My Deconversion
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14-12-2014, 10:21 PM
My Deconversion
Becoming a nonbeliever was not something that was easy nor was it something that happened very quickly. I had difficulty with letting go of the lessons and reasoning within Christianity that I had grown up believing.

As a teenager, I was part of a pretty close knit youth group. My stepmom was youth leader for a period of time while my twin sister and I were involved. She has a natural ability to lead and organize it was a role she excelled. In this environment, we learned lessons of the Bible during Sunday School and midweek meeting. I had been attending church every other week since fourth grade and as far as I could tell, the Bible was God-inspired and was the truth.

In my late teens, I struck up a friendship with one of the nicest and most sincere men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Kevin attended a pentecostal church and invited me. The atmosphere was completely different from the Nazarene church I had attended. These people seem much more impassioned and the praise and worship music was extraordinary. One thing that really hooked me was this seemingly deeper revelation of the Bible than other churches. My mind tends toward analytical thinking and I became convinced that there was something more here than I had known. There was this excitement of a deeper revelation.

Yet, I struggled with the authority figure of the pastor. A week before Easter, I talked with him after the service briefly. At the end of our conversation he said, "I will see you next week." I don't know why I did so, but I offered him that I would not be in attendance the next week as I was going to church with my family. He looked at me and said, "You cannot serve two masters." I was confused and heartbroken. The reference was Matthew 6:24 which reads, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth" (NRSV). He was using such scripture out of context that even a young believer like me became disenfranchised.

I returned to the Nazarene church, but was underwhelmed by the music and teaching, but enjoyed the fellowship of people I had grown up around. Kevin would have his own falling out at the pentecostal church that he first invited me. He was attending another church and introduced me to the last person I would call pastor.

What impressed me the most is listening to this pastor over dinner talk about how when God finds favor with a church or region there will be increase that happens supernaturally. People will come as a result of faith not because of special programs. It was far from what I had heard before. The churches I had attended were trying various strategies to get people to come. The difference was that God could do much more than what man could plan. I mean that is what I had been taught — man's wisdom was far less than of God's wisdom. And here was someone relying on God. I attended the church briefly, but then did not feel an obligation to continue going. I would catch the eye of a young woman which lead me to go back to the church again later.

For a some time I had enough of church and various doctrines. I still had this belief in the belief of God, but really didn't put much effort into having faith. When I was twenty-three, I suffered multiple fractures including both femurs and all three long bones, the ulna, radius and humerus, of my left arm in an injury I sustained at work. At the time, I remember my stepmom speaking about someone I knew from church around my age who became closer to God through his experience in a motor vehicle accident. I vowed not to do the same. Unfortunately, I still suffer from my injuries namely chronic knee pain.

In my late twenties, Kevin formerly introduced me to the young woman at the church. I made much more of an impression on her when I first attended. The first Sunday I went to church with her and her family, I was sitting in the pew and rubbing my knee. Her father noticed and told me that God could heal my leg. I retorted, "I doubt that." My response took him by surprise, but I didn't see any hope in pretending something to be true unless there was evidence. Yet, I had a desire to believe in god.

We dated for a couple of years and I became more devoted to serving god and becoming the person he wanted me to be or so I thought. I challenged myself to read the Bible from cover to cover. This would lead to the undoing of my faith. There are some great and powerful stories and the pastor could really turn an Old Testament tale into an modern day analogy. I heard the Bible preached like nothing I had heard before. It was like the edge of new revelation and this began to excite me. Yet, when I spent my alone time reading scripture, it brought many questions about events that seem unlikely to have happened and some times contradictory passages. One thing that stood out was after reading the books Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles retell the same stories. I would later learn in a college course that taught the literature of the Bible that this was a redacted history of the Jewish people who had been promised a kingdom, but they had been exiled in Babylonia so it had a different purpose than the earlier writings.

I still wanted to believe. And I understand the desire to believe in a benevolent supernatural being and even an afterlife, but the evidence I was uncovering was troublesome. It was even more troubling when I began college courses. I took a class that emphasized scholarly work on the literature of the Bible. I also had a series of geology courses I took for my science requirement. Both classes showed evidence contrary to the beliefs of the Abrahamic religions that I had grown up believing. Coincidently, a lesson in the Bible class was taught that was preached the very next Sunday, albeit with some things left out. One Sunday, when the pastor was speaking about how King David felt when he wrote a psalm, I knew that even though there is attribution to David, he more than likely didn't write a single one. And I felt that was a bit dishonest. However, my wife and I enjoyed the fellowship of the people inside the church and we stayed.

A month after saying our vows in front of our pastor, we left the church. We were disappointed that he had appointed a couple to a leadership position in the church and for whatever personal reasons decide to revoke the position. This was not the reason we left. We left because that very Sunday he preached about his authority over the pulpit in a sermon titled, "Unity." He had asked the couple not to show up that Sunday. We told them to come and sit next to us. During the praise and worship portion of the service, we saw how upset the pastor was as he talked to the husband before preaching his rant of who was in charge of the congregation.

Yet, at this time, I would not have called myself an atheist. I had serious doubts about the validity of the Bible being written by God as I saw it for what it really was mostly: a pragmatic series of legends and tales to better answer three basic questions: Who am I? Why am I here? and What is my purpose?

I did further research into the Bible and religion in general. I listened to numerous podcasts, read books, listen to debates on the existence of God. It was not a decision I made lightly nor was it a "Road to Damascus" experience. I felt sad in some ways of leaving the comfort of believing like others believed, but I just couldn't pretend to believe in something for which there is no evidence. This brings me to the definition of faith which is belief without evidence. One analogy that many Christians use is that one has to have faith that when they sit in a chair that it will support them. However, there is evidence. We can see the material from which it is made. We can examine the size of the legs or perhaps have knowledge that other people have had their weight supported by the exact same chair. We can even test it by setting a portion of our weight on it before committing our entire body weight to sit on it. You cannot do this with God.

Most of my family has no idea of my views my unbelief. I have brought it up to my wife, but on one occasion she said she didn't want to talk about it. She understands my views, but has talked about finding a church for the past three years, but more for the social aspect and perhaps tradition above anything else. Yet, she is understanding and has stated that I need not attend. She does hold much more liberal views than either he mom or sister who seemingly represent the average Christian right. I am uncertain when I will reveal it to my family other than my dad who I've discussed this topic several times.

As a kid, my dad and I would spend Sunday mornings watching Three Stooges reruns and Little Rascals. My mom and sister would attend a local Methodist church. I wasn't involved with church until I was nine after my parents divorced and my stepmom was adamant about attending church. He has never taken church serious and finds it just a way people to answer questions about life. In fact, he has hardly attended for years. He understands my point of view.

Thanks for reading. Further comments will be much more concise.
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14-12-2014, 11:33 PM
RE: My Deconversion
Great story.
Read it all. Thumbsup
Reading the bible can really fubar one's faith in abrahamaic religions.

That wasn't my path, though. I started differently.
Mine was more like : wait a minute! these are mutually exclusive religions how do we know which is the right one? Hobo

Disbelief of the theistic assertion that gods exist came much later.

Thanks for sharing.
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15-12-2014, 03:55 AM
RE: My Deconversion
Interesting story. Sad how you got let down by all these church leader types when literally all you wanted to do was understand and believe. Oh well... yay for you Smile Broke free Smile

We'll love you just the way you are
If you're perfect -- Alanis Morissette
(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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