the pain of leaving the faith (and also, 'hi i'm new')

utopian
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the pain of leaving the faith (and also, 'hi i'm new')

Greetings, this is my first post here, but I've been lurking for quite some time.

This site and the ideas put forward here have profoundly changed my life.

I am a Liberty University student. My first exposure to the RRS was through the Blasphemy Challenge videos and then again a few months later when Ergun Caner implored LU students to listen to his debate. We listened. A large facebook group formed to discuss it. The questions raised by the RSS were excellent. Caner's answers were not, frankly. Nonetheless, most LU students who listened felt Caner had come out ahead. Many had a hard time hearing past the perceived "intellectual snobbery" in order to listen to the content of the discussion. Be that as it may, I listened. My beliefs were up for grabs because they were not founded on faith, but were founded on evidence. Prior to the debate, I believed that what I believed was factually true. After the debate, I was on the fence considering the new evidence (or lack thereof). After a month, I gave up trying to talk theology with the students around me. They clearly had too much riding on Christianity. It was too big of a mental hurdle for them to consider the possibility that everything they believed could be false. I gulped and decided to continue basically alone. I devoured Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and the like. I also read Christian books to understand the counter arguments. A Case for Christ. A Case for Faith. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. A Ready Defense. Letters From A Skeptic.

And I read. Boy did I read.

I felt like Neo, clawing after the truth and tumbling down the rabbit hole towards enlightenment. I fought through massive amounts of cognitive dissonance trying to force myself to stay rational. The pressure was intense. My entire family was Christian. Many of my friends were Christians. My very serious girlfriend was a Christian. But the more I read, the more it seemed clear that all religions were malarchy. It was like flicking a switch on reality. Suddenly I felt very alone. Very animal. Very, very existential. Just walking down the street observing humans was a head trip. Six billion of us scurrying around the surface of this rock. For what? For nothing, apparently. That's intense.

Then came the consequences. Namely making my parents weep and breaking up with my girlfriend.

The intense personal, emotional pain was overwhelming. Absolutely crushing. I felt selfish. They asked if I was just rebelling and wanting to be rid of moral consequence. I assured them I just wanted truth. I added that according to their Baptist beliefs, I couldn't lose my salvation, so I was covered - but to no avail. They claimed that if I had truly had a relationship with Christ, I would know so I surely couldn't have ever been saved.

So I read more. I read like never before. Surely out of all these books, someone had a corner on truth. No one. At every turn, I found an infinite regress. I don't know what the absolute truth is. Everyone can only assess the probability of a truth, apparently. What exactly really happened 2,000 years ago with Jesus? I don't know for sure. There's just a probability. I have 78% faith. Or 23%. Or whatever. It will be amazing to die, just for kicks, to see what happens next and know. Maybe nothing. I really don't know.

In any case, I wanted to introduce myself, share my story and the impact the RRS has had on shaping the last year of my life. It'd be interesting to hear from others with super Christian backgrounds. Was 'transitioning' as bleedingly painful for you as it was for me?

It's nice to meet you guys.


BGH
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Wow!!!! Great

Wow!!!!

Great post....

Welcome to the forums, I think you will fit in just fine. 


BGH
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Oh yes, to answer your

Oh yes, to answer your question....

I did not come from a fundementalist christian background, mine was more of a moderate catholic background. My parents still attend mass weekly but at this point they rarely agree with the pope or church doctrine. I guess it is a matter of habit for them.

It was fairly easy for me to leave my faith, there wasn't much there to begin with. Even when i was young and attending PSR classes I had many questions. I drove the nuns crazy and was sent out of class often because of some of the things I would ask them. Faith was never really my 'thing' as I much more preferred learning about the world as it really was, not how primitive group of men imagined assumed it.


Roisin Dubh
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Welcome, Utopian.  Sounds

Welcome, Utopian.  Sounds like you ran through quite a gauntlet to get here.  You'll be glad you did.  Enjoy the forums!

"The powerful have always created false images of the weak."


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Welcome, Utopian! What a

Welcome, Utopian!

What a story!  It's always heartening to hear from someone who has used their intelligence and rational thought to figure things out for themselves.  Kudos to you.

You write extremely well - English/composition major?  I especially liked the line "I felt like Neo, clawing after the truth and tumbling down the rabbit hole towards enlightenment."  Wow!  I knew exactly what you meant.

Welcome to the forums ~ we're so very glad to have you here ~ we really look forward to your contributions in the discussions.

 

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JCE
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I echo the above sentiments

I echo the above sentiments - Welcome!!

I was not raised "super christian" either, but there are a few others here that were and they too have had fallings out with their families due to religious (or lack thereof) differences.  It is very sad when people place these beliefs ahead of their love for one another.

 


stillmatic
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Moving from a theist to a

Moving from a theist to a deist was easy. I found the concept of hell incompatible with an all-loving perfect God. The transition from deist to agnostic (I had yet to be exposed to the concepts of agnostic atheism, weak and strong atheism, etc) wasn't very difficult either as I couldn't picture any kind of God I'd be willing to worship actually caring if "his" creation believed in "him" or not.

Moving from agnostic to weak atheist was a realization that I didn't actually believe in any God and my terminology for myself was wrong. And changing to a strong atheist took a lot of books, research and discussion.

The idea of a "purposeless life without religion" never held much merit in my mind. In a theistic mindset this life has no meaning, it's only a test. It never made sense to me why people would strive to amass wealth, fame and power if they truely knew this life was only a test from God. Shouldn't they spend every waking minute cramming for the final?

I realized that deep down inside I always knew that life is what you make it. There will always be fear of the oblivion that aways me, but I will take this life over not living at all.

"A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven." -- former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien


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Welcome to the hizzle! I'd

Welcome to the hizzle! I'd recommend going to a real university now.


Iruka Naminori
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Wow, utopian. You're a

Wow, utopian. You're a very courageous person. You were under intense pressure and you still managed to follow what you reasoned was truth regardless of the consequences. That takes guts. Big time.

And to answer your question: Yes, leaving religion was extremely painful for me, but it happened a lot more slowly, in stages. I guess you could say the pain was drawn out. Which sucked. Sad

I haven't shared the entire story of my deconversion here because of the tremendous amount of pain I went through. The long process was intense and always affects me deeply when I remember all that happened. And it ain't over yet.

And yes, I was super-steeped in religion: fundy school from grade 2 through high school, then a religious college. I found out it was a liberal religious college a little too late. It was enough to begin me on the path toward rejecting religion.

If you want to trade battle stories, you can private message me any time you like. I'm middle-aged now, older and a bit wiser. I still have a hell of a lot to learn.

BTW, you might check out this thread and add your thoughts about methods of engaging theists: http://tinyurl.com/2sjmpq . As a new deconvert your opinions will be highly valued.

Here's something I wrote in that thread (please forgive the appearance of a cross-post, but this idea is important to me):

Iruka wrote:
If I could start my own organization, it would be the antithesis of Alcoholics Anonymous...maybe something like Ex-fundies Anonymous. It would focus on helping individuals leave religion and deal with the emotional fallout of that decision. Instead of making people feel helpless and insisting that they give in to a "higher power," such an organization would focus on empowering the individual with coping skills he or she did not learn in a religious setting. Christianity teaches people to give all their cares to Jesus. That is not conducive to living an empowered life.

BTW, Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell might resonate with you.

 

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rexlunae
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utopian wrote: I felt like

utopian wrote:
I felt like Neo, clawing after the truth and tumbling down the rabbit hole towards enlightenment. I fought through massive amounts of cognitive dissonance trying to force myself to stay rational. The pressure was intense. My entire family was Christian. Many of my friends were Christians. My very serious girlfriend was a Christian. But the more I read, the more it seemed clear that all religions were malarchy. It was like flicking a switch on reality.

"Welcome to the real world."

It is pretty satisfying to make that realization that it's all bunk, isn't it.

utopian wrote:
Was 'transitioning' as bleedingly painful for you as it has been for me?

I think its very common to have such problems when leaving religion. I know there are at least a few people who post here who have completely lost their social networks as a result. It isn't something to do any more often than necessary.

I went to a different university once I started having doubts, which freed me of the pressure of the close-knit Christian group I was a part of which held all of my friends in school. I probably didn't have to, but then in my case I was attending a public university to begin with. It would have been more difficult to break those connections if I hadn't, and I felt that they had to be broken. It might help to consider a similar switch yourself.

It's only the fairy tales they believe.


todangst
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An amazing story, thanks for

An amazing story, thanks for sharing it, hope to see you post again.


Voided
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Welcome to the forums, now I

Welcome to the forums, now I didn't "leave" a realigion, but I know many here have so you won't be alone in that.


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utopian wrote: Greetings,

utopian wrote:

Greetings, this is my first post here, but I've been lurking for quite some time.....

In any case, I wanted to introduce myself, share my story and the impact the RSS has had on my life. It'd be interesting to hear from others with a similar super Christian background. Was 'transitioning' as bleedingly painful for you as it has been for me?

It's nice to meet you guys.

 

 

Hey Utopian,

 

Yeah you could say that I was brought up in a very "fundy inclined" home. My father is a preacher and a Dr. in Theology as well as a published apologist. My break from Christianity was very painful and bitter. There are definatly steps involved in deconversion. there will be a very painful period of hatered and bitterness. but after that is up to you. For me I felt a peace I had never felt before. if you want to know more feel free to ask. we are here for support and advice to help you throuh this time of transition. 


utopian
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Wow, thanks for the kind

Wow, thanks for the kind responses. Susan, especially. I'm not an English major, but thank you, that's a flattering question.

I wanted to add a note about my above post. It's an accurate retelling of the hardest parts of my spiritual wonderings, but I should add that those moments were about two months ago, so things have changed in the time from then until now, as could be expected.  Just for clarity's sake.  Another post for another day.

How crazy that words create mind meetings. Everybody pouring ideas from one brain to another.  I really look forward to future conversations.

Again, very nice to meet you all.


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What a story. I think

What a story. I think you'll find this place to your liking. There's a wide range of people that come here, ranging from theist to atheist, intellectual to insane, funny to serious, etc. There's a nich for everyone here.

As for the question, I wasn't raised in a Christian home. As a child, I was in a church choir for about... a month untill I couldn't stand it anymore. My parents (namely my mother who was sitting on the fence about the whole issue while my father is an atheist) realized it wasn't my thing and never took me to church again.

Later in life, I dated a Christian for about five years (all through highschool and then a year or so into college). Boy, did I learn a lot about religion then.

Anyway, after my initial spill with religion as a child (singing in a church choir doesn't really count in my opinion Innocent) I didn't even think about a God existing. No such thought or notion ever crossed my mind. I had no idea of religion, God, or any other such thing untill I moved to the Christian center of the world, Elgin, Oklahoma.

So yeah, religion simply never fit into my life, and when exposed to it at an age where critical thinking was a big part of my life, I realized what a corrupt and man made institution it actually was. 


kellym78
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Sapient was editing a show,

Sapient was editing a show, and we were reminded of this story that was covered in the show.  Since then we've heard from Utopian quite a bit, and he's had a bit of luck deconverting a few friends.


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Welcome

 

      It'll be good to hear more from you in the near future, and the future begins now!!

 

                                                      


MattShizzle
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That's great! Does that mean

That's great! Does that mean we have a mole inside Liberty University or did he switch to one that actually teaches facts?

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