I'm kinda new here. Been lurking in the shadows, never made a real post until now. I've hesitated to get involved because I don't like the label "atheist" (too much baggage, misunderstood, etc.) plus I'm not really interested in encouraging people to "think atheist" per se. (I just want people to "think." The atheist will follow naturally if they're doing it right.)
Anyway, I am introducing myself as an "ex-true-Christian," a term that I have coined to anticipate a common objection I hear. If you're like me, you've heard it a thousand times... "You were never a true Christian in the first place..." In fact, I used to say it myself to others who left the faith before me.
Jesus was everything to me. He was my life, my breath, my fountain of grace and mercy. I would have died to spread the gospel, and I was more than prepared to give my life for his sake. I felt like I had found "freedom" in the gospel, until I finally woke up to all the bullshit by choosing to be HONEST with myself about unanswered prayer, Bible contradictions, the hopelessly endless disagreements about God among Christians themselves, and other such nonsense.
I've managed to meet a lot of atheists who were fortunate enough to reject religious nonsense when they were very young, as well as many atheists who never really believed in the Christian God in the first place but played the role of believer for years just to keep everyone happy. I'm finding it rare and difficult to connect with other ex-believers who were deeply and genuinely in love with Jesus. If that is you, then PLEASE friend me, connect with me, check me out on Twitter, etc. etc. Share your story with me, and I'll share mine.
Please connect with me anyway, but I definitely want to find other "ex-true-Christians" out there. I feel very much alone in rejecting a belief system I was once incredibly passionate about.
I went to bible camp as a kid. I outgrew God sometime after I outgrew Santa Claus, and I am actually surprised that others never get over this particular delusion.
I just typed 6 long paragraphs all about my background and our common interests, hit some key and the whole thing disappeared. Words cannot describe my frustration right now. Maybe there is a god and instead of helping people in need throughout the world he just wants to make sure I am not able to connect with another free-thinker!!!!!! Christ!!!! I am pissed!! I'll try again tmrw maybe. So much I wanted to say to you. SJ in TX
Just made an account on this great site in order to answer you that yes, I'm an ex-true christian too. You're certainly not alone and I'm sure to recognize a lot in your story.
Asked the lord Jesus into my heart at six... Went to prayer meeting groups, was baptized in a pentecostal church, went to bible college because I wanted to become a missionary... Worked a few years in an evangelical bookstore and so on.
Reading the commentaries on this site, I'm a little (sometimes even more than a little) ashamed for not turning away from religion in highschool or even before... But anyway, I'm glad I finally did, and feel a born-again freethinker!
No need to be ashamed, Ger. There are various facets of the human mind that evolved for our own protection that leave us vulnerable to some rather silly beliefs. Although religion plays into these vulnerabilities rather perfectly, religion itself had to 'evolve' to do so. Other 'secret agent' sort of beliefs can get into our heads rather easily, such as conspiracies - we see an 'invisible hand' moving behind the scenes even when there isn't one; evolutionary psychologists call this hyper-active agency detection, and it's beneficial because it's better to see a tiger in the bushes when there isn't one than the other way around.
Anyway, even after I cleared my mind of Christianity I fell into other traps, some of them being conspiracy theories. I'll likely be taken in by wild beliefs again. What is important for me is that I've learned to identify many of the traits and particularly the attractions of these sorts of beliefs so that I can slow myself down a bit and do some reading. Atheism does not equal 'critical thinking', but it has allowed me to develop my critical thinking skills. Honestly, if we hadn't spent some years believing in some fairy tales, I think we would only be more susceptible to other fairy tales.
If there is one thing I've learned from reading up on science it is that almost all my instincts about the world around me are wrong. Religion taught me that some things which seem absolutely self-evident can be absolutely non-evident. Reading about neurology has taught me that I don't even really understand my own mind. I don't even want to start talking about psychology or I'll have no basis left for self-esteem.
I've started reading more into philosophy, particularly after Hawking declared it dead. It can be very difficult to put all your thoughts on the table (or computer screen) , analyzing each one and determining your supporting evidence, but the process can be ultimately very rewarding. I've come to realize that everything I 'know' is validated by some assumption 'if x is true' and that fully justifying any belief ultimately leads into an almost infinite regression of supporting evidence. The best I can do is draw a line some where and say, OK, I'll accept that as true because if it's not then I may actually be an eggplant. Ultimately, however, at least I have a grasp of what supports my 'knowledge'.
I used to be a christian, no one ever told me that I was never a true christian to begin with (then again, I'm still in the process of actually getting out with being an atheist).
Nevertheless, when someone would tell that to me, my response would be: "Yeah, I guess you're right. Now what?"
Looking back, I can say I never really cared that much about my belief, it didn't hit home, so to speak. And for now, every suggestion made by a christian to change that failed (how surprising).
This is not meant to diss you Scott. It's just that I can't fully relate. For me, the process from belief to unbelief was really like evolution; you can't really see the transitions unless you take a look at the 'fossil record'.
It's not just that is doesn't bother me that much. It's also a pretty good silencer to ask christians
"Okay, I never really knew Jesus/God. You have any way to fix that?" Since hey really want to fix that.
Usually the response is that I have to pray, to which I ask:
"How can I pray for faith if I don't believe? How would that work?" Since if I would pray, I wouldn't really mean it. That confuses the heck out of christians.
Thanks for friending me btw.