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.