“And remember, this is for posterity so be honest.”

About a month ago I joined ExChristian.Net and have enjoyed reading people’s stories.  Some of them have been out of Christianity for years and years, and some have only recently left in the last few weeks or months.  Most seem to leave because of the same unsatisfying answers given to their questions regarding discrepancies in the Bible, the suspect goodness and love of God, the arrogance of religion

I don’t HATE Christianity, although I do get pretty heated sometimes when talking about church and the control that goes on there.  Perhaps I should be angry or something.  But I’m not.  At least, I don’t think I am.

Most of the ExChristian members seem to be atheists, with a smattering of agnostics and various kinds of theists.  This trend towards atheism interests me.    Why atheism instead of just switching to some other religion?  Sometimes it feels like “the thing to do”, and sometimes atheism seems like the smart/logical conclusion.  A few weeks ago I caught myself trying to talk myself into being an atheist for both those reasons.  It’s kind of odd that “the thing to do” would be one of my reasons considering how many times I’ve done or not done something just because nobody else was doing it or everyone was doing it.  Just to be different.

When I realized I was trying to talk myself into it, I discovered that is not who I am.  At least, not yet.  If I were, I wouldn’t have to persuade myself.  Maybe this is just  my periodic desire for a label.

Becoming an atheist or a theist or an agnostic or whatever is not my goal.  I just want to be honest with myself.  Live honestly.

I am not an atheist.

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20 thoughts on ““And remember, this is for posterity so be honest.”

  1. I’m Christian (and given your post you might not want to be talking to me), but I wonder the same thing. I frequently get atheists arguing against me, with an unspoken assumption that if they manage to convince me not to be Christian I’d automatically become atheist. One irony is, if someone did manage to convince me not to be Christian it would mostly send me into a period of searching trying to figure out what I did think was true, where atheism would only be one of many options.

    Thanks for a thoughtful blog post.

    • I’m glad you appreciated my post, Chucky. And thank you so much for commenting! I have absolutely nothing against talking to Christians, as most of my extended family members and many of my friends (closest friends, even!) are still Christians. You said: “if someone did manage to convince me not to be Christian it would mostly send me into a period of searching trying to figure out what I did think was true”. This is pretty much where I am right now. I didn’t start out with a sudden conviction that Christianity is untrue, but instead acknowledged some of the questions I’ve always had but ignored, and this is where it has lead me. So far. Journey’s not done yet!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I hope you come again sometime. =)

    • I was always curious about that assumption. Why can’t a Christian and a non-Christian have conversations? Especially, it seems, Christians and atheists. I don’t understand that. Seems both go in guns drawn when it is just as easy to walk in hands out.

      • Obviously some can. You being an example of that. =) I think for some (myself included in my teen years) it is fear. “You become like the company you keep” and I wanted to be…well…your “perfect” Christian. I wanted to be with people who would influence me to be stronger in my faith and read my Bible more, etc. Lame as that sounds now, that’s how I thought back then. And I don’t know if that’s the reasoning or part of the reasoning of those people who do not like to develop relationships with people who believe differently, but it could be.

  2. >”Most seem to leave because of the same unsatisfying answers given to their questions regarding discrepancies in the Bible”
    That’s false. If they had an honest desire they would read the Bible for themselves and learn of God. They use the “discrepancies” gimmick to evade their own infidelity and sin. People don’t like being called “sinners” but that is what we are. Smug, self-righteous, self-justifying, and prideful – that is what humans are. So-called “atheists” are just blank fools. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” Psalm 14:1.
    They blame outward for their lack of faith – knowing they are damned they hope “discrepancies” will justify their faithlessness. It won’t.
    “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6.
    You’d best swallow your pride and approach God on his terms … after all, he is God and you aren’t (which is the real beef that so-called atheists have with God).

    • Mackquigley, I don’t know if you caught the EXChristian bit right there at the beginning of my post. The people whose stories I have been reading and who I am referring to USED to be Christians. Many of them for 20, 30, 40, even 50 years. Even some ex-pastors thrown in there. Another thing I have noticed in a lot of the stories (not all of them, of course, because in all groups you will find many different kinds of people with many different life stories) is that their road to disbelief STARTED by a genuine and intense desire to grow closer to God. So they cracked open their Bibles and started reading because, well, if you’re a Christian and you want to know God better, isn’t that the logical place to start? And it was through the process of finally reading and studying their Bibles in order to find God that they came to the conclusion that he doesn’t exist and Christianity is false.

      I don’t deny that there probably are many people who reject God for the reasons you have stated above. But until you can take the time and effort to listen respectfully, quietly, and openly to peoples’ personal stories about how they got to where they are, I personally think it is arrogant and prideful of you to accuse us all of flippantly rejecting him. You don’t know how painful and disconcerting the deconversion process is for many many people. Myself included.

      You might find it interesting/educational/beneficial to just listen to a few people’s stories with no other agenda then to listen.

      • So-called “deconversion stories” is like listening to a criminal justify himself. Criminals have many reasons for the things they do and many explanations for why it is really somebody else’s fault. With all sincerity they tell their sad stories and absolutely none of it is true – they are just blind and self-deluded. If you follow them you are wicked because you are lying against the Creator. Most “atheists” are men – a woman usually has more sense because she has a womb and understands intuitively that the only life brings life. A moron atheist things a space gave birth to a rock that gave birth to people. The absurdity of it not only denies God, it denies life itself and equates dead inanimate objects with living things. Women also understand intuitively that we are not independent – every child needs to be nursed and nurtured. Atheist dummies imagine man has no need of nurture and blessing from God. You have a soul and a spirit and you need God. You have fallen into a tough time of doubt, but God is still God. He doesn’t need to explain himself to you (Job 33:13), you simply need to make a decision that you will just trust him – you know you can do that because he loves you and died to save you. That’s called faith, and that’s your job. Being God is his job.

      • Having grown up completely immersed in Christianity (and raised on Answers in Genesis material that focuses heavily on the literalness of the first 12 chapters of Genesis) and having been very passionate about my relationship with God while I was a Christian, I very much understand where you are coming from and what you are trying to get across. I know the verses. I know the arguments. I know the reasoning. I’ve used them all on other people in my attempts to evangelize. You have my permission to write me off as a lost cause.

      • Ignore MackQuigley.
        Not only is he a bit of a fundie (who often gets facts confused with his own imagination), he’s also used his religious beliefs to justify his racist anti-race-mixing views. I believe he was banned from YouTube for this (or someone with the exact same name & typing style), but he might have just left out of shame/frustration.

    • So operate on the assumption that its true, instead of demanding evidence? Appealing to authority aye as well. So lets take another example and apply the same kind of reasoning. Noam Chomsky, who is a political theorist/historian and linguist, gives a lecture on US foreign policy, now just because he has expertise and knowledge and he is after all Noam Chomsky means therefore he is right. See the its the same kind of thing when you say, “after all, he is God and you aren’t.” Its fallacious(illogical) in the case of Chomsky and the same when claiming that about God.

      • How well I understand this whole conversation! I’ve been on both sides of it. Oh boy. :-) Ah well, we’re human, right? Nothing wrong with questions, they’re how we find th answers.

        As it is late I really should be sleeping, I’ll just give you a really neat link. Layne, you mentioned Answers in Genesis and the first 12 chapters of Genesis. I happen to believe in the literalness of the entire Bible, however I don’t believe in a young earth. These people are amazing, check it out: http://www.reasons.org/age-earth/scientific-evidence-old-earth

  3. Scuse me. I have a question. Isnt it only gods place to judge “lest ye be judged”? He without sin cast the first stone all that. And since you just said all humans, that includes you, are sinners stop throwing stones. Btw thabks for proving my guns drawn point

  4. Kudos on that approach! It seems to me that the existence (or inexistence) of god(s) is a question of fact; as such, finding the answer for it is a quest for truth. Nothing more, nothing less. And so, you should find the answers honestly and in your own time. Questions of what this makes you into or what beliefs you would like to have (or known in public to hold) can only derail this. You can decide to convince yourself of something, but you can’t decide that it become true or false. So I think you’re on the right track in not forcing the issue just yet.

    Regarding the prevalence of atheists on ExChristian, I would hazard the guess that people who converted to another religion may well have other forums (i.e. their new religion’s) where they prefer to express their story, and so only a few of them find their way there; whereas atheists have no new church to go to, and so seek the comfort of each other in the only unifying aspect they have (i.e. formerly of Christian faith).

  5. LilCopperTop, in response to your original posting. We should always keep in mind that, though it appears that the group at exChristian.net (a community I found useful and even posted to their forums) seem to indicate a trend towards atheism, that is a self-selected group. Individuals who deconvert from one religion and convert into another can usually find the support and commiseration they need within their new religious group. Atheists, agnostics, pantheists and the like must create these communities (online mostly) because there are rarely non-religious groups within our lives to take up that role, which is why all online communities of this sort are going to seem to indicate a higher than average rate of deconversion without adoption into a new faith.

    It is my understanding that statistically speaking the most common change of religious preference is from religious to non-religious, but any online community supporting deconverts is going to present a slightly skewed picture, just as a community supporting christianity-to-judiasm conversions is going to create an impression that those type of faith changes are more common than they really are.

    Anyways, now that all that is out of the way, time to address why people who deconvert don’t move into a new faith (or at least my opinion thereof).

    Firstly, religious arguments are all similar or sometimes identical. The arguments you used, or were used against you, while deconverting are going to be many of the same arguments people will use to get you into a new faith. If they didn’t work in keeping you in the faith that you grew up in and loved and was an intimate part of your life, they certainly aren’t going to get you to move into a new religion.

    Secondly, and related to the point above: many of us develop research, critical thinking, and skeptical skills in our exit from one belief system and once the time comes to evaluate new such systems, we are a far more shrewd customer when it comes to the claims and evidences presented.

    Thirdly, for many deconverts (or my preferred term: apostates) the transition wasn’t Religion A to No Religion, but rather Religion A to Religion A subset 1, subset 2, subset 3, Religion B, subset 1, Religion C, Religion D, Religion E, subset 1, subset 2, No Religion. By the time many people reach the point where they consider themselves an atheist or non-religious, they’ve tried their hand, or at least sampled, many of the religions that appealed to them already.

    Finally, (he types and you think) many people, religious and non-religious alike, already have very good, well thought out reasons for not following other faiths. In fact, for someone like me, it was because my religion was so important to me and I had taken the time to evaluate other faiths and supernatural clams that led me to the realization that all these excellent, very convincing reasons why I couldn’t possibly be a muslim or jew or buddhist, or believe in ghosts or the loch ness monster or bigfoot represented a level of scrutiny that I had avoided, largely unconsciouslly, applying to my very deeply held faith.

    I know this was much to long, I do have a tendancy towards the verbose on topics I enjoy. I hope it was somewhat elucidating, or at least ignorable.

    Abe,
    I AM an atheist.

    • Thank you, Abe, for taking the time to share your thoughts! I’ve seen your name around the forums before. =) I have to admit, I hadn’t thought about how converting to another religion leads to another automatic support system and community. Kinda obvious though. lol! Also, I HAVE noticed that trend into more skepticism and critical thinking in people who have left whatever religion they were raised in. I suppose that in itself would make it harder to convert to another religion. Which goes back to your first point.

      Again, thank you for sharing. =)

  6. to answer your post
    i was a catholic as a kid, then a born again christian, for 20 years. After about a 10 year search I finally came to the conclusion there is no reason to believe in any god. I avoid labels, and find that the atheist ones comes with a lot of ,fear from christians. but in short I do not believe in any gods, and by the definition of the term, i am therefor an atheist.
    Why not believe other religions? Simply because in the end none made any more sense than christianity.

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