When talking to many people, I get the notion that many Americans have grown up in a Christian church. Along side that, many leave the church because of something that the church did to them or they had a bad experience or they just didn't agree with it.
I want to know what peoples experiences are with the American Christian Church is, and if this drove them/opened their eyes to not believing in God. Also, if you once believed there was a god, what was the moment that you stopped believing there was and why.
- I don't want this to be just a big bashing session on Christians in general, I actually want to hear your experiences, if you don't mind sharing.
I would not say it even takes that thorough of a reading. When i first read it it was not to nit pick nor look for reasons not to believe it. I then fully believed in gods existence and thought this was he's perfect word. Even once i had get most of the way through i was still giving it the benefit of the doubt. I kept expecting to come across some verse that would transform everything else i had read into making sense. I cant tell you how disappointed i was when it ended with revelations.
Back on topic - my bad experiences with Christianity only came about once i was no longer christian. From teachers spending a whole class lecturing me on what an idiot i was for no longer believing in christian mythology and how i was now going to hell, to my step father forcing me to go to church until i got banned for questioning the minister. And lets not even talk about the drama and hurt feelings this caused in my family
It's so very apropriate that it ends with revelations.
If you friend me, I'll tell you a more in depth story about my experience. It's no secret on here: I am a theist, but I am highly suspect of any supporter of the church and doctrine spewing theist. My separation from the church began a year ago under a series of unfortunate events, and never will I subject myself or my family to that again. I choose to remain this "cryptic" in my answer simply because I spent so much time on here with it, that I don't want to bore a number of folks on here with it again. I love these people because of what I have learned from them, and what I have learned about myself through them.
#1) What is the American Christian Church?
#2) Here's how it happened. There was no "moment." It was a looooong process.
I was a Catholic. I became a Christian after attending Catholic kindergarten, where mass and religion class are mandatory. I had heard about God at home but it wasn't really a big deal for my parents. They were lapsed Catholic and lapsed Baptist. I ended up asking to be baptized. I loved God so much! I wanted to be a priest when I grew up. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be the best Catholic I could be and make God happy. What a sweet little girl I was.
Being so dedicated to learning about God, I paid close attention during mass. But some things I was learning seemed to be mistakes, because they weren't good, loving, and merciful like God was supposed to be. I began to see the cracks in the Christian story around age 7 or 8 but I believed these problems were within The Church and not with God. So, I began a struggle to balance the contradictions within Catholic ethics and theology that would last for roughly 15 years.
Whenever a new contradiction revealed itself, I immediately prayed to God to help me understand and I spent many a mass trying to reason through what God really meant. How could Popes and Priests get confused about things like unbaptized babies dying and going to hell or pagans who never heard of Jesus suffering the same fate? I rejected the idea of the Church having all the answers.
I attended Catholic 'Bible Study' (CCD) for children for roughly ten years.
I carefully listended to the homily at every mass that I insisted my family attend.
When I was older, I read the bible.
I sought the counsel of family members and religious leaders.
I read some of the catechism (dreadfully boring).
I read Protestant Bible studies.
I went to half a dozen different Churches from differnet denominations.
I learned to meditate.
I kept praying to God but I also tried praying to Jesus.
I made a pilgrimidge to the Vatican with my church.
I sought out a religious university where I studied theology (and philosophy).
I learned that some Catholics pray to Mary for intercession, so I tried that a couple of times (I switched back to God because it felt too pagan-y to pray to God, Jesus, and Mary).
I went on religious retreats.
I worked for a Church charity.
I realized my faith didn't align with what I was being taught by The Church or any of the other Protestant churches. I was cherry-picking, creating the Theology of Kairan.
In college, I read Liberation Theology and loved it. This must be true Christianity, I thought. But there were still glitches in the Matrix.
I tried integrating Feminist Theology into my God-concept and tried to imagines a genderless Deity. I liked that so I learned about prehistoric Fertility Goddesses like Gaia. I liked God as Gaia, who I could relate to even more, but still there were things that didn't fit.
I tried Panentheism (God is in everyone, everything). But there were technical problems with tying God to the physical world.
I tried "Clockmaker" Deism. It occured to me that God may have been invented by humans to fill a psychological and social need. I certainly was desparate to keep God in my life. But a distant, "Clockmaker" Creator was no less abstract than the Big Bang. It seemed more like wishful thinking.
I had to admit I was becoming an agnostic. I decided to ignore what was happening to my faith and I resolved to live morally regardless of whether God was there to see if or not. I had enough on my plate coming out bisexual and resolving internalized homophobia and biphobia. I new I couldn't handle losing my faith. I definitely did NOT want to become a miserable, hopeless atheist!
Then a couple years later, I had a personal crisis. I experienced the greatest pain I had ever felt. Intellectually I knew what I was feeling was nothing--nothing--in comparison to what millions of people have gone through. Why? Why were humans capable of feeling such deep, deep pain? Why would God allow that? Theodicy was the straw that broke the camel's back. Why was there extreme pain, how could God tolerate evil--and suffering that is caused by natural forces and has nothing to teach us, nothing that we couldn't learn another way (for example, an orphaned infant starves to death beside its mother's corpse while the vultures close in)? With my new perspective on the deep suffering felt by masses of humans and animals, it became urgent that I understand how the world works. Where or what was God? Was God?
Reasoning along the lines of Epicurius, I decieded that any God worth worshiping would not hold it against me if I strayed into the dangerous territory of reading the arguments made by agnostics and atheists. I had to rule out my worst fear--that God was not there.
Well, that was the beginning of the end. So many of their argumemnts turned out to be the same exact things I had been beating myself up over not "understanding" as a Christian. I found myself agreeing, nodding, laughing. Down the rabbit hole I went and it was such a relief to let go of the fight to make God real. I leaned to see atheism for what it is, and not what my priests and pastors had taught me to fear. Atheism is simply intellectual honesty.
I was still terrified and I did not want to become an atheist. But I had to be honest with myself and I had to finish what I had begun. You can't really undo disbelief when you come to it the way I did.
It took me some time to come to terms with living without the comfort of the God/Salvation story. Out of necessity, I delved into reading secular books and websites and I spoke with skeptical people on the web and in local meetings. I had to face my mortality. I had to build new ways of thinking about my worst fears and my greatest potential. My worldview needed to be built up from the foundations.
Finally, I came to accept seeing this new world that had opened up to me. I learned the science I should have learned in high school and read the philosophy I didn't have time for in college. Life seemed more precious, acute, and beautiful than ever. I started to embrace atheism, a life without God, as the gift that it is.
Wow, Kairan, you have REALLY been on a pilgrimage - I wish you well on the rest of your journey.
Hey, that's life. Thanks!
I don't think - no, I KNOW I've never known anyone who has gone to such great lengths to make the pieces fit, that's WAY beyond giving it the old college try!
It takes a long time, doesn't it, to work out how to live without that comfort, and become emotionally comfortable with what your reason is telling you. Sometimes it feels like it's not going to happen, but it's encouraging to see you've been there too.
I'm totally with you on the not understanding vs. all the ways things suddenly make more sense when you're an atheist.
Yeah. It takes time...especially when you're trying your best to slow things down. Lol. I really wanted things to turn out differently, but I'm glad I finally found the courage to accept the truth.
When it all sort of clicked...it felt better than any solving any prickly math problem, cobbling together a new tech solution, or putting the finishing touches on a work of art. One of the biggest "aha" moments in my life, followed by a bit of a "duh!" moment.
Wasted my time.
I have no idea of what I would have been like without the 12 years of catholic education and the big mind phuck. I can't even answer the question. Similarly, we as a species have no idea what we would be like without all the mind control that's been going on for millennia.