I was just thinking back to some of the things that I noticed which started to tip me off about religion's false premises.
For me, I think that learning magic tricks, sleight of hand, all that kind of stuff, at an early age and continuing with it for a long time helped me be less gullible. Over time the performance of miracles seemed less impressive and more like magic tricks.
I could never look at a "demonstration" of religious miracles as anything other than a cynical attempt to prove a god's existence while using a cheap trick. I even learned about the role of tricks in the rise of Spiritualism, a movement that even managed to capture Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
It was difficult, if not impossible, to look at the extraordinary and believe it at its face value.
That, for me, was one of the greatest things that helped me see through some of the religious "proof" and "demonstrations" that were shown to me. I think that learning magic tricks from such a young age helped to insulate me to religious BS.
What helped you?
I was a Christian Scientist growing up (funny how that concept sounds now). Anyway, it was started when medical theory was in a state of disarray. So real science has now replaced most of the theories that Mary Baker Eddy thought up, so now the church is really on its way out.
So the exposure by the internet to the general public washes away some of the misinformation propagated by that particular church. I expect it to be the first amongst the fallen. Wikipedia says that there are 50,000 people in Christian Science worldwide. As a child I think there were more than 200,000.
So goes the rest of the denominations. Facts triumph over dogma in any case that makes it to the light of day. To me, the internet will slowly eat away at every religious mind, until they become marginalized the way they should be. By 2080, religion will be as relevant as travel by horse is today.
I've never really paid any attention to "christian science," mainly because it just seems like such an oxymoron that I didn't think anyone really devoted their career to doing "christian science research" more than just looking through the bible. It's good to hear that the number of them has shrunk over time.
My father's side of the family was Catholic, while my mother's side was Pentecostal. Each thought the other religion was crazy, but not nearly as crazy as the Jehovah's Witnesses. It seemed to me that if they all believed in the same god - a god that was supposed to have supplied a Holy Spirit to ensure that only truth could be spoken about that god - then there shouldn't be so much disparity between doctrines/dogmas.
That lead to me thinking I should look for the truth in the bible. Reading it straight through really dispelled a lot of my indoctrination-induced delusions, which eventually eroded my belief in all forms of bullshit.
You made it all the way through?! I have never been able to make it past the books of Moses in the OT either out of disgust or boredom.
I read it straight through twice. The first time I got through it out of fear for my mortal soul - I truly believed that the 'correct' path had to be chosen, and the bible seemed to be the only way to find that path since churches conflicted and prayers weren't answered.
The second time I read through it as a rather skeptical deist, still thinking Jesus may have been a great philosopher or something - I read it straight through just to absorb the amazing feeling of reading it as though it were just a book, just words on paper, rather than some holy item handed down by some supernatural, cosmic boogieman.
*stands up and claps*
Twice through is two times more than anyone ever needs to read through it.
On the contrary - I feel the world would be a MUCH better place if every single Christian read it through a couple times; rather than just skimming the parts to which their attention has been drawn to support some part of last Sunday's sermon.
But Mormon Jesus is so damn cool! (video embedded)
As a thinking being it finally occurred to me that it makes absolutely no sense to go about life each day utilizing logic and reasoning to successfully confront the vagaries of life, and then, dropping those tools to the ground I allow myself, for a moment, to consider the implausible world of supernatural beings. Around here the locals have a saying "That dog won't hunt." You must never be satisfied with the premise that everyone around me believes something collectively therefore I am obligated to join the flock.
On a lighter side, when the televangelist Jimmy Swaggart got caught in New Orleans at a motel being serviced by a "lady of the evening" my needle on the religious bullshit meter pegged way over, never to return. lol...
Hahaha. A good scandal is always great for evaluating hypocrisy
Growing up Mormon in the epicenter of Mormonism--Salt Lake City--I never actually had strong internal conflicts about things like unbelievable bible stories, ridiculous miracles or the fluid stance of the church on issues it kept claiming to be eternally right about. Part of the Mormon culture is to emphasize family and friends and a personal relationship with God, and to ignore all that other stuff because it could lead to a loss of faith (really, I was often counseled to 'not let these kinds of questions get in the way of your relationship with God'). I left church forever at age fifteen, and when I started to discover all the weird things people think about Mormons and what they believe, it was news to me. I never heard about the planet Kolob, or the idea that we'd all get to be gods of our own little universes when we went back to live with Jesus. Apparently those things are somewhat widely known within the church, but the just don't matter to most people; they're far more comfortable pushing them from their minds than actually taking a minute to think about whether or not they're at all likely.
So then, for me, the thing that led to a loss of faith was not problems with doctrine or the behavior of church officials, but rather what I saw among my friends. I was a very earnest little Mormon boy, always trying to achieve that feeling of fulfillment that most adults I knew said they got from having a relationship with God. I remember spending a summer in my pre-teen years reading the entire Book of Mormon, and I also (embarrassingly) struggled mightily to stop masturbating because I was convinced it was sinful. This was the kind of kid I was, and the other kids struck me as insincere, two-faced and hypocritical. None of them, when adults' backs were turned, had any more personal connection to religion than I did, and we all knew it. Thus, when the time came for us to start fooling ourselves rather than being fooled by our parents and primary teachers, I got a first-row seat watching the assholes I'd grown up with convincing themselves of the stuff they'd parroted all their lives. This, more than anything, threw cold water on my opinion of religious belief of all sorts.
Wow, that last paragraph is exactly what happened with me as I grew up in youth groups. It is amazing how much effort was spent by other kids trying to show how they adhere to and exemplify the beliefs and principles, only to never think about them outside of the group.
I bet that most kids wouldn't act in line with all that because it hurt them too much intellectually to do so. Also, they're kids haha