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Deconversion
Posted: 25 October 2013 12:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Jasozz,

I am a Christian and became a Christian as an adult.  A few things I noticed in your post. 

I started to notice the discrepancies in the religion, such as asking myself how it is fair for God to judge me, who was raised in a loving Christian family, and also someone who grew up in a Hindu culture loving that religion, or in a Kiberan slum, knowing nothing but pain and sorrow for most of their life. How is that fair to begin with, coming from an all-loving God, and how is it fair for them to be judged equally on their eternal fate?

You don’t trust God to judge people fairly.  How do you know God won’t take all this into consideration?  In fact, if you knew your Bible you would know that it teaches God set the times and places where each of us lives.  It was never by chance.

With doubt, came my engrained fear of Hell, and I told myself that I was just going through a phase, and kept going to church and tried not to think about it.

After becoming a Christian and getting to know God, I also had questions about hell as many portrayed it and the goodness of God that I was getting to know.  After a study on hell, I found it is not a place of eternal torture that many portray.  In fact in the end both death and hell are destroyed. 

I could no longer, with a clear conscience, say to someone that I believed in God.

Since believing in God and trusting God are the basis of Christianity, then if God does exist you’re not fooling him anyway.  The God of the Bible would have known all along where your heart would lead you.  You may as well be honest.

The ONLY thing tethering me to Christianity was my fear of Hell and punishment, as well as the pain of losing or hurting my family if I became the ONLY non-Christian in our entire family, but that wasn’t enough to make me want to keep going to church.

If your family is the Christian family you described, then they will love and accept you no matter what your decisions in life.  It may hurt them, but I doubt you would lose them. 

After a rough breakup and some pretty deep depression, I thought connecting with a church might help me out a little, but unfortunately I found I could no longer get engaged with the church. I joined a Men’s group that was all about being a better man/husband/etc., which I loved, because I was still CULTURALLY a Christian, and to this day I still deeply value the teachings of serving and loving others unconditionally, as well as a great deal of other non-deity-related teachings. This wasn’t enough to light my spiritual flame though, and I stopped attending and went back to ignoring the issue.

Without a faith in God, there is little to connect you to a group of Christians. 

We were discussing something about creationism in schools, and something she said took a stab at Christianity, and I immediately went on the defense to defend Christianity, and realized I had nothing to say.

Why would you if you no longer believe God?

I’ve concluded that I no longer accept the Bible as truth, and haven’t for a long time. While there are some great lessons in the Bible, overall, I do not believe in the Christian doctrine.

Again, why would you if you don’t believe God?

Now, I’m facing a lot of huge, looming fears with deconversion.

1. What if I’m wrong and there is still a God/Hell?

2. How do I tell my entirely Christian family that I don’t believe anymore?

This is not a decision that takes place in your mind, but in your heart—the totality of who you are.  If you don’t believe, then you don’t believe.  If there is a God you will be wrong, but you can’t believe if you don’t.

Be honest with your family.  They deserve that much from you.

4. (The Big One) I now feel like life is pointless. Recently I can’t get excited about anything because my mind just jumps to “it won’t matter and you’re going to die eventually”. I’ve also developed a MASSIVE fear of my own mortality since this deconversion thing kicked into high-gear, due to A) being afraid of being wrong and there being an eternal punishment and B) feeling the brevity of life now that I’ve started really thinking about it.

I don’t think anyone can stay committed to belief in God because they fear him.  People come to God because of his love for them.  If you don’t have that, then a relationship with God would be pointless anyway.  As for what you make of your life without a Christian understanding I cannot say.

[ Edited: 25 October 2013 12:28 PM by LilySmith ]
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Posted: 26 October 2013 06:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Jasozz;
You might want to review threads where LilySmith has participated in lengthy arguments, such “How do I respond to the following Christian apologetic” from earlier this month. It’s a good example of conversations you might find yourself in, and might want to choose to say, “okay, thanks for sharing”, and walk away.

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Posted: 26 October 2013 07:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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There’s a lot of stuff on the internet produced by people who have deconverted - but to draw a parallel with Mel Brooks, who as a Jew constantly found humor in Nazis, I suspect that a bit of humor helps keep things in perspective. I didn’t really go through a deconversion process, as I never really considered the religious stories as anything other than parables as far back as I can remember. But I can still enjoy me some good satire:

http://www.youtube.com/user/misterdeity

Mr. Diety’s a deconverted Mormon.

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Posted: 31 October 2013 09:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Jasozz - 23 October 2013 05:25 PM

1. What if I’m wrong and there is still a God/Hell?

Hi Jason,

I just thought I’d say a bit about this one. I mean, I don’t think that anyone can completely rule out the possibility that there might be a hell, I just don’t see any good reason to take the possibility seriously. So if you find that the thought causes you anxiety, maybe the best thing is just to ask yourself: well, what reasons might support the conclusion that there’s a significant risk that I might go to hell? Just try to examine it rationally. If you think that there are good reasons then you’d probably better do something about it. But if there seem to be no good reasons then hopefully that will make your anxiety go away.

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Posted: 02 November 2013 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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I was raised Xian also and to be honest, the idea of a deity is a human tribal concept.  So what if you are wrong and there is a god?  Well, that deity is probably nothing like any of the concepts created or at best, that deity is bits and pieces of various concepts.  There is a Tao saying that says, “Those speak don’t know.  Those who know, don’t speak” depending on one’s translation.  All this talk about a vengeful god is just one tribal concept.  I suggest exploring several different religions, including and esp Hindu, Buddhism, and Taoism, since you’ve mainly been exposed to Western religious concepts.  I also suggest reading retired Bishop John Shelby Spong’s works, as well as the retired Canadian Anglican priest Tom Harpur’s works and while some disagree with my choices, I still suggest Acharya S (DM Murdock) books, Robert Funk, Elaine Pagels, Paul Kurtz, Don Cupitt, and Barbara Walker’s works.  Many of my choices some people take issue with, while others appreciate my choices.  However, in the end, I think it’s best to read and research many different sources, coming to your own conclusions, without allowing anyone to tell you what to think.  The most important part of researching this subject is not “what to think”, but “how to think” and that “how” boils down to thinking for yourself.

Here is a video by John Shelby Spong, who talks about the concept of hell, how it is a control mechanism, and that it is a human concept, even stating that these are all just human concepts.  Hope you appreciate it and it gives you some food for thought concerning this subject of god and hell.  “Religion is in the guilt producing, control business.”  “The Church doesn’t like grown ups, because you can’t control grown ups.”  All the more reason to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions, not what others scare you into believing or telling you to believe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SF6I5VSZVqc

BTW, I’ve gone beyond believing in any human concepts of a deity.  I have no concepts of god anymore, while I don’t believe there is a god or at least not by the definition of humans, I did begin my journey out of religion via Spong, Harpur, and Cupitt.  I grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana and as an adult journeying out of religion, I left via the Episcopal Church, thus why I have appreciation for these three men.

[ Edited: 02 November 2013 12:23 PM by Mriana ]
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Posted: 21 November 2013 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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I appreciate the fact that you understand that there is such a thing as cultural Christianity, Jason.  That makes my point easy—there are two kinds of Christians, those who are in a relationship with God through the person of Jesus Christ by the infilling of the Holy Spirit and those who are not.  The latter are cultural Christians.  I would also say they were Christians in name only and not in fact.  If that’s the case, then it’s much easier to walk away from Christianity and a church.

It is less easy to walk away from God when you are in a personal relationship with him.  People still do that, usually because they are angry with him for some personal tragedy or because they have sin habits they want to keep.  But they don’t deny his existence.  They just don’t like him.

My question is this:  Have you tried to find answers to the things that trouble you about the Bible, God and Christianity from both the non-Christian AND the Christians sides?  I ask that because it has been my experience that many atheists who used to attend church usually go looking for things that feed their doubt, not their faith.  It’s like they really want to walk away and, therefore, only want to find information to “justify” or “legitimate” their choice.

I think it’s healthy to have doubts.  But I also think it’s important to be honest about them.  As somebody who has been responding to atheists’ challenges for over a decade, I can tell you that there are valid, intelligent, logical answers to all of them.  In fact, their challenges have increased my trust in God, not decreased it.

With regards to your family, you need to be honest with them.  With regards to your future children and how you raise them, I always find it interesting when people say they should be raised to make their own informed decisions about religious beliefs.  Would you do that with regard to spelling and math?  Would you let them think that it’s okay to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 or that they can spell words however they want even if nobody can understand what they have written?

What we believe about God is the most important thing in our lives.  Everything else is based on it.  Therefore, it’s important that we know what the truth about him is and that we share that truth with our children.  Religion is as much about facts as arithmetic and grammar are.  It isn’t simply a matter of opinion or feelings.  All you have to do is read the threads here to grasp that fact.  Everyone writes about religious beliefs as if they are right or wrong—and they are right to do so!

As for the issue of hell, here’s the thing:  If the man who raped and murdered your mother and sister went before a judge and that judge said, “I am a loving judge.  Therefore, I am not going to punish you”, would you be happy with that?  I doubt it.  I think you would be outraged that justice wasn’t done.  Yet that is what people think God should do.  They think that, if he’s loving, he should let everybody get away with everything they do, no matter how bad and that nobody should end up in hell.  God knows who has a heart for him and who doesn’t.  He is always fair and will always reveal himself to anybody who truly wants to know him.  So nobody who shouldn’t be in hell will end up there.

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

As for being good apart from God, yes, it’s possible to do good things, but it isn’t possible to BE good.  We are all born with sin natures.  There is no doctrine in the Bible that has more empirical evidence to back it up.  None of us can change our sin natures no matter how hard we try.  That’s why Christ came—to atone for our sins and give us HIS righteousness, something he has because he was not only 100 per cent man, he was 100 per cent God and, therefore, sin-free. 

That’s why people who don’t accept him won’t spend eternity with God in the next life.  Without accepting Christ’s atonement for their sin, they cannot enter heaven.  But, as I said, God will make sure that someone who wants to know Jesus will get the chance to do so no matter where they live or when they lived or what they have done with their lives up until that point.

When a person enters into a relationship with the Lord, his spirit, dead in sin, is brought alive.  He is filled with the Holy Spirit who helps him to clean up his act.  It’s a life-long process.  I can tell you that I didn’t even know what sin was until I became a Christian and the Holy Spirit started pointing out the things that are an affront to God. 

Nor could I make myself the person I wanted to be in my own puny power.  With the power of God in the person of the Holy Spirit, I’m making headway.  The goal is to become more like Jesus as time goes on, something that won’t be fully realized in this life, but in the next.

I stick with God because I know he loves me.  He proved that on the cross of Christ.  I stick with God because I love him, not because I’m afraid of going to hell.  We all have a choice with regard to him.  You have the right to exercise yours.

If you are interested in reading some things to feed your faith instead of your doubts, I recommend the following websites:

Apologetics315
pleaseconvinceme.com
Stand to Reason
Reasonable Faith
Bible.org
gotquestions.org

I also recommend these authors:

Ravi Zacharias (see his Jesus Among the Gods)
Paul Copan (Is God a Moral Monster?)
Gary Habermas (the world’s foremost expert on the resurrection)
Lee Strobel (his whole series of books and videos including The Case for Faith, The Case for Christ, The Case for the Resurrection, etc.)
J. Warner Wallace (Cold Case Christianity).

[ Edited: 21 November 2013 01:46 PM by Overcomer ]
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Posted: 21 November 2013 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

As for the issue of hell, here’s the thing:  If the man who raped and murdered your mother and sister went before a judge and that judge said, “I am a loving judge.  Therefore, I am not going to punish you”, would you be happy with that?  I doubt it.  I think you would be outraged that justice wasn’t done.  Yet that is what people think God should do.  They think that, if he’s loving, he should let everybody get away with everything they do, no matter how bad and that nobody should end up in hell.  God knows who has a heart for him and who doesn’t.  He is always fair and will always reveal himself to anybody who truly wants to know him.  So nobody who shouldn’t be in hell will end up there.

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

Would you stop already Overcomer. The issue is not with rapists and murderers. The issue is that God punishes people for loving the wrong people or in the wrong way. And by “God”, I mean his followers. What “people think God should do” is actually be loving. That is, acknowledge our faults, our limitations, forgive them, accept us as we are. If you want to engage in conversation with me, that’s my rule. That is the fair and honest way of dealing with people that I have come to know from my fellow atheists, not the judgmental arbitrary way that you talk about.

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Posted: 21 November 2013 02:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

Paul Copan (Is God a Moral Monster?)
.

Christians write these huge tomes because they know no one will read them, or have the expertise to refute them. Fortunately, there are some good Christians out there who have the time and skills to do that.

Search for Thom Stark’s “Is God a Moral Compromiser”

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Posted: 22 November 2013 07:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

It is less easy to walk away from God when you are in a personal relationship with him.  People still do that, usually because they are angry with him for some personal tragedy or because they have sin habits they want to keep.  But they don’t deny his existence.  They just don’t like him.

Are all your friends straw men? You have a habit of creating straw man arguments and ignoring the thread subject, as you did here. I am one of those former Christians who had a so-called personal relationship with God. Yes, walking away from it was somewhat difficult, but rational thinking and education led me to seeing the contradictions and fallacies in the bible, as well as the dearth of answers to life, the universe and everything. You know what made me walk away from God? Reading the Bible, then reading Darwin’s works. Losing my faith in God allowed me to regain my sanity and see the world and universe as they really are, instead of looking at them through the eyes of Bronze Age sheep herders.

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Posted: 22 November 2013 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

As for the issue of hell, here’s the thing:  If the man who raped and murdered your mother and sister went before a judge and that judge said, “I am a loving judge.  Therefore, I am not going to punish you”, would you be happy with that?  I doubt it.  I think you would be outraged that justice wasn’t done.  Yet that is what people think God should do.  They think that, if he’s loving, he should let everybody get away with everything they do, no matter how bad and that nobody should end up in hell.  God knows who has a heart for him and who doesn’t.  He is always fair and will always reveal himself to anybody who truly wants to know him.  So nobody who shouldn’t be in hell will end up there.

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

That’s interesting.  If this is the case, then why do Christians claim that we all deserve Hell?  This is confusing to me.  Even back when I was an agnostic and still believed, halfway, in the Bible, I found myself thinking, “well if I deserve to be punished just for existing, who am I to argue with God?”

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Posted: 22 November 2013 09:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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advocatus - 22 November 2013 08:39 AM
Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

As for the issue of hell, here’s the thing:  If the man who raped and murdered your mother and sister went before a judge and that judge said, “I am a loving judge.  Therefore, I am not going to punish you”, would you be happy with that?  I doubt it.  I think you would be outraged that justice wasn’t done.  Yet that is what people think God should do.  They think that, if he’s loving, he should let everybody get away with everything they do, no matter how bad and that nobody should end up in hell.  God knows who has a heart for him and who doesn’t.  He is always fair and will always reveal himself to anybody who truly wants to know him.  So nobody who shouldn’t be in hell will end up there.

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

That’s interesting.  If this is the case, then why do Christians claim that we all deserve Hell?  This is confusing to me.  Even back when I was an agnostic and still believed, halfway, in the Bible, I found myself thinking, “well if I deserve to be punished just for existing, who am I to argue with God?”

That just about sums up the problem with explaining how God operates and how we discern God’s will. Overcomer keeps using these analogies of things that everyone agrees with, like rape is bad, Osama bin Laden is bad. Then he introduces judges or some sort of police types that punish the bad. These are the just and righteous people. There is this idea of being “always fair”. If only life worked like that. Judges are constantly faced with decisions where it is difficult to be fair. Overcomer accepts the invention of an ultimate arbitrator that is always fair, no matter what he does, simply because it is stated that he is what he is.

Much more sensible is to start with agreements that can be used to build a case for fairness. Like life is better than death. Even in the extreme cases, like a painful illness, the ending of a life to mitigate that pain is a difficult decision, and not preferable. It is a compromise. As yet, on multiple threads, Overcomer has not even acknowledged that I have said this, let alone engaged me in why it is not a reasonable course to consider.

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Posted: 22 November 2013 09:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

What exactly is this “separation from God”? I have a hard time understanding what it involves. I mean, God is meant to be omnipresent, isn’t he?

You’re saying that I’m not separated from God at the moment, but I will be in the next life. What exactly will the difference be?

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Posted: 23 November 2013 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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When I was a believer in my teens… (I won’t claim that I was a “Christian” because they tell me that involves being “born again”), I was told time and time again that we’re all sinners.  We all deserve to be in Hell.  Nobody deserves to be in Heaven with God.  Maybe I was an incipient Humanist even then, but I have a strong sense of justice.  I kept thinking if I didn’t deserve it why should I aspire to it?  It’s like the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.  If I don’t intend to order anything from them, I’d feel bad about taking their money even if I did win!  So I throw the things away.  I’m not a rapist or a murderer.  I try very hard to do what is right, even though I don’t claim to be perfect.  But if my good intentions alone aren’t good enough, I don’t know what else I can do.  I can’t make myself believe that Jesus had magic powers and that he came back from the dead.  So for that reason alone, I’m going to tossed into the Lake of Fire?

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Posted: 23 November 2013 10:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Rupert - 22 November 2013 09:05 AM
Overcomer - 21 November 2013 01:34 PM

And the bottom line is this:  If somebody wants nothing to do with God in this life, God will simply give him what he wants in the next—a life separated from God.  That’s what hell is.  So I don’t know why atheists crab so much about hell.  It will give them exactly what they want—life without God.

What exactly is this “separation from God”? I have a hard time understanding what it involves. I mean, God is meant to be omnipresent, isn’t he?

You’re saying that I’m not separated from God at the moment, but I will be in the next life. What exactly will the difference be?

Not to mention, Rupert, as I pointed out before, the idea of hell is another human concept, just as the idea of a deity is a human concept, that’s meant and used to control people.  There is no difference because what Overcomer is telling you is nothing more than a human concept, of which, throughout history, have been many different concepts.  Even the Greeks, Egyptians, and the Norse had their own concepts of hell.

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