (Everybody is going to hell according to somebody else's religion.)
As far as the evidence is concerned, consciousness without a material brain and sensory inputting organs is as unlikely as sound in a vacuum. It's nonsensical. The "Satan" you are afraid of is as unlikely as the sprites you give no credence to and the Greek gods you hold as myths. Scientists have no reason to think that consciousness can exist absent a material brain. And we have lots of evidence that humans can fool themselves and have horrific stress imagining such things are real.
Edited by articulett, : Cleaning up grammar snafus.
Edited by articulett, : No reason given.
Edited by articulett, : No reason given.

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articulett
Member (Idle past 3490 days)
Posts: 49
Joined: 06-15-2010


(1)
Message 11 of 299 (593417)
11-27-2010 12:10 AM


Good websites for ex-Christians:
ExChristian.Net
Debunking Christianity
If you are coming out of a specific religion such as Mormonism, Scientology, or Jehovah Witness, there are specific "ex" sites for those religions.
There are millions of people who have been where you are, and many are starting the journey and could use your help.
The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church | Christianity Today
Also, the Hitchens/Dembski debate for young evangelicals was fantastic: Forbidden
I think the hardest thing is the treatment you get from those who'd prefer you stay in the fold. When you have a "crisis of faith", it scares them regarding a similar crisis. They will try to play on your fears, with Pascals wager-- but I suspect they are really talking about their own fears. I think many believers have to work very hard to keep themselves from understanding that they might be as mistaken as all those other faiths they are SURE are mistaken.
Edited by articulett, : typo correction
Edited by articulett, : No reason given.

  
anglagard
Member (Idle past 955 days)
Posts: 2339
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 12 of 299 (593418)
11-27-2010 12:57 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
11-26-2010 1:19 AM


Stupid Whores for Lucifer
meldinoor writes:
I'm curious whether anyone else here who has gone through a deconversion recognizes any of this. Is it usually this difficult? How long did it take you to go from a fairly deep religious conviction to non-belief in God?
Just a few seconds. Back in 1970, my parents forced me to go to the Nazarene church in North Fresno despite hiding under the bed. Once there, they told me I was not welcome back because my hair touched my ears.
Obviously I wanted to ask about that hippie hanging on a cross behind the altar, but at 12 years old, I figured these fanatics were too stupid to get the irony.
{ABE} I still believe in God, it just lives in the critical point between Deism, Pantheism, Philosophical Taoism, and Matayama Buddhism. More later if interested. {/ABE}
Edited by anglagard, : altar + clarity
Edited by anglagard, : No reason given.

The idea of the sacred is quite simply one of the most conservative notions in any culture, because it seeks to turn other ideas - uncertainty, progress, change - into crimes.
Salman Rushdie
This rudderless world is not shaped by vague metaphysical forces. It is not God who kills the children. Not fate that butchers them or destiny that feeds them to the dogs. It’s us. Only us. - the character Rorschach in Watchmen

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 11-26-2010 1:19 AM Meldinoor has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Meldinoor, posted 11-27-2010 3:50 AM anglagard has not replied

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 13 of 299 (593426)
11-27-2010 2:23 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by RAZD
11-26-2010 8:41 PM


Re: On the other hand ...
Hi RAZD,
RAZD writes:
For me, faith is a personal journey, rather than a follow-the-leader behavior, and there are many paths to the top of the mountain.
As a Christian I was pretty independent, and didn't subscribe to any particular denomination or flavor of Christianity. I accepted the basic beliefs common to all evangelical lutherans, while being generally non-committal on most disputed doctrine. I saw faith as a journey of discovery and learning, a journey toward godliness and an improved understanding of God. Surprisingly, I don't consider my loss of faith to be an interruption of that pattern, but a continuation in a new direction (even if my concept of a personal God has changed).
RAZD writes:
Curiously, I've gone the other way, from strong atheist to agnostic deist. There are several reasons, but the largest was that I could no longer support the atheist position. The logic was too flawed, and the only "evidence" was the apparent absence of evidence for god/s, arguments that begged the question, and other logical fallacies. More and more it seemed that the strong atheist position was just as flawed and self-referential as the strong theist position, and just as willing to ignore the shortcomings. Both strong theists and strong atheists strike me as being smug in their self-delusions.
I have a friend who tells me that he "knows" that no gods exist. I consider that to be a very peculiar stance to take, especially since no single coherent definition for the concept of a "god" (small g) exists. While I can speculate on the probabilities of specific gods existing (Ra, Vishnu, Osiris, Yahweh), it's impossible to make any truth claims at all about an undefined concept. I'm an atheist only in the sense that I'm "not a theist", i.e. I don't claim the existence of any god. But I'm skeptical enough to consider any suggestions you'd care to put forth about gods.
Respectfully,
-Meldinoor

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by RAZD, posted 11-26-2010 8:41 PM RAZD has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 24 by RAZD, posted 11-27-2010 1:12 PM Meldinoor has replied

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 14 of 299 (593431)
11-27-2010 3:30 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Buzsaw
11-26-2010 10:09 PM


Re: From Faith To Disbelief
Buzsaw writes:
Hi Meldinoor. It's great to have you back. I hope you'll remain active.
Thank you, Buz. I look forward to being back on the field of debate, crushing your arguments into a fine dust, and hopefully learning something in the process (even if that just ends up being patience)
Buzsaw writes:
I'm wandering what sort of faith and doctrine you originally had?
I would always just answer "Christian" when asked that question, though I was brought up as an evangelical Christian, alternately attending a Pentecostal church and a Mission Covenant Church (second largest denomination in Sweden, where I'm from). The most important part of my faith was a belief in atonement through Jesus Christ.
Buzsaw writes:
Was there a specified time of conversion when you could say from that point you had become a Christian?
I was raised a Christian. As for when I accepted Christ, I'm sure I must have done it the first time when I was just a little kid. I would later reaffirm my acceptance of Christ as Lord and Saviour on several occasions, usually in the context of attending some Christian revival thing, or a Christian youth camp. I was baptized in 2005, though that was more ceremonial and not as spiritually significant as my acceptance of Christ.
Buzsaw writes:
What was the criteria for your conversion to Christianity in the first place?
To accept Jesus as the Lord of my life and accept his gift of salvation.
Buzsaw writes:
Many of these men received Jesus as Lord (I say Lord/master) and Savior, committing their lives and souls to him, being anxious no doubt, about their destiny.
Do you really consider fear and anxiety to be legitimate reasons for a belief in God? It worked for me when I was 10 and had constant, terrible nightmares about hell and damnation. It didn't make me particularly comfortable or trusting of God, but it sure kept me praying. Now, just over a decade later, I can see what a poor foundation the fear of hell provides for one's faith. It makes me sad to see my youngest brother with same fears that I had, frightened at the mere mention of hell. Hell is one of the things I'm not going to miss about Christianity.
Buzsaw writes:
I would suggest three things which evangelical Christians needed in order to remain strong in the faith and to grow spiritually. First, read a chapter or more of the Bible daily. Second pray to the Father in the name of Jesus daily in a pattern somewhat like the Lord's Prayer as a model, but pray long enough to offer praise to God, to thank God for all blessings which come from him ultimately and to make request for all of their needs and concerns for that day. Thirdly, attend some assembly of believers at least once a week.
You may be right. I haven't really read the Bible (as opposed to simply looking stuff up) for a couple of years now, though I used to be an avid reader. I did pray a lot though, right up until my recent deconversion. And I rarely take the time to go to church what with college and work taking up most of my time. Perhaps losing these habits contributed to my loss of faith. It's possible.
Buzsaw writes:
Perhaps your faith was shallow and had never reached a significant amount of depth. Jesus spoke of the different soils which the sown seed fell on, some on rocky, some dry, some by the wayside, etc and some on the good soil where it took root. Did you ever have the assurance that your faith had taken root? Did your religion even practice and teach the need for a conversion experience?
My faith ebbed and flowed, as I suspect most peoples' faith does. Sometimes I felt like I was walking with Jesus, other times I had doubts. I don't recall either of my churches ever placing a lot of emphasis on conversion. The churches I attended were really kinda luke-warm and not particularly charismatic, but there were youth leaders who were really on fire for Christ. I moved to the U.S. when I was 18 (three years ago), and since then I have sporadically attended a few churches in town, not really feeling a connection with any of them.
Buzsaw writes:
I will have you on my prayer list as you go your way, trusting in God to, by his Holy Spirit, to nudge you in the way you should go. Often God works in interesting and unusual ways when we ask him. Perhaps he will bring about something unique for your ultimate good, in a manner so that you will know it came from the living God, Jehovah.
I appreciate your prayers. If God exists and he does answer prayers, then hopefully He'll respond and convince me of His presence. If He doesn't, well, I'll still appreciate your trying.
Respectully,
-Meldinoor

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Buzsaw, posted 11-26-2010 10:09 PM Buzsaw has not replied

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 4927 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 15 of 299 (593433)
11-27-2010 3:37 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by articulett
11-27-2010 12:02 AM


Hi articulett,
Thanks for sharing your story.
articulett writes:
I actually lost my faith in souls, first.
That's interesting, because that was one of the first philosophical problems I had with Christianity. Souls didn't seem to fulfill any real function since the brain is known to provide memory, personality, decision-making, etc. If the soul was none of these, then what was it? And why should one's soul be held eternally accountable for the decisions made by a short-lived, three-pound lump of flesh?
Respectfully,
-Meldinoor
ABE:
Thanks for the links in your second post. I'll check them out, though I already saw the Dembski-Hitchens debate. I enjoyed the debate, though Hitchens is (understandably) not in his prime. But Dembski was one of the least impressive apologists I've ever listened to (he mostly ignored his opponent and simply read from his prepared arguments), so Hitchens still came across as the voice of reason.
Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by articulett, posted 11-27-2010 12:02 AM articulett has not replied

  
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