To David and All Others Who So Flippantly Dismiss Our Past Faith


In this post, a gentleman by the name of David Poehlein has been asking why anyone would spend their time discussing a belief they don't hold. He also did what many other Christian commenters have done here as well, dismissed our past faith.

I consider the following an open letter to all who do so.

David,

Do you not notice how presumptuous you are being here?

You come into a forum in which the writers describe a gut-wrenching journey away from faith and you write:

I do not believe that people "lose" faith. I believe they never had it. Maybe they wanted it or convinced themself they had it, but never did.

So, you come in and invalidate all of our experience.

You were no part of my journey. You don't know what it is like to see your faith slowly drained from you. To fight, kicking and screaming, to maintain it. To cry, pray, seek counsel, force yourself into a Church, pray some more, cry some more.

I am/was an ordained minister. From five-years-old until thirty, I believed that Jesus died for my sins and was the love of my life. Never, for one second, during all of that time could I have imagined that I would ever be anything other than a Christian.

I didn't want to leave the Church; I loved it. I loved preaching, singing, praying, teaching, the Bible, seminary, all of it. I stayed, for a while, even after my faith was gone, just because I couldn't imagine life without it. It was horrific.

And, then, you bop in here and flippantly dismiss everything I experienced. You say it was all a delusion. Well, pardon me for not running to embrace what you have to say.

You keep asking why we/I would spend time on Christianity after leaving it.

Read this.

There are a lot of reasons why I post. One is compassion. I don't like to see people brain-washed and hurt by any religion. Another reason is political. Christianity has become a political organization attempting to impose Christian "morality" (if you can call it that) on everyone else. So, I care about individuals, and I care about government. That's why I write.

What if you are wrong, David? I never thought I could be. I got a degree in biblical studies from a very conservative Bible college, a master of arts in theology from the largest Evangelical seminary in the country, and a master of divinity from the tenth largest Evangelical seminary in the country. I was an associate pastor in four different churches. I was ordained, "called" to be a church planter by a large denomination, and given a large grant to do so. I never expected to spend my life any other way than in service of Jesus. I didn't have a suspicion during all of that time that one day, I would be at this point. I was you on many occasions. I came into these kind of forums and actually attempted to give reasons for my faith, and most of the time, I would more than hold my own.

How do you know that you will endure David? How do you know that one day you won't be here on the other side?

I believed Jesus' words, "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. . . And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."

Do you know how many times I lay face-down on my floor crying to heaven for God to fulfill this promise? Do you know how many times I screamed the prayer of that helpless father in Mark 9:24, "I do believe; help my unbelief"?

Will that be you one day, David? Will you be grasping onto whatever faith you can muster, begging God for help in your unbelief? How do you know, David? How do you know?

The apostle Paul wrote, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." Do you think you stand, David?

Maybe, David, you should be concerned about your own reasons for faith. Maybe instead of entering forums and writing off peoples' experiences without knowing anything about them, you should take the time and examine your faith. You should think about why you believe and why your belief is correct and why the beliefs of the vast majority of individuals who have ever walked this earth are wrong. It is very presumptuous, indeed, to come here unable to "give an account for the hope that is in you," to dismiss the beliefs of most of the people who have ever lived and who ever will live on this earth.

Why don't you do this? Why don't you explain to us why your belief is true? Why don't you say something besides the dogma of your religion? Any Buddhist, Muslim, or believing Jew could do that. They could come in and spout their dogma. If your faith is "true," you should be able to explain why, right? Why don't you let that be your method instead of presuming to know us and simply dismiss what we have to say? We welcome your reasons. We welcome a rational defense of your faith. Try us, okay?

39 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

I vividly remember being at a weekend Christian spiritual conference and sleeping out under the stars one summer in 1973. I remember talking to a friend of mine as our eyes got heavier and heavier, saying to him that "there was no way the devil could ever cause me to doubt my faith." There was no way I could ever be brought to doubt my Christian faith. While I felt this way for many years, that particular weekend stands out because of how I felt and what I said. I have been brought to such a revesal that it shocks even me. I believed there was no possible way I could ever leave my faith behind. But here I am.

Albert said...

Well said JWL. Unfortunately David's (likely) brief presence here is all too typical. His kind briefly leave "Castle Christian", leave a few uninformed and insulting remarks and then go and hide in their fantasy world again. For those who may not have come across this, here is a great insight into the mental processes of (some) Christians http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/anonymous/advicefromanagnosticbaptistminister.html

DagoodS said...

Thank you, ex-believer. You captured my feelings exactly. I can still vividly recall night after night, pacing in my living room at 2 a.m., begging for something, anything from a God that supposedly loved me so much he committed suicide for you.

For those inclined to make these claims, “you never had faith in the first place,” I might add something. You gain nothing by saying so (those that already agree with you do not agree with you MORE because you said it) and you only lose credibility with us, because we did have faith. In other words, it is a statement with no gain, and only lose.

We understand you can’t help but believe it. Your very fragile belief system must be maintained at all costs, and for some, that includes the impossibility of a person having faith and then losing it. I see the same consternation in the faces of my Calvinists family and friends as they avoid this very subject with me. Therefore, you must believe this, and you must state we did not have faith.

And John W. Loftus, I agree as well. In fact, it was so far from my mind to ever be anything but a Christian, I don’t recall even making as dogmatic statement as you did. It was unnecessary. It would be like saying, “I will always believe the earth revolves around the sun.” It was so obvious, why say it?

Interestingly, no person that has personally known me prior to deconversion has ever said this. Do you guys get this from those that know you?

CyberKitten said...

As someone who has never had any faith in God or Christianity I can honestly say that I have no idea what people go through when their faith fails them. I can't really conceive of anything that might make me believe in God - the same way that a theist finds it impossible to conceive of anything that could stop them believing.. until it actually happens to them.

I can only guess that it must feel something like a nervous breakdown or losing your mind & certainly not to be lightly dismissed. After all it's literally a life changing event. I'm glad you all got through it pretty much in one piece [grin].

Interesting Blog.

David Poehlein said...

To exbeliever:

Again, I apologize for any appearance of rudeness I may have earlier presented. My intentions were not to spit on anyone here. My presumption, though, is not based on your life experiences, or anyone else's. My beliefs are my own. I believe that faith is God's to give. I do not believe that God gives faith, only to then take it away. Faith is an ambiguous thing. My own faith has been down a bumpy road at times, and I only HOPE to have faith enough to get me to Heaven. I do not presume that I am perfect and perfectly secure in my "rightness" with God. I am a miserable sinner. I stated this all in previous posts because I didn't want anyone here to think I put myself above ANYONE. I don't think that part of my message sunk in though. I'm sure you get a lot of Christians in here trying to tear you all down. I'm trying not to be one of them. I am only human though, and I apologize for any presumption. Not anyone on this entire Earth is beneath me.

I must admit that a part of me craves to be a humanist. I see the verses and examples you point out of the seeming cruelty of God and his seemingly arbitrary violence and wrath, and I cry out "Why?". Maybe it's because I was brought up Lutheran and am accustomed to fire and brimstone, or maybe I just am able to accept that God has purposes I cannot begin to understand. I don't know. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I pray and pray that people such as yourself who yearned to feel like they once did to FEEL IT AGAIN!!! In my 20's, I felt as though I took my faith for granted. I didn't spend nearly the time I should have around Godly pursuits. Still, though, in my soul, my faith overrides my humanism. Even the best humans are pretty miserable creatures. I hope and pray continuously that God grants me a place in His kingdom, but I will NEVER assume it. I will always see myself as someone completely unworthy of the faith God gave to me. I will never go fact-finding to "prove" The Bible is true. I will never listen to things on T.V. such as "The Book of Judas" because my faith tells me it is the work of evil. Yep, that's pretty simplistic and maybe people here would say "naive" or that I'm just "following blindly like so many other sheep". If so, ok. I am following blindly. Faith needs no proof. I feel the need to study, not try to disprove.

I pray for peace in everyone's lives here on this blog. I hope that each one of you who seeks it feels the complete extacy and fulfillment that only God's influence can bring to a life once again. I humbly apologize for any lack of humility I have shown because it would be completely wrong of me to act in such a way, Christian or no Christian. Your response stirs the compassion in me to listen and pray rather than be your judge and jury. My "dogma" is my life. I live by what I believe as I am commanded to do by God. I don't believe this makes me any less or thoughtful. It doesn't even make me naive, it just means that I believe God has a plan for me.

Peace be with all of you, and I hope to continue this conversation with a much less contentious tone.

David Poehlein said...

Response to "Albert":

I read the article you linked to and in the end of it, the reason for my being here is stated. I also stated it more than once. I do not understand the motives behind a blog that is actively preaching against Christianity. I guess if you are pro-choice, that would be a motivator, but that doesn't seem to be the purpose of this blog. I am not out to tip-toe out of my "Castle Christian" just to volley insults at you. My remarks are neither uninformed or insulting. Read your own article, please. The anonymous author feels as I do. Why attack the belief systems of Christians? Did I hurt someone in this blog so that I need to be personally debunked as a "Christian crackpot"? I hope not. I agree with you that many Christians take nasty pot-shots at non-believers. Some of the most judgemental people I have met in my life called themselves "Christians". I, however, am not here to judge. I only wonder at the purpose of this blog. I must admit that the more I read my first post, the more I feel it was presented poorly and overly aggressive. For that, I have already apologized, and I will apologize again because that was unneccessary and wrong.

Also in the article you linked to, I see many arguements that pretty much focus around psychological aspects of why people could believe something blindly. When science tends to show contradiction, how can someone believe otherwise? I have the answer and it is FAITH.

Of course when someone does not have faith in God, they cannot understand that faith. Of course if someone has faith in God, they cannot understand those who do not. This is a chasm that is difficult to bridge. If you believe that rational thought makes The Bible seem contradictory and irrational, then in your eyes, that's valid. If I see that those contradictions aren't actually contradictions at all, but are actually quite easily explained, does that make me wrong? Just because one person says "x" doesn't make sense to them and contradicts "y", does that make it so? I would say, "No." I believe in my faith, and it guides me. You have your own conscience and it guides you. The circular arguements occur when non-believers say "show me the proof" and believers say "I don't need to. Proof isn't why I have faith in God" To non-believers, this is a cop-out. To believers, it's the truth. I study The Bible and yearn to understand it more clearly, but I do not go searching about for contradictions so that I can debunk the entire thing. Does this make me wrong or closed-minded? I don't think so. I spent years not being the Christian I should have been. I did not meet any potential that I could have set for myself. I questioned everything and anything and was worried whether I believed or didn't. I came out on the other side though MORE sure of my faith than ever because I knew that despite all the questioning and weakness of heart, I BELIEVED deep down in everything I did. It wasn't a humanistic feeling of guilty-conscience or trying to be a "decent" person, it was true, real BELIEF that God is REAL, and that is what makes me go to church and BELIEVE. I don't choose to believe, the belief chose me. God chose me and instilled this in me. I'm far too weak to have muddled through this long without help. I believe with every single fiber of my being that God exists. I understand that some people cannot comprehend how I could just make a mental "leap" such as that, but there ya go. It's not a leap, it's not mental gymnastics, it's not the carrying on of beliefs I started from childhood. It's a new, daily-affirmed belief that I hold. GOD IS REAL. As much as everyone here knows that this statement is biased by any number of social reasons, I don't buy it. I believe that my faith is real towards a God who is real. As strange as this sounds to some here, saying there is no God sounds just as strange to me. I don't say this because of any fact I learned along the way, it is inside me. I don't say that boastfully, just as I see it. I don't think anyone on this blog is neccessarily going to Heaven or Hell, that's up to God. Many people here have shunned what they once held dear, but maybe that will change someday. Maybe not. I am not anyone's judge, just a person trying to understand another group of people and share a discourse with them.

David Poehlein said...

Response to "DagwoodS":

As presumptuous as I may have been, you are equally so when you speak of my "fragile belief system" and the fact that I "must" believe that you did not ever have faith.

I did not grow up a Calvinist, in fact I was a Lutheran and still have difficulty wrapping my mind around how God uses his complete soverignty and chooses certain people, and not others. Do I have all the answers? No, but I'm working on it daily. Never will I be completely able to understand God and His motives, though. My stating that I do not believe that people can "lose" faith is not based on my past learnings so much as my own personal experience AND my past and present learnings of The Bible. As far as my "fragile belief system", please, let's not throw stones. Enough of that has already been done, some by me. I apologize for that. My belief system is based on many years of experiences and beliefs, just as yours are. Let's not belittle each others' beliefs just because we don't hold them.

openlyatheist said...

I got off light. Though my brush with theism was brief lived, my loss of faith quick and dirty, despite lingering years of depression, I experienced the same process in a comparatively short time. Perhaps I am a McAtheist.

To David,

Do remember, this is their blog you have ventured onto, not vise versa. No one forces Christians to come here. And if you consider an online diary, that no one can see unless they choose to, to be an ‘attack’ this shows more about your frame of mind then theirs.

Francois Tremblay said...

I would like to invite the bloggers at Debunking Christianity to join the War on Relativism :
http://hellboundalleee.blogspot.com/2006/05/war-on-relativism.html

We are looking for entries to help us spread the word about the War. So join in if you want. ;)

Cori said...

I was very moved by this blog entry/letter to David. I remember first encountering someone who deconverted a few years ago, in a case where I really walked (and am still walking) the journey with him and realised then for the first time how I, as a Christian, had also always made the same assumptions: if they've turned away from God it can only mean they never knew God; and, the only reason they're leaving the faith is because they have been hurt by the church of other Christians; or, the only reason they've left Christianity is because they're rebelious and feel like living the 'high life'.

It had never occured to me that losing one's faith could be such a struggle, where you try and try to hold onto it until it just doesn't make sense anymore and it would be lying to yourself and everyone else for you to carry on.

It also was a new idea for me that people could live full, meaningful, moral lives after faith.

I still can't understand why it is so hard for some to believe and not for others; why some hold onto their faith and others don't. I read some of what David wrote about faith being a gift but that doesn't really make sense to me. You've either encountered God or you haven't. If someone says they once encountered God and now they doubt or disblieve their exitance, then that's the whole of the story. Let's not try to rationalise or make excuses for what happened.

I am a logical, rational person who values my brain. And yet believing makes sense to me. And I encounter God all the time. But I can't explain that or why I am so convinced of his existance when my friend no longer believes God is real.

Anyway, I was moved by the post and I thank you for writing it so that perhaps a couple more Christians can begin to understand the painful deconversion journey.

John W. Loftus said...

We have had a discussion describing why we are Debunking Christianity here.

exbeliever said...

David,

I haven't noticed any "appearance of rudeness" in anything that you have written.

I really don't even blame you for the "presumption." It seems to be part of the Christian faith.

Speaking about people who left the faith, 1 John 2:19 says, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."

Christianity seems to have a convenient answer for everything. People who leave the faith never really had it. Perhaps, this is true, or perhaps, this is just a convenient way to keep Christians from having to question their own beliefs.

Christianity is full of these. If you point out something that is clearly evil (e.g. god saying that he'll send an army to rape women if that country doesn't obey (Zechariah 14:2) or god commanding an army to kill every man, woman, child, infant, sheep, donkey, camel, etc. (1 Samuel 15:2)), Christians just say, "Well, god is 'good' in a way that you don't understand."

Christianity has constructed itself as a circular room so that they can never be backed into a corner. It falls back on the "mystery of god" anytime it finds itself faced with a question in can't answer.

This is what the apostle Paul did in Romans 9. He explains that salvation is given by god to those he wants. He will have compassion on some and harden others so that they can never have faith. This brings up a good question, "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?"

Paul's answer? Attack the questioner, "But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?"

When a tough question comes up, don't ask because god has the right to do whatever he wants. Complain about god commanding an army to kill infants, and you are attacked.

It is interesting how Christianity has posed itself so that it doesn't have to answer any tough questions.

Cori,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm glad that you still have a relationship with your friend.

Of my closest friends, three are career missionaries and three are seminarians or seminary graduates. I have one non-Christian friend.

My lack of faith isn't an issue with any of them. Ironically, I still help with their "missionary work" from time to time (e.g. setting up tables, cooking, teaching football seminars for "outreach" programs). Some of my seminarian friends still ask for help with their Greek and Hebrew and in finding certain theological resources. The thing is, we just enjoy each other's company and that goes beyond faith or lack of it.

Francois,

Are you trying to be ironic by posting your link in one of my comments? I've said many times that I am a moral relativist and lean heavily towards deconstruction/post-structuralism.

David Poehlein said...

Answering questions:

to "openlyatheist": I know. Being a Christian swimming in a lake of former Christians is not destined for easy swimming. I didn't expect it to be. I understand that many here were extremely devout and spent their lives DEVOTED to God in many articulate and meaningful ways. As far as my use of "attack", I do believe that inviting others to join you and actively spreading disbelief IS an attack. If that shows my state of mind is flawed, so be it. Not all attacks are overtly frontal and aggressive.

To "exbeliever":

Your "convenience" is my "obedience". I obey God because I believe in Him. You don't so this all seems like a circular arguement. I can understand that. I am an analytical person, my job demands it. However, I BELIEVE and so when I must blindly follow, I do. It goes against my nature to follow, but in this case, I am compelled to follow because of my faith. I don't pretend to understand this. I think it is presumptuous to think that everything that does not have a provable, rational answer is wrong, or at least suspect. I like answers wrapped up in neat, little boxes too, but I don't expect them from God. I do not question God anymore. I learned that I don't need to or want to. I've been there, and done that. I've felt some of the feelings you state are now feeling, but it passed. I don't feel the need to question everything as if my faith hangs in the balance if the answer is not the one I had hoped for. That's just me. Obviously, there are many who took a different road. They didn't want to. They struggled with it, and hoped it would pass, but it didn't. I believe that, and never meant to insinuate that there was no struggle involved here.

I didn't invalidate anyone by saying I believe that you either have faith or never had it. I think that you don't question faith because you don't NEED to. All the empirical evidence in the world can be against something, but you believe because you KNOW it's right. To empirical thinkers, this is impossible.

To me, the luckiest people in the world are the ones who are not intellectually gifted. The example I think of often is Downs' Syndrome kids. When they believe in God, they BELIEVE. It doesn't matter what you say to them, they're not going to question their faith. People with higher I.Q.'s tend to question everything and this gets them into trouble, myself included. The "What if" and "Why" questions can take you down any path you choose. The Bible has been translated and skewed into numerous translations, and religions, much less groups of non-believers. If nobody can even agree on what The Bible actually means, not even Christians themselves, what makes us think that we're capable of discerning whether it's all a "circular arguement" or "cop-out", or if it's TRUE? I know the answer, my faith guides me. All I'm good for is questioning and doubting. My faith gets me through that though.

You quoted 1 John 2:19, and you're right. This presumption is stated in The Bible. When I earlier stated that I believed that some people feel like they have faith, but never really did, that's one verse that states that viewpoint. Personally, I don't think it builds me up to say this. I get no satisfaction of saying I'm a Christian and you're not. I just believe it as fact. I realize people here don't. Again, I don't want to minimize your struggles in leaving your Christianity. It must be a heart-wrenching, life-altering experience to go through. I just do not believe that it was based on true faith. If I am wrong, God will judge me.

One thing that particularly struck me a while back was that the reason for not believing anymore was the "atonement", and how it didn't seem fair that man sins and God sends his Son to die when he did nothing wrong. There are many reasons not to believe or to lose belief in God and His teachings. The atonement doesn't seem fair to me either. It wasn't fair. The fact that God threatened horrific acts in The OT and actually carried through on some of them doesn't seem fair either, but it doesn't sway me from belief. I put myself beneath God. I do not pretend to understand why God does what He does. Faith doesn't need an explanation from God as to why He does what He does. That's why faith is difficult, and challenging to an analytical person, but worthwhile.

I think all Christians have a part of them that wants to be humanistic, but true faith leads us in a different direction. I feel HORRIBLE that mothers would have to have a baby by one who raped her. I cannot even imagine the horror of that situation. Do I think the baby should be killed though? No. Do I feel guilty about that decision? No. Why? Because I don't believe I understand the concept as well as God does and my faith guides me to obey rather than disobey. I understand this seems harsh and like I'm using theology as a crutch, but no. It comes down to faith. Faith leads me. I don't lead it.

Albert said...

DP,
Your response reminds me of one of the last interactions I had with my former pastor. He was going on and on about his personal faith and how he "knew" god was working in his life etc etc. I said "that's fine, but if I sit you down at a table with a Jewish Rabbi and an Islamic Cleric they will also give moving personal testimonies. So say I'm a space alien, how do I decide which one of those three faiths (if any) is the correct one".
My pastor had no answer for me. I'm sure some christians would say they believe in their religion because "Jesus came to save us etc", but in that case they are simply stating, without likely realizing it, that they base their belief on the appeal of the story line about Jesus, quite apart from whether or not it is factually true.

marlenewinell said...

Hello everyone,

I've been invited to join this discussion - thank-you. Many of you have made very insightful observations so far. I'm also moved by the self-disclosure about your experiences.

By way of introduction, I'm a psychologist and ex-fundamentalist with over 20 years experience working with people struggling to recover from fundamentalist indoctrination. For more about me and my work, please visit www.marlenewinell.net

A few things occur to me as I read this blog. Firstly, I am always impressed with the intense way our human brains strive to make things make sense. For the ex-fundamentalist, there is an urge to understand what you went through, especially if you were deeply involved - you really don't want to think you were simply crazy or that evil brainwashers took control of you or that the world and life is absurd. This is why it is ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT to review your experience and learn about the dynamics of religious belief. In my book, "Leaving the Fold," I spend considerable time NAMING things and trying to describe various mechanisms. I had to convince the publishers that I had to do this before moving on to the self-help material that they wanted to emphasize. This is important because in order to heal you need to have compassion for yourself first of all - and that begins with understanding that you were not crazy or stupid; you believed for many good reasons. (There are also personality differences and the most sincere, whole-hearted believers struggle the most with de-conversion; I was one of them so I understand the emotion you describe).

(Former believers used to be much more closeted, largely out of embarrassment, so I'm glad there is so much more discussion going on - it's easier to find out you are far from alone, thanks to websites such as this.)

On the path of recovery, one also has to reconstruct a worldview. This is no small task because the fundamentalist worldview included everything - notions about reality and the nature of knowledge, the self, others, life, the world, other people, the future. . . even spirituality. So part of the growth that helps is compassion for others, including fundamentalists (although I don't recommend trying this until you are strong enough, because the negativity is pretty intense).

So, understanding the psychological dynamics that go into dogmatic faith is pretty important. For the fundamentalist, there is also an intense need to have things make sense. When there is a contradiction, the well-known dynamic of "cognitive dissonance," kicks in pretty easily because the stakes are so high. Emotions kick in too, and sometimes it's not pretty. Of course, the true believer can always chalk up any problem to the mystery of God's ways, which are always good even though they look bad to us. This also assumes that we are absolutely deficient in our ability to make any judgment.

This leads me to point out a basic tenet in the field of philosophy, which is the branch of human endeavor dedicated to how we think about things: there is a difference between "a priori" and "a posteriori" assumptions. The first is an assumption that is simply taken as true with no need for rational defense. The other is one that logically follows from something else and can be the subject of argument. In this case of argument between "true believers" and ex-believers, I think a major problem is not recognizing the a priori assumptions which CANNOT BE ARGUED. When this happens in a a philosophical argument, there is no progress because people are treating the assumptions as if they are a posteriori, and spending fruitless time on them. I will leave it to other people on this blog to help identify the a priori assumptions that are at issue here, and let me know if this makes sense to you.

Eg, One of them is the assumption that we are capable of thinking things through and that this has value. To the humanist this is true and to the fundamentalist it is not. Where does that leave a rational discussion?

But back to the idea of making sense. The ex-believer also deals with things we don't understand. However there is a very different approach. Joseph Campbell said, "Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved." A lot more can be said about this. . .

The other thing that I have been impressed with lately, and in these blog entries, is the power of ideas. The religious "memes" are pretty incredible. And long past the time of church involvement, people in recovery can still be erradicating some of the most pernicious. But ve have vays. . . .

Sorry for going on so long. One final thought - reading the believers' comments, I am reminded of the misery of that struggle, and the sheer relief to be done with it. Perhaps those of you who have done the incredible, hard, courageous work of climbing out of that box can let that thought give you compassion. I like to recommend to my clients that an option is to simply be a witness and give testimony :-) that there is life after fundamentalism - a life that is more free and joyous, creative and fulfilling than you thought possible. The big, bad "world", while having serious problems and challenges, is also full of amazing things, fulfilling ways to engage in the here and now, and fascinating people to know. You can have deep relationships and stop treating people like objects - objects of fellowship if "saved," or objects of conversion or temptations of Satan. Welcome home, welcome to Planet Earth. Be here now. Happy Spring.

Warmly,
Marlene Winell

Albert said...

To add to the quote by Joseph Campbell, I would lik to add the following one by the German poet Rilke: "Be patient with all that is unresolved in your heart. And try to love the questions themselves. Do not seek for the answers that cannot be given. For you wouldn't be able to live with them. And the point is to live everything, live the questions now, and perhaps without knowing it, you will live along some day into the answers."

DagoodS said...

David Poehlein, I did not mean to be offensive by stating a “very fragile belief,” but that is simply how I see it. Let me explain. I see many Christians that want to argue for their beliefs. But when I want to inspect it, they treat it as if it is a thin, fragile glass ball that will break upon the first touch. Pragmatically, they treat their belief as fragile.

I hear, “You can’t use reason, logic or intelligence to inspect God. Those things will break our glass ball. You must use belief without basis, and call it faith. If someone believes differently than you, tell them they don’t have the right faith.” (sound familiar?)

Why is it that many Christians present such a one-dimensional God? When humans communicate with each other, we modify how we communicate, based upon various people’s needs. If they are visual, we can be visual. If auditory, we can be auditory. If they speak Navaho, we learn Navaho. If they are in the third grade, we use a limited vocabulary. If intelligent, we use intelligence. If analytical, we use analysis. If scientific, we use the scientific method.

But when it comes to your God, the one that you would claim literally created science, logic, time, visual ability, auditory ability, intelligence, reason, logic, all of a sudden that God cannot use ANY of those things, and we are reduced to—as you say—blind faith. What I see is that many Christians see a losing battle in the field of science, history, archeology, textual criticism, canon, reason, and logic, and therefore take the argument out of those fields, by saying God doesn’t use any of them. All God uses is faith.

I see that as a fragile belief. You might re-read some of your posts here. How many times do you say, “I believe….I hope…. I pray… I think….”

Yet then you go on and state, “I don’t understand…I don’t know…” We are looking for proofs, not people telling us that they don’t know God, immediately followed by making an assertive statement about this God they don’t know.

Look what you said about the Book of Judas. Your faith tells you it is evil. Why? What is evil about it? Your belief will not allow you to look at other books? Why is your God afraid of inspection? Later you imply that intelligence will only get one into trouble. Asking those “why” questions can take one down any path they choose. What about the other Gospels? Peter, Thomas, Hebrews, the Signs Gospel? Does your faith tell you that they are all evil, too?

No, David Poehlein, I did not read the Bible with a certain path in mind. Let me bold it--this was the exact OPPOSITE of the path I would choose! See, I believed in a muti-dimensional God. One that could relate to a variety of humans in a variety of ways. It was not limited to faith, but could also use reason, intelligence, and could even withstand a few questions. When I started to question Christianity, I had no doubt that the answers would present themselves. Why? Because I worshipped the God that created Truth. That loved humans enough to not deceive them. Anything I ask, He promised to give to me. Including answers. Did I paint my God too big?

So when confronting atheists, with their “why” questions, I didn’t attribute it solely to faith (did some, to be honest.) I also looked at the facts, and presented arguments in favor of my position. Over time, however, I saw how weak those arguments were. I saw why Christians ran from reason, logic and study, and clung to “faith.” Why Christians would not even look at the Book of Judas, for fear of seeing something they do not like. How could the God I loved, and believed in, be so weak in these departments? This was no path of choice, it was a path I continually avoided, and kept finding in my way.

I am not trying to be harsh, just pointing out where I (and some others) are coming from. I don’t mind you sharing your position on faith, that’s who you are. But shouldn’t your God be more than one dimension? Does it concern you that your God avoids intelligence?

You should be thrilled to bits there is a site about debunking Christianity. You have God, the creator of a universe, that can make a planet with a thought, can dissect an electron with a whisper, is the author of truth, justice and love. With him against us, our little site should be blown out of the water. This is your chance to show how great your God is!

Instead what do we see, but a matching of wits—humans vs. humans. You say that nobody can agree on what the Bible actually means—how does this make it divine? It makes it, just like any other human endeavor, very human! The fact we argue, and extrapolate, and inspect, and come to varying positions should be the very indication of its lack of God involvement. We do the same with other Holy books, with texts, with poetry, with literature, with other writings.

This is your chance to work this faith of yours! With it you can do things greater than Jesus could! Mt. 21:21. We aren’t asking for mountains to move, just some proofs. Demonstrate the divinity of the Bible. Show the viability of the Christian God. Dig in and learn, and have fun with it!

exbeliever said...

Welcome marlene!

I checked out your site when John linked it a while back. There are so many people I know that would love to talk to you! I wish I had known about you when I was "leaving the fold." It really sucked.

I'm glad you are here and I look forward to your posts.

centuri0n said...

I think it's odd that atheists think one of the selling point for being an atheist is how hard it is to become one.

As I think about what God has done for me -- what He has made of me as a father and a husband -- I would never say it was "easy", but it was hardly "gut wrenching". While accepting the truth about whatever is metaphysically true about the universe may be intellectually challenging, and while it may also require a little bit of selflessness in being able to admit one is wrong from time to time, it is hardly "gut wrenching".

Be that as it may, here are 5 things I think Christ has done for me:

1. Christ has made me more humble in dealing with others.

2. Christ has made me more sensitive to human suffering.

3. Christ has made me more conscientious in introspection.

4. Christ has made me more willing to serve rather than to be catered to.

5. Christ has made me more willing to stand in a community rather than as a solitary individual.

I list these 5 changes because I'd like to see what the results of the torment these atheists have gone through has yielded in them. Surely it must have been worth it -- I'd like to see the payoff of atheism if this is their argument for its ultimate superiority to Christianity.

Is that fair?

CyberKitten said...

centuri0n said: I think it's odd that atheists think one of the selling point for being an atheist is how hard it is to become one.

I actually found it very easy to 'become' an atheist - as I've never been anything else!

..as to any 'payoff' for being an atheist....

Not having to believe 3 impossible things before breakfast maybe...

I certainly don't feel in any way impoverished by not having God in my life.

Zoe said...

"I like to recommend to my clients that an option is to simply be a witness and give testimony :-) that there is life after fundamentalism - a life that is more free and joyous, creative and fulfilling than you thought possible."

Thanks Marlene. :)

DagoodS said...

Centuri0n, I’m not selling atheism. Least not here. All I am selling is that Christianity is not the truth.

What this blog is about is that others must, due to their beliefs, determine things about deconverts that are not true. If I was selling anything about deconversion, it is the release that I must no longer make judgments about others, mandated by a book written by other humans. It is freedom to read the Bible, and study it from a historical, textual or literature standpoint, and not be bound by divine decree as to what others are or are not.

I can take people at their word, when they say they have faith--I believe ‘em. If they say they are Christians, but do not believe in a historical Jesus—I believe ‘em. No longer must I look for a certain doctrine, a certain belief in order for the other person to be “right.”

After the “torment” of deconverting, I feel very, very intellectually free. I can finally resolve those pestering questions about God, those irritating irresolvable issues, those difficult late-night questions that won’t go away. Despite the uncomfortable process, I am so glad to have gone through it.

I can be humble, sensitive, introspective, charitable, and social on my own. Or not. The great part, is that you can too. Oh, you can give the credit to a person that other humans have told you was a God/Man, but in the end, it was you all along. See, people have these attributes, with or without Christ, with or without Allah, with our without YHWH, with or without a variety of other Gods.

I can be free to determine these things on my own, and in interacting with others.

G. T Charmley said...

Laddie,
What if you are wrong? If you demand that others consider they might be wrong, I suggest it would be only manners for you to do the same.

Me, after twenty-six years in the relentlessly secular (and secularising) United Kingdom, my experience tells me that God is real, and that those who I have known who have ceased to be Christians have tended to come initially from a religious background, and their faith has slowly ebbed as they went on in the world. The experience of others may be different, but I can speak only for myself.

Beware of experience, especially of universalising said experience

exbeliever said...

GTC,

I'm perfectly willing to consider whether or not I am wrong. In fact, I'm not saying I'm right. What I am saying is that it would be irresponsible of me to commit myself to something I couldn't believe.

Perhaps you can help me with this one. Perhaps you can tell me why I should believe that the Christian god exists. Why shouldn't I become a Hindu? Why shouldn't I choose not to choose a side?

You reject countless gods, GTC. You only accept one. We reject one more than you, that's all. Maybe you can help show us why we are wrong.

Gerard Charmley said...

Dear Exbeliever,

Good to hear it, to say otherwise would be naughty. In your declaration that Christianity is something you can't believe, I believe you here, and I can't change your mind. I know, I remember some years ago, when I was at College in Aberystwyth, I had many raging arguemnts with a Liberal Christian (the sort of arguemts students are meant to do). In the end, I had to admit that I could no more convert him than I could make my Dog talk. But God.... Well, the student is now a pastor in Wolverhampton.

On the multiplicity of Gods question, this is a debating point, and unworthy of someone who presumably has more than one degree. If you think Hinduism is of equal value to Christianity, maybe you should do a little research in that matter. Islam, which I know a lot more about (I live in a city which has many Muslims, and have travelled in the Middle East), is inferior to Christianity in two ways. 1. Allah is a cold tyrant, peace with him being the peace of a slave to the Sultan. Christianity holds out real, positive peace with God, the power to become the children of God. 2. Mohammed was not certain he would make it to heaven, while Jesus tells His followers, 'I go to prepare a place for you.'

I cannot help show you why you are wrong. I don't know why you happen to be wrong (your particular issue/issues and the order thereof). I don't even know your name, let alone your background. I'd never think myself able to argue a person out of their prejudice (not after that event at college), even a good friend. Once I was arrogant enough to believe that, then He came.

On the question of neutrality. You cannot sit on this particular fence. It has spikes on the top.

Sincerely,

Gerard Timothy Charmley

exbeliever said...

GTC,

In your declaration that Christianity is something you can't believe, I believe you here, and I can't change your mind.

Why can't you change my mind? I have my mind changed by others all the time. I learn things all the time. I thought that gravity was a denser body pulling on a less dense one until I read about the bending of space-time. I changed my mind.

Why is the god question different? Why can't you convince me of your god's existence just like I've been convinced about other things?

On the multiplicity of Gods question, this is a debating point, and unworthy of someone who presumably has more than one degree. If you think Hinduism is of equal value to Christianity, maybe you should do a little research in that matter. Islam, which I know a lot more about (I live in a city which has many Muslims, and have travelled in the Middle East), is inferior to Christianity in two ways. 1. Allah is a cold tyrant, peace with him being the peace of a slave to the Sultan. Christianity holds out real, positive peace with God, the power to become the children of God. 2. Mohammed was not certain he would make it to heaven, while Jesus tells His followers, 'I go to prepare a place for you.'

You are wanting me to judge these religions based on the democracy or morality of them. That's not what I'm asking about. I'm asking how I can know that one is true and the other isn't.

Maybe Muhammed is a "cold tyrant" and an afterlife with him would suck (I'm sure Muslims would disagree), but that doesn't tell me whether or not that religion is the true one.

The idea that when someone wants to know whether a religion is true or not, they really want you to appraise the democracy of "kindness" of that religion is "unworthy of someone who presumably has" a college degree.

How do you know the fence "has spikes on the top"?

Gerard Charmley said...

Dear exbeliever,

I'll try to keep it brief. On your mind. They question is not whether you change your mind all the time, the question is rather what you happen to be changing your mind about? What to have for dinner, or whether God exists. I trust you can tell the difference. Further, as I thought I told you, given that I know precisely nothing about you, that I should be able to change your mind would be unlikely.

I was not asking you to appraise the democracy or kindness of religions, but was myself appraising the respective claims of Islam and Christianity as regards peace with God and the afterlife. Two things which religion takes seriously. I was answering your 'why not some other religion' point.

I did not call Mohammed a cruel tyrant, but Allah. Additionally, I did not say that an afterlife with him would 'suck'.

Now, if you want some proof, maybe you can say what proof would convince you. Maybe, after having started bady, we can actually talk without debating points. I did not mean to insult your level of education, far from it, when I mentioned your degrees I actually meant it. Now, how about addressing the substance of my point, as opposed to sniffing around the other parts?

The fact that you have misunderstood every point I was trying to make, even misquoting me, illustrates precisely my point. You may be convinced that you are wrong, but I cannot convince you. I don't even live within 1,000 miles of you, after all.

As to the fence having spikes on it, what I mean is that the question of the existence/ non-existence of the Christian God does not permit for a 'maybe' answer.

I'm aware that you will have the final wrd, and equally aware that by saying anything here I'm liable to be torn to bits, but so be it.

Sincerely,

G.T Charmley

G. Charmley said...

Oh, and do you honestly believe that a discussion with a total stranger could change you voting habits?

Charmley

exbeliever said...

GTC,

They question is not whether you change your mind all the time, the question is rather what you happen to be changing your mind about? . . . Further, as I thought I told you, given that I know precisely nothing about you, that I should be able to change your mind would be unlikely.

I understand the question. I am saying that you could certainly convince me to change my mind about a great many things based on evidence and argumentation.

Brother Danny, for instance, is a PhD student in a science-related field. I'm sure that I have some science-related beliefs that he could change quite easily. He would simply present the facts, I would check them the best I know how, and I would change my mind if it was in order.

This is true of any of my beliefs. If evidence can be given to the contrary, I can change my mind.

Whether you know anything about me or not doesn't matter. The authors of the books I read don't know me, but many of them still convince me to change my mind about things.

I am willing to change my mind if you can give me reason to do so.

I was not asking you to appraise the democracy or kindness of religions, but was myself appraising the respective claims of Islam and Christianity as regards peace with God and the afterlife. Two things which religion takes seriously. I was answering your 'why not some other religion' point.

Well, you certainly weren't presenting factual reasons I should believe one over another. You were simply telling me that one seemed more emotionally appealing--e.g. "Allah is a cold tyrant, peace with him being the peace of a slave to the Sultan. Christianity holds out real, positive peace with God, the power to become the children of God."

The fact that Allah may be a cold tyrant tells me nothing about whether or not Allah is the one, true God. It might be that the one, true god (if he existed) is a real bastard and the religion based on that god really sucks. That still doesn't mean that the truth-claims of one is better than the truth-claims of another.

I did not call Mohammed a cruel tyrant, but Allah.

I was late for a department meeting when I wrote that. I did not mean to misrepresent you. I apologize.

Additionally, I did not say that an afterlife with him would 'suck'.

But you did say, ". . .peace with him [is] the peace of a slave to the Sultan."

I think it would "suck" to be a slave to a Sultan so I extrapolated.

Are you saying that you think an afterlife spent with Allah wouldn't suck?

Now, if you want some proof, maybe you can say what proof would convince you.

What kindya got?

I don't know, I guess there are a lot of different kinds of proofs that would convince me. A logical argument that ends in "therefore God exists" would be good. If you are a charismatic Christian and believe that god can work miracles, it wouldn't hurt to see some of those that could be verified. (For instance, you could pray to your omniscient god and get him to tell you the color, title, author, and the number of the page I dog-earred in the book sitting on my desk. You could relate this information to me.)

It's really a tough and unusual question you are asking of me. If Brother Danny were trying to convince me that I was wrong about a certain scientific theory, he would not ask what kind of proof would convince me. He would start giving evidence and if I questioned that evidence, he would support it.

How about you giving me the proof you have and I'll tell you whether or not I will accept it and why or why not. You can then tell me why I should or should not accept that proof.

Now, how about addressing the substance of my point, as opposed to sniffing around the other parts?

I don't even know what we are talking about any more. What point do you want me to address?

You may be convinced that you are wrong, but I cannot convince you. I don't even live within 1,000 miles of you, after all.

I've been convinced to change my mind about other things from people who are dead and haven't lived for hundreds of years and who, when living, were thousands of miles away from me. They presented their evidence (in books) and I became convinced.

[They say that in the USA, 100 years is a "long time" and in the UK 100 miles is a "long way." I thought it was funny that you picked "1000 miles" to express a great distance ;-)]

As to the fence having spikes on it, what I mean is that the question of the existence/ non-existence of the Christian God does not permit for a 'maybe' answer.

I don't agree. I don't have a theistic belief, but that doesn't mean I don't think it is possible that a god exists. I think there are particular problems with the belief in the Christian god, but I don't say that it is "impossible," just highly "improbable." Isn't that a "maybe"?

I'm aware that you will have the final wrd, and equally aware that by saying anything here I'm liable to be torn to bits, but so be it.

Why would you say that? I've felt this conversation has been cordial. I'm not attempting to tear you to bits. I am interested in challenging you to back up your assertions.

Oh, and do you honestly believe that a discussion with a total stranger could change you voting habits?

Yes. I make voting decisions based on reason. If someone can show me another political belief is more reasonable than mine, I would easily change my voting habits.

In college I was a Republican. After I got an education and read a few books, I became a Democrat. No one I knew talked me into voting this way.

Charmley said...

Sir,

I'm afraid this will be the last time I put anything on this whatsit. Mostly as I'm sure I'm boring you. I think I was too long last time, so I'll cut it down.

In reference to my not being able to change your mind, since my writings are of necessity brief, this is why. Had we but world enough and time, and all that, but I certainly don't. I hate all discussions that aren't face to face. The 'phone's bad enough, but this...

Oh well, more fool me for starting this, I suppose.

On your voting habits, things are a bit different here. Almost no-one changes their voting habits, as to do so would, in some cases, be tantamount to changing your name or sex. Yes, I mean it. Me, I'm a Conservative, as Gilbert and Sullivan rightly observed, I was born one. Since then, I've been to college, read copious numbers of books by Socialists, talked to socialists, lived with socialists, and I'm still a Tory. This is based on feelings, not reasoned judgement.

As to Christianity, I was raised in the Church of England, went to a secular school, was indoctrinated with secularism, went to a secular university, lived with atheists, read books by sceptics, read the first three books of the Bible one night and was converted. I now attend a Welsh Evangelical Church. The point I made about politics stands in religion as well.

On proofs. You've been convinced by books written by people living hundreds of years ago. So have I, but I'm not a theologian living hundreds of years ago, only a Welsh historian. By the way, a hundred miles is really far away, but I was under the impression that the Atlantic is something like two thousand miles wide. I may be wrong here.

So, proofs, as to your main one, I'm not a Charismatic, so I'll pass on that, if you don't mind. Proofs of an historical nature include.

1. The Prophet Daniel foretelling the Roman Empire.

2. The resurrection of Christ. No other explanation for this one holds water.

3. The growth and survival of the early Church.

4. The evangelical Revival of the Eighteenth century, when religion revived in a dead world.

5. The hand of God observed through history in the preservation of the Church.

On logical arguments, they are not my forte, never have been, ask someone at Triablogue for one of those.

On the fence. This is a silly argument over nothing. What I meant was that, in terms of life, there is no neutral position towards belief in the Christian God, which you agreed with. Please don't quibble, its silly.

I won't respond further as I'm off to watch a Betty Grable movie.

Cordially,

Gerard Charmley

exbeliever said...

GTC,

The time I've spent on blogging has caught up with me so I must be brief and then retire for a while.

Proofs of an historical nature include.

1. The Prophet Daniel foretelling the Roman Empire.


This.

2. The resurrection of Christ. No other explanation for this one holds water.

This

3. The growth and survival of the early Church.

What about the growth and survival of other religious groups. What's "evidence" for one has to be "evidence" for the others.

4. The evangelical Revival of the Eighteenth century, when religion revived in a dead world.

What about the revival and spread of Islam in our own time?

5. The hand of God observed through history in the preservation of the Church.

What about the preservation of non-Christian religions?

Noxidereus said...

I share the experience of losing my faith. It is ridiculous to say that it is impossible to have faith and then lose it. If i never had faith to begin with, why did it take me YEARS to try to make sense of the world again after I lost my faith? I was a Christian with all of my heart and mind. I talked with God on a constant basis. Instead of talking to myself, I directed all of my internal soliloquies to God. I was unable to think outside of the context of the existence of God. I'm an introvert, so I talk to myself a lot and even still, I catch myself speaking as if to God - I talk to myself as if someone is listening - even though I know no one hears me. When one's faith is as sincere, deep, and all-encompassing as mine was, it is really, really hard to let it go and I almost had a breakdown. Thank GOODNESS I didn't.

My experience was real. My faith was real. Now, my atheism is real and I end up happier living in reality. I still have the mental scars to prove that I did, in fact, have a very deep, true, real faith in God. Probably stronger than most Christians that blog here. Being an introvert, I do a lot of thinking - deep thinking. My logic and critical thinking skills are strong, as is my desire to know the REAL TRUTH. That's what led me to atheism when I didn't want to go there. But, as I said, once my long, depressing, confusing journey was complete, I became much happier and the world makes so much more sense now. I know why sometimes babies die in fires. Because there is no God and unfortunately s*** happens. I could not satisfactorily answer that question when I was a born again xian.

Peace.

Noxidereus said...

Oh on a side note. My family (except for my sister, who became atheist shortly after I did) takes the other route and does not believe I am atheist. :-) I did not lose my faith in their eyes.

At least it's nice to know they can't bring themselves to think of me burning for all eternity - a fate nobody who ever lived deserves. If you disagree with me, how does it feel to be less forgiving than an atheist? how does it feel as a compassionate christian to agree with infinite torturous punishment? How does it feel to be less compassionate than an atheist? Think hard about that one.

Heng said...

Having now read about your background John, I can only imagine what the ordeal must have been like, and the pain you must have been through in losing your faith. A fundy turned atheist is a rare sight indeed, and I always view such cases with a healthy dose of skepticism, but in your case I am genuinely convinced that your faith was very sincere. I can only hope that in the end, whatever it is you are seeking, you find yourself better off on this side of the fence than you were as a hardcore christian.

At the same time, I can totally see why people accuse you of being dishonest about your former faith. They just can't accept that such an impassioned minister would begin a blog site called "Debunking Christianity". It's the ultimate irony. They will likely think the Devil was behind this.

Still, your story is a most intriguing one, and you are to me like an anti-Lee Strobel. As such, your book as well as your upcoming book, has made an instant sale with me. I am looking forward to uncovering what it is led you to losing your faith, and whether you are happier now as an anti-christian than you were in your previous years. You have my every sympathy, and I don't doubt your story in the slightest.

The best of luck, and may your story touch many more lives and light the way for other christians who were like you.

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Heng.

Billy said...

Yep, that sounds like my deconversion too.
The john 6:36 quote was something that made me feel worse as I was losing my faith. It made me wonder what was wrong with me.

Having lost my faith, I now see how ridiculous that verse is.

I think I was suffering from the Stockholm syndrome as I tried to keep my faith

db said...

Part 1
Irony thy name is centuri0n, who said:

I think it's odd that atheists think one of the selling point for being an atheist is how hard it is to become one.

As I think about what God has done for me -- what He has made of me as a father and a husband -- I would never say it was "easy", but it was hardly "gut wrenching". While accepting the truth about whatever is metaphysically true about the universe may be intellectually challenging, and while it may also require a little bit of selflessness in being able to admit one is wrong from time to time, it is hardly "gut wrenching".

Be that as it may, here are 5 things I think Christ has done for me:

Cent: 1. Christ has made me more humble in dealing with others.

On fulfilling two roles of the average human adult male Centuri0n says: I would never say it was "easy", but it was hardly "gut wrenching"
and again, he says, it: "hardly "gut wrenching"". This is humility?
Completely missing the point of what was "gut wrenching" he compares normal human behavior (marriage and fatherhood) to laying down a belief system that had been installed since childhood with the threats of separation from family and God and comfort forever in Hell.

Cent: 2. Christ has made me more sensitive to human suffering.

And yet shows us an complete distain and lack of sensitivity to the anguish of another human coming to the realization they have given the last 40 years of their life to a utter and complete lie. Have some heart man!

Cent: 3. Christ has made me more conscientious in introspection.

Right now might be a good time to put just a tiny bit of that gift to good use.

The buses will wait.

Cent: 4. Christ has made me more willing to serve rather than to be catered to.
Wait. The world doesn't revolve around you? You are an adult. Congratulations. What a selfish, self-centered little brat you must have been that you needed a special dispensation from the Creator of the Universe himself to simply... grow up.

Cent: 5. Christ has made me more willing to stand in a community rather than as a solitary individual.

wearetheborgyouwillbeassimilatedintothecommunityofbelieversnosolitaryindividualthoughtrequiredthehivemindwillthinkforyousimplybelievebelievebelieve

I bet he has.

db said...

Part 2
Centuri0n further states:

I list these 5 changes because I'd like to see what the results of the torment these atheists have gone through has yielded in them. Surely it must have been worth it -- I'd like to see the payoff of atheism if this is their argument for its ultimate superiority to Christianity.
...
Recapping your list of five wonderful, and hardly gut-wrenching, gifts from God:
1. You perform adequately as a husband and father. Check. You aren't divorced, casting a wandering eye at other women, real or virtual, and your children satisfactorily conform to community expectations.
2. You are to some measure more sensitive to those humans who actually have struggles.
3. You consciously examine your life on a regular basis, from a variety of viewpoints - even those that maybe potentially uncomfortable (I made that last part up).
4. You have willingly been assimilated into the cultural-religious hive mind of choice in your locality.

Now what has my "gut-wrenching" break from 35 years of faith in Yeshua/YHWH and 20 years of full-time missionary service gifted me with?

Peace.
Liberty.
Freedom.
Wholeness.
Guiltlessness.
True love.
Connection with other people as fellow humans.
and more.

It all kind of sounds like what Paul promises us we have in Christ in Galations.. and then Christianity just as quickly takes away and replaces with fakes bearing the same names.

My journey out of Faith was a long gradual climb with a watershed moment when I suddenly realized where this path had led. The lights went on and I took that one more step. Until that day the idea of being an atheist had never crossed my mind. But after 15 years of true introspection, and inspection of what I had been taught and what I believed, I realized it was all a entirely charming and impressive house of cards. If you have the courage to remove one... the whole thing falls. Why would I want to spend my life defending and sustaining a house of cards? So I gave a little puff and down it came, all that remained were a few handy tips for life kind of like what you listed above. I stood there stunned in the light of what had just happened. It was like stepping out of a cage I had been literally born into. Chains fell off and I was, to borrow a term, Born Again. No, I never looked back.

I'll take my gifts over your minimum expectations of being an adult in society any day.

Cent:Is that fair?
Totally.

Nelson said...

I know I'm coming late to the party, but I have to comment.
I feel for you, exbeliever, it must have been so difficult to do such paradigmatic change.
If you really believed (and I have no reason to doubt you), I know God is using this time to show you (and your readers at the same time), how much love he has for you.
I'll be praying for you and feel free to contact me if you want to talk, just leave a message in my webpage (NelsonGo.com) and I will contact you via email.