I don't think in all the time I've read posts by atheists on this and other sites, anyone has ever said that the character of (the Christian, usually) god is a positive one. It's not surprising of course. I thought this god was a nasty piece of work and that the believers around me must have been blind not to see it.
It helped me question it all and become atheist. I have little doubt I'd have held to my belief longer if I thought God was a nice chap.
So, I'm interested in what people thought of God when they believed. If no former believers think of God as anything but wicked, does that mean all current believers are lying to themselves or others about God being loving?
If that wasn't the case, I would expect to see more atheists who still think the character of God is a good one, even though they no longer believe.
When I was a believer, I was lacking much knowledge of the the very faith I was practicing. I was spoon fed the sugar coated stuff and the rest was ignored and never taught. However, while I did think he was OK at the time, I also thought he was rather incompetent. As I did my own research I found the 'dark side' of god and saw just how cruel this character was. But by then I was already well on my way to becoming an Atheist.
The main thing I remember about God's nature from when I was a believer is disapproval. One point that was drilled in fairly successfully was that no matter what you did, God was going to disapprove of your life to some degree. There was no way to actually please him, only mitigate things. Earlier, when I was a little kid, God had more of a distant, vaguely kindly grandfather aspect to him, but that rapidly disappeared once I became old enough to actually pay attention to what the preacher was saying, rather than just reading picture books of Noah's Ark or Joseph and his dreamcoat.
I'm with James on this one; as a child I had a colorful children's bible that sugar-coated all the stories much like Santa Claus made Christmas fun. I liked God then, I thought he was this cool dude in the sky that really liked us and took care of us. Then I got older and realized all the stories in my children's bible were just caricatures of the real ones; even stupid little things like how the three wise men didn't come until years later, not on the night of jesus' birth. That bothered me; what would leaving that bit out have done to the story? No difference I thought, so why did they change that and include them in all the nativity scenes? stupid.
It wasn't until my sister became a re-born christian (we were raised catholic by fairly non-practicing parents) that I began to study the bible and really get into the 'word' of god...and that's when I realized this guy was pretty horrid, and jesus seemed to me like a fairy tale meant to cover up the horribleness of the god.
My view of god was always changing and never very certain. Probably because of all the contradictions in the teachings. So at times I thought of him as a kind, loving, forgiving father figure. At the same time, he was a no nonsense hellfire and brimstone tyrant who couldn't be pleased. I'm not sure how in the world I reconciled my conflicting views, looking back on it. I think that it depended on the situation I was applying god to. It's like that poster that says something like, "God's Will: A lot like personal opinion, actually." As I got older and closer to atheism, I made him more and more loving in my head. Probably in order to make him more appealing. Eventually, I started listening to sermons and did my own research and thought for myself. And that was the end of that chapter.
I really struggled with God's character for a lot of my life. For one, I didn't get why he liked men better, or why women were treated like cattle. As much as that issue bothered me, I tried not to focus on it and simply ignored the idea that I was somehow inferior. Not God, or anyone, was going to make me believe or accept I was less valuable because I was a girl. In fact, I was out to prove them all wrong for a while. But there were other things I was uncomfortable with, like the whole concept of Hell, or "I'm God so I can do what I want." He really seemed like a narcissist bully, but I tried so hard to view him in a positive light.
People tried to say that others tended to project their relationship with their "earthly" father onto God. So, if you had a healthy relationship with you dad, you tended to have a positive view of God. If your dad was abusive, you might see God negatively even though (they claimed) that wasn't an accurate representation of him. I actually feel like this is a pretty good idea of how a lot of people might view God based on their subconscious, and how it could make him a more realistic character in their life.
I have to say, I haven't always had great relations with the father-figures in my life. It isn't surprising I finally gave up on the idea.
I was totally in love with God and Jesus. I had a vibrant 'faith walk' where I felt close to a loving, caring deity who looked out for me, lead me, loved me... I thought God was amazing and I saw him everywhere.
Of course now my perspective has changed, and I know I was in relationship with my imagination, not a loving god. But I can't pretend to have struggled with God's nature as a Christian. I loved him and I loved being part of Christianity. I was very, very good at it.
Just goes to show some atheists don't leave faith because of emotion or rebellious anger :)
When young, I never presumed to challenge the Bible. If the Bible said God was a vindictive, warrior God, then that was that. God could do what he wants and doesn't follow our rules . . . even if he's the one who made the rules.
I believe many adults think the same way about God as I did as a child. A friend of mine is a devout Catholic (altars in every bedroom, living room and even the hall) who never bats an eye at the atrocities of the Old Testament. They don't strike her as the least bit odd.
I think that once you start challenging the Bible, your faith is in peril. I also think it might take more than "average" intelligence to undo the damage that religious brainwashing does to us. Let's face it, the bell curve of IQ scores puts half the population on the downhill slope. This alone can go a long way to explain the persistence of superstitious belief in the supernatural. Denial is easier than logic.
I was about six when I stopped believing in God, I just couldn't make it make sense. It seemed impossible, Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth fairy, God all seemed to go away about the same time. I continued to look for something until I was about 30, but none of it made any sense. Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, mysticism, Gurdjif, Castaneda,eternal Ice, Illuminati, Freemasons, magic, yoga, etc. none offered any thing believable. I kept thinking that there must be something because the alternative was nothing, but when I finally exhausted everything else, and nothing was the only option left I started to really examine it. and it freed me!
I was around six years old when I noticed that my mothers hand writing and Santas hand writing were identical and it was only logical that Santa didn't exist and my mother had wrapped the present under false pretenses. At the same moment it was only just as logical that there wasn't a God either. I have always had that feeling in me that i can think of. It has always seemed right to me. There was no God.
My mother claims she believes in God, always has but recently I think her Faith isn't what it used to be, she isn't as confrontational anymore, i wonder if her feelings are scarier than my revelation. Shes believed her whole life, where as I was a child and the concept that seemed simpler was obviously the correct one.
I have always been Fascinated with religion but I haven't really tried any on. Some ideas do appeal from several religions but there isn't anything in them that seems logical,something to follow, science has always won in my mind.
My first memory of the way God was had him being a very stern and vengeful god, but just. I was very young and the inherent contradiction didn't register. As I grew I faded in and out of faith, but in my mid to late teens I decided that if religion were true, I better buckle down. After all my afterlife depended on it! I adopted the stance that Jesus was all cheer and goodness and peace with a bit of a pissy overbearing father. I read the Bible. I reread the Bible. I studied it and related texts. I studied the history of the Christian church and decided, "Godsabitch!" He is a mean spirited nasty old bastard! Jesus turned out to be all talk and no action. He made a good speech but when it boiled down to it you still had to follow daddy's rules to the last jot and tittle to get your get out of Hell free card.
I also saw all the glaring holes in the "logic" of the Bible. I checked out several other religious options before packing them all away in a beat up old box and burying them in my backyard in South Florida. No religion holds a candle to the burning brilliance of reason and rationality.
So God was mean, Christ was a simpering twit and the other options I checked out were little better.
i was terrified of him. i used to cry at night when i was very young because i was afraid to go to hell, and i only ever thanked him for anything because i was afraid he'd get mad at me if i didn't, i'm not sure i was every genuinely thankful for anything i prayed in thanks for...