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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Ex-Christian Support's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, May 29th, 2008
8:55 pm
Upcoming Event in Toronto: Faith Through an Atheist's Eyes, June 27th
Friday, June 27, 2008, 6:00pm - 9:00pm
University of Toronto: Multi-Faith Center, Main Activity Hall, 2nd Floor
6 - 7: Reception & Meet and Greet
7 - 9: Lecture + question period

Hemant Mehta comes to Toronto to talk about faith and his experience with "selling his soul".  In January 2006 Hemant Mehta, once Jain now atheist, created an auction on eBay offering up his atheist mind&body to go to the worship service of whatever the winning bidder chose. Every $10 would equal one hour in that particular place of worship. The bidding ended on February 3, 2006 with the final bid sitting at $504 from Jim Henderson, a minister from Seattle, Washington. The money was later donated by Hemant to the Secular Student Alliance, a non-profit organization.  The agreement was for Hemant to visit a variety of churches and to write about his experiences at them at the web-site off-the-map.org, and later developed into his book "I Sold My Soul On eBay". He continues to open up dialogue at his personal blog friendlyatheist.com

Spread the word about this upcoming event.  If you have an organization near the Toronto area, be sure to tell your members about it.

Facebook events page link
Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
2:53 pm
Free Evolution and Science dvds!
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute offers free dvds which contain lectures on various topics, from AIDS, to evolution.  Two of them are of interest to you guys:

  • Evolution: Fossils, Genes, and Mousetraps
  • Evolution: Constant Change and Common Threads
The first is a lecture by Kenneth Miller, and it is a basic introduction to evolution lecture.  He also criticizes Michael Behe's irreducibly complex arguments, and even shows a few clips from the Colbert Report.  He also argues for the compatability of religion and science.  The second dvd has four lectures (each an hour long) going over the basics of evolution, and explaining the mechanisms of it.  It also includes a 70 minute discussion on whether evolution and science is compatable with religion.  The production quality is fantastic, and the sound and picture quality are perfect. 

And they're completely free (no shipping charge as well).  I suggest ordering x3 of these so that you can hand some out to relatives, random fundies, etc.  They also have other amazing lectures on RNA, AIDS, and tons more issues. 

Here's the link to the Free Howard Hughes Catalogue of dvds and videos.

And help spread the link around!
Thursday, March 20th, 2008
6:25 pm
Guelph Skeptics
Anyone in the Southern Ontario region want to join our facebook or mailing lists to be invited automatically to new events at the University of Guelph?

Email Guelphskeptics AT gmail dot com to join. 

Guelph Skeptics facebook group. 

Next event: Misinformation Theory: How Anti-Evolutionists Abuse Mathematics, March 26th, 7pm, 1200 Thornborough, U o Guelph (facebook link).
Events Page link. 

Also related:
The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Podcast.
The AstronomyCast Podcast
Monday, September 10th, 2007
5:52 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] DisneyWorld is an eye-opener
By LiniasmaxMy family and I just returned from DisneyWorld. Oh Boy -
what a place! My girls loved it and my wife and I bought too much... on
credit!!! Oh well, you only live ONCE. And the cool thing is that
nothing bad happened to us on the trip!!! Wait a minute - I'm no longer
a believer... and I just went to Paganopolis... and dragged my
home-schooled children and doubting, yet devout wife along. We should
have broken down.... I drove over the speed limit the whole way, so we
should have gotten six tickets... but, wait there was one thing: We
were unfortunate enough to see a dead body lying on the side of the
road with two state troopers occupied with covering it and figuring out
what to do. And to think, in my old Christian state, just a year ago, I
may have seen that as God taking the attention of the officers, so I
wouldn't get a ticket... oh dear, I was ill back then!!! Christianity
made me feel delusionally important in the grand scheme of things.But
DisneyWorld made me feel like a small part of something incredibly big.
And it wasn't the long lines and the oft misnomered "fast pass." Nope-
it was the lovely folks from all over the world - folks that my old
religion would have had earmarked for eternal damnation - they were
lovely, different - and being fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, I was
able to eaves drop on quite a few of them - what fun... and what a
waste, if all those lovely upright primates that share the ability to
reason and think and wonder should, after it's all said and done, end
up in the fiery pit.Oh - dear me - what's that I hear? - a Christian
friend reading this and analyzing my "deconversion" stream of
consciousness has just figured out that I deconverted because I had
an "emotional" reaction to hell probably caused by someone in the faith
being mean to me so that I am not rejecting Christ, but that particular
meanie's representation - Better clarify...Born in 1964 from a teenage
rendezvous in a Dodge. Custody battles - kidnappings - but I felt loved
by lots of people .Everything sorted out by age 5.Dad's side of family
- lazy atheistMom's side - lazy Christian1974 - at age 10 I get a Bible
- King James - what the heck does this mean - can't read Shakespeare -
read Children's version insteadMiddle School (1975-1978) - KISS,
Aerosmith, Alice Cooper1980 - Dad gummitt - go to Charismatic church
and get scared by Rapture movie (still hasn't happened, by the way) -
walk the aisle1981-1982 - High School is too much fun, Van Halen
concerts are more fun that camp meetings, I'm backslidden and in
turmoil, but that Bud tastes just OK1984 - Discover romance languages
in college1985, 1986-87 - spend time in Brazil1987-89 - fake blond
mullet and drummer in college rock band1989 - get married, become
Lutheran and start to think about my faith1992 - start a PH. D. program
and fall in love with the somewhat sexy Postmodernist story (is that a
metanarrative I hear?) - become the McGrath style lazy atheist - it's
just sexier, ya know what I mean? and...1995 - birth of first child -
existential crisis - why do smart people believe? Read books from
Johnson, McDowell, others - become convinced that Christianity is the
way and go full force, baby: oh yeah - preached a sermon about being
an "atheist" beforehand, taught Awana, drummed for the church, taught
adult and student Sunday School - could battle an Arminian with finer
points of Warfieldesque Calvinism...1996 - Add Dr. as an official
title1998 - birth of second child - I'm still going strong - Y2K around
the corner, world chaos, destruction, malice, second coming - I can
hardly wait!!!2000 - nothing happens; become a postmillennialist on
good days and an amillennialist on bad days. Continue to grow
spiritually and intellectually - or so I figured...2007 - April - wake
up one day and start thinking - I don't know why - I was happily
chugging along - come on - 12 years of good Christian living - every
Christian student's hero, respected by all believers in my circle, Old
earth creationist, apologetic, stubborn, I have a Ph.D and you don't,
blah blah blah... It's like it was a 12 year "comfortably numb" state
and it just wasn't comfortable anymore - it seemed wrong and once I
read the God Hates Amputees site and just kept reading and reading and
reading everything in sight (I was taught to do that as a grad
student)... well you guys know the rest...My wife will be back any
moment from the grocery store - the Disney vacation ended yesterday -
I'm typing like a madman - I know what a lazy atheist is - they can be
converted just like McGrath and McDowell - but the one who is diligent
will never find reason to believe - I'm sorry, I don't buy it - it just
ain't rational - I'm happy and fulfilled and next week I will play
drums in a church, go to Sunday school and wonder how in the heaven I
will ever tell anyone besides my best friend and spouse what has
occurred...O well all the others are hypocrites, too - my wife just
drove up - someone please spell check this!!!Things were simpler at
DisneyWorld. Peace to all of you.To monitor comments posted to this
topic, use .
Sunday, September 9th, 2007
9:22 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I realized that God does not exist
Sent in by KyleHi. My name is Kyle, I live in Austin, and I am a former
devout Christian.I grew up in a semi devout family. By semi, I mean
that my grandparents on both sides were extremely religious, but my
parents were not too religious. I did the whole CCE Church deal on
Wednesdays as a child, and went to Church on Christmas, but that was
about all.However, once I became about 15, I started to study more
about religion. This was my Confirmation year for the Catholic Church,
so I started wondering a bit more about why I was Christian. And, I
ended up becoming extremely devout. Every week I would now go to Church
with my grandparents on my mom's side, and I became extremely
religious. My grandpa on my dad's side is a Protestant Pastor for the
Church of Christ, and so I talked with him all the time, about
theology, the Bible, and anything Christian!So, to sum it up... My
parents were not really religious, but when I became a teen I became
extremely religious. My grandparents were religious, and they always
took me to Church functions, and all that.So, I stayed extremely
religious all through high school, and then my Freshman and Sophomore
years of college. I had read the bible many times, did the Rosary
daily, you name it!Now if you know about Austin, you will know it is a
very liberal city. Liberals all over! So during my years, I met many
open homosexuals, and all that. In college, I met a very good friend of
mine who told me he was gay.Now this friend of mine (who I will call J)
is the nicest guy I have ever met. He is such a great, loving person.
And, he is gay. And I just asked myself "Why would God send this dude
to hell for being gay!" It just made no sense to think about such a
nice person going to hell.So, I started questioning the ideal of hell.
And then, many more questions popped up. I started readings some
atheist books. I began to look at the skeptical approach to not just
Christianity, but God in general.So, questions filled my head. And I
was worried about all these questions. I could not sleep at night. So,
I just kept thinking about it for about 3 or 4 months.Then, I decided
that theism was not right. I just found that the Bible is a book that
is nothing beyond human comprehension, and was just not satisfied. I
learned about a lot of pagan roots in the 3 abrahamic religions, and
learned a lot of skeptical approaches to different aspects of religion.
I studied other religions during this time.. Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism,
Shinto, Ositris, you name it..And, I just could not believe in a God
anymore. I just realized that God does not exist.For a few months it
depressed me. But, then I became more appreciative of life.. this world
is so amazing, and I am just so glad to be here.. It is great to see
how this world works, without thinking of some "loving God".I just
graduated from college, and I am now a happy atheist. :)To monitor
comments posted to this topic, use .
Saturday, September 8th, 2007
5:45 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] Don't listen to your head. Listen to your heart
Sent in by Colin E I was raised in a home where my parents called
themselves Christian: we were members of a protestant church, but I do
not think that any of us took religion too seriously. Us children were
sent to Sunday School every week to get proper religious instruction,
but my parents never tried to encourage me or my sister to dedicate
our "lives to the Lord". Moreover, being a white South African child in
the heyday of Apartheid, with the church I attended openly supporting
the Apartheid government, my parents did tell me to take whatever that
church teaches with a pinch of salt: they certainly were not supporters
of that regime, but all white South Africans in the '70s had to keep up
appearances, or face at best ostracism, or at worst criminal
prosecution.This all changed when I turned 15: my sister was invited to
a charismatic/fundamentalist church service, and I tagged along, mostly
because I was promised that it was a good place to meet girls - and I
was not disappointed on that score. What I did not expect was the
message: it was a powerful message to begin with, delivered by an
extremely charismatic speaker. The message was that there is a god who
so loved the earth...need I go on? It seems that everyone on this site
has heard that song sung a million times. Also, this fundy church did
not support apartheid, strange as it may seem.All the religious
instruction that came before seemed to fall into place. I thought I had
found truth: truth in the sense that everything in the Bible is true,
and meant to be taken literally. All of a sudden, things changed. I now
intended to dedicate my life to the Lord, become a minister/pastor,
prepare my body and soul for the Rapture etc etc. It was at this point
that my schoolwork started suffering: why work hard on any secular
ambitions when the good Lord may decide any day now to just whisk his
chosen away to have an eternal party in Heaven? What a lovely excuse
for mediocrity.All through the next three years I did my best to be a
good fundamentalist Christian. I managed to offend a lot of other
Christians (of the non-fundy variety), not realising that I had become
a self-righteous prick, thinking that I was doing the Lord's work, and
therefore could not possibly be wrong. But deep down, I suspected that
my faith was not what it should be.One fundy principle is that when one
asks, one SHALL receive. I was asking, but I cannot say that I was
always receiving. Instead of realising at that point that maybe
everything in the good Book is not true, I blamed my own imperfect
faith for my non-receipt of what I was asking. This only made me act
more fundy than a South-Alabama Republican preacher-man. But a small
part of me thought that there were some small cracks appearing in the
powerful message that I received when I was 15 years old.I started
questioning - but very carefully. I was afraid of offending the
spiritual giants that I associated with every Sunday.I started reading
- any kind of Christian literature that I could get my hands on. I
cannot claim to be as well read as the webmaster, but I came close. My
problem was that I was prepared to reason from Christianity, but I was
not prepared to reason about Christianity. The reason for this was
simply that Hell did not sound like a good place, and I did not want to
go there.I also had long religious disputes with my father. He never
bought into the whole fundy thing, even though he called himself a
Christian. This too made me think: my father is a very well educated
man, and an extremely logical thinker. All the best arguments that I
managed to learn from my reading of Christian literature (and fundy
literature by such notables as Kenneth Copeland and Mike Warnke) could
not sway him - my father seemed to have no trouble puncturing my windy
pomposity with needle-sharp logic. I had, and still have, a lot of
intellectual respect for my father, even though he is now almost 80
years old. I had to start thinking: if even I, whom I would have liked
to think was guided by the Holy Spirit in my discussions with my father
(yes, I used to pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit before every
debate I had with him, and I thought I could feel said Holy Spirit
infuse me with eloquence) could not sway him, perhaps there was
something wrong with my message?Having decided that the rapture may not
happen anytime soon, I finally paid a bit more attention to my academic
pursuits, and went to university, studying law. Back then (in 1988), it
was compulsory in South Africa to achieve a certain proficiency in
Latin as part of legal studies. I found that I excelled in the Latin
language, and changed to Latin as my non-legal major. And if one wanted
to do a postgraduate degree in Latin (something I started to consider
at this time) one had to study Attic Greek as well - which I was happy
to do. This is also the original language of the New Testament: in
time, I was able to read the New Testament in the language it was
written. Oh boy.The fundy church I attended was fond of explaining
concepts of their particular brand of Christianity in terms of Attic
Greek. For example, they taught that the Greek word for non-physical
love (agape) was a word coined (by God) especially for the purpose -
that it was a God kind of love. WRONG! They also claimed that the Greek
word for life (zoe) had Christian connotations. WRONG again! I had to
ask myself: were the followers of the God of Truth actually lying?
Nothing new about that, the history of the Catholic Church is full of
examples of this, but these Catholic bashing fundys as well? Is this
possible?I first tried to tell myself that they were honestly mistaken.
The councilors at church could not give me a logical explanation for
this - their arguments ran along the lines that they were not scholars
of dead languages, but men (and women) strong of faith, and perhaps I
misunderstood the Attic Greek language? After all, nobody speaks it
anymore, so perhaps Paul meant it the way the church teaches it? You
will not believe how much this dismissal of my seemingly insignificant
objection bothered me. Those who claim to represent a God of truth,
justice, love and apple pie cannot explain a simple linguistic nuance,
guided as they are in all things by the Holy Spirit?For the first time,
I really started listening to the altar call at the end of every
service on Sunday nights: don't listen to your head, the pastor said.
Listen to your heart. He said this every single Sunday, and I never
realised that he was asking me to switch off my brain - and I willingly
did so!I was still a little afraid of going to Hell, so I kept trying
to hold on to my rapidly diminishing faith. What finally swung it for
me was a work of fiction. The book is called Voyage, by Steven Baxter.
I do not know if the story he relates in this book is true, being
written as it is in a what-if novel, but I think it is worth
repeating:After their landing on the moon and subsequent successful
return to Earth, one of the astronauts (it was not Armstrong, and I
cannot remember if it was Aldrin or Collins) went on a world tour,
giving lectures, making speeches etc. His travels took him to Nepal,
where he addressed a class full of schoolchildren. The schoolchildren
kept asking him whom he met on the moon, who was there. He kept giving
the same answer: he met no-one there, no-one lives there. The kids
seemed puzzled by his answer.When he finished, he left the classroom,
but remained just outside the door - long enough to hear their teacher
tell the children: "You must not believe him, he is wrong." He could
not understand why she would tell the children this - after all, the
moon mission was well publicised - so he asked around. He found out
that the religion of those children taught that one ascends to the moon
after death, hence their questions to him about whom he met there -
they actually thought that he would answer that he met their dearly
departed family members and acquaintances there.My Christian friends
smugly told me that there was a religion that did not stand up to the
scientific test. I was not so smug: my religion (Christianity) also did
not stand up to this test. Moreover, my religion came from the same
source (old men who wandered the desert/mountains, catching too much
sun and writing down their hallucinations). The good part is that it
eventually cured me of my fear of Hell: if the Bible is fiction, then
so is Hell.I find that I cannot blame Christians for misleading me - I
was only too happy to be misled. Moreover, most Christians truly
believe they are doing the right thing in seeking converts and saving
souls. One can only hope that they will switch on their brains at some
point - and I mean that quite literally. We cannot force them to open
their eyes and see the truth - one only needs to browse this site to
see how true that is. While I fully understand the anger on these
pages, my advice is to let go of it and I know it is not easy. It took
me about 5 years to let go of that anger. But once you do let go, you
realise exactly how full your life can be without any God to spoil it
for you.To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Thursday, September 6th, 2007
6:04 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I tried to believe, but...
Sent in by JoshI cannot say I ever was a true Christian. I grew up
fascinated by religions, and fascinated by the natural world. My family
showed me Carl Sagan's Cosmos at age 5 and later The Demon Haunted
World. I loved Sagan's expansive view of life, his respect and
tolerance for the wisdom gained through religion, and his staunch
support of empirical evidence and the scientific method. I consider
myself thus a Sagan-style agnostic. Show me the evidence!Thomas
Jefferson once wrote, optimistically:And the day will come when the
mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the
womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of
Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of
reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with
this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and
genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.
--Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823 What can we do
to ensure his optimism continues to shine? I believe it is up to us. We
must speak a unified voice of reason louder than the voices of
fundamentalism speak various voices of dogma in disarray. We cannot
afford not to speak out. And, we must do it with greater patience,
poise, reason, and compassion than fundamentalists, and we must reach
out to moderates, the kind of people who fully accept the germ theory
of disease rather than the demon spirit conjecture. They do have ears
to listen. They mostly use religion as a community-building tool, and
it does great things for them in that regard. Yet, none of them would
trust a doctor or mechanic that advised them to simply and only pray
for a severed limb or a flat tire. No fundamentalist would think this
either, yet they compartmentalize their beliefs in so many other
areas.As for my background, I tried so very hard to believe in some
kind of literal interpretation of the Bible. I took a 13-week Bible
study course a few years ago, but I always told the class leader
something like "The historicity question is what prevents me
from 'accepting' Jesus as a divine being that created the universe."I
really enjoyed the "fellowship" aspect of people just coming together
regularly and supporting each other as friends, and I think that this
is the best thing about religion and religious communities. But, I did
not like the lack of open discussion and the lack of skepticism. I just
could never see any reason to believe that those events depicted were
literal, physical events that took place. There is no way to
distinguish those claims from the claims of Muslims or Hindus or anyone
else that lived in the days before widespread acceptance of science and
empirical methods. When you ask them why prayers don't heal accidental
amputees, (more at http://www.whydoesgodhateamputees.com) you get
indignant looks or snide comments, yet if prayer can affect cancer,
then I find it a fully reasonable question to ask whether it can affect
accidental amputees too. Call my reasonable, call me inquisitive, but
don't call the question crazy, because the question is perfectly within
reason and everyone knows it.I worked at the US Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention for four years and learned up close how
peer-review and empirical evidence is used to guard against
self-deception. What could be more certain than the fact that people
make mistakes? Even religions accept this fact. Thus, true science must
be peer-reviewed and undergo blind and double-blind experiments. I knew
people who traveled to Africa for public health projects, but still
there were people there who believed that demons and curses caused
illness, rather than bacteria. Reason is not easy, science is demanding
on minds and hands, but as Albert Einstein wrote:"One thing I have
learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality,
is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we
have."While my immediate family is not religious, I have a large
extended family that is moderately religious, and even had one very
loving person try to convince me about Jesus and the accuracy of the
Bible recently. She means well and I love hear dearly, but I do feel it
is my right to speak my mind and not let the rising tide of
fundamentalism sweep away the first amendment and other freedoms.I
don't like the growing walls between religious and non-religious
people. I appreciate Hemant Mehta's approach, from
http://www.FriendlyAtheist.com, in which he actually goes and speaks
with churches and religious people. I want to do something similar. I
love people and I love open discussion. I don't mind if strangers try
to convince or convert me, so long as we have some ground rules of
civility and respect. I don't hope to change anyone's belief, only to
educate them about the other side of the story.Yet, at this time I do
feel a bit discouraged and down because of the trends and world events.
I love life and love my family and friends, and I don't want to see our
freedom swept away by fear and dogma. I can hardly believe that Thomas
Jefferson's hopes of reason sweeping away superstition are not actually
coming true. I've written much more about Jefferson and others on my
blog .Those who enjoy Sagan may also enjoy this essay I wrote about
him.Anyway, just another human grounded in the real world, a world full
of superstition and unreason.I'd appreciate any kind words of
encouragement and support!Thank youTo monitor comments posted to this
topic, use .
5:46 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] Inconsiderate, unthinking and heartless...
Sent in by Jo I was raised in the church by my mom, a single parent. We
went to church most of my life, but not always consistently. Although
my mom is not a "churchy" sort of personality, her faith in Jesus and
God are very strong. So I was raised with an open minder parent but
also a very spiritual and superstitious parent.Luckily I was always
educated at school to think for myself. During elementary school I was
in the gifted program. In middle school I left this program to be
a "regular student." I didn't do so well as a regular student. I became
a rebel of sorts, refused to go to church, experimented with all the
taboos. Finally after my freshmen year in high school I decided to
leave that behind, throw away the cigarettes and become a born again
Christian. I studied the bible and was very dedicated to this life,
that I genuinely felt saved me.My life was good for awhile, though I
felt plagued by guilt and confusion over the things I read in the
bible. My youth minister tried to explain to me that I didn't
understand grace. Which is what my mom still believes to this day.Being
a convinced, determined and faithful Christian at the time helped me in
many ways I am thankful for. It helped me to become more disciplined at
school and also learning about faith in god helped me learn about faith
in myself.I ended up getting a scholarship to an excellent university
partly because of my religion and faith. However that same University
experience and time allowed me to learn and question, which is partly
how I gradually moved away from Christianity.Now I am mostly newly
atheist, though their are still shreds of agnosticism in me.My most
recent experiences with atheism include reading Richard Dawkins' book,
The God Delusion, which I am so thankful for as a resource for
disbelief and on a more negative side receiving criticism from my
brother.When I recently told my religious brother that I am atheist, He
basically told me that he believes in predestination and if god wants
me to be on his side I will and if he hasn't chosen me then he hasn't
chosen me. And very kindly he let me know that all I think about is
myself because I am living for myself and that must be a sad life.Right
now the only sadness in my life is my grandpa who is in the hospital
and my older brother saying something so inconsiderate, unthinking and
heartless to me.But I have learned to have confidence in myself and I'm
tough. The only understanding of grace I was ever missing was grace for
myself!To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Wednesday, August 29th, 2007
5:57 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I can no longer force my heart to follow what ...
Sent in by Chip SI was not raised in a Christian home. My parents had
not made a conscious decision for atheism, I suppose. But their daily
lives and lack of religious practice certainly would label them as
non-Christians. They were always in that ambiguous category of people
who simply had no time for theism or atheism. It was simply a
non-issue.For a whole I attended church with a friend, in elementary
school. Of course I didn't comprehend enough to understand what was
being taught, let alone make a decision to subscribe to the beliefs
advocated by that church. But I did learn enough to remember certain
things... John 3:16, the claim that Jesus was God, etc. I had this
vague understanding of the person called Savior.It was in middle
school, which I now quaintly think of as the “Dark Ages” of my life
that social awkwardness and intense depression led me on a search for
more. Perhaps it was not as conscious of a search as I would now
imagine, but a search nonetheless. I found an old family bible
gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. I’ve always loved books, and to
find a book in our house was rare. So of course, I read it.My
adolescent mind was floored. From the battle scenes of Joshua to keep
me entertained to the eternal life-giving promises of Jesus, I was
caught up in the promises of this Bible. I supplemented my knowledge of
the Bible with videos from the Trinity Broadcasting Network. The text
itself plus the constant cries for conversion from the hosts of the
channel led me to a conversion experience without stepping into a
church.I was immediately enthusiastic about this idea of Christianity.
I demanded that family members begin dropping me off Sunday mornings at
the local Methodist church which continued to send us monthly
newsletters even though no one had attended in my earliest
recollection. Of course, the calm atmosphere of the Methodist church
would not fulfill my insatiable boyish desire for excitement.After my
first visit with a friend to the Apostolic Pentecostal Full Gospel
Church my freshman year of high school, I was caught up in the loud
music, the cheering even the idea of speaking in tongues. For six
months I attended this small church, one time I was even grounded from
church for quite a while because the Friday night youth service lasted
until 4a.m. and I didn’t call home. Eventually as the "emotional high"
of the services began to wear off and have less effect, much like (I
hear) the effects of drugs, I began to question. They made some pretty
radical claims. The people at the Methodist church would not be in
heaven, for example. You had to speak in tongues to be a child of God.
They made extraordinary claims about the ability to do miracles and
prophecy the future, but no actions ever seemed to follow the
rhetoric.Though it was hard, I wrote them a letter outlining my
problems with them. Things didn’t seem to make sense. Their
denomination had only existed for a few decades, what about the two
thousand years in between? Was everyone from that time in hell? Surely,
not. Speaking in tongues seemed to be so silly at times, like they were
all just making up things off the top of their heads. None of it
sounded anything like a different language, and none of them sounded
similar. A few days after I delivered the letter, four of them came to
my house to explain to me why I was going to hell. I had committed
blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, you see, and that was unforgivable.
Though some might argue that it could be very psychologically damaging
to tell a fourteen year old that he was damned to hell, I can’t help
but think it was at least courteous for them to let me know. As I was
now an apostate, all but one of them cut me off from their social
lives, and she only because she held out hope that I hadn’t completely
damned myself.I hopped churches for a while. Back to the Methodist
church, to an Assembly of God church, a Freewill Baptist church, even
another Apostolic Pentecostal church (maybe they were right, and surely
these people wouldn’t know about my blasphemy!). Eventually I found a
home in a Nazarene church, where though I’ve always felt a bit the
outsider, the people were generally good and accepting of me. The youth
group was huge, and almost immediately I was thrust into leadership
positions.As my high school years passed, it seemed only natural for me
to pursue full-time ministry. With my negative experience with the
Pentecostal church in the back of my mind, I found that I was a “good
Christian.” Leading small groups at youth group, leading my school’s
Fellowship of Christian Athletes and spending nearly all of my time
witnessing to anyone who would hear me out. I had found a skill, if you
will.At the (extremely persistent) prompting of my youth pastor, I
shipped off to the regional Nazarene University for college. For the
first time in my life I was surrounded by Christians. It was thrilling
at first, people were all generally nice. Classes all began with
prayer. Chapel was held three times a week. For the first semester I
was happy to finally be in a place that advocated my values.But over
time I found that I was in the minority. In the fall of my freshman
year, the White House was up for grabs. Of course the majority of my
school was in love with George W. Bush. My Kerry-Edwards poster was
taped to the urinal of my dorm. Some of my friends referred to me as
a "baby killer." When I suggested in a class that homosexuals weren’t
in fact destroying America, I was sneeringly labeled "liberal" by a
classmate. A label I have proudly worn ever since.It was as I began to
explore more deeply into my religion classes that I first began to
seriously question. Of course throughout my years as a Christian I had
asked questions, but always had come back to the idea of "faith." I
found it disconcerting that my freshman biology professor gave me a "C"
on my final paper because I refused to write about how creationism made
more sense than evolution. I was frustrated by my Christian Life and
Ministry Professor who prayed for the forgiveness of Democrats. I was
frightened by my history professor who mentioned the "mystery cults"
during the time of Jesus who seemed to have many similarities to
Christianity... and no body wanted to hear more about them.As my
freshman year turned to sophomore year, some of the inconsistencies of
faith began to strike me. Some of the poor arguments for Christianity
started to bother me. Some of the doctrines of the church shook me. For
a while I pressed on. Then I found myself attached to Calvinist
theology of election and predestination. I became convinced that the
reason things didn’t always make sense to me and the reason I still
struggled with the same "sin" as when I was a new Christian was that I
was simply not elect. God did not love me.Out of sheer willpower I
broke free from that notion and again became enthusiastic about the
cause for Christ. My frustration with the shallow religion courses
prompted a change of major to philosophy. My passions began to thrive
around the philosophy of religion and I was bound and determined to
prove the existence of God, particularly the Judeo-Christian God. My
desire to be a minister was replaced by a desire to be an apologist.As
I became aware of the cosmological, teleological, ontological, etc.
arguments for the existence of God, I became obsessed with the need for
a rational explanation for Christianity. I devoted countless hours my
junior year of college to reading anything I could get my hands on.
Books from atheists, journals from Christian thinkers, videos of
lectures by Christian apologists.In my Systematic Theology class which
dealt heavily with philosophy of religion issues, I found that I
thrived. The class was the hardest religion course I'd taken. The
professor was brilliant, and serious about his work. He required his
students to read, a lot. And his exams consisted of nothing but very
intense essays. I would study for weeks for those exams, and often got
them back with notes that read along the lines of: "Great work, best
essay I have read yet."As the year pressed on; however, my doubts only
increased. So much didn't add up. And the parts that did add up
required that I work from the conclusion backwards. I pressed further,
beginning to read much more technical philosophy of religion works.All
the while, I was preaching at regional churches through a campus
ministry. And I was good, I think. Often, with or without an altar
call, people would come and pray. After services old women would
approach me and tell me, "You need to do full-time ministry!" The
church board of one congregation approached me at the end of service as
a group and told me I had "saved their church" from infighting.But none
of this would confirm for me any kind of "call" on my life. I was
unable to work past the contradictions, the absurdities, and the
missing gaps of Christianity. Why would God command the Israelites to
murder entire people groups? Why did the psalmist glory in the thought
of bashing the heads of Babylonian babies against rocks? Why did Jesus
tell the gentile woman she was a dog? Why did Paul say that women
should not be allowed to speak in church? Why is homosexuality an
abomination, but pride is "okay?"For the summer I worked two jobs and
took two classes. I kept incredibly busy with little time for a social
life. And all the while, one phrase would float through my head each
and every day: "Does God even exist?" I kept reading, and kept reading.
I kept questioning those things that had always bothered me, and yet I
found no answers. Only ridiculous explanations: Judas hung himself and
then he fell off a cliff and his innards burst out.I finally made the
decision that I knew my mind had made months before: it really was a
myth, a legend. An attempt by a primitive society to explain the world
around them. A failed metaphysical explanation of the universe. Having
not been raised in the church, I feel more foolish that I was an
outsider who was duped. I pride myself on my reasoning ability, on my
rationality. And yet, for years I believed in a deity that now seems
completely ridiculous.Now here I am, a week away from returning to an
evangelical university where belief in Jesus is a requirement for
admission. I’ve used the internet to make public my newfound atheism to
avoid having to do it personally. Though at this university I have
formed some of the closest interpersonal bonds of my life, I find
myself dreading the return for my senior year. I have been flooded by
e-mails and phone calls of people trying to re-convert me. Yet I can no
longer force my heart to follow what my mind cannot justify.To monitor
comments posted to this topic, use .
Monday, August 27th, 2007
6:45 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] The Infinite Psychopath
Sent in by Chris AAlthough the Biblical concept of the human experience
had always seemed somewhat unfair, my doubts really began with the
issue of homosexuality; specifically, why did the Christian god despise
it so much?"Why," I asked myself, "Would God kill everyone in those
cities for following the urges that He created them with in the first
place?" It was shortly thereafter that I realized that this irrational
act on god's part was just a microcosm of an even greater
injustice: "Wait..." I thought, "If God is all-powerful, why must He
persist in creating sinners instead of saints? And why must He then
damn people for following the sinful natures that He gives them?"You'd
think, wouldn't you, that such impious ruminations would herald a
formal conversion to atheism?You would, however, be mistaken. Rather
than having the courage and mental fortitude to pursue my inquisitions,
I resolved to deal with my growing uncertainties by becoming profoundly
religious. For me, this entailed having me very Southern Baptist
Grandmother read the Bible at me, occasionally stopping to relay her
interpretations of the verses, regale me with accounts of times
she'd "spoken" with god, and break into outbursts of incoherent
gibberish ("tongues"). These sermons punctuated the end of each day for
me, the remainder of the evening to be spent either in miserable sorrow
at the prospect of a "good, Christian life", in mind-numbing fear of
hell, or in tearful frustration when my prayers failed to bring forth
any affirmation from god.Of course, I could never keep this up long
enough for a formal baptism to be arranged; I would have gone
certifiably insane from fear and grief within the year. I started
scouring the Internet for arguments against religion as soon as I could
work up the nerve, and once I found them, I never looked back. I still
have moments of doubt, since I can't scientifically prove there isn't
an Infinite Psychopath patiently waiting to torture me for all eternity
because I refuse to wallow and grovel like a worm before him... Then
again, I also can't scientifically disprove Allah, Odin, or the
Invisible Pink Unicorn, so there's really no hedging bets, I guess...To
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Friday, August 24th, 2007
11:59 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I realized I was an atheist
Sent in by L.S.Some people think I'm lying when I tell them that I just
woke up one morning and realized that I was an atheist, but that's what
really happened.My parents are Christian but they don't go to church.
We stopped going to church when I was about 6 because they disagreed
with how that particular church treated a family with 3 young daughters
who couldn't always make it to Sunday worship. Because of the
hypocrisy, they rejected the idea of organized religion but maintained
their beliefs. They pray at dinner and do the whole Christmas thing and
occasionally will talk about god, but they aren't zealots.It was
because of their attitude that I grew up thinking of god/Jesus as that
distant relative that you know you're related to, people talk about and
you're supposed to love them but you don't really know exactly why. God
wasn't a being to me. God was an idea that I never really understood.I
was a really sheltered child. I (mostly) did what I was told, thought
what I was supposed to think and had few friends who might have
influenced me in negative ways. So I grew up as a christian. Not really
because I understood what being a christian meant, but because my
parents raised me that way.When I was 15, I started realizing that I
was missing something, something important, but I just couldn't figure
out what. So I became extra religious - or tried to, rather. My best
friend was/is a christian and she was the one who tried to answer my
questions because I was afraid to go to my parents with them, fearing
the forced bible studies and trips to church on Sundays. For about 6
months, I tried really hard to be a good christian. I prayed regularly,
though I had no idea what I was doing, and even wrote a couple of
religious poems. I wanted to believe. I really and truly wanted
Christianity to be the answer to my problems, to make me a happy person
again.After 6 months, however, I still wasn't happy. I wasn't fulfilled
in what I was supposed to believe.And then, one morning I woke up, and
realized that I didn't believe it, any of it. I realized I'd NEVER
believed any of it.The relief I felt upon this realization was immense.
It was like shrugging off years and years of repression and guilt. I
felt lighter. I felt free. Most of all, I felt happy.I hid my atheism
from my parents until I became an adult. While I know that organized
religion isn't important to them, having their kids be christian is,
and I knew what would happen if they knew I had rejected that belief
and all subsequent religious beliefs as well. When I finally told them,
at age 18, they were saddened and disappointed but also believed that
it was nothing but a phase. It's been 10 years now and nothing has
changed as far as my atheism.My oldest sister is now what she considers
a Pagan and that two of 3 daughters are not christian is a major
disappointment to them. My mother has admitted that she feels she is a
failure as a parent because we are not christian. I told her that she
should feel pride that we are all individually unique, that we were
taught to use the brains we were born with, and that we each found a
belief, or lack thereof, that we are happy with instead of lying to
ourselves and being miserable with.10 years ago, I was struggling with
trying to figure out what I believed. Once I became an atheist, my life
became better. I've never been happier.To monitor comments posted to
this topic, use .
Thursday, August 23rd, 2007
6:21 pm
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] My doomed fate to hell
I don't know how to summarize my story. I was raised Lutheran, and then
moved into being a Baptist. I went to a Lutheran private school for
several years of grade school, and then went to a private Lutheran High
school for the entire 4 years.The first time I started having doubts
about my faith can be pinned on the first religion class I had of my
freshman year. The teacher thought he would be really clever and came
in talking like a neo-paganist, talking about how we can worship the
trees, and don't take the Bible too literally. He was messing with our
minds to, I suppose, open our minds and prepare us for the future.
Someone I had trusted had exposed to me ideas that weren't Christian.
From that point on, I struggled between labeling myself a Christian and
an atheist.All of my friends were greatly concerned for me, and I
became a source of a lot of drama. Everyone wanted to save my soul. I
was so frustrated and cried at night about my doomed fate to hell. I
had my ups and downs throughout high school, Christian-status speaking,
and converted back at one point when I saw a giant hand knocking on a
door. I felt that was God.My senior year I started getting rocky again.
I decided I wanted to work at an orphanage in Mexico after graduating.
But just then my sister returned from her trip to India with Youth With
a Mission (YWAM). I noticed she had changed so much for the positive
and decided I wanted that. So I went to a YWAM school in Mexico after I
graduated.I don't even want to go into the details of how they
attempted to brainwash us and make us will-less creatures submitted to
their authority. But the whole time I tried SOOOO hard to believe
everything. I felt like I had to get this Christianity thing. I felt
only by being a full-time missionary could I maintain my status with
Christ. The school, in the end, left me in a spiritual place where I
was happy.So I decided to come back after 6 months to work at the
school. But shortly before I left, I found myself in another bought of
atheistic thoughts. I decided to go anyways. I gradually told the
director of the school where I was spiritually and asked him if he
wanted to send me home. He said no and placed me as a group leader for
students and an outreach leader for a 3 month trip. This time on staff
was TORTURE. I tried so hard to believe it all. But at the same time,
my intellect wouldn't let me. I became so emotional about it all.During
the outreach, I revealed to the students that I wasn't Christian right
now. I was so embarrassed and felt pressured. At one point, I was
overcome with emotion and spirituality and found myself converting back
to Christianity and crying like a maniac.I left the school, returned to
the US and found myself committing to work in a starter school in
Mexicali. I only joined because the guy who asked me to come, I had a
huge crush on. I worked there, and found myself committing to go under
training at the original school I worked at to eventually commit 2
years to this new base in Mexicali. I didn't have any spiritual
problems at that time, and felt peaceful (looking back though, I was a
nut).At the end of the training, I was to return to Mexicali. However,
I found that my reason for being at the base, this guy, was now dating
a chick and I wasn't getting any, even platonic, attention. I become
depressed and realized the errors of my motives of coming back to the
school this year. I realized I had to leave and get my motives in
check.I left the school. I got on a bus in Mexicali and drove all the
way to Minnesota, giving myself 48 hours to ponder the last 2 years of
my evangelical living.I immediately settled into depression for the
next 2 years, dealing with what happened in Mexico, and what has
happened my entire life with wanting to be Christian, but having such a
hard time.I have finally found myself in a much more comfortable
position, spiritually. I consider myself something in between a
Unitarian or a Quaker, but I don't associate with any religious
organization. I am now just trying to come to grips with what really
happened in Mexico and throughout my life, since now I am finally
confident in the custom faith I have created for myself.Its a really
painful issue to have to consider all that I have chosen to believe and
do for the sake of avoiding hell in these last years. Whenever I start
to think about my spiritual past, I feel ill to my stomach and find
myself curled up in the fetal position. It is really hard for me to
deal with. I feel extremely bitter towards the religion (but strangely
enough, not the God) and everyone else who has excommunicated me
because of my choice to trust myself over anyone else.To monitor
comments posted to this topic, use .
6:15 pm
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I realized the Bible God is fictitious
Sent in by DannyHi to everyone here. I will try to keep it
short...well, as much as I can. My name is Danny, the youngest of a
family of 10. I am Filipino. My family is of Catholic background. Most
Filipinos are. I grew up spoiled (I am the youngest). My family is well
to do. That's really sad knowing most Filipinos live below the poverty
line. My brothers sisters and I went to private Catholic schools and to
good universities. We were all indoctrinated (brainwashed) to the
Catholic way of thinking. Every Sunday (Mithra's Day...hehehe!) we as a
family went to Catholic Church. After church, my parents always treated
us somewhere usually good. That lasted until I was a teenager. After
that, my parents let us go to church on our own time. My father (a
businessman...he owns several apartments) was a good mathematician and
finished first honorable mention in his school. My mother is also a
good mathematician. She graduated salutotorian in the same school. My
brothers, sisters and I (maybe because of the genes...I don't really
know) are mostly good in math. One of my brothers who we consider dumb
(compared to us) became an accountant. The rest became mostly
engineers. One became an architect. I became a statistician. I didn't
really use my degree because now I am a programmer. In school (catholic
school), I had ADD (attention deficit disorder). My teachers would say
3 sentences and I started day dreaming. Obviously, I did poorly with
most subjects. I only excelled in math. Math was very logical so I
didn't really have to study. Some of my classmates were envious because
they were amazed at how good I was at math. A lot of them called me
abnormal. I didn't take offense to it because I knew it was only for
good fun. Also, I was very popular with them because I tutored them in
mathematics. My brain is flowing with logic. I like analyzing things.
In religion class, I asked "If God created everything, then who created
God?" I wasn't really satisfied with the "Nobody created God. God is
the Beginning, God is the End." answer. But I nodded in agreement. What
else could I have done? While growing up, questions filled my head. "If
God is a loving God, then how come he lets millions of people live so
poorly? Why are some born crippled? Why are some born blind?" I am not
gay but this question always bugged me..."Why is homosexuality an
abomination?" I already saw in my own eyes that some people are just
naturally born gay...what is their sin? "How can we be born with
original sin? If Adam and Eve sinned and we came from them, then how
can their sin be passed to us?""Why are the Jews the Chosen People? If
God was fair and I believed He is, then why just them, why not all of
us? Aren't we all God's children?" and so and so forth...there's just
tons of questions. I started not going to church when I was a teenager.
It's not because those questions flooded my brain. It's just because of
laziness. Even then, my belief in Jesus as our savior was very
strong.The very first atheist I met (I didn't know they existed...then)
was one of my English teachers in college. I was totally shocked when
he revealed to us that he was atheist. The idea to me (then) was an eye
opener. I really respected this teacher. I just disagreed with his
opinion. Back in December 2005 it was Christmas season and the office
was almost empty I began to search the internet for world
beliefs...like death, reincarnation, other religions. Every day for 2
weeks this is what I did. I started to become depressed. I started to
have nightmares. I thought it was a wake up call. I went back to
church. I tried my best to re learn Christianity. At the same time I
also started some drugs prescribed to combat my depression. Eventually
my depression left. The drugs worked. My questions still hounded me so
I started to look in the internet again. I opened my mind to a lot of
ideas not consistent with my christian upbringing.That's when I
realized the Bible God is fictitious. God just cannot choose one race.
He cannot show favoritism. He cannot condone murder nor rape nor
incest. But all those nasty things are in the Bible. Homosexuals are
normal people. They are not an abomination. I also saw the similarity
of Jesus with the other "saviors" who preceded him. How can you explain
that? If the other saviors are pagan gods, what about Jesus? He is as
pagan as the rest of them. Plus, the very existence of Jesus is highly
questionable. The gospels (the chosen ones...politics played a role in
this I guess) were not even written by the eyewitnesses. The historians
never mentioned Jesus. A few mentioned Christ (not Jesus) in a few
sentences. And...if Jesus really existed and is really the savior, why
did he come 2000 years ago? What about the people that were born before
him? Are they all hell bound? If yes, then isn't that unfair? What
about the people who will never hear of him? Hell bound? Yikes! The
Muslims? I bet most Muslims are good people. Are they hell bound? I
don't think that's fair. What am I now? Certainly I am not a Christian.
I still go to church. I have to pretend. It's all show. My brain just
wanders during the entire mass. Am I an atheist? I have read quite a
few testimonials and debates here in this website and I really think
the atheists are much much more logical and reasonable than any of the
Christian apologists. But no I am not an atheist. I am a deist. I still
have faith...not in the Biblical God...not in Jesus...I still believe
in a higher power. I think a higher power created us through evolution.
If not, then a higher power must have created that alien race that
created us. Or something. Do we have souls? A lot of you will be
shocked but I do believe we have souls. Why do I think this way? I
forgot to mention it but when I was a kid our home was filled with
ghosts. Not a lot, but some. I heard them...my brothers heard
them...it's not my imagination...we experienced them at the same time.
I saw knobs turning. Remember my mind is logical so I thought someone
was just tricking me. I tried to recreate the same thing using a key
and the knob wouldn't turn. I heard a story about my grandfather
(father's side). He died in 1955. After that his ghost haunted some of
my brothers...calling them...sometimes he pulled their blankets and
legs.The soul thing is just my belief. I cannot prove anything. What
else? I also believe in reincarnation. Can I prove it? Certainly not. I
just believe it. That's my testimony. I hope you like it. DannyTo
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Sunday, August 19th, 2007
8:30 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] Cartoon-character Gods, prophets, saints and v...
Sent in by Julie W I can still pinpoint the exact time and date that I
turned my back, forever, on any form of organized religion, whether it
be Christianity, or any other. I often wonder if there are any others
out there who experienced the same life-changing force, as I did, on
9/11, when I witnessed what humans will do to each other ‘in the name
of God.’ That brisk morning in Colorado, happened to be my daughter’s
first day of kindergarten at Coal Creek Elementary School in
Louisville. It was an exciting morning and she had dressed herself
proudly, choosing to wear a new outfit purchased just for that first
day. I had turned on the usual morning show on TV, so I could catch up
on the overnight news as I fixed her breakfast. As the TV warmed up,
the screen remained black at first while voices of panic and disbelief
screamed from the television reporter and news anchor. I rushed over to
the TV and witnessed the horror, while my daughter walked over to me
and slid her hand inside mine, instinctively knowing that something was
wrong. I stood in front of the screen, connected forever to my daughter
as our hands held tightly, and we watched on live TV as the 2nd plane
smashed into the WTC tower and I heard myself say quietly under my
breath, ‘that was not an accident.’ I knew at that moment that I was
watching hundreds of souls perish, as my daughter also watched in
horror. It was that day, at that moment, that changed me forever. As
the days and weeks slowly passed during that monumental time for our
country, we all learned the names of the terrorists, learned about
their own faith, their cause, their leader and that their horrific act
was carried out with the blessing of many others who also followed
their particular religion. For several weeks, I struggled with my own
internal religious belief system and could not see the difference
between a Muslim extremist and a Christian extremist, both factions
killing innocents, harming children, destroying our world, in the name
of their God. At first, I became enraged with religion, hating and
mocking its very existence. I had been raised as a Presbyterian and had
never followed any ridged dogma or rituals, whether it was baptism,
regular church attendance, Bible reading, etc. However, I had always
believed in God, of a higher presence, but never the cartoon-character
of ‘an old man sitting in the clouds, thumping us all on our heads if
we strayed’ type of being. And I believed that Jesus was a good
teacher, a prophet like Buddha or Mohammed who instilled love and
kindness in others. I had even believed that, yes, he could possibly be
supernatural, immaculately conceived and possibly raised after death. I
believed these things because I never had a reason to question my
beliefs. But now, after the horror of 9/11, and religion being the
forefront of this event, I was instinctively forced to look inward and
define my beliefs, not only for myself, but for my children as well. I
did not want anyone, or any religious group, to take my children down a
road, that I would not follow myself.That was many years ago and that
horrific event galvanized my core forever. There is no going back to
organized religion, for me, and I feel utterly free and strong in my
own belief. And I believe strongly that we do not need to send our
beautiful, innocent children, to church, in order to raise them to be
moral people. On the contrary, I believe that raising our children,
free of the guilt-ridden church environment filled with
cartoon-character Gods, prophets, saints and virgins, will enable us,
as parents, to grow mentally-strong, and independently-minded young
people, who will help to change our world for the better.To monitor
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Friday, August 17th, 2007
6:31 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I would rather poke my eye out
Sent in by Meredith TI recently de-converted after 15 years as a
Christian while going through a divorce and enduring hypocrisy in the
church. If I had a nickel for every email I got saying, "God Hates
Divorce!" and, "I love you but I don't agree with you," I would be
rich! I even got one saying "I'm sorry to hear you gave up your space
in eternity for this (divorce)!"OK, well who the f!#k do you think you
are to take a stance whether you 'agree' with me or not? Is that any of
your business, and did I even ask you? One former friend said, "We have
the right to know why you are doing this." I’m sorry, but why do "close
Christian friends" feel the need to decide everything as a group --
even to declare someone's marriage as "divorce-worthy" or not? Anyway,
where was I? Oh yeah, I de-converted not solely because of what my
church and Christian friends did to me (even though that got
me 'thinking'), but ultimately I discovered I could no longer see how
divorce as taught in the Bible was "true." There is no way I can
believe that anymore, since I view my divorce as the healthiest thing
possible for me. Someday, if my ex can break free from his "brainwash"
in Christ, hopefully he will see this as a positive for us too. But
currently he still hates me for breaking my "sacred covenant," even
though he admits to living five years of "hell" with me.I married while
I was "on fire for God" at age 22, and even though I knew deep down I
didn't love this guy, he "loved god," and "instantly forgave me" for
what a bad person I saw myself as. So I thought, "How could we go wrong
with GOD on our side?" We thanked "Jesus Christ for putting life and
love in our hearts" in the top billing of our wedding program. And we
had two (yes, two) ministers marry us. Wow, I felt good -- it doesn't
get any "holier" than this. "Everyone, look at me! Aren't I a good
person? Look at all my Christian friends, all so proud of me! Look! We
can have fun without drinking!” I'm just thankful we got out before we
had kids together.Anyway, some very sweet Christian friends who had
been through a divorce tried to help me with my doubts about the
teaching against divorce in the Bible with words like "god forgives,"
and "god still loves me" and "grace is the most important thing." But
once I saw the Bible as containing falsehood, I started reading. It was
like I became addicted. I read this site for hours on end, and
everything else I could find. Slowly, my eyes were fully opened, and it
was like over night and I "got it." My mind was opened. I agree with
one of the recent posters to this site who said "What was I thinking?"
OMG – what WAS I thinking?Anyway, that's my story. It feels good to
write it out and I'm still trying to figure out how to tell my friends
and family, almost all who are Christian and trying to get me to go to
church somewhere. Frankly, I would rather poke my eye out.To monitor
comments posted to this topic, use .
Tuesday, August 14th, 2007
6:07 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] The conflict burned inside me for years
Sent in by Brent SI have been reading many of the testimonials on this
site for a while now and so have decided to share my own brief
account.Like so many others, I was raised in a barely Christian
household. We considered ourselves Christians, but beyond Chuck Heston
movies, we didn't really know much about religion. Christmas and
Easter, and the occasional renaissance painting, since my Mother is an
artist who well emulates that style. Anyway, when I reached junior
high, we started having bible studies with a couple of Jehovah's
Witnesses. They were a very nice couple and came to our house every
Wednesday for a reading and a discussion. I also started going to a
centrist Christian Youth group with some friends from school. I was
quickly addicted for several reasons: the first was that I had recently
discovered my own homosexuality and was desperate for some form of
escape from that terrible affliction, and secondly, stemming from the
the same core issue, I was an outsider among my peers and found comfort
in the imaginary bonds created by religion.Diving into Christian study
did not cure my sexual proclivity, but in fact only deepened my
depression, but did allow my to convolute the idea that if I were a
good enough Christian, the latter might be forgiven. During this
infatuation with religion, which eventually led to me joining a Baptist
church while in High school, I did the one thing that religion never
wishes of its followers; I paid attention, and thought about what I had
learned.Over time, the vast number of inconsistencies mounted. I think
the number of sects that I dabbled with helped to propagate this
revelation. Also, I developed a love of science and began to read in
that direction. When faced with conflicting ideas such as God saying "I
can conceive no evil," with the scientific reality that something
cannot just spontaneously appear without a cause, makes you then wonder
where evil could have come from. If one God created everything and
allowed for free choice, then He must have been the one to define the
choices, and therefore must have had a pre-existing knowledge of those
choices. When I asked my "elders" about this, the usual answer was
something to the extent that we cannot understand God's ways.Oh.The
conflict burned inside me for years. Even after my first, second, and
more sexual experiences, I still struggled with all these questions.
Finally, with adulthood came more sophisticated ways of thinking and
college provided me with philosophy and the tools to recognize things
in a clearer light.Eventually, I had an epiphany! Mankind had been
inventing Gods since the first human crawled from the primordial slime
and stood erect. Gods created to gleam power over our fellows; to
explain what is beyond our ability to understand, and to rationalize
our own prejudices and almost anything else you can name.
Rationalization, to me, seems to be the number one function of
religion.To me, accepting the fact that we are here on our own, that we
are born because of simple biological acts, and only oblivion is likely
to meet us on the other side, was the truth that set me free.Instead of
being a blind worshiping machine, I now make choices based on
rationality; morality based on experience and empathy. I do not fear
punishment, nor do I hope for rewards. I have learned that kindness and
charity are rewards in themselves, and being perceived as a prick by
even one person is punishment enough, and the guilt that follows if I
know I have done wrong by someone.However, I do still enjoy Christmas
since the phrase "solstice decorations" do not roll naturally of the
tongue. And I do still appreciate renaissance art; having several
Madonna's around the house, because, as I say, all mythology has some
purpose.To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Monday, August 13th, 2007
6:03 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I lov
Sent in by Chris SI arrived at University in the autumn of 2004 never
having given religion of any kind much thought, I was every inch the
wide eyed fresher! I quickly encountered the local group of
evangelicals who ran the Christian Union at the University and I found
they gave me a great sense of fellowship and warmth when I was around
them. As a result I thought I would go along to the variety of events
they were putting on, that target new students, such as film nights and
discussions over coffee. After a five week course in the local coffee
shop looking at the basic of the Bible’s message in Romans, I decided
it all seemed to make sense and gave my life to Christ at the end of
the final session through a prayer. For the next two years I was every
bit the convinced, fundamentalist Christian, a somewhat bizarre species
in Britain, but they do exist! Not far off a million of them in a
variety of shape and form, and they exist in almost every University. I
attended many conferences, endless talks and sermons, bible studies in
groups and one to ones, prayer groups and even went abroad to help
spread the ‘truth’ about the Lord. I couldn’t believe that it would
happening to me, but there it was. I loved having access to the sole
‘truth’, it was intoxicating not having to see things in nuanced shades
of grey anymore and being able to be absolutely certain in something’s
righteousness or otherwise, it satisfies the inner child in all of us.
My parents (especially my mother) were pretty torn up about this sudden
life change, as was I, as I now believed them both hell bound sinners
in the eyes of God. Towards the end of my first year of study I was
finally baptized and read out my testimony to all my gushing Christian
friends, who were so proud to have hooked a genuine atheist from the
pond. The Christian worldview provided me with an ideological framework
to understand and explain the world, a coherency that had been lacking
previously in my life, and I loved it.It was towards the end of my
second year that I began to have doubts. Some of the people I was
around began to scare me, for want of a better word. They seemed so
sure minded and confident about the authority of the Bible, that any
ideas about really questioning and finding truth were entirely
secondary. I was increasingly finding that the analytical and academic
skills taught by my History course were in direct conflict with the
approaches taken to the Bible by my Christian colleagues. It gradually
dawned on me, after actually reading through the whole Bible (due to my
studies it took around a year) that something such as Noah’s Ark could
not possibly be an actual historical event. I mean its little better
than a joke! And yet when I took this complaint to some of my Christian
friends they were shocked and could barely conceal their horror at such
a heresy. From that point onwards, my literal Biblical Christianity
began to fade, slowly at first, but obviously the Bible could no longer
be accepted as the ultimate guide to my life, and must be treated with
caution in the same manner as any historical document. I tried to find
answers in Christian literature, but it was all pseudo-scientific
nonsense, I’m sure you know the kind of books I mean, they are a
travesty to real thought. I found Christian books in general to be of a
consistently poor quality, being repetitive and simple minded. Most of
my Christian friends seemed to have only a vague interest in learning
more about the history of the Bible and were entirely satisfied in
listening merely to the pronouncements of out leaders.Then during the
summer of that same year, I had a foreign student move in with me for a
couple of months who was also a Christian. We began talking, and he
confided in me that he had doubts. At that stage I was not ready to
admit that I too was doubtful at the type of teaching I was receiving.
By the time he moved out my foreign friend had de-converted completely,
and it was informative to see how much happier he seemed, finding
himself a girlfriend and actually having sexual relations! I can’t
believe I gave it up coming into University! After that, I attempted to
walk a middle path, attending the same church with the same Christian
friends, but trying to use the Bible as a guide not an absolute law
unto itself. As time went by, I sensed this simply wasn’t working and I
began to do some real reading into the real origins of man and the
development of religion as part of human psyche, as well as the actual
genesis of the book we call the Bible. This finally allowed me to see
what should have been obvious from the beginning.During my third year,
as my special subject I was lucky enough to be included on the module
for the Third Reich, an intensive study of every aspect of the regime.
Current ideas on the nature of Nazism tend to view it as a political
religion, along with such phenomenon as Marxist-Leninism-Stalinism from
the Soviet Union. Although such a comparison may at first seem crude
(in terms of content all of them are obviously very different!), they
all attempt to teach ultimate truths that define reality. Nazism loved
to use its own relics and use religious language in mass ceremonies.
Some scholars have even compared the SS to the clerical class, as the
administrators in chief of any ‘religious’ ceremonial rites! My tutor
unashamedly called the Church a totalitarian institution, and by the
end of the course I was coming round to the idea. All of them attempt
to create a new man, a person who reflects the ruling ideology like a
mirror with no independent thought, whether through propaganda and the
Hitler Youth and League of German Maiden’s or through church groups.
Both try to change you completely! The commitment to both causes must
be total or it is nothing at all! (For a faith that seemed so simple to
commit to, it was one that seemed to be making the most total of
demands, demanding access to all of my time and efforts, all should be
given up the Lord, if you truly love him that is?) The comparison does
have its limits obviously, but it is not surprising to see its
popularity in historical academia.Having read many of the testimonials
on this site, I feel somewhat fortune that my time in the Christian
fold was relatively brief, and that the levels of time, effort and
money invested were comparatively low. I feel a deep sense of shame
that I could have been taken in by such a shallow, one track
philosophy. All the richness and variety of life awaits me away from
Christianity’s restrictive straitjacket. However it must be said that I
bear the people who led me into it no grudge, I chose to give my life
to Christ freely. Although misguided, that doesn’t change the fact that
they are good people and I still remain friends with many of them. I
had some truly wonderful fellowship with so many great people, but they
really don’t need a religious justification for any of it! As a person
I am much the same now as I was before, and the same will be true for
them as well. To be quite honest I think there is a deep underlying
sexual motivation for a lot of young Christians who are using their
faith as a means to acquire a partner who will be committed to them in
totality, especially the men who clearly get the best end of the
submission stick. But deep, satisfying relationships and marriage don’t
just exist within the walls of religious faith, its dependent on the
people involved. It is obvious that many of them are deeply
disappointed with me, having invested a great deal of time on me in
terms of sermons and personal bible study times, but obviously this can
have no impact on my decision. I have moved onto a greater study of
politics, I have developed quite a taste for anarchism and its many
variants. I can’t quite decide now whether to leave my experience
behind me in its entirety or whether to do something about the friends
I have, as to be honest, they scare me with their single mindedness and
I won’t be able to sleep at night properly knowing that there are any
people out there to whom reason means nothing. Or maybe I’ll just
relax! All the best to everyone on this site, and thank you for
reading.To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Friday, August 10th, 2007
8:04 am
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] I am an Agnostic
Sent in by Rip WoodwardI remember at an early age thinking of Jesus as
Santa Claus. If I pray to him ,and I am good, then I will get what I
want. I contemplated becoming a priest at 16. I delved into the bible
and really questioned what the verses meant. I got no greater pleasure
than stumping a so called "bible expert". One thing that always
bothered me was the notion of G-d not being accessible to me. I had to
go through his mediator, Jesus, to talk to him. It did not fit in with
my belief in a loving G-d. Later in life I began to experiment with
drugs and eventually developed into what most people would call a
junky. One thing that drugs do well is equalize people. When you are an
addict there is no better than or less than, only who has dope and who
does not. To make a long story short I used for too long and eventually
got clean.I joined a program for recovering drug addicts and was given
some instructions, one of which was to turn my life over to a higher
power. The catch was that it has to be loving, caring, and more
powerful than me. Those three requirements had me to question who G-d
was. Was banishing people to a burning pit loving or caring? Was
requiring me to go through a middleman loving or caring? The G-d I had
grown up with in Christianity seemed a bit like an ego maniac. Like a
powerful person who was insecure so he threatened people.After much
more research, including bible study, I came to one conclusion.
Christianity was not G-d. Jesus was not G-d. Christianity was nothing
but years of subtraction and addition done by leaders who thought their
ideas would be better than the ideas before them.The New Testament was
full of contradictions and the kicker was that the so called Christ did
not even fulfill all of the prophecies that the Messiah was supposed to
fulfill. He was obviously not the Messiah.Ostracized from friends and
family, arguments with strangers, and feelings of loneliness were the
results of my decision to move away from Christianity. Whenever the
subject of Religion or G-d came up I would excuse myself from the
conversation because Christians tended to be very angry and judgmental
to those that don't believe like they do.I did find G-d. I asked him to
reveal himself to me as he wanted me to see him. And he did. I didn't
find him in Christianity. I did not find him in phony threats of a
magical place of fire called Hell. I did not even find him in new age
religions. I found him exactly where he had always been. Right here
inside me.The biggest hurdle in my leaving Christianity was my fear of
Hell. Ironic huh? My fear was not in not knowing Jesus, it was burning
in hell. I think that is called propaganda. Didn't the Nazis use
propaganda? Christianity is a far cry from Nazis but their methods of
scare tactics and pressure sure are similar.I am so glad I have left
the cage of Christianity. I do not need anyone to tell me who to
believe, how to believe, or when to believe. Isn't G-d powerful enough
to do that on his own? I think so.I am an Agnostic. Literally
translated it means without knowledge. To me, knowledge is the
attainment of information based on evidence. No one has concrete
evidence of G-d. So I am without knowledge about G-d. I have some
theories but they are just that, theories.Thanks for this site. It is
good to know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do about
Christianity.To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Thursday, August 9th, 2007
1:59 pm
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] When I was 15...
Sent in by Robert WFor me, the worst part of being a Christian was
this: taking things on faith, even when my mind totally, utterly
disagreed with what Christianity wanted me to believe in. I'm soon
going to be 31, and I had my first moments of doubt when I was about
15. I can't remember what, exactly, set me off, but the end result was
that I became a bit more fanatical about my belief in the truth of
Christianity. That's not odd, I suppose. How many Christians who, when
they feel doubt, begin to fear that Satan is working his wiles upon
them? They, like I was doing at the age of 15, cling more tightly to a
sinking ship. The water spills out of the ship, the ship goes down to
the deep, so to speak, but the faitful remain unawares in a mad,
blissful sort of way. That's how I was at age 15, and up on through
till my mid-20s: unaware, mad with faith of a sort, and blissful with
that happy sort of stupidity that only a complete denier can
possess.Now, at almost 31, I'm having, I hope, the last battle with
Christianity and Jesus. There have been moments in my life when I've
seriously waffled between belief and disbelief; a part of me wants to
believe, that credulous and irrational part of us that will accept any
little thing “on faith.” Another part, the rational part, of me rebels
at the very notion of being locked back into a religion that drove me
out of it in the first place. Who is going to win, what part of me will
walk away after this last-man-standing battle between Jesus and myself?
I want to win of course! I don't really care about Jesus or his
religion any longer, even when I take into consideration all of the
moral platitudes and niceties that have been written about this dodgy,
so-called savior. Do 2,000 years of wishful thinking and, I'll admit
this freely, eloquent apologetic writing by Christians truly justify
the internal, existential misery that I've gone through for all of
these years?Christianity may have a great deal to offer to those who
need a savior or who fear the hellfire, but what about a person like
me? Is the world a cosmic chess board between God and Satan, with black
and white, absolute good and absolute evil? Or, rather, is it merely,
as Carl Sagan said, a “pale blue dot?”Well, I can say with a great deal
of certainty that notions of cosmic good and cosmic evil are fodder for
comic books and Hollywood, not for real life. I can also say that, from
my experiences, life actually comes in shades of grey. As to pale blue
dots, time will tell if mankind exists at the center of the universe;
I'm open to notions of other intelligent life forms out in the
universe, but I've also studied Fermi's paradox a bit, too.A part of me
has always wanted to believe that Christianity is true, but how can it
be? I think that, empirically, I've more than amply disproven
Christianity. My rational, reasoning side sees it for the sinking ship
that it is, but it's my gullible, faithful side that wants to hop back
onto the Jesus train. Skepticism is far harder than one might think and
I'd decry anyone who says that skeptics are cowards or quislings. It's
taken me nearly 16 years, swinging back and forth between belief and
disbelief, to come this far. At one time “faith” dominated my life;
now "reason" seems poised to dominate. What is going to win, faith with
all of its superstitious accouterments? Or, will reason win out in the
battle for my heart and mind?I can't recall who said that "Faith
without reason is dead." I'd like to see this quote placed in a better
context; I've seen Christians and other theists use it to justify their
own religion, but what does faith mean? Protagoras quipped about 2500
years ago, "Man is the measure of all things." So, if I had faith in
God and Jesus, I'd be lauded to high heaven by the believers. I'd be
one of the elect. But, if I instead said that I had faith in myself, as
a human being, I'd be accused of hubris. I'd be on a trip to hell with
Satan and the devils. But, this is what I have the most faith in:
myself. I put my entire trust in my own humanity, my intellect,
intuition, and ability to reason, rather than in a shady savior and a
God that never seems to be around when you need him the most.Examining
my life, I'm reminded of a bit of poetry from Aeschylus's Agamemnon:He
(God) steered the mortal mind to thought,making one law: suffer and
learn.How correct that is, if God is anything more than a hopeful
figment of imagination!To monitor comments posted to this topic, use .
Sunday, August 5th, 2007
7:11 pm
[Testimonies of Ex-Christians] Running afoul of GOD
Sent in by Nick M I like to occasionally visit this site and read
testimonials of people who've drifted away from their faiths, and
admire the courage of many of them. Still, one thing strikes me every
time I hear it, and that is the fear associated with giving up one's
faith. I can understand the stigmas associated with it, affecting your
family and friends, but I'm talking about the, if I may be so blunt,
illogical fears associated, such as the continued belief one might
still 'run afoul' of god. Just so you understand where I'm coming from,
let me give you a little backstory on myself.My childhood was as normal
as any suburban family. I went to church every Sunday, never asking
questions, just listening attentively, and waiting for the reverend to
rescind his pulpit so I could go home and play Super Mario BrosAt the
age of eight, my life took what some would call a rather startling
turn, though I know for a fact it was the best thing that could have
happened to me at such a critical time in my childhood development. It
was Christmas morning, I’m not entirely sure of the exact year, and I
happened down the hallway, excited as ever to see what gifts Santa had
left for me under the tree, only to catch my parents in the final
stages of putting together the bicycle I had begged for in my lengthy
letter to the North Pole. It would be an understatement to say this
came as quite a shock, but my parents gave me the classic explanation
of how there really is no Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, or Easter Bunny.
Though I wasn’t told this specifically, I naturally assumed god was
just another imaginary character my parents told me about so I would be
good, or something. Just to re-iterate, I was eight years old and much
more concerned about Sonic the Hedgehog on my Genesis than any
philosophical questions that might naturally arise when someone loses
their faith. That's how I became an atheist.Over the next few years, I
continued to learn about atheism, and developed myself as a somewhat
outspoken atheist in my small community. I waited until I was 14 to
tell my parents that I was an atheist, and although visibly
disappointed at first, they still understood that I was serious, and
allowed me to go my own way, as it were. For this, I will forever be
grateful. Occasionaly, I would be drawn in to debate the reasons behind
my beliefs (or lack therof, rather), but those arguments were trounced
pretty quicky, as the average 15 year old xian kid isn't very
knowledgeable, especially about their own religion, when it comes to
arguments for the existence of god. That leads me to this point in my
life.Going back to my original point, though, I can understand some
fears that come along with giving up god, such as the idea that there
is no afterlife. I can see how that may be hard to cope with at first,
and it's long been my idea that that though is what drives many into
the 'safety net' of religion, but the idea itself has always brought me
comfort. The assurance that I'm not being judged for every little
mistake, and that I can live my life and not have to answer to anyone
but myself. I don't know... maybe it's just me, but I would still like
some feedback either way. Thank You.To monitor comments posted to this
topic, use .
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