Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
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17-11-2011, 10:48 AM
Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
Okay, so I'm new here and I'm also VERY new to atheism so I thought I would share a bit of my story. If you don't want or care to read my story then don't!

I am 30, divorced, remarried, father of 3 (one mine from previous marriage, one wife's from her previous marriage, and one we have together).

I grew up attending a Lutheran church were my father led Sunday school classes and my mother was the Choir Director. As a late teen and adult I attended churches off and on .. saw some crazy shit too... and some bullshit .. but I'll save you the details.
Fast forward and after a couple years of no church it is late summer 2010. My new wife and I are now married, live in a new house in a new area, and we have a new baby son together. We were up early one Sunday morning and decided since we were up that we should go check out a church in the area. I did a Google search and found one close by that turned out to be a Church of Christ. You can read about the Churches of Christ here.

They were also SO VERY welcoming and very nice. We started attending regularly and attending bible studies, life groups, etc. We even started hosting life groups at our house because we have a large house and we are located near the church. As I learned about their beliefs I had a lot of questions for which the pastor always had answers. They have a very literal understanding of the bible. Everything in the old testament from Genesis on, especially Noah’s ark, were signs and images that were pointing forward to baptism and the coming of Christ. These were things that I had never heard or understood growing up in the Lutheran church though I was young and never got deeply into the bible so I may have missed it. Because the bible was infallible we learned about how scientists had been wrong before and would be found to be wrong again. People were wrong and make mistakes, but not God and the bible. Many bible verses were quoted to prove this to me. Because of their beliefs a majority of the kids in the church were homeschooled.

I found out that the baptism I received as a baby wasn't actually a baptism and therefore I wasn't saved... my wife either. It didn't count because we had not reached the proper age and also because we had not been fully immersed. This meant that not only was I not saved but also my parents and pretty much every other Christian I knew. In fact I found out that I wasn't even considered to be a Christian. In February 2011 we were both baptized by full immersion in order to receive the Holy Spirit and be clothed with Christ. Everyone was so excited for us and kept asking me how I felt. I told them I felt great but really I felt no different. That Sunday night and had some vodka and checked out some porn... I wasn't a better person… still a normal guy.

I didn't invite my parents to my baptism because I wasn't sure they would understand, but I did tell them of it afterwards. I don't think they understood why I needed a do-over baptism since they had already taken care of this long ago, but I don’t' think they saw to much harm in it.

Also in February I attended a big Churches of Christ annual convention in Tulsa. I actually really enjoyed it. They had very inspiring speakers and it was great being around all these nice people. One thing I didn’t like was that they kept introducing me to people as a new Christian which I took offence to because I still thought I always had been.

Once I had been baptized I was now a male member of the church. Being that I'm not an idiot they wanted me to be involved in helping run the Sunday service. Something I was signed up to help with communion and offering, other times and usher, other times leading an opening prayer, and other times leading a closing prayer. There is something about the Churches of Christ which may be different than other churches you know. They NEVER EVER have women involved in any aspect of the church service, and you ALWAYS lead the church in prayer UNSCRIPTED. This basically meant that on almost everyone Sunday I had to lead the church in prayer, sometimes multiple times in a service, completely unscripted, from the heart. Another thing about the church is they have NO musical instruments. Sure, microphones, video projectors, etc. are all fine and used, but you won’t find a piano, guitar, drum, or anything of the sort. All singing is acapella.

At this point I had started to have more questions and doubt that was being fed by some of the things I was seeing in the church that I didn't agree with. As I had more and more doubt I started feeling VERY uncomfortable with getting up in front of the church and saying things from the heart. I was starting to realize that I didn't really believe what I was saying. I didn't feel good at all about standing in front of friends and my family and saying shit which I didn't believe. I stopped attending the church in June. They called and stopped by to see me but I pretty much ignored them and made excuses as much as I could. I didn't want to have a confrontation because I knew they might suck me back in and I didn't trust myself to prevent it. I was unsure but I wasn’t convinced they were wrong.

Over the past couple months I've been seeking out the truth. Only a few weeks ago I fully came to the realization that I AM AN ATHEIST. I have read The God Delusion among other books. I've read a ton online and I've also watched numerous videos. I was lucky to find an amazing video series online which helped me significantly. I'll provide a linked to it at the end of this message and I would HIGHLY suggest that anyone who is, or has formally been a Christian, watch the series.

About a week ago I came out to my wife that I'm an atheist, and she isn't happy. They thinks I'm going through some type of midlife crisis.. though I'm only 30. My wife isn't really that into church, and I was really the one that made us go in the first place, but she certainly doesn't want a husband who is an "EVIL ATHEIST" who believes in nothing. Of course I do believe in things, just not God, but I'm having trouble with explaining it to her because she doesn't want to hear it. At this point I've sorta decided that I'll continue to explore this but in a more closeted way for now so that my wife can warm up to the idea a bit. I am pretty sure she will come around but with her I think it is more about being embarrassed or being an outcast. She is also worried about going to hell but I don't think she really, deep in her heart, believes that.

I want to come out more at some point but I think my parents will be pissed. They may disown me for a while if I do. Its kind of funny because my parents will think that I am damned for this ... but they were pretty much okay with me attending a church that basically says they are damned and not true Christians. What a crazy thing.

Anyway, that's my long ass story so tell me what you think, tell me yours, or tell me to "Go to hell". Actually, if you tell me to "Go to hell" I might take it as a compliment at this point.

Oh and that amazing video series which I had nothing to do with but really want to recommend to any current / former Christians is:
Why I am no longer a Christian

Thanks,
Andrew

Question with boldness even the existence of a God... If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you. -- Thomas Jefferson - 1787
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17-11-2011, 11:01 AM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
Fucked up man. I don't mean the church stuff because having been on this forum for a while now I've heard some messed up stories. What's fucked up is I'm almost your age and you sound like you should be your age where as the people who know me think I'm more like a 17 year old. Ha. Well welcome to the forum and I hope things even out for you soon.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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17-11-2011, 11:13 AM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
You have come to the right place. The people of this forum will help you in coming to whatever conclusion you so desire. If you want answers we can provide them. If you want ways of dealing with the fallout of "coming out" we can help with that too. You line up whatever questions you want and we will do our best to hlep you. I suggest you immerse yourself in this community so that we can come to know you and decide on how to best assist you. Start a new thread if you wish or post in an already existing one. It's up to you.

Welcome and do enjoy your stay.

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17-11-2011, 11:48 AM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
(17-11-2011 11:01 AM)lucradis Wrote:  Fucked up man. I don't mean the church stuff because having been on this forum for a while now I've heard some messed up stories. What's fucked up is I'm almost your age and you sound like you should be your age where as the people who know me think I'm more like a 17 year old. Ha. Well welcome to the forum and I hope things even out for you soon.

If it helps I actually feel older, more like 40, being as that I have a 10 (almost 11) year old step-daughter, two others kids, an ex wife, the same career for over a decade now, and so on.
(17-11-2011 11:13 AM)Hamata k Wrote:  You have come to the right place. The people of this forum will help you in coming to whatever conclusion you so desire. If you want answers we can provide them. If you want ways of dealing with the fallout of "coming out" we can help with that too. You line up whatever questions you want and we will do our best to hlep you. I suggest you immerse yourself in this community so that we can come to know you and decide on how to best assist you. Start a new thread if you wish or post in an already existing one. It's up to you.

Welcome and do enjoy your stay.

I like your quote in your signature. I may just need to prepare some of those.

Question with boldness even the existence of a God... If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you. -- Thomas Jefferson - 1787
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17-11-2011, 12:26 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
(17-11-2011 11:48 AM)andrewtn Wrote:  I like your quote in your signature. I may just need to prepare some of those.

Well - I love the quote in your signature! There are times in my life when Jefferson is the magic word for me.
Big Grin
What
Would
Jefferson
Do?
Tongue

Ok. Yea, cheesy. But it's Thursday, what do you expect?

Hey Andrew - It's great you found your way to the forum ... but more importantly, you found your way to freedom. Bit of a relief, huh? Shy

It's all pretty open here and you can pretty much ask any questions you want. I've always felt that questions are far more important than answers. When I question myself, it helps me decide - when someone gives me an answer, they've decided for me. Wink

Welcome.
Heart

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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17-11-2011, 12:40 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
(17-11-2011 12:26 PM)kim Wrote:  
(17-11-2011 11:48 AM)andrewtn Wrote:  I like your quote in your signature. I may just need to prepare some of those.

Well - I love the quote in your signature! There are times in my life when Jefferson is the magic word for me.
Big Grin
What
Would
Jefferson
Do?
Tongue

Ok. Yea, cheesy. But it's Thursday, what do you expect?

Hey Andrew - It's great you found your way to the forum ... but more importantly, you found your way to freedom. Bit of a relief, huh? Shy

It's all pretty open here and you can pretty much ask any questions you want. I've always felt that questions are far more important than answers. When I question myself, it helps me decide - when someone gives me an answer, they've decided for me. Wink

Welcome.
Heart

Yeah, one thing about not wanting to fully come out is I'm not sure I am ready to handle every question asked.

One thing, if there is no God then where did this all originate from? I understand the big bang and evolution but I just don't get how this all exists. It just does, I guess, or the answer is, I don't know. Christians can pull the "God is separate from time and has always existed" card. Even with no god I struggle with the idea that there isn't some greater purpose; something that put all this here.

I can't say I believe in God because I don't know if there is one or not, but I also struggle with the thought that there is no God ... no more than there are purple unicorns and spaghetti monsters.

Question with boldness even the existence of a God... If it end in a belief that there is no God, you will find incitements to virtue in the comfort and pleasantness you feel in its exercise and in the love of others which it will procure for you. -- Thomas Jefferson - 1787
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17-11-2011, 01:00 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
That's the question that used to literally keep
Me up at night. I boiled it down to why? I think that's really the sum of the how question anyways. Because way back there has to be a beginning for me since infinity doesn't make any sense but at the same time never doesn't make any sense to me either soooooo... Asking how is fun but I personally am more interested in the why. Even I god exists I still ask why. The reason I can sleep through this question now is twofold. First I figured out that there could never be an answer that actually satisfied me. Two, I think it's more important due to 1, for everyone to find a reason for themselves.
There was a podcast byTTA recently where Seth spoke to a young theist woman who seemed to understand everything he was saying until she asked him why he bothered if he didn't believe in heaven. She couldn't get it and once upon a time I don't think I did either. I do now.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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17-11-2011, 01:48 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
(17-11-2011 12:40 PM)andrewtn Wrote:  Yeah, one thing about not wanting to fully come out is I'm not sure I am ready to handle every question asked.

One thing, if there is no God then where did this all originate from? I understand the big bang and evolution but I just don't get how this all exists. It just does, I guess, or the answer is, I don't know. Christians can pull the "God is separate from time and has always existed" card. Even with no god I struggle with the idea that there isn't some greater purpose; something that put all this here.

As a rational, skeptical, scientific person will readily admit that I don't know that there is no god, but I see no evidence that there is and I see plenty of evidence that there isn't, so I'm atheist - convinced that the existence of any gods is unlikely in the extreme.
Also, the big bang is a theory that has good support, but it is not proven - the answer may be different. As for evolution, again this is a theory with overwhelming evidence for its truth.
I suggest you do more reading - Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Daniel Dennet, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, Sam Harris, Jerry Coyne, Daniel Rey, ... and check the bibliographies in their books.

The purpose you find in your life has to come from within. Is there a purpose to the universe? No one knows.

And welcome to the forum.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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17-11-2011, 02:19 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
(17-11-2011 12:40 PM)andrewtn Wrote:  Yeah, one thing about not wanting to fully come out is I'm not sure I am ready to handle every question asked.

One thing, if there is no God then where did this all originate from? I understand the big bang and evolution but I just don't get how this all exists. It just does, I guess, or the answer is, I don't know. Christians can pull the "God is separate from time and has always existed" card. Even with no god I struggle with the idea that there isn't some greater purpose; something that put all this here.

I can't say I believe in God because I don't know if there is one or not, but I also struggle with the thought that there is no God ... no more than there are purple unicorns and spaghetti monsters.

How?
The biggest questions usually have the least amount of words. Shy

Just the other day, I tried to give the following quotes to a Theist in hopes it would stir at least one of his brain cells. Rolleyes Maybe you will have better luck relating to them.

When I reach to the edge of the universe, 
I do so knowing that along some paths of cosmic discovery there are times when, at least for now,
 one must be content to love the questions themselves. ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Heart The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it but the way those atoms are put together. The cosmos is also within us -we're made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself. ~ Carl Sagan

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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17-11-2011, 02:40 PM
RE: Their Damned if I do .. I'm Damned if I don't - My Story
Hola Andrew!
Stories of deconversions are often inspiring and saddening at the same time, as your story demonstrates. I myself am an atheist while my wife is still a firm believer in god. She was raised in a fundamentalist household and was homeschooled by her mother (who buys into the speaking in tongues bit as well as the literal interpretations of the bible). While my wife and I disagree on the existence/nonexistence of god, we agree that formalized religion is often times much more harmful than it is good. She refused to "speak in tongues" as a kid and was made to feel lie an outcast as a result. Religion is something we don't really discuss because ultimately her beliefs are hers and mine are mine.

As for the feelings of

"Even with no god I struggle with the idea that there isn't some greater purpose; something that put all this here.

I can't say I believe in God because I don't know if there is one or not, but I also struggle with the thought that there is no God ... no more than there are purple unicorns and spaghetti monsters."

they pass as you begin to really think about it. As I first explored atheism, I found myself wanting to hold on to these same ideas about having some "destiny" or "purpose." These seemed to comforting thoughts that at some level there was some control on nature. I think this is a desirable idea for most humans because we struggle daily with nature. Whether it be hurricanes, storms, flooding, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. I think the idea of something having power over nature is comforting because that means that nature is not the ultimate authority on our destiny. Nature is not cruel but is indifferent. It does not consciously seek to destroy or create, it simply exists and acts within the binding laws of nature.

I think of it like this (more or less the same way that Penn Jillette of Penn and Teller does), nature acts randomly. Where and when storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods strike (over geologic time but not necessarily human time) is random. I can find it much more comforting to consider the misfortune of some individuals to be the result of an unfortunate random event but if their misfortune is the result of some supernatural cause (whether directly or indirectly), then that supernatural force is evil and I have a problem with that. Some of the most evil decisions that man has ever made were made with the best intentions. The same would apply to any god, in my mind. The flood was with the best of intentions (assuming it was a real event) but it may be the single greatest act of evil that has ever been perpetrated if a conscious force made the decision to do it. If it were nature, it was simply an unfortunate event were lives were lost.

Evolve
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