A question for former believers on here
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04-06-2015, 07:42 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(03-06-2015 10:14 PM)Nagoda Wrote:  Yes, for me I had a very deep personal relationship with God and Jesus- I heard voices in my head, had long conversations, felt a deep spiritual presence, the whole bit. I felt God was my best friend, somebody I could talk to (and I often did in my own head, and God would answer me back).

Eventually I came to the realization that I had in fact come up with a very complex way of interacting my own conscience inside my head- I was talking with myself. Still not wanting to loose this aspect of friendship with myself (because religion beat the self esteem and self confidence right out of me and made me terribly depressed), I now still have these talks with my conscience, and in a way I haven't lost my best friend- but I understand that that friend is a part of me that I've helped create.

Being aware of this, I've now begun to mold my conscience into an image I can relate to, instead of the one that's been foisted on me all those years. I train in Ninjutsu, so now I imagine my conscience as "Sensei" and use guided meditation to interact with it. Complex, yes. Needless? Probably- but I am not entirely willing to let go of this "friend" yet- we all need stepping stones on our journey, this is probably mine.

One day, I may not need a complex way of conversing with myself, but until I'm ready to let go all the way, or even if I need to really let go all the way (who knows, constructing your own conscience sure is fun as long as you're aware that what you're doing is talking to yourself), "Sensei" and I will continue to have our talks.

In this case, imagination may prove to be a useful tool for self development.

That's pretty wild. Your religious upbringing must have been pretty intense - was it the church you belonged to or the parents (or both?). Is it possible that what you experienced was "traumatic" enough to you that you were at the beginning stages of creating a split personality to get you through it all? I know this is not exactly the same situation where a kid creates an alter-ego to cope with an abusive situation, but I wonder if the mechanism is similar to that. I'm not a psychologist, so I'm just curious.
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04-06-2015, 07:50 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
My background is the RCC, and I'm still a member and participate today. I consider myself more of a cultural Christian at this point because I have a very difficult time believing in what I was taught in the RCC or in any religious beliefs. I think I felt the presence of God and Jesus more when I was a kid, and I'd say I thought I felt it mostly as an adult when I would come out of confession - like a feeling of peace and contentedness. However, those feelings during confession were likely psychological because it was a way to unload your guilt for the "wrongs" you have done since your last confession. The cornerstone of the RCC is the Eucharist - which is supposed to be spiritual nourishment because it was the body and blood of Christ and THE sacrament that you should partake in the most frequently. But I don't remember getting the same feelings taking communion like I did at confession.

Also, I did not feel anything different when I received the sacrament of confirmation. That's an important sacrament that you get that reaffirms your baptism where you are annointed with oil and then the Holy Spirit is supposed to come to you and give you spiritual gifts to make you a better Christian. It's supposed to be based upon Pentecost when the disciples received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but no speaking in tongues.
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04-06-2015, 07:54 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(03-06-2015 07:29 PM)Rkane819 Wrote:  I grew up Catholic but was bored most of the time in church and the moment I wasn't required to go anymore I stopped. After college I started looking into whether this whole Catholicism was legit and came to the conclusion that I didn't believe and never really did.

When I talk to theists I usually get the response that they have a personal relationship with God/Jesus and they feel their presence. I never came remotely close to having an experience like this which is probably why it was so easy for me to walk away.

For any former believers on here did you ever feel like Jesus was present in your life/God answered your prayers? Obviously you walked away from your faith so what do you think it was you were feeling in those moments when you truly believed? I remember getting really excited as a kid thinking about Santa and the Easter bunny. This is the closest I can come to the feeling believers claim they are experiencing. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Never experienced anything except self caused excitement when in a revival type environment...which is like being at a sporting event, you feel the group excitement. Wasted thousands of hours praying fervently for god to give me a sign of his existence...wanted it to be true....nothing...one of the more ignorant assertions some theists make is some people are "chosen" and have a "god sensor" and that is why they feel him and others do not, complete BS.

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"Belief is so often the death of reason" - Qyburn, Game of Thrones

"The Christian community continues to exist because the conclusions of the critical study of the Bible are largely withheld from them." -Hans Conzelmann (1915-1989)
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04-06-2015, 09:23 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(04-06-2015 05:08 AM)Banjo Wrote:  
(03-06-2015 07:41 PM)666wannabe Wrote:  When I first read your post, I thought you said that you always got "boned" in church.

Didn't everyone?

Only the priests.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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04-06-2015, 09:52 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(03-06-2015 10:48 PM)kim Wrote:  
(03-06-2015 09:02 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  When I believed I told myself all kinds of stuff. Like god wanted me to call ticketron to get the Rolling Stones tickets, by sending me a sign, at just the right time.

Sad but true. I used to have feelings that I attributed to god all the time.

So? Did god come through? Smile

Or was he a cheap bastard who would fuck with someone's head by dangling Stones tickets in front of them? Dodgy

Of course. He always cares more about 16 year old girl than starving kids.

Actually it was those 'cosmic nudges' that really kept me believing.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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04-06-2015, 10:24 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
Nope, never felt anything or had any "close personal relationships". I don't think I ever was really under the impression I was supposed to have them, and I don't think I ever really wanted one.

I was twelve when I left, so maybe a lot of theists would say something about me being too young to truly know God, but I prayed to that guy every night and I copied from his book before I even knew how to read. I think I deserved a little chat every now and then.

Popcorn I put more thought into fiction than theists put into reality.
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04-06-2015, 10:32 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
Sam Harris said it best.

Quote:There is, in fact, no worldview more reprehensible in its arrogance than that of a religious believer: the creator of the universe takes an interest in me, approves of me, loves me, and will reward me after death; my current beliefs, drawn from scripture, will remain the best statement of the truth until the end of the world; everyone who disagrees with me will spend eternity in hell.

--Sam Harris Letter to a Christian Nation

Religion is an ego boost for them. It tells them over and over how special their little tribe is and that 'god' really loves them. The horribly insecure need that.

Atheism is NOT a Religion. It's A Personal Relationship With Reality!
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04-06-2015, 10:40 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
The last excruciatingly painful roadblock I had to overcome in my apostasy was sensationalism. Charismatic / Pentacostal sects depend heavily on this and I was deeply rooted in it. I felt the power of the HG hundreds if not thousands of times, spoke in tongues, etc. I would weep during worship. I would feel goosebumps all the time when I would read the bible and put something together that would jump start my confirmation bias. Because of all this, my experiences, I held out as long as I did until I started reading about how the brain worked. I could be swept back into the experiences in the blink of an eye but have to work through them rationally. It's not easy for me. Sadcryface2

**Crickets** -- God
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04-06-2015, 10:46 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(04-06-2015 10:40 AM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  The last excruciatingly painful roadblock I had to overcome in my apostasy was sensationalism. Charismatic / Pentacostal sects depend heavily on this and I was deeply rooted in it. I felt the power of the HG hundreds if not thousands of times, spoke in tongues, etc. I would weep during worship. I would feel goosebumps all the time when I would read the bible and put something together that would jump start my confirmation bias. Because of all this, my experiences, I held out as long as I did until I started reading about how the brain worked. I could be swept back into the experiences in the blink of an eye but have to work through them rationally. It's not easy for me. Sadcryface2

It's funny how your background colors your perceptions. I grew up RCC - baptised as a baby - and found the Pentecostal church ridiculous and could never figure out how the speaking gibberish was talking in tongues when the references I saw in the bible about talking in tongues was to break down language barriers. What pentecostals view as speaking in tongues seems so antithetical to what I thought the bible told us about talking in tongues. However, I'm sure that most non-Catholic Christians can look at my beliefs from the RCC and wonder how dumb could I be for believing that flavor of Christianity.

The irony is that if you look up Christian apologetics sites of the various denominations, you can find enough info to discredit almost everything a Christian believes.
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04-06-2015, 11:55 AM
RE: A question for former believers on here
(04-06-2015 07:42 AM)Plan 9 from OS Wrote:  
(03-06-2015 10:14 PM)Nagoda Wrote:  Yes, for me I had a very deep personal relationship with God and Jesus- I heard voices in my head, had long conversations, felt a deep spiritual presence, the whole bit. I felt God was my best friend, somebody I could talk to (and I often did in my own head, and God would answer me back).

Eventually I came to the realization that I had in fact come up with a very complex way of interacting my own conscience inside my head- I was talking with myself. Still not wanting to loose this aspect of friendship with myself (because religion beat the self esteem and self confidence right out of me and made me terribly depressed), I now still have these talks with my conscience, and in a way I haven't lost my best friend- but I understand that that friend is a part of me that I've helped create.

Being aware of this, I've now begun to mold my conscience into an image I can relate to, instead of the one that's been foisted on me all those years. I train in Ninjutsu, so now I imagine my conscience as "Sensei" and use guided meditation to interact with it. Complex, yes. Needless? Probably- but I am not entirely willing to let go of this "friend" yet- we all need stepping stones on our journey, this is probably mine.

One day, I may not need a complex way of conversing with myself, but until I'm ready to let go all the way, or even if I need to really let go all the way (who knows, constructing your own conscience sure is fun as long as you're aware that what you're doing is talking to yourself), "Sensei" and I will continue to have our talks.

In this case, imagination may prove to be a useful tool for self development.

That's pretty wild. Your religious upbringing must have been pretty intense - was it the church you belonged to or the parents (or both?). Is it possible that what you experienced was "traumatic" enough to you that you were at the beginning stages of creating a split personality to get you through it all? I know this is not exactly the same situation where a kid creates an alter-ego to cope with an abusive situation, but I wonder if the mechanism is similar to that. I'm not a psychologist, so I'm just curious.

It was my folks- I attended an RC Church, but it was mostly all my folks, I suffered a lot of abuse, mostly emotional and mental, due to the religious upbringing they gave me. I suspect that what you talk about- splitting the personality in order to cope, is likely true. When I was about 8 I had an imaginary best friend in the form of a black T-Rex that I would talk to all day to get me through my experiences, he's still there in my head somewhere, just like the persona for my conscience is.

I have cerebral palsy, so I've already got some brain damage from birth, as well as, not surprisingly, depression and anxiety. Went through a lot of trauma as a kid and lots of verbal and physical abuse at school as well as at home (although that was mostly verbal and emotional/mental). During my early 20s when my religious upbringing and the emotional abuse from my folks got really really bad, and I was really religious, I ended up splitting my personality into more characters to cope, all from stories I've written (novelist, never published, hope to one day)- it was a survival mechanism, and I am not sure how aware of this splitting I was- I think on some level I knew what I was doing, but maybe not- my memory from that time in my life is hazy: considering how dark it was, I'm not sure my brain wants to remember.

When I moved out of my folks' place and with my partner, I started going to therapy and getting a lot better and doing a lot of work on myself. My depression went away and my anxiety slowly got more manageable. I became aware of what I'd done with the personality splits and gradually I stopped listening to the voices- they never actually had me harm myself or others, in fact at one time they encouraged me to get help from a professional.

After I deconverted, the only one I still talk to is my conscience, and I like I said, not sure if I'll ever stop talking to it. The different personas I've created for parts of myself will likely never go away, I've been functioning like this for far too long for them to ever be erased due to the amount of crap I've been through.

I am going to have to accept that my brain is likely wired differently as a result of my experiences, and I think that's ok. Self acceptance is a big step in getting better. I am going to have to learn for myself when interacting or using these personas is a helpful activity (say, for creative writing or in guided meditation with my conscience), but that is part of gaining control of myself.

Interestingly enough, when I was a believer and they did a CT scan/MRI of my brain there was a shadow that appeared on it multiple times- in my most recent one, after all the therapy/work I've done on myself, and after my deconversion, that shadow is now gone. The only thing that shows up is indications that I have CP.

It's quite possible that my brain has begun healing itself and formed new connections and if this is proof of that, yay!
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